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Michigan State University

Renaissance or Early Modern Material Culture: FREE WEB SITES

This is a guide to researching the Renaissance/Early Modern Period, in the West, especially material culture.


A couple of general sites, followed by an alphabetical list.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

This guide is a list of scholarly resources in Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies. Intended primarily for librarians; it may be useful to scholars in this field.  It is curated and managed by members of the European Studies Section (ESS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries. Users are free to copy and edit content from this guide for their own purposes.

History Highway: a 21st Century Guide to Internet Resources Reference and DMC 4 West (CD) D 16.117 .H55 2006

An annotated bibliography of web sites.

Alphabetical List Starts Here

Art and Science of Healing

The Kelsey Museum of Archeology and the University of Michigan Library recently put together this website that traces the history of medicine in Europe and the Middle East, from Ancient Greece and Rome through the Renaissance. The exhibit is divided into five sections: Religion and Magic, Graeco-Roman Medicine, Islamic Medicine, Medieval Medicine, and Renaissance Medicine. In each of these five sections, visitors can browse multiple topics to view interesting artifacts and manuscripts related to these topics.

Atlas of Early Printing

Atlas of Early Printing is an interactive site designed to be used as a tool for teaching the early history of printing in Europe during the second half of the fifteenth century. While printing in Asia pre-dates European activity by several hundred years, the rapid expansion of the trade following the discovery of printing in Mainz, Germany around the middle of the fifteenth century is a topic of great importance to the history of European civilization. The Atlas is the creation of Greg Prickman, Head of Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries. It is hosted by the University of Iowa Libraries.  The atlas, along with accompanying material such as the animated printing press model, is designed to be used as a teaching resource. The map and the information that it depicts represents data compiled by research using common bibliographic catalogues and databases for fifteenth century printing, along with secondary sources focusing on each of the contextual layers of the map.

Before Farm to Table Early Modern Foodways and Cultures

From the Folger Shakespeare Library.  A Mellon grant funded project.  Has recipe books.

Bibliotheca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliografico

More than 250,000 digitized pages from over 1000 manuscripts and print items in Spanish public libraries. Searchable by author, title, chronological period, in any of the languages of Spain and English. Freely downloadable. Ongoing additions.

Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads

The Bodleian Library has unparalleled holdings of over 30,000 ballads in several major collections. Broadside ballads are important source material for:

  • popular literary history
  • music history
  • social history
  • art history
  • printing history

The Broadside Ballads project, undertaken with funding from the NFF Specialised Research Collections initiative, aims to make the ballads and ballad sheets available to the research community.

Broadside ballads were popular songs, sold for a penny or half-penny in the streets of towns and villages around Britain between the sixteenth and early twentieth centuries. These songs were performed in taverns, homes, or fairs -- wherever a group of people gathered to discuss the day's events or to tell tales of heroes and villains. As one of the cheapest forms of print available, the broadside ballads are also an important source material for the history of printing and literacy. Lavishly illustrated with woodcuts, they provide a visual treat for the reader and offer a source for the study of popular art in Britain. Tens of thousands of ballad broadsides are held in libraries in Great Britain, but the variety and quantity of these single-sheet songs has often posed problems for researchers. Many of their distinctive features, such as varying titles applied to the same text, make them difficult to find in normal library catalogues. Very few are signed by an author. Most lack even a year of publication. The Broadside Ballads Project seeks to facilitate access to the ballads held in collections at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

The Bodleian Library holds over 30,000 ballads, contained in several collections. These have been gathered into a single catalogue which is now presented, along with a scanned image of each ballad sheet, in the Broadside Ballads Project.

The integrated catalogue is now online, and the Web interface allows searches for, inter alia, song sheets, ballads or illustrations. Comparisons can now be made of multiple copies of the same ballad. In addition, a few of the ballads have scores; for these sound files are provided.

