Droolworthy Digital Resources

Sharon Howard, at Early Modern Notes has alerted us to a new project in which she’s involved: Manuscripts Online: Written Culture from 1000 to 1500. Colour me excited!

She describes it as a kind of Connected Histories for medievalists. That’s also a fabulous resource for anyone working on British history circa 1500-1900. With resources such as this and my beloved materials linked via London Lives, 1690-1800 and the perennial favourite, Old Bailey Online, 1674-1913.

I tell my students they have little idea how fortunate they are. Digitization has revolutionized so much of the gruntwork of historical research. Whereas we were fortunate to have microfilms and microfiche of some manuscripts and many early books at my doctoral institution, a lot had to be taken on faith that the research trip to the other side of a continent or the other side of an ocean would pay off. Current students can get a good hard first look at a lot of research material online. Some of the digitization is of such high quality and so extensive (many of these sites are not only images, but include adeptly managed text conversion with connections to a searchable database) that you can use the material for so many digital humanities hacks.

I’m thinking that, if I have the time for next fall, to rejig part of my methods course for the grad students so that they practice with using and creating a small version of such a project. I’d have to identify a suitable source or set of sources and get an installation of Omeka, software to support elegant and extensible online exhibitions, up and running. Obviously, nothing I can tackle right now as I’m snowed under with marking, editing and writing, but definitely a goal for the near future.

Hrm. I wonder if this small digital humanities project might be suitable for an internal-to-the-university research grant?


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