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English and Scottish Ballads compiled by Francis J. Child from Smithsonian Folkways

Francis J. Child’s five volume collection, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898), consists of over 300 traditional folk ballads along with an exhaustive amount of research. Child focuses on the history of the words and themes rather than the music, tracing the stories from America back to European origins and finding other deeper connections. Because of this attention to detail, Child’s work is considered to be an essential canon of English and Scottish folk music. The songs are of a wide variety of styles: some uncouth, some sad and some silly. Listen to a sample of the songs featured in Child’s compilation as performed and recorded by a variety of musicians for Smithsonian Folkways.