Each ballad in the collections is indexed by title, first line, and subject. An index of names holds entries for all authors and performers named on the ballad broadsides. The catalogue records describe each ballad broadside, noting whether it is illustrated, showing the full imprint statement (where given) and listing each separate ballad on the sheet. The names of authors, performers and publishers are also indexed, and there is an index of ballad subjects rangimg from the general ('Wedding'), through political topics of the day ('Jacobite Rebellion, 1715') to named persons ('Calvin, John'). Further information on how to find particular ballads and broadside sheets is given in the Help section.

The woodcut illustrations are indexed by subject, using the image classification system ICONCLASS. The section on Iconography explains how woodcuts can be searched using the ICONCLASS system.

bpi1700: British Printed Images to 1700

This is a database of thousands of prints and book illustrations from early modern Britain in fully-searchable form. The image records have been organized in such a way that copies and variations of the same print are gathered together within a single record. Prints can be searched for by producer, by name of person depicted, and by subject, and it is possible to combine various search criteria. The subject search is based on a systematically organized thesaurus arranged by topic, based on and largely compatible with ICONCLASS. Other information included: links to other websites of historical prints and information on history, genres, and techniques of print-making. Led by Professor Michael Hunter from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London, bpi1700 is a collaboration between Birkbeck and technical staff at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College, London. The project has also involved the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, and the Department of Word and Image at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Bridgeman Art Library

Has a very large database of fine art images from over eight thousand collections and 29,000 artists. Browsing in this resource is free, but beware: to download or print an image you must buy it from the company.

British History Sources 1500-1900

Connected Histories brings together a range of digital resources related to early modern and nineteenth century Britain with a single federated search that allows sophisticated searching of names, places and dates, as well as the ability to save, connect and share resources within a personal workspace. There are a number of research guides in this website on such topics as: crime and justice, family history, history of London, Imperial and Colonial History, local history, Parliamentary history, poverty and poor relief, religious history, searching for images or place names. Based on the print series (Main DA 26 .E55) edited by David C. Douglas.

Casebooks Project

The Casebooks Project is a digital product offering a tool for searching and reading the medical records of the astrologers Simon Forman and Richard Napier. It covers 1596-1634. The project is ongoing: 48,500 cases are now live. When complete, it will contain 80,000 cases and images of the manuscripts. Our editors transcribe the formulaic material at the beginning of each entry, and categorise and tag it using historically sensitive analytic categories. Full transcriptions of the casebooks are not provided, but other information in the records, including information about individuals and their associates, is tagged and can be searched.

Clergy of the Church of England Database

CORSAIR, the Online Collection of the Pierpont Morgan Library

Provides searchable records for 15,000 plus digitized images from the Pierpont Morgan Library's rich collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscript books, with links to each.

Crace Collection of Maps of London

This is the essential guide through the history of London: some 1200 printed and hand-drawn maps charting the development of the city and its immediate vicinity from around 1570 to 1860. The maps were collected, mainly during the first half of the nineteenth century, by the fashionable Victorian society designer, Frederick Crace. After entering the site look for the link to "See all the items in this exhibition." From the British Library Map Collections.

Creating Shakespeare

From the Newberry Library, Chicago, a digital exhibit on how Shakespeare created his work and how that corpus has lived on afterwards.  Information on his time period of life and work and the sources that inspired him.  "Afterlife" looks at the ways his works have been printed, performed, studied, reinvented since.

Casting Shakespeare

Visual deep dive into data from over one thousand productions of 10 Shakespeare plays from 1900-2018.  Info on the actors who have starred in his plays and how they shaped the roles and interpretations of The Bard over time.

Database of Early English Playbooks (DEEP)

Contains every playbook produced in England, Scotland, and Ireland from the beginning of printing to 1660.  Database created by Alan B. Farmer, Ohio State U. and Zachary Lesser, U. of Pa.  Contains single playbooks as well as collections of them.  For scholars of 15th, 16th, and 17th c. English lit.

