The Traditional Ballad Index

An annotated source to folk song
from the English-speaking world


The Special Articles

The Traditional Ballad Index was originally designed as a bibliography of folk song -- and, of course, it still functions as such. But, from the start, we incorporated occasional notes on the background of songs -- their history, or the events they described, or links to other non-traditional literature.

Some of these articles have now grown so extensive that they deserve to be noted in their own right, rather than forcing people to find them hit-or-miss. This document constitutes a catalog of the more substantial articles found in the Ballad Index notes.

Needless to say, you are invited to submit your own material for inclusion in the notes to some songs. You won't get academic credit, and we don't promise to include it -- but we might.

The list below tries to organize the information so as to be relatively easy to find. For these purposes, I've tried to organize the information into "cycles" or groups of related topics -- e.g. the American Civil War, the history of Irish rebellion, the exploration of the Arctic. In some cases, the result is literally a cycle -- the articles, if read in sequence, will tell a full history of a particular topic.

Each cycle is arranged as a table with a header referring to the general topic. The table itself contains four parts: The approximate dates of the events described, a brief summary of what is discussed, the name of the song under which the entry can be found, and the initials of the primary contributor(s) of the entry.

Note that a special article may apply to several songs -- an obvious example being the historical article on the Titanic associated with The Titanic (XV) ("On the tenth day of April 1912") (Titanic #15). Although this article is filed with this particular song, it in fact includes historical notes on every Titanic song in the Index. Similarly, the Phoenix Park Murders in Ireland inspired about a dozen songs, but the notes are all contained in the note (and historical references) to The Phoenix Park Tragedy.

As a general rule, I have only listed songs where the notes total over 500 words. The songs where the notes total over 2000 words show the song names in emphasized type.

Conflicts over the British Succession (Prior to the Jacobite Rebellions)

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
before 600The Arthurian Legend as found in English Ballads King Arthur and King Cornwall [Child 30]RBW
978The murder of Edward the Martyr (also, the subject of the earliest English ballad)Edward the MartyrRBW
1122?-1204The life and legend of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Queen Eleanor's Confession [Child 156]RBW
1199? 1399? 1483?Was Ritchie Story really King Richard? And, if so, which one?Richie Story [Child 232]BS, RBW
1327Hugh Spencer had feats in France. Hugh Despenser mostly had feats in the mind of King Edward II. Are they the same guy? Hugh Spencer's Feats in France [Child 158]RBW
1415 (1337-1453)The Hundred Years' War, and especially the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, cause Henry V to claim the crown of France -- and his descendents to lose it. King Henry Fifth's Conquest of France [Child 164]RBW
1483?Were the Babes in the Woods victims of Richard III? The Children in the Wood (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]RBW
1485The Battle of Bosworth -- the last battle (well, almost) of the Wars of the Roses ends the Plantagenet dynasty and brings Henry VII Tudor to the throne. He adopts the Red Rose as an emblem -- but was he a rose himself? The Battle of Bosworth Field; also
The Rose of England [Child 166]
RBW
1487The Battle of Stoke and Lambert Simnel's Rebellion and Waterford's loyalty to Henry VII: The many revolts against the first Tudor king The Mayor of Waterford's LetterBS, RBW
1491Perkin Warbeck and the British succession: More on the troubles of Henry VIII The Praise of WaterfordBS, RBW
1537The death of Jane Seymour and the birth of Edward VI The Death of Queen Jane [Child 170]RBW
1685-
1714
The conflict over the Protestant Succession: Could Britain remain a Protestant nation with a Catholic on the throne? And if not, who should succeed? And how could a courtier survive in those circumstances? The Vicar of BrayRBW
1689Is there really no other rhyme for Oranger? Or even a wife for him? What's the Rhyme to Porringer?RBW

Scottish History Cycle (excluding Jacobite songs)

