THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

04 March 2013

British Library Contributes to New Manuscripts Online Site

The British Library is pleased to be contributing catalogue information from its digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts to an exciting new project, Manuscripts Online, which has just been launched.

C5720-02
John Whethamstede and others, Historical and theological miscellany, St Albans, 15th century (London, British Library, MS Arundel 11, f. 9r, detail).

Manuscripts Online seeks to bring to life early primary sources of medieval Britain, by giving online access to written materials from 1000 to 1500 and allowing users to contribute to the collective body of knowledge on the subject. This freely available literary resource has been developed by the University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute (HRI) and has been funded by Jisc, an organisation aiming to make the United Kingdom the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world.

Michael Pidd, Project Lead and Digital Manager at the HRI, explains the rationale behind the project: "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."

Users are 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 variations in its spelling, it will produce around 4,000 results and tell you how this word is spelled and used in medieval records.

Other primary resources in Manuscripts Online include:

  • 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
  • The Taxatio – 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
  • TEAMS Middle English Texts – more than 400 annotated editions of key literary works for teaching and research

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