Diary of Samuel Pepys

A daily diary kept by "increasingly-important" civil servant Samuel Pepys from 1660 to 1670.  See the  Summary of Pepys's diary under The Diary tab, before browsing the full text  by date (under All Entries). Letters section contains correspondances to and from Peyps. In-depth articles on topics like "The Garden at the Navy Office." See the Encyclopedia, which has entries for "5,077 people, places and things," from Pepy's time, offering contextual significance and history. Map has markers denoting places mentioned.  A project of web designer and actor Phil Gyford assisted by Project Gutenberg from whence the full text comes.

Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama (EMED)

Explore over 400 early modern English plays that were performed in London's professional theaters between 1576 and 1642. The Anthology features fully searchable descriptions of 403 plays, with links to further resources.There are also 40 documentary editions of the first printing of works such as Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, and Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair.  Project of the Folger Library.

Digital Bodleian

The single, central portal to the multiple and separate digital collections created by the Bodleian Library at Oxford University over the past two decades. Designed for item-level searching or collection-level browsing; links to each collection unfold as one scrolls down. Collections range from medieval and Oriental manuscripts to late-20th-century political posters, and include maps, ephemera, games, and texts. Only collection-level materials are identified on the home page.

Digital Medieval Manuscripts at the Houghton Library

The Houghton Library's distinguished collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts represents a significant resource for the study of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Western Europe. Assembled through gifts and purchase over the past two centuries, this collection includes works in Latin, Greek, and most of the vernacular languages of Europe that are the primary sources for the study of the literature, art, history, music, philosophy, and theology of the periods. This Web site provides strategies for searching Houghton's medieval manuscripts as well as links to bibliographies related to these materials that were compiled by the Library.

Diplomatic Correspondence of Thomas Bodley, 1585-1597

He lived 1545-1613.  Founder of Oxford's Bodleian Library.  Was a diplomat and traveled.

Dissenting Academies Project

In 1662, the Parliament of England passed the Act of Uniformity - which required adherence to many rites and ceremonies prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. One of the rites required was episcopal ordination for all ministers. In response, other Protestant religious communities established a number of dissenting academies, which were "intended to provide Protestant students dissenting from the Church of England with a higher education similar to that at Oxford and Cambridge, from which they were largely excluded." This digital humanities project, created by the Queen Mary Centre for Religion and Literature in English, allows visitors to learn more about these academies through an extensive database and encyclopedia of 220 academies that existed between 1660 and 1860. The database also includes thousands of individuals who were involved in the academy as tutors or students.

Early Music Online

From the British Library's collections, this is a digital product contains over 300 of the earliest surviving printed music collections, containing some 10,000 individual works.  Most of the publications are sets of part-books of vocal polyphony, though some early printed tablatures for keyboard or plucked string instruments are also available.  Includes music printed in Italy, Germany, France, and England.  Browsing and searching are available through links to the Royal Holloway and British Library websites.  Full bibliographic descriptions for all publications available in library catalogs.  Scanning was done from microform copies. 

English Broadside Ballad Archive

EBBA makes broadside ballads of the seventeenth century fully accessible as texts, art, music, and cultural records.

In its heyday of the first half of the seventeenth century, a broadside ballad was a single large sheet of paper printed on one side (hence “broad-side”) with multiple eye-catching illustrations, a popular tune title, and an alluring poem—the latter mostly in black-letter, or what we today call “gothic,” type.

About 8,000 English broadside ballads of the entire seventeenth century survive. To capture the genre’s arch of development, EBBA seeks to archive all these printed ballads—with priority given to the black-letter ornamental broadside of the genre’s heyday—as well as all surviving sixteenth-century broadside ballads (about 250) and a representative sampling of broadside ballads of the early eighteenth century.

ESTC English Short-Title Catalogue (via internet to British Library)

The 'English Short Title Catalogue' (ESTC) is an international project established at the British Library in 1977. Its aim is to create a machine-readable bibliography of books, serials, pamphlets and other ephemeral material printed in English-speaking countries from 1473 to 1800, based on the collections of over 2,000 institutions world-wide. In 2006, the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) lists over 460,000 items: * published between 1473 and 1800 * mainly in Britain and North America * mainly, but not exclusively, in English * from the collections of the British Library and over 2,000 other libraries. The ESTC now also includes records for early English serials, annuals, newspapers, and news-books. The geographical scope for these is the same as for books, and coverage is from the beginning of serials printing (around 1620) through to the end of 1800. This version should be more up-to-date than the 2003 ed. but the search interface is different. This is not a full-text database; for full-texts see the electronic resources entry for Early English Books Online (EEBO)for imprints from 1470s through 1700 and Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) for imprints from 1701-1800.

EuroDocs: Primary Historical Documents from Western Europe

These links connect to Western European (mainly primary) historical documents that are transcribed, reproduced in facsimile, or translated. They shed light on key historical happenings within the respective countries (and within the broadest sense of political, economic, social, and cultural history). Covers medieval and Renaissance, Europe as a supranational region, as well as documents of individual countries. From Brigham Young University.

European History Primary Sources

Provides access to scholarly digital repositories and other portals dealing with all facts of European history, from ancient to modern times.  Browse by country, language, subject, time period, type of resources.  Types of resources: dictionaries, drawings, interviews, letters, maps, pamphlets, photos, posters, sheet music, more.

European Jesuit Provenance Project

This is the largest census of books owned by European Jesuit institutions prior to the suppression.  It includes both texts currently held in libraries and information from pre-1773 inventories, and is an ongoing project created by Kathleen Comerford (Georgia Southern University).

Fashion History Timeline

This is open-access source for fashion history knowledge, featuring objects and artworks from over a hundred museums and libraries.  It offers well-researched, accessibly written entries on specific artworks, garments and films for those interested in fashion and dress history. Decade and century overview pages offer visual examples of period styles, a visually rich fashion dictionary defines key terms, and hundreds of examples of dress analysis from antiquity to the present day model the complicated task of discerning whether something is fashionable  or merely everyday dress, as well as the historical implications of that distinction. It features a search-able Source Database of reliable academic publications on fashion and dress history and a much more extensive Zotero database that students and researchers can draw on and contribute to. It is a project of the History of Art dept. at New York University.

Folger Digital Texts

Free, high-quality digital texts of Shakespeare's plays start with the basics: superb source texts, meticulously edited on the basis of current scholarship. The plays in Folger Digital Texts are taken from the Folger Shakespeare Library editions, completed in 2010 by editors Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine and published by Simon & Schuster.  To these texts, are added sophisticated coding that works behind the scenes to make the plays easy to read, search, and index—and lays the groundwork for new features in the future. We've also used the same page numbers and layouts as in the Folger print editions, so it's simple to use the two together.


A sort of wikipedia operating as the Folger Shakespeare Library's public outreach/research tool.  Entries for the Shakespeare plays.  Rich but spotty content.  Info from their special exhibits back to the 1990s, with links to older exhibit catalogs, offer both primary and secondary information that would be useful supplementary reading.


Gallica is a database of some 70,000 French texts and 80,000 images created by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, chosen from its own and other French collections. Contains literature, history, science, philosophy, law, and economic and political science materials. Some 1250 of the works can be word searched within the texts.

Global Shakespeares

Global Shakespeares Video & Performance Archive is a collaborative project providing online access to performances of Shakespeare from many parts of the world as well as essays and metadata provided by scholars and educators in the field.  From MIT.

Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine

From the U.S. National Library of Medicine.  Highlights the relationships between the magic depicted in the Harry Potter universe and the "Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy." examples of Renaissance texts discussing potions, monsters, herbology, magical creatures, and immortality, with each example paired with relevant examples from the Harry Potter books. Under the SEE the digital gallery tab toward the bottom of the page, visitors can browse scanned images from 25 works by Renaissance thinkers. Teaching resources for middle school through university.

Hidden Collections Registry

Provides access to previously hidden or unprocessed library, archives, and museum collections whose owners have received grants to catalog and make the contents accessible online from the Council on Library and Information Resources.  You can search the database by broad topic, such as British studies, medieval studies, etc., or by keyword.  You can limit results by collection name, by institution type, by format. 

Humanism for Sale: Making and Marketing Schoolbooks in Italy 1450-1650

Welcome to Humanism For Sale, which concerns the ways books were written, designed, printed, and marketed for schools in Renaissance Italy. This started out to be a scholarly book, but I have decided to publish it as a blog instead. This dynamic form will allow me to present source documents in facsimile, and to revise, correct, and discuss my research with many potential readers. I am thinking of at least three groups: Scholarly specialists in printing history and history of education; generalist readers and scholars in other fields who want to know more about the Renaissance and the way people were educated then; and designers, marketing professionals, educators and others interested in the history of visual communication.

Iberian Studies Web

This is a portal for links to scholarly web resources related to Spain and Portugal. There you will see a link to History, under the section for Spain, that in turn goes to documents and primary sources, etc.

Illuminating Shakespeare

To celebrate the 400th year of Shakespeare's death, 2016, Oxford University Press is offering, for free, the best of its Shakespeare online resources: blogs, videos, articles, books, infographics, more. 

Interactive Historical Atlas of the Disciplines

Aims at collecting and mapping data related to the history of the disciplinary structure of science. Launched in 2018 at the University of Geneva, this collaborative website provides several tools to explore the various 'classifications of the sciences' put forward by numerous scholars over the centuries, and to visualize the evolution of disciplinary borders from Antiquity to our days.
The ultimate goal of this project is to reconstruct the genealogical tree of the sciences, namely, the "table of contents" of the history of human knowledge. As such, the present atlas should be of interest not only to historians, but also to philosophers, sociologists and anyone interested in the history of their discipline and its relations to others sciences.

Internet Global History Sourcebook

The Global History Sourcebook is dedicated to exploration of interaction between world cultures. It does not, then, look at ''world history''as the history of the various separate cultures (for that see the linked pages, which do take that approach), but at ways in which the "world" has a history in its own right. Specifically this means looking at the ways in which cultures contact each other, the ways they influence each other, and the ways new cultural forms emerge.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook

Collection of primary sources of historic documents from the early modern period to the present for both Europe and the Americas. Includes links to other sources of information on modern history and on the nature of historiography, and links to maps, images, and music.

Intoxicants and Early Modernity: England, 1580-1740

Project explores significance of intoxicants such as tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and opium to "the economic, social, political, material, and culture life of England from 16th-18th centuries."   Showcases 5 themes.  Link to beta version of their database where readers can browse sources.  Collaboration between University of Sheffield and the Victoria and Albert Museum.  PI is Phil Withington, Prof. Univ. of Sheffield.

Knitting Together The Heritage of the East Midlands Knitting Industry

Timeline tells the story of the East Midlands U.K. knitting industry over the past four hundred years. Virtual museum, project themes, interactive exhibits and a range of other information. Sound, video, interactive tours, virtual exhibitions, and places to visit provide an insight to the history of the East Midlands knitting industry.

Map of Early Modern London

The Map of Early Modern London maps the streets, sites, and significant boundaries of late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century London (1560-1640). Taking the Agas map as its platform, the project links encyclopedia-style articles, scholarly work, student work, editions, and literary texts to the places mentioned therein. Students will view the landmarks of Shakespeare’s London, and learn about the history and culture of the city in which he lived and worked. Teachers will find the map and index useful in teaching Renaissance plays and other texts set in London. Scholars are welcome to contribute articles, links, sources, or compilations of data.