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1286Was the King's Daughter of Norrowa' really Margaret Maid of Norway? Sir Patrick Spens [Child 58]RBW
before 1299Thomas of Ercildoune: Landowner, definitely; poet, possibly; prophet, maybe.... Thomas Rymer [Child 37]RBW
1305Execution of Scotland's (eventual) hero William Wallace Gude Wallace [Child 157]RBW
1371Was there a true conflict between "The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward"?Lord of Lorn and the False Steward, The [Child 271]RBW
1411In a Scotland without a central government, two factions battle over the Earldom of Ross. But -- how accurate is the song? The Battle of Harlaw [Child 163]RBW

Jacobite Songs and Songs about the Orange and Hannoverian Successions

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1692The nature of The Massace at Glencoe The Massacre of GlencoeRBW
(1745-1746)The Battle of Culloden, with an overview of the Forty-Five Rebellion and the later career of Bonnie Prince Charlie The Muir of CullodenRBW
1746Flora MacDonald helps Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the Hanoverians Flora MacDonald's LamentRBW

The Irish Rebellion Cycle

Editor's Apology: A very large fraction of the songs in this section were first indexed due to their inclusion in Patrick Galvin's anthology of Irish freedom songs. Galvin's psychotic hatred of the British is so extreme that it inherently caused me to take a relatively pro-British view. I'm now trying to clean this out of the notes, trying to be as even-handed as possible. But it's a slow process, particularly since it's so hard to be absolutely objective about a conflict where one side bred mindless oppressors and the other side bred terrorists. Nonetheless, no nation has come closer to telling its history in song than has Ireland; this cycle of songs does an excellent job of relating the story of "the most distressful country."
DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1641-
1653
In the aftermath of the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell takes fire and sword to Ireland, committing perhaps the worst single genocide between the Crusades and World War IThe Wexford MassacreRBW
1649Death of Owen Roe O'Neill, who had some success in fighting the English but whose behavior helped encourage Cromwell's atrocities General Owen RoeBS, RBW
1688-
1689
The siege of [London]derry ends James II's hopes of gaining easy control of Ireland in his quest to regain the British throne. The Shutting of the Gates of Derry; also Derry Walls AwayBS, RBW
1690In the wake of the Glorious Revolution, the deposed king James II tries to use Ireland to rebuild his fortunes, but is defeated by William III at the Battle of the Boyne. The Battle of the Boyne (I)BS, RBW
1782Grattan's Parliament gives Ireland its greatest measure of independence prior to 1922. Sadly, it is too corrupt and feeble a legislature to last. Ireland's GloryBS, RBW
1795The Battle of the Diamond highlights the tension between Catholics and Protestants in Ulster.The Battle of the DiamondBS, RBW
1795Foundation of the Orange Order, devoted to maintaining as much power for Protestants as possibleThe Grand Mystic OrderBS, RBW
1796The French attempt to invade Ireland (to distract England), but the Bantry Bay expedition falls apartThe Shan Van VoghtBS, RBW
1798The planning for the rebellion of 1798, which sowed the grounds for its failure.The Wearing of the Green (I)BS, RBW
1798The planners of the 1798 rebellion are captured before they can even get the rebellion started. The one leader to remain at large is Edward Fitzgerald -- but he too is soon found and captured, dying of the wounds he suffered while resisting captureEdward (III) (Edward Fitzgerald)BS, RBW
1798The massacre of Protestants at Scullabogue Father Murphy (II) (The Wexford Men of '98)BS, RBW
1798After a promising start, the Wexford rebels turn victory into defeat at the Battle of New RossKelly, the Boy from KillaneRBW
1798Father John Murphy helps start the Wexford rising -- and is killed after its collapseFather Murphy (I)RBW
1798A Wexford rebel honestly and brutally examines the reasons the rebellion failedSweet County WexfordRBW
1798The Sheares Brothers, among the most important of the Irish rebel leaders (though not very famous) are hanged for their part in the events of 1798. Also the career of the poem's authoress "Speranza." The Brothers John and Henry ShearesRBW
1798The new viceroy Cornwallis tries to bring some degree of peace and justice after the 1798 rebellion -- though it is the Protestants who rejoice in the resultsThe TroublesBS, RBW
1801The Parliamentary Union of Britain and Ireland completely alters Irish politics -- and the economyDublin After the UnionBS, RBW
1801-
c. 1852
A catalog of the troubles of post-Union Ireland, with a cynical view of the politicians responsible The Wheels of the WorldBS, RBW
1803In the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion and the Act of Union, Robert Emmet tries to raise a rebellion. It fails pitifully, and Emmet is executed after making a stirring farewell speechBold Robert EmmetRBW
1828Daniel O'Connell, "The Liberator," runs for and is elected to Parliament. Eventually the parliamentary rules are changed, allowing men such as Fergus O'Connor to serve.Fergus O'Connor and IndependenceBS, RBW
1843At the "Monster Meeting of Tara," tens of thousands of Irish turn out to campaign for repeal of the Union between Britain and Ireland.The Meeting of TaraBS, RBW
1845-
1848
The Irish Potato Famines cut the country's population in half and dramatically changes the political situation Over There (I - The Praties They Grow Small)RBW
1848Nationalist John Mitchel, who claims his only crime is loving Ireland, is convicted and transportedJohn MitchelRBW
1848One of the feeblest of all the Irish rebellions fizzles out without really even getting startedThe Shan Van Voght (1848) RBW, BS
1852Thomas Francis Meagher, convicted of anti-British activities, escapes and flees to the United StatesThe Escape of MeagherBS, RBW
1858,
1901
James Stephens, founded the Fenians in 1858 -- though he largely dissociated himself from them in later years; he died in 1901, and is remembered in this songJames Stephens, the Gallant Fenian BoyRBW
1866The Fenians in American try to bring about Irish independence by attacking Canada. They fail spectacularlyA Fenian Song (I)RBW
1867The Manchester Martyrs: In the process of attempting to rescue a prisoner, the Fenians cause the death of a policeman. The actual murderer goes free, but three others are executed by the British for the crime The Smashing of the Van (I)RBW
1868William Johnston defies the Party Processions Act and becomes the hero of the radical Protestants of Ulster.William Johnston of Ballykilbeg BS, RBW
1871Irish nationalist Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa is freed from prison on condition that he leave IrelandRossa's Farewell to Erin BS, RBW
1872The Irish Home Rule League is founded; although initially associated with Isaac Butt, it is Charles Stewart Parnell who does the most to advance the causeHome Rule for IrelandBS, RBW
1879The Land League places increasing pressure on the British to assure greater rights for tenants against their landlords The Bold Tenant FarmerRBW
c. 1880-
1891
Charles Stewart Parnell becomes the dominant force in Irish politics and, by carefully playing off both sides in the British parliament, gains many freedoms for IrelandWe Won't Let Our Leader Run Down BS, RBW
1882-
1883
The Phoenix Park Murders, in which an Irish secretary and his assistant are killed by terrorists, badly damaging the hopes for Irish "Home Rule." The Phoenix Park TragedyBS, RBW
1886Gladstone's Home Rule bill (which fails in the British parliament) inspires much hope in large parts of Ireland -- and fervent opposition among Ulster ProtestantsA Loyal Song Against Home RuleRBW
1914At a time when the British could least afford it, due to the coming of World War I, a riot over gun-running results in civilian casualties and an increase in Irish dislike for the English Bachelor's WalkRBW
1916The Easter Rebellion. Padraig Pearce and other nationalits attempt to take over Dublin, and are crushed. Reviled at first by the ordinary Irish, they are treated so badly by the British that the rebellion eventually changes the attitudes of all Ireland save the Protestants of Ulster. The Boys from County CorkRBW
1914Will the Irish accept "Home Rule" -- internal autonomy while maintaining ties to the British crown -- or insist on an independent republic?De ValeraRBW, BS
1916Roger Casement tries to run guns to the Irish nationalists, and -- given the consequences of the Easter Rebellion, plus the fact that it was the Germans who were arming him -- is hangedLovely Banna StrandRBW
1920Sean Treacy, nationalist and terrorist, is finally run down by the British and killed in a shootout; among nationalists, he became famous both for his many escapes and for his deathSean TreacyRBW
1920-
1921
After the First World War, with Ireland in turmoil, the British brought in ex-soldiers, the Black and Tans, to try to control the violence. Having no sympathy for the Irish, the Black and Tans instead escalated the conflict. The Bold Black and TanRBW
1920The fight at Kilmichael: A random act of violence during a period of random acts of violence. This one serves to make Tom Barry famous. The Boys of KilmichaelBS, RBW
1921The fight at Crossbarry: Another random act of violence associated with Tom Barry. The Piper of CrossbarryBS, RBW
1921After the violence of the Black and Tan Wars, the English agree to negotiate with the Irish. The result is the "Treaty" creating the Irish Free State. Most Irish welcome peace; the extreme nationalists fight on -- against their own governmentThe Irish Free StateRBW
1916-
1922
In the years after the Easter Rising, one man above all others comes to represent Ireland. Michael Collins hurt the British enough that they decided to negotiate, helped negotiate the Free State treaty, led the Irish Free State -- and was assassinated by hard-linersGeneral Michael CollinsRBW
1922In the wars over the Irish Free State, the former cabinet member Cathal Brugha is killed while in rebellion against the Irish government The Death of BrughRBW
1923After starting a civil war mostly over names and forms, the extreme republicans finally give in -- but the "Legion of the Rearguard" will not abandon the hope of a Republic.The Legion of the RearguardRBW
1947Death of James Larkin, who early in his career campaigned for worker's rights and independence in Ireland, but went into exile, then returned and spent many years as a relatively minor M.P.Jim Larkin, R.I.P.BS, RBW

The French and Indian War and the Seven Years' War

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1755General Edward Braddock marches his men toward Fort Duquesne; his army is destroyed by the French and he is killedBraddock's DefeatRBW
1756The loss of Minorca and the execution of Admiral Byng Admiral ByngBS, RBW
1759Sir Edward Hawke wins the Battle of Quiberon Bay, giving the British naval superiority for the rest of the warBold HawkeRBW, BS
1759The Battle of Quebec, the English conquest of Canada, and the life of General James WolfeBrave Wolfe [Laws A1]RBW

The American Revolution Cycle

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
c. 1770-
1775
British taxes on the American colonies cause increasing frustration with the crown, eventually causing the colonies into rebellion Taxation of AmericaRBW
1775Granuaile, Ireland, and the American Revolution Old Granny Wales (Granny O'Whale, Granua Weal)RBW
1775Arnold and Montgomery's invasion of Canada proves a disastrous failure. Beside the KennebecRBW
1777The Battle of Saratoga finally gives the Americans a major success in the Revolution.The Fate of John BurgoyneRBW
1778(Brief biography of composer William Billings, plus notes about the British generals of the time)ChesterRBW
1780The American Revolution, the treason of Benedict Arnold, and the execution of British agent John AndreMajor Andre's Capture [Laws A2]RBW
1778-
1783
John Paul Jones, his battles, and his ships the Ranger and the Bonhomme RichardPaul Jones's Victory [Laws A4]RBW

Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1815The Battle of Waterloo: Just which songs are included in Laws J3? The Plains of Waterloo (II) [Laws J3]BS, RBW
1815Marshal Grouchy: The cause of Napoleon's defeat? Napoleon Bonaparte (III)RBW
1815Marshal Ney: The cause of Napoleon's defeat? The Grand Conversation on NapoleonRBW
1815-
1821
Napoleon is exiled and dies suspiciously on Saint HelenaNapoleon Is the Boy for Kicking Up a RowBS, RBW

