What is Manuscripts Online?

Manuscripts Online will enable users to search an enormous body of online primary resources relating to written and early printed culture in Britain during the period 1000 to 1500.

A single search engine will enable users to undertake sophisticated full-text searching of literary manuscripts, historical documents and early printed books which are located on websites owned by libraries, archives, universities and publishers. 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 (eg. Middle English, Latin and Anglo-Norman), thanks to techniques which we are using called automated entity recognition. Additionally, users will be able to visualise search results using maps of medieval Britain and create their own annotations to the data for public consumption, thereby building a knowledge base around this critical mass of primary source data.

Automated entity recognition is a Natural Language Processing technique within information science whereby algorithms are able to intelligently identify the occurrences of specific types of words, such as names, concepts and terminology, using three methods: dictionaries (such as a historical gazetteer of place names), lexical pattern matching and syntactic context.

Manuscripts Online will be of interest to researchers and students in the fields of medieval English language, literature and history and it will become a sister site to the JISC-funded Connected Histories website (http://www.connectedhistories.org) which already provides similar search services for the period 1500-1900.


Manuscripts Online is funded by the JISC and supported by the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield and specialists in medieval studies at the universities of Leicester, Birmingham, Glasgow, York and Queen’s University Belfast.

Project Team

Michael Pidd (Project Director; Univ. of Sheffield)
Orietta Da Rold (Project Director; Univ. of Leicester)
Sharon Howard (Project Manager; Univ. of Sheffield)
Katherine Rogers (Chief Technical Developer; Univ. of Sheffield)
Linne Mooney (Editorial Board; Univ. of York)
Wendy Scase (Editorial Board; Univ. of Birmingham)
Jeremy Smith (Editorial Board; Univ. Glasgow)
Estelle Stubbs (Editorial Board; Univ. of Sheffield)
John Thompson (Editorial Board; Queen’s University Belfast)

More information about Manuscripts Online will be found at http://www.manuscriptsonline.org.


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