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Help


Although associated primarily with the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, this Help! page is designed to be of use to any user of serious online resources who is looking for more information.

[Updated 2023]


Help!

What you can find help on here

Because of the large scale usage of the various Internet History Sourcebooks,  I do not have time to answer the ten to twenty emailed requests for help I get each day. This page is designed to answer most of your questions. I have done more than my bit  in providing and making information available. Now you need to look elsewhere.I particularly apologize for this response to the various high school students [and their parents] who contact me each day for help with homework. To those who ask me simply to do their homework, let me say, 'Do it yourself!', but to those who want more general help or guidance, again, I simply do not have the time. Still, if you follow the guidelines below you may find something of use to you.

Suggestions for Bibliography and Web Sites

In the early days of this site - the late 1990s - I maintained a list of recommend websites. That is no longer feasible, mainly because such sites ofter turned out to be ephemeral and any hand-maintained list is always out of date. For the middle ages and Byzantium, over 90% failed after ten years the the list of links that used to be kept at:

In the various sections of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project there are pointers to what seem to be reliable and semi-permanent web sites, but the focus of your efforts should be on using Google (or Bing or DuckGoGo) to find current sites. It is also often the case that Wikipedia articles on a topic, which can never be trusted all by themselves, often contain at the end of the article a list of resources that do point to useful web projects and reources.

If I know of a useful or available online text, I link to it already. There is no point in writing and asking me for a text if it is not here! [On the other hand, if you want to scan and edit a text, then I do want to hear from you.]

If you are after books or bibliography suggestions, many libraries are now on the Internet. Even if you cannot access the physical libraries their catalog are often open for digitcal searches. Try search libraries with particularly wide holdings, such as the University of California Library System or Harvard Library.

  • It might also be worth using the search engines at the various online bookstores, such as Amazon.com .

Genealogy questions

Many people are interested in their family history and it can be a very interesting way to connect to the past. The best advice here is to use one of the family search comapines - Ancestry.com, or FindMyPast. They often have free introductory offers, and you can retain access to information you gather even if you don't maintain a payed account.

Medieval discussion on the net

If you are engaged in a specific project, or have a particular topic you need to know more about, it makes far more sense to ask many people rather than just one:- you may find real experts, and you may find people who have time to give very specific answers. The best way to do this is to join a medieval mailing list, or access the Usenet groups which discuss such issues.


About the Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Searching the Internet

Listings of Medieval Websites

  • Medieval and Byzantine Weblinks [Defunct]
    is associated with the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and used to provide a guide to online sites, as well as links to other net guides. The rapid turnover of websites, and their ephemerality, makes projects like this no longer possible to keep up/

Searching the Internet

The Web is vast and now that it contains more, and more diverse information, than any single printed source. This availability of information will only increase and is a truly splendid new tool to help in your research. To use the Web efficiently, the various search engines are essential. It is important to form your query words as clearly as possible. For instance, if you are interested in finding information on a particular musician, do not search for "music", but for a style [eg "jazz" or "gregorian chant"] or even a name ["abba", "charlie parker", "hildegard"]. There used to be many search options. Now there are three main ones.

  • Google This also has options to search through published journal articles and the contents of books
  • Bing Microsoft's alternate to Google. Sometimes finds things Google doesn't
  • DuckGoGo This preserves your privacy as the other sites collect user data
Reference Sources on the Net
  • Wikipedia
    For many years academics resisted recommending Wikipedia. It always has to be used with caution. But it is now unavoidable and irreplaceable. For many of its specialised articles it is very competent and now includes references. It is often a good starting place for bibliography. One tip is that sometimes the articles on the same subject in the different language Wikipedias are written by different teams and contain different references and bibliography. This can be very useful. AI language translation, while still far from perfect, means that it is quite possible to use the translate function to see if Wikipedia articles in other languages are useful for your inquiry. For medieval and Byzantine topics it is often worth looking at the German, French, Italian, and Greek Wikipedia articles on the subject.
  • Catholic Encylopedia
    This multivolume work was published in 1907. Some of its articles are a little sectarian, but much of it was compiled by experts in Catholic and medieval liturgy, theology, and art. Great scholars such as Herbert Thurston SJ were involved. As a result its availability online is a great boon to medievalists. Note, however, that it was published in 1907 and there has been much later research on every topic.
  • Jewish Encylopedia
    The website contains the complte contents of the 12 volume Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906.
  • Encyclopedia.com from Electric Library
    This lets you search for date in the online Columbia Encyclopedia. Its great for checking dates, etc. It ties into to the pay-for-access Electric Library, which can give your, for a fee, access to online articles from a wide variety of sources.
History (and Related Subjects) Net Guides Writing and Citation Guides Online Bookstores
  • [List removed. You know where to look]
Other Online Text Sites Critiques of Net Information About Medieval People
  • What Medieval People Looked Like
    • The History of Costume, Braun & Schneider - c.1861-1880 [At SIUE]
      This is a wonderful online resource with full color plates of all periods of costume history.
  • How to Cook Medieval Food
    • Master Huen's Boke of Gode Cookery
      A compilation of Medieval recipes from period sources, with modern adaptations for the 20th c. kitchen. With diverse facts on food & feasting in the Middle Ages, and many things related historically. [At SCA site: at labs.net]
  • Society for Creative Anachronism
    The SCA is the main Medieval "re-creation" history group, and some of its members have very useful websites on Medieval everyday life. [Unlike, for instance, US Civil War groups, the SCA does not "re-enact" any real events. Generally, people in the SCA "create anew" what they particularly like about the medieval era (or, in some cases, what they particularly like about what they think they know about the medieval era!).]
    CAVEAT EMPTOR! (Buyer Beware!) - what you find on SCA sites may have little (or nothing) to do with what actually happened in the middle ages.
Common Medieval Questions
  • text?


The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.   Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 8 February 2023