The War of 1812 Cycle

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1812The first Detroit campaign: British general Isaac Brock maneuvers the Americans out of the areaBrave General Brock [Laws A22]RBW
1812The American counter-attack on Canada is repulsed at Queenston Heights, but General Brock is killedThe Battle of Queenston HeightsRBW
1812The U.S.S. Constitution scores the first great naval win of the War of 1812, encouraging the Americans at a difficult time The Constitution and the Guerriere [Laws A6]RBW
1813The duel of H.M.S. Shannon and U.S.S. Chesapeake gives the British a noteworthy victory -- but gives the Americans the slogan "Don't Give Up the Ship"The Chesapeake and the Shannon (I) [Laws J20]RBW
1813The Battle of Lake Erie and the career of Oliver Hazard Perry James Bird [Laws A5]RBW
1812-
1813
Sundry successes by the American navy in the War Charge the Can CheerilyRBW
1813-
1814
The Creek War. Andrew Jackson defeats a rebellions Indian nation, freeing him up for work against the British Andrew Jackson's RaidRBW
1814The Americans make one last attempt to invade Canada; they fight to a bloody stalemate at Lundy's Lane, and eventually retreat The Battle of BridgewaterRBW
1814The British, in an attempt to break the stalemate, attack and burn Washington, D.C., but are repelled before Baltimore The Star-Spangled BannerRBW
1814A British army heads down the Champlain to attack the Americans as part of the grand 1814 strategy, but the officer in charge forces the navy to attack in unfavorable circumstances, then retreats when they are defeated The Siege of PlattsburgRBW
1815After the end of the War of 1812, British forces attack forces (from Kentucky and elsewhere) led by Andrew Jackson and are bloodily repulsed The Battle of New Orleans [Laws A7]RBW

The Australian History Cycle

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1830The death of Captain Patrick Logan brings some relief to the much-abused prisoners of Moreton Bay Moreton Bay (I)RBW
1830Death of John Donahue, the first of the famous bushrangers Jack Donahue [Laws L22]RBW
1865Death of Ben Hall, "The Noblest of the Bushrangers" Ben HallRBW
1880Destruction of the Kelly Gang, the last of the bushrangers Kelly Was Their CaptainRBW

The Crimean War Cycle

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1854British and French forces win the Battle of Alma to establish their base for the Crimean War The Heights of Alma (I) [Laws J10]RBW
1854In the supreme example of the mismanagement of the Crimean War, the Light Brigade rides to a lot of death and somewhat less glory at Balaclava The Famous Light BrigadeRBW
1854Sir Colin Campbell, the organization of the British Army, and victory in the Crimean WarThe Kilties in the CrimeaRBW
1854The Baltic campaign against Russia brought relatively little fighting -- and at least one happy endingThe Baltic LoversBS, RBW

The American Civil War Cycle

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1857-
1860
The Lincoln, Douglas and the coming of the Civil War: How the North came to elect an all-but-unknown man from Illinois to be President Lincoln and LibertyRBW
1860-
1861
More on Lincoln and Douglas, and on the latter's financial practicesLincoln Hoss and Stephen A.RBW
1861The First Battle of Bull Run/Manasses results in the complete rout of Union forcesThe Battle of Bull Run [Laws A9]RBW
1861-
1862
The Irish Sixty-Ninth: Which Regiment Was It? The Irish Sixty-NinthRBW
1862The Battle of Hampton Roads: The C.S.S.Virginia/Merrimac destroys the U.S.S. Cumberland and Congress but is held to a draw by the Monitor The Cumberland Crew [Laws A18]RBW
1861-
1863
The Union makes repeated attempts to take Richmond; all fail, with Confederate jeers becoming more pointed each time Richmond is a Hard Road to TravelRBW
1861-
1863
The Irish Brigade of Thomas Meagher suffers extreme casualties as part of the Army of the PotomacBy the HushRBW
1863The capture of Vicksburg changes the course of the Civil War -- but that doesn't help the dead!The Battle of VicksburgRBW
1864The Confederacy is forced to indelicate means to meet its desperate need for saltpeterChamber LyeRBW
1872The Grant presidency rouses opposition from all sides, but Horace Greeley is unable to replace himDoes Your Mother Know You're Out?RBW

The Arctic Exploration Cycle

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1845-
1859
The Franklin expedition seeking the Northwest Passage and the search for the expedition after it vanished Lady Franklin's Lament (The Sailor's Dream) [Laws K9] RBW
1860-
1909
The quest to reach the North Pole, which at the time this song was written (1903) had been very difficult and dangerous Hurrah for Baffin's BayRBW
1905-
1913
The career of Robert Bartlett, Newfoundland sealer and companion of Robert Peary as the latter sought the North Pole Captain Bob BartlettRBW

The Great Shipwrecks

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1838The Forfarshire wreck makes Grace Darling an English heroineGrace Darling (I) (The Longstone Lighthouse)BS, RBW
1873The sinking of the Atlantic, the earliest of the great tragedies on the North Atlantic liner routes The Loss of the Atlantic (I)RBW
1897?Where and when was the Antelope lost? And which Antelope? The Loss of the AntelopeRBW
1912The destruction of the Titanic and the historical basis (or lack thereof) for the claims made in many songs about the wreck The Titanic (XV) ("On the tenth day of April 1912") (Titanic #15)RBW
1915The sinking of the Lusitania and the various claims made about the sinkingThe LusitaniaRBW

Tales from Other Wars

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1799During the Quasi-War with France, Thomas Truxton leads the Constellation to victory over L'Insurgente -- the first significant victory of the new U. S. NavyTruxton's VictoryRBW
1837-1838Mackenzie's Canadian rebellion and the Battle of the Windmill The Battle of the WindmillRBW
1845During the War of the Austrian Succession, a French force (which includes an Irish Brigade) beats a partly-English army at Fontenoy The Brigade at FontenoyRBW, BS
1846-
1847
Santa Anna and Zachary Taylor: Just who did win that battle, anyway?Santy AnnoRBW
1846The Americans win at Monterrey, but the victory is expensive.... The Field of MontereyRBW
1862?Is the Indian raid of the Haunted Woods/Haunted Falls really related to the 1862 Dakota Conflict (Sioux Uprising)?Haunted WoodsRBW
1899-
1900
A handful of South Africans of Irish ancestry form an "Irish Brigade" during the Boer War; John McBride is their commander for part of that timeJohn McBride's BrigadeRBW, BS
1903Suicide of the brilliant general Hector MacDonald Hector MacDonaldBS, RBW
1939A British force catches up with the German Admiral Graf Spee off South America and causes her to scuttle. The Sinking of the Graf SpeeRBW
1941An unofficial war moves toward being more official when a German submarine sinks the U. S. S. Reuben JamesReuben JamesRBW

Outlaws and Pirates

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1604?Captain Ward: Pirate, privateer, or both? And did he reign king on the sea?Captain Ward and the Rainbow [Child 287]RBW
1699-
1701
William Kidd was executed as a pirate -- but was he a pirate or a privateer?Captain Kidd [Laws K35]RBW
1735-
1739
Dick Turpin: Certainly a highwayman. But did he make a 12 hour ride to Yorkshire? And if he didn't, who did? My Bonny Black Bess (II) (Poor Black Bess; Dick Turpin's Ride) [Laws L9]RBW
1847-
1892
Jesse James: Confederate veteran. Robber. Killed by Robert Ford. But was he really a friend to the poor? Jesse James (III)RBW
1876The robbing of the Northfield Bank, resulting in the apprehension of Cole Younger and his brothers; the James Brothers escaped Cole Younger [Laws E3]RBW
1884The founding of the Bald Knobbers, who brought vigilante law to southern Missouri for several years The Bald Knobber SongRBW