Mapping Manuscript Migrations

This is a portal that allows scholars to track more than 216,000 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts by origin, owner, author, and title.  It combines data from three MS databases: the Schoenberg Database of MSS at U. of Pennsylvania, Bibale at the IRHT (the French Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes), and Medieval Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

MEMSlib Online Medieval Resources

From University of Kent, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.  Offers links to web sites in manuscript studies (to help with paleography and codicology), medieval history art and architecture (image sourcing sites), and early modern history (best digitized text sites and general reference bibliographies).  Also offers a Forum where people can ask each other questions.

Merchant Fleet of Late Medieval and Tudor England 1400-1580

Database by Craig Lambert, University of Southampton, contains the details of English, Welsh, and Channel Islands merchant ships, and the voyages they undertook, between 1400 and 1580. The database was compiled using evidence from three core documentary records: 1) Customs Accounts: the records of customs charges levied on English maritime commerce. The taxation of maritime commerce was an important part of the crown's income and to collect revenues from custom charges the crown needed to systematically record the details of the ships and their cargoes as they entered or left port.  2) Navy Payrolls: the crown's wartime requisitioning (and payment) of merchant vessels for naval duties and for the transportation of armies and supplies to Scotland, France, and elsewhere.  3) National ship surveys: compiled to provide the government with accurate information as to the size and geographical distribution of the English merchant fleet. In many cases the customs accounts, naval records, and ship surveys provide us with the name of the ship, its home port, its master, and sometimes the destination and/or origin of the port from which it sailed. This means we have the names of thousands of shipmasters, ships, and details of the commercial active ports in England over this period. (from the web site).

MoEML: The Map of Early Modern London

Uses modern technology to recombine and present centuries-old data in new ways.  Based on the Agas map, a woodblock printed 16th-17th century bird's-eye view of London, MoEML encompasses four separate, related projects: a digital edition of the Agas map; an encyclopedia and digital gazetteer of London people, places, topics, and terms; a library of digital texts, marked up in TEI; and a digital edition of the 1598 text of John Stow's A Survey of London.  Search by street name or category of location.  By clicking on a particular building or street the user is linked to a series of documents detailing the history of the place chosen and its role in society.  Project done by University of Victoria, Canada, with support from Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

PARES: Portal de los Archivos Espanoles

A searchable database that combines materials from various archives in Spain. Includes also records from Archivo de Indias, so also useful for Latin American research.

Parker Library on the Web

Matthew Parker (1504-75) was a powerful figure of the English Reformation who was largely responsible for the Church of England as a national institution. Parker's talents were sought by both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. He served as chaplain to Anne Boleyn and proved himself a capable administrator, becoming Master of Corpus Christi College (1544-53), Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, and Archbishop of Canterbury (1559-75). A benefactor to the University of Cambridge, Parker's greatest tangible legacy is his library of manuscripts and early printed books entrusted to Corpus Christi College in 1574. He was an avid book collector, salvaging medieval manuscripts dispersed at the dissolution of the monasteries; he was particularly keen to preserve materials relating to Anglo-Saxon England, motivated by his search for evidence of an ancient English-speaking Church independent of Rome. The extraordinary collection of documents that resulted from his efforts is still housed at Corpus Christi College, and consists of items spanning from the sixth-century Gospels of St. Augustine to sixteenth century records relating to the English Reformation. The Parker Library's holdings of Old English texts accounts for nearly a quarter of all extant manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon, including the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 890), the Old English Bede and King Alfred´s translation of Gregory the Great´s Pastoral Care. The Parker Library also contains key Anglo-Norman and Middle English texts ranging from the Ancrene Wisse and the Brut Chronicle to one of the finest copies of Chaucer´s Troilus and Criseyde. Other subjects represented in the collection are music, medieval travelogues and maps, bestiaries, royal ceremonies, historical chronicles and Bibles. The Parker Library holds a magnificent collection of English illuminated manuscripts, such as the Bury and Dover Bibles (c. 1135 and c. 1150) and the Chronica maiora by Matthew Paris (c. 1230-50). Scholars in a variety of disciplines - including historians of art, music, science, literature, politics and religion - find invaluable resources in the Library´s collection.


