Manuscripts Online: access written material from 1000 to 1500

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 A single search engine will enable users to search for literary manuscripts, historical documents and early printed books which are located on websites owned by libraries, archives, universities and publishers and which were previously unavailable to them.”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:

Visit the Manuscripts Online website for a full list of the resources.

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