Miscellaneous Historical Events

DatesSubjectSongAuthor
1027Gunhild daughter of Cnut is betrothed to Henry of the Holy Roman Empire, and is charged with a crime she did not commit. Did this inspire a ballad -- or was it the tale of Joseph?Sir Aldingar [Child 59]RBW
1685Did Charles II's courtiers really get compared to crows? Carrion CrowRBW
1720The South Sea Bubble. The real First Stock Market Manipulation CrashFor Our Lang Biding Here (A South Sea Song)RBW
1797The Nore Mutiny. British sailors attempt a strike for better conditions. Eventually the attempt collapses, and the ringleader Peter Parker is tried and executedPoor ParkerRBW
1828The Burke and Hare Murders. Two Irishmen in Scotland commit multiple murders in order to sell the bodies to doctors. Only one of them is executed. Burke's ConfessionRBW, BS
1832The Rival, carrying volunteers to Portugal, sinks with many casualtiesThe Brave VolunteersJM, BS
1857A party of settlers headed for California is slaughtered by Mormons disguised as Indians. To this day, it is not entirely clear who was responsible The Mountain Meadows Massacre [Laws B19]RBW
1872Horace Greeley's Presidential campaign Does Your Mother Know You're Out?RBW
1878Death of Orrin Porter Rockwell, widely believed to have been a Mormon strong manOld Port RockwellRBW
1881The amalgamation of the Cameronian Regiment The Tam O'Shanter HatRBW, BS
1881The murder of James A. Garfield and the trial of his assassin Charles Guiteau [Laws E11]RBW
1885The Siege of Khartoum. The British defenders under "Chinese" Gordon are defeated and killed just days before they can be rescuedAndy McElroeRBW
1885Professional gambler Harry Hayward murders Kitty Ging for insurance, but is detected and executedThe Harry Hayward SongRBW
1885?Great Lakes race between the Moonlight and the PorterThe Crack Schooner MoonlightRBW
1889The Johnstown Flood: An earthen dam fails and destroys several towns below it at a cost of over 2000 livesThe Johnstown Flood [Laws G14]RBW
1912Election of Woodrow Wilson (re-elected 1916) President WilsonRBW
1913The Murder of Mary Phagan: Was Leo Frank really responsible? And what is the history of the song? Mary Phagan [Laws F20]RBW
1915The state of Utah executes songwriter Joe Hill. If he didn't commit robbery and murder, who did?Joe HillRBW
1917The Halifax Explosion: A ship collision causes a load of munitions to blow up, nearly destroying the cityThe Halifax Explosion [Laws G28]RBW
1929A cheap liquor adulterant results in an epidemic of paralysis Got the Jake Leg TooRBW

Christian Apocrypha and Legends

SubjectSongAuthor
Jesus, Mary, and the miraculous fruitThe Cherry-Tree Carol [Child 54]RBW
The Embellishment of the Judas legend and the evolution of ballads Judas [Child 23]RBW
Non-canonical tales of Jesus The Carnal and the Crane [Child 55]RBW
Glory to God in the... what's that again? Angels We Have Heard on HighRBW
The Massacre of the Innocents and the Mystery Plays The Coventry CarolRBW
Jews, innocents, miracles, and pogroms Sir Hugh, or, The Jew's Daughter [Child 155]RBW
Dancing and ChristianityMy Dancing DayRBW
For Saint George and England!Padstow May Day SongRBW
The Corpus Christi MysteryThe Corpus Christi CarolRBW

