Firth was Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford from 1904 to 1925. An advocate for the use of original documents, including literary texts, in historical teaching and research, he published numerous articles on ballads as historical sources. He built up a large collection of sheets dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, the bulk of which is now in the Bodleian. Other parts of his collection are held in the University of Sheffield Library and in the library of Worcester College, Oxford.
Bibliography: ODNB; P. W. Carnell, Ballads in the Charles Harding Firth collection of the University of Sheffield (1979)
. H. Firth, A Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Charles Firth (1928);
C.H. St. John Hornby, ‘Lady Firth’s donation’, BQR, 8:90, (1936), 208-9.
Contents: Two volumes of 17th century ballads (Firth b.19 and Firth b.20), two volumes of 18th-century ballads (Firth b.21 and Firth b.22) and several volumes of 19th century "slip" ballads (Firth b.25; Firth b.26; Firth b.27; Firth b.28; Firth b.29; Firth b.30; Firth b.31; Firth b.32; Firth b.33; Firth b.34). Firth c.12 to Firth c.22 are 19th-century ballads arranged thematically; Firth c.12, Firth c. 13: Naval Firth c.14: Military Firth c.15, Firth c.16: Political - Firth c.17: Crime - Firth c.18: Amatory- Firth c.19: Sports and Amusement - Firth c.20: Domestic - Firth c.21: Miscellaneous - Firth c.22: Drinking songs - Firth c.23 is a volume of facsimiles, photographs made of early ballads in library and archival collections.
Below are the volumes contained in this collection, click to expand.