Archive for December 2009

The excitement of trivial things

16 December 2009

A considerable amount of my time over the past few months has been spent trying to get images of manuscripts and permissions to reproduce them on our website. Some twenty libraries and archives across the UK and Europe hold manuscripts containing texts that are relevant to the project; that translates to something like 75 different manuscripts and hundreds of folios. So far, we have negotiated successfully with about three quarters of these libraries and we are very grateful for the tremendous help we have received from the library staff, who have patiently checked folio pages, and arranged for photography and permissions.

With so many folio pages and manuscripts, there have been mistakes. Imagine my surprise when the requested image of the articles of William I turned out to be a beautiful illustration of a fourteenth-century French market town! However, more commonly, problems have related to multiple folio pagination, making the requested text difficult to find, or to manuscripts whose conditions were such that photography could not be undertaken.

For me, the most surprising thing about this part of the project has been the almost childlike excitement I have experienced every time a parcel containing a CD with images has landed on my desk. Completely disregarding the fact that most of these manuscript images look the same, if with different texts, I have unwrapped the parcel, put the CD in my computer, and looked through the images with the anticipation of a child at Christmas!

Of course, now, the real work begins. Our technical team will have to mark up the images so that they can go up on the website and provide excitement to more than one historian.