Other Topics

SubjectSongAuthor
The Earliest English Ballad.... Merie Sungen the Muneches Bennen Ely (Merry Sang the Monks of Ely) and Judas [Child 23]; also Edward the MartyrRBW
The Embellishment of the Judas legend and the evolution of ballads Judas [Child 23]RBW
The Arthurian Legend as found in English Ballads King Arthur and King Cornwall [Child 30]
The Gawain Legend and the Loathly Woman Marriage of Sir Gawain, The [Child 31]RBW
Incest and the circumstances under which it occurs: Do they explain ballads such as "Babylon," "Edward," "Lizie Wan," and "Sheathe and Knife"? Babylon, or, The Bonnie Banks o Fordie [Child 14]RBW
Women in disguise serving as soldiers: Some examples The Soldier MaidRBW
Who was Captain Wedderburn?Captain Wedderburn's Courtship [Child 46] RBW
The evolution of the Robin Hood legend
Please note that this article is now superseded by a separate publication.
A Gest of Robyn Hode [Child 117]RBW
The oldest Robin Hood ballad? Are you sure? Robin Hood and the Monk [Child 119] and Robin Hood and the Potter [Child 121]RBW
Robin loves Marian. But which Robin and which Marian? Robin Hood and Maid Marian [Child 150]RBW
Robyn loves... Gandelyn? Are these Robin Hood characters? Robin and Gandelyn [Child 115]RBW
Where did they lay the Laidly Worm? The Laidley Worm of Spindleston HeughsRBW
The Life of Geordie. And the other Geordie. And the other.... George of OxfordBS
The "Alba" or Dawn Song: Are there English examples? The Grey Cock, or, Saw You My Father [Child 248]RBW
The Middle English romances and the story of Floris and Blancheflour Blancheflour and Jellyflorice [Child 300]RBW
The Middle English romances and the tale of King Horn Hind Horn [Child 17]RBW
The evolution of the Orpheus/Orfeo legend King Orfeo [Child 19]RBW
Which Duke Was It?Six Dukes Went a-FishingAS, PJS, RBW
Rosemary Lane, Ambletown, Falmouth Town, The North Country -- Who got whom pregnant, and where?Rosemary Lane [Laws K43]DGE, PJS, RBW
The Balou/Baloo/Balowe Lullabies and their antecedants Lady Anne Bothwell's LamentBS
The history of "Annie Laurie"Annie LaurieMS
The Mormon Church and its establishment in UtahBrigham Young RBW
Banjo Paterson and "Waltzing Matilda": Just what was his role in the making of the song?Waltzing MatildaMK, RBW
Who were the Newfoundlanders who found themselves in such trouble on the Canadian railway?The Roving Newfoundlanders (II)BS
Drimon: A dead cow or a lively symbol?DrimindownBS
The traditions and heroes of the United States Navy The CountersignsRBW
Sperm competition and human sexual behavior Nine Times a NightRBW
The age and translation of "Veni Emmanuel." Veni Emmanuel (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel)RBW
The origin and meaning of the name Mother Carey Mother Carey's ChickensRBW
The origin of the Paul Bunyan legends Paul BunyanRBW
The guano trade, nitrates, and the history of Ilo and Callao Tommy's Gone to HiloRBW
The Massacre of the Innocents and the Mystery Plays The Coventry CarolRBW
The sources of "The Carnal and the Crane" The Carnal and the Crane [Child 55]RBW
The relationship between "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" [Child 74] and "William and Margaret"William and Margaret (I)BS
Just what were those mermaids doing down there? The Mermaid [Child 289]RBW
Comparing the impossibilities asked in "Things Impossible" Things ImpossibleBS
Older wife, younger husband: Can it work, even in a song? A-Growing (He's Young But He's Daily A-Growing) [Laws O35]RBW
Why is the wren the king of birds?The Wren (The King)RBW
Just what were they eating when they wrote "Nottamum Town?" Nottamun TownPJS, RBW
Hey! What's in this drink? The Man that Waters the Workers' BeerRBW
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and OwlsOf All the BirdsRBW
The Knight of the Burning Pestle and "Go From My Window"Go From My Window (I)BS
Away, Musgrave, Away! I Want Sir Gawain Instead! Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard [Child 81]RBW, BS
Don't you recognize the Duke of York? One of them.... The Noble Duke of YorkRBW
I Want Your Body -- on My Dissecting Table. The Black CookRBW
What happened on the Flanders Shore? The Flanders ShoreBS
Mummers' Plays and Courting Sweet MollBS
The Clerk's TaleThe Clerk's Twa Sons o Owsenford [Child 72]BS
The Afterlife of John Barleycorn and his kin Allan o Maut (I) (Why should not Allan Honoured Be)
Allan o Maut (II) (How Mault Deals With Every Man)
John Barleycorn (I)
John Barleycorn (II) (The Little Barleycorn)
John Barleycorn (III) (The Bloody Murder of Sir John Barleycorn)
BS
The Clerk's TaleThe Clerk's Twa Sons o Owsenford [Child 72]BS
Just what did Bishop Percy do with the Heir of Linne?The Heir of Linne (II)BS
How many magpies does it take to predict your future?One for Sorrow (Counting Magpies, Telling Fortunes)RBW
What's in a final E? Which Bickerstaff(e) wrote about which miller?The Miller of DeeBS, RBW
How many gates to the road to Babylon's babies?How Many Miles to Babylon?BS, RBW