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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.


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 will find something of use to you.

Suggestions for Bibliography and Web Sites

If I know of a web site it is already linked to from one of my pages. For the middle ages and Byzantium see the list of links at

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 Net. Try searching Melvyl - the University of California Library system - probably the best place for bibliographic searches. It is available via telnet at telnet://melvyl.ucop.edu [give your terminal type as "VT100"] There is no general search engine for academic journal articles, but   through Melvyl you can link to CARL, which lists recent periodical literature. See also:

Genealogy questions

Many people are interested in their family history, or supposed "royal", "imperial" or "aristocratic" background. You have to do this research by yourself, since, not surprisingly, few other people are interested in your family history. Good places to start are:

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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can do bibliographic research on the net better than in almost any given library. But you cannot do real original research on the net - that requires going to libraries. The information on the net is distinctly "middle-brow" - translations, English versions, and selections, rather than original texts, original languages, and complete collections. This may change in the future, but only with extensive funding.Remember: If all else fails, try asking a librarian!
About the Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Searching the Internet

Listings of Medieval Websites

Specific Medieval Search Engines
  • Internet Medieval Sourcebook Search Page
    Riding on the back of the Hotbot search engine, this lets you search the texts in the Sourcebook, or texts at other Historical etext websites, or the entire net.
  • Diotima: Searching Net Resources
    The big problem with Internet search engines is that they do not serach online databases. This is a page compiled by  Ross Scaife at Kentucky which lets you access many of the databases of interest to Medievalists, Byzantinists and Classicists.

Searching the Whole 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"]. Here are links to the best "wide area" search engines on the Web. Yahoo is best, I think, if you are looking for specialized websites. Altavista, Excite, and Hotbot all index many more documents. These engines will always turn up more references, but far more will be dross than with Yahoo. It is useful to start with Yahoo since it has a nice feature - once it tells you everything that it has found, it will automatically plug you in to the other search engines.

  • Yahoo!
    The best for web sites as opposed to specific documents.
  • HotBot
    The most flexible of the search engines - it lets you get 100 hits at a time.
  • AltaVista: Main Page
    Competes with Hotbot to be the most comprehensive search engine on the web.
  • LookSmart
    A sort of combination of Yahoo and Hotbot. It has its own list of commented on websites, but also plugs into Altavista.
  • Excite
    Some people love this search engine. I think it loads too much advertising onto your system.
  • Lycos
    Lycos seems to have lost much of its early lead.
  • Google Groups
    Allows you to search messages to usenet/netnews.
  • Reference.COM Search
    This lets you search the past postings of mailing lists [rather the usenet newsgroups] Since a higher quality of discussion takes place on such lists, this can be very useful.
  • Search for Lyrics
  • Other Engines
    The following are all online, and you might something useful there. I never do.
Reference Sources on the Net
  • 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.
  • Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable 1894
    A searchable compendium of all sorts of information.
  • My Virtual Reference Desk - My Facts Page
    A hierarchical guide to where to find information on the net.
  • AltaVista: Translations
    Provides an online translation service to/from English and French/Spanish/German/Italian.
  • The WWW Virtual Library
    A searchable and comprehensive co-operative annotated guide to the net by scholars in each subject area.
History (and Related Subjects) Net Guides Writing and Citation Guides Online Bookstores 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]
  • Medieval Bathing and Toilet Habits
  • 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!).]
    • See Yahoo!: SCA for a listing of SCA sites.
    • Stefan's Florilegium
      A collection of  a variety of SCA members posts on all aspects of daily life in the middle ages.
    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
  • ORB: Medieval Studies for the Nonspecialist: A Guide to Online Resources
    Covers issues such as the Middle Ages in Movies, fiction for Students of History, Bibliography and FAQs on popular medieval figures and issues, introduction to the Middle Ages for adults and young adults, the BBC Crusades Series (Monty Python goes on crusade), Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, The Great Stirrup Controversy, Richard III, Thomas Becket.

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook participates in ORB, the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies.