(28 February 2013) Launched today, Manuscripts Online, funded by Jisc, brings to life early printed primary sources of medieval Britain, giving online access to written materials from 1000 to 1500. Manuscripts Online is also a crowd sourcing tool, encouraging users to attach comments about the manuscripts they view to an online map.
This freely available literary resource is the first of this kind. Michael Pidd, project lead and digital manager at the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield says: “The crowd sourcing aspect of Manuscripts Online gives people an opportunity to share their understanding of the manuscripts so that they can learn from one another. It allows collaboration in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past and we hope it will build up a central geographical view of people’s interpretation of the information which can be used by others in the future.”
Dr. Da Rold, lecturer in medieval literature, University of Leicester says: “This resource provides the public with a greater insight into medieval Britain. It allows access to a wealth of data which is central to the study of English language, literature and history during the middle ages. A single search engine will enable users to search for literary manuscripts, historical documents and early printed books which are located on websites owned by libraries, archives, universities and publishers and which were previously unavailable to them.”
Users will be able to search the resources by keyword, but also by specific keyword types, such as person and place name, date and language. For example, if you search the word York, and include all possible variation in its spelling, it will bring up around 4,000 results and tell you how this word is spelled and used in medieval records.
Peter Findlay, programme manager at Jisc comments: “We are delighted to be able to offer the funding to help make this happen. Now freely available this information can be used as an excellent teaching resource to improve the learner experience. Manuscripts online is not just a search engine, but a way to make our data and research transparent and more widely available.”
Users can search an enormous body of online primary resources including:
- Production and Use of English Manuscripts: 1060-1220 – A catalogue of all known manuscripts which contain English dated from c. 1060 to 1220
- Middle English Grammar Project – the Middle English Grammar Corpus (MEG-C); Middle English texts transcribed from manuscript or facsimile reproduction
- Late Medieval English Scribes – catalogue of all scribal hands in the manuscripts of the English writings of five major Middle English authors
- Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership – electronic text editions of early printed books
- TheTaxatio – detailed records of the assessment of English and Welsh ecclesiastical wealth undertaken in 1291-1292
- The National Archives – Descriptive catalogues for all documents dating between 1000 and 1500 from collections such as the State Papers, records of the Admiralty, Chancery and Exchequer, the Court of the King’s Bench and Petitions and Seals
- Online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts – British Library’s descriptive catalogue of 2,000 illuminated manuscripts originating in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
- TEAMS Middle English Texts – more than 400 annotated editions of key literary works for teaching and research.
Visit the Manuscripts Online website for a full list of the resources.