The Verses go Live! Music added to the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project

Just over a year ago, we launched Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads: Verses in Vogue with the Vulgar. With over 800 images and 300 mini-essays, this site offers a unique and comprehensive view of the broadsides that Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) collected in early nineteenth-century Boston. Each broadside includes a brief explanation of its content by Kate Van Winkle Keller. In the past year, we have continued to work on the site, most recently adding TEI-encoded transcriptions of the broadsides.

We are now ready to debut our latest addition: music! Thanks to David and Ginger Hildebrand of the Colonial Music Institute, their recorded performances of twenty-five ballads are now included on the site, with another dozen or so to come. Their contributions might be the ballad exactly as it appears on the broadside, a few verses from a given ballad, or the melody to which the ballad would have been sung. An mp3 link is included at the top of any broadside page that has musical accompaniment with details of what is being performed.

You can listen to the melody and the lyrics of "The Rose Tree"
The complete ballad of “The Rose Tree” is included
An instrumental version of "Jockey to the Fair" is included
An instrumental version of “Jockey to the Fair” in included





To find all the ballads included on the site, visit the Listen to the Ballads page on the site.

Ginger and David Hildebrand
Ginger and David Hildebrand

And wait, there’s more! David and Ginger will be performing under our generous dome this Friday, April 29th at 7pm. Their concert, “Ballads from Boston: Music from the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballad Collection”, is free and open to the public, so please join us for this celebration of early American music and of this collection, which does so much to preserve it.


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Molly O'Hagan Hardy

Molly O’Hagan Hardy is AAS Director of Digital and Book History Initiatives. She shares news on digitization and cataloging efforts at AAS, coverage of digital humanities projects using AAS materials, and ideas for such projects. Stay current with all things DH at AAS by checking out the “Digital AAS” section of our website.

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