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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 1486

Transcripts and notes concerning the "Brown manuscript" of Scottish popular ballads


Transcripts of the original manuscript of Scottish popular ballads that was furnished to William Tytler by Anna Brown in 1783.


  • Creation: 1793-1920

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


.5 linear feet (5 volumes)

Biographical / Historical

The original ballad manuscript was produced in 1783 for William Tytler (1711-1792), who was a Scottish antiquarian, lawyer, and historian. The information for the original transcription of ballad text was furnished by the singing and dictation of Anna Gordon Brown (died 1810), of Falkland and recorded by her nephew, Robert Eden Scott (1769-1811). Anna Brown was the wife of the Rev. Andrew Brown (died 1805) and the daughter of Professor of Philosophy, Thomas Gordon (1713-1797) of Kings College Aberdeen. Robert Eden Scott was a philosopher and his mother was Elizabeth Scott, daughter of Thomas Gordon and sister of Anna Gordon. The current location of the original manuscript is not known, but for many years, it was in the hands of the Fraser-Tytler family. [See item (5) below for additional information concerning the genealogy of the families involved with these manuscripts].

Some of these transcripts were produced for and collected by American philologist and Harvard professor Francis James Child for his research for: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). Many of these materials were organized and annotated after Child's death by his protégé, George Lyman Kittredge.


Arranged in chronological order.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This material was acquired from various donors, at various times. See individual items for full acquisition information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

This material formed part of the Harvard College Library Treasure Room "ballad" collection and the items were selected based on likeness of topic and reclassified in April 2005.

Processing Information

In 2020-2021, as part of a conscious and inclusive re-description effort, titles (or entries ) were updated to include a woman’s first name when identified.

Transcripts and notes concerning the "Brown manuscript" of Scottish popular ballads, 1793-1920: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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