Mostly a site used by classicists.  But, in the Renaissance Materials section there is primary and secondary material on early modern English literature, including the works of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.

Reading Europe European Culture through the Book

The "Reading Europe: European Culture through the Book" exhibition is brought to you by The European Library and the national libraries of Europe. This online exhibition offers a rare opportunity to view some of the hidden literary gems from the national libraries of Europe. Twenty-three countries have selected nearly a thousand works for the public to peruse.

Renaissance Choral Music

A guide to resources about Renaissance choral music by the M.S.U. Libraries' music librarian, including recordings on CD able to be checked out, books about music of this period and music scores and how to find them in our Fine Arts Library.

Renaissance Cultural Crossroads

An online catalog of translations made in Britain from 1473-1640, compiled by Brenda Hosington, with notes on the translators and the translations.

Renaissance Festival Books

Collection of 253 digitized primary texts describing festivals and ceremonies of Renaissance Europe, dating from late 1500s to early 1600s. Part of the British Library's Treasures in Full Project.  Many titles in Italian, French, Spanish, German.  Texts are not searchable.  Offers secondary reading.

Renaissance, the Elizabethan World

Huge site.  Offers links to online reading on/of: period texts, research and reference, people, maps, costume, literature, food, gardens, music, games, swordplay, exploration, wordplay, guildes, faires, fonts, scripts.  Maggi Ros.

Romeo and Juliet: Searchable Database for Prompt Books

Includes two fully-searchable databases containing information from approximately 170 prompt-books for productions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Data was assembled by Jill Levenson during the preparation of her Oxford Shakespeare edition of the play. Coverage is from productions from the 17th century to the 1980s.


From University of Iowa.  A social network analysis of publishers, writers, manuscripts, and booksellers in the late-fifteenth through eighteenth century England. Created by a team of English scholars and librarians, along with a computer scientist, this project allows English and history scholars to explore metadata compiled from the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) - a catalogue of [most] every book printed in England between 1473 and 1800. Visitors can explore this data in three ways. In Social Network Analytics, visitors can explore a network map between two specific dates (e.g. 1473-1500) and search for specific individuals within a graph. Alternatively, visitors may explore publications by decade or conduct a text search of the catalogue.

Shakespeare Census

Database that attempts to locate and describe all extant copies of all editions of Shakespeare's works through 1700, excluding the four folio editions.

Shakespeare Documented

From the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C. Brings together high-res images, descriptions, and transcriptions of all known references and allusions to Shakespeare, his family, and his writings, almost entirely from his own lifetime. Over 30 institutions have contributed to the effort. Chief partners include the Bodleian Library, the British Library, The National Archives, and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Shakespeare Quartos Archive

A prototype that collects full-color, high-quality digital images and TEI-encoded text of 32 quarto editions of a single play, Hamlet.  Need to use Google Chrome or Safari browsers to display.  Shakespeare in Quarto is similar, works in all browsers, has  less advanced viewer technology, and brings together many existing quarto editions of his plays, which predate the famous folio editions.

Shakespearean Prompt-Books of the Seventeenth Century

These works are studies of the stage texts used in various seventeenth-century performances of Shakespeare's plays. G. Blakemore Evans has identified the different manuscript hands that annotate the prompt-books and compared the cuttings with other eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Shakespearean stage texts. Thus, the collection provides an opportunity to examine Shakespearean performance traditions and innovations. Many of the prompt-books and other stage texts are reproduced here in facsimile, and the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center has created a searchable database of the editor's Introduction and Collations for each play. The textual references in the Collations are linked to JPEG images of the corresponding prompt-book pages, when possible. Use the table of contents at left as a guide to the eight volumes in the series.

Shakespeare's Beehive

In 2008, two, New York, rare book dealers, George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler, bought a rare, obscure, never reprinted 1580 book by John Baret called  Alvearie.  It is a dictionary.  Contained in this particular copy are a great many hand written annotations they believe are by William Shakespeare.  There is evidence in his plays of the use of the words and annotations, they conclude.  This website presents information about this project.  People can register to see/use Baret's Alvearie here.

Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press

Contains six online videos about the development of the technology of printing with movable type on the hand press, invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1450s. Narrated by Stephen Fry. Modern day technicians build a printing press, cut type, make paper, set type, use the press to make a page of the Bible mostly the way Gutenberg would have done it. At the site, type the title Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press into the search box.

Stuart Successions Database

Searchable catalogue of the writing printed in response to moments of royal and protectoral succession over the long 17th c.  Contains records for over 3000 examples of succession literature across several genres, including panegyric and elegy, sermon and pamphlet, address and proclamation, the materials are for use to uncover new ways of understanding the relationship between literature, print, and politics during the tumultuous 17th c. A collaborative project of the universities of Exeter and Oxford.

Tudor Networks

The Tudor government maintained a communication network that criss-crossed the globe. This visualisation brings together 123,850 letters connecting 20,424 people from the United Kingdom’s State Papers archive, dating from the accession of Henry VIII to the death of Elizabeth I (1509-1603).

Welcome Library Images

Over 100,000 high resolution images including manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements are now freely available from the Welcome Institute for the History of Medicine.The images range from ancient medical manuscripts to etchings by artists. The earliest item is an Egyptian prescription on papyrus, and treasures include exquisite medieval illuminated manuscripts and anatomical drawings.

William Corbett's Bookshop

William Corbett was a bookseller in Newcastle Upon Tyne, who died in 1626.  When he died, someone made an inventory of all the books in his shop.  The inventory and his will are in Durham University's Special Collections.  This website allows for exploration of 17th century English book trading, the network of individuals that brought books to Newcastle, Corbett's will, inventory records, and digital versions of some of the books. 

Winterthur Digital Collection

Winterthur Museum, in Wilmington, Delaware, is one of the premier museums of  American material culture, located in the childhood home of the industrialist and collector Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969).  The Digital Collection includes detailed records, many accompanied by images, for the majority of the approximately 90.000 collection objects: ceramics, furniture, glass, prints, paintings, metalwork, and textiles.  Most date from about 1600-1860.

USTC, Universal Short Title Catalogue

USTC is a freely accessible database of bibliographical entries, with library holdings information, for books printed in Europe between the invention of printing and the end of the sixteenth century. Its purpose is akin to the ESTC, English Short Title Catalogue, also in our electronic resources. USTC began as a professor's project at University of St. Andrews to "survey French religious books, intended as a contribution to the study of the Reformation. But it proved impossible to make sense of French Protestantism without also creating a bibliography of Catholic books; then it seemed important to survey all French vernacular imprints, to establish how religious books fitted into the economy of print. It was only when this first project was nearing completion in 2007 that we conceived the more ambitious goal of extending our work on France to all of Europe." Then the project surveyed holdings in over 300 French libraries, particularly municipal libraries, which have many early printed books seized during the French Revolution. The project then "turned its attention to other areas of Europe for which there were no comprehensive surveys of early print: notably the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and the Low Countries." They are now working to include entries from German and Italian libraries There are links to some freely accessible, full texts.

Wolsey Manuscripts

Digital versions of two handwritten, illuminated manuscripts made for English cardinal Thomas Wolsey, 1470/71-1530.  They are both lectionaries that provide Bible readings to be used on specific saints' days. One contains  material from the Gospels (New Testament books of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the other material from the Epistles (Letters of Paul, New Testament).  The Gospels ms. belongs to Magdalen College, Oxford.  The Epistles ms. belongs to Christ Church College, Oxford. 

Women's Work in Rural England 1500-1700

Using a sharper definition of ‘work’ our project is focused on collecting incidental information about work activities from court documents for quantitative analysis, as well as data on waged work from accounts. It aims to systematically describe and explain the contours of women’s working lives in rural England between 1500 and 1700, making comparisons between women’s and men’s work, and paid and unpaid work.

Michigan State University