Rare Song Books

This section provides an opportunity to place on-line copies of rare collections of folk songs not available elsewhere. With the advent of sites like archive.org and other repositories of old texts (see the Song Resources on the Web (2016)  leaflet for more links to books online) there are fewer old texts that cannot be found on other sites. There are some valuable early collections that have not yet made their way into these collections, so this section presents images of some of those collections. If there are any that you would like to see added to this section let me know and I will see what can be done.


Marianne H Mason, Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs, 1877

This collection, published in 1877, was the first in the world to be compiled by a woman and one of the earliest to be published as songs with the music arranged for piano. Miss Mason compiled it from songs she had collected orally from the public and from her own family. Though many of the songs are nursery jingles or childrens songs, there are a number of adult songs and some good ballads. The last six songs in the book were taken, with the permission of the Broadwood family, from John Broadwood’s collection of Sussex songs, published in 1847. For more about Marianne Mason and her collection you may care to look at the article by Martin Graebe, ‘Old Songs and Sugar Mice: The Story of the Remarkable Miss Mason’, Folk Music Journal, Vol. 10, No. 4, p. 449 – 477. You can read it here – Old Songs and Sugar Mice

The complete book can be seen in the gallery below. This is the second edition, published in 1907. Digitised by Martin Graebe from a copy in his personal library. 

[I have not got these galleries working as I want them to yet. I will continue to work on them. Best is to change to thumbnail view and click on the page you wish to view and it will open in a readable size.]


William A Barrett, English Folk Songs

Before studying this collection you may care to have a look at Ruairidh Greig’s article about William Barrett above. English Folk Songs was published in 1890, and was based on a collection Barrett had made in various parts of England in the preceding decade. It is likely that he was prompted to publish the collection by the knowledge that Baring-Gould and Lucy Broadwood had collections in the press. There are several good songs in this little-known collection.

The complete book can be read in the gallery below. Digitised by Martin Graebe from a copy in his personal library (which is not in great condition!). 


Books to come:

Other books that I intend to add to this section include:

W H Gill, Songs of the British Folk, 1917

Alice Gillington, Songs of the Open Road, 1911


I am happy to add anything else interesting that people send me!



Updated 16 Oct 2017