- Find collections of digitized manuscripts.
- A decent, if sometimes out-of-date, place to start is https://digitizedmedievalmanuscripts.org/, which is a meta-collection of institutions with digital manuscript collections. If the link to an institution on that site is dead, try Googling the name of the institution – it may just have an updated URL.
- New collections are being put online all the time, and are regularly shared all over SCA social media, so keep an eye out.
- Sometimes an item or search result in one collection will link to an item in a different collection (watch headers, layout, and URLs so you know if you’ve been sent to a different institution’s collection). If you end up in a collection you haven’t seen before, do searches there as well.
- Keep track of places you’ve had success in the past – some of them regularly add new items.
- Search within any collection you find.
- ‘Keyword’ searches are usually the best bet if that option is available.
- See the Table of Search Terms below for some useful terms to start with depending on the institution’s language.
- Keep track of the most effective search terms in any given collection.
- Look closely at the full record for any results you find that are even vaguely on-topic; most collections will have things categorized by ‘Subject’. Search by the ‘Subject’ of results you find.
- Look at any good (or even half-decent) results you get from various search terms, and see what other words the titles, descriptions, or other key words have in common; try searching with these new words as well.
- Some search terms will give you a small number of good results but will miss a lot of other sources. Some search terms will give a lot of results but include a lot of false positives. (For example, using ‘arms’ might bring up every item where the book has an armorial bookplate, which isn’t all that helpful; but using ‘armorial’ might miss an excellent source that is titled or described as ‘a collection of arms’.)
- Try to figure out as much about the search interface as possible – run the page through a translator if necessary.
- Use filters and sorting as much as possible to limit results, for example:
- Filter for ‘created’ dates between 1250 and 1650
- Sort items by date order with the oldest first
- Some collections include all items held by that institution, digitized or not – filter for ones that have digital copies
- Filter type of media for ‘book’ and/or ‘manuscript’
- Record as much as possible.
- It’s tempting to look through things you find right away, but this can cause you to lose your search momentum. Instead, quickly record a brief description and a URL of anything of potential interest to look through later.
- If a search brings up a promising-looking result that doesn’t appear to be online, keep digging. Google the name of the source, or the shelfmark – it might be hosted elsewhere, or could point to a lead to a similar source. Even if you find nothing, don’t give up – record the details of the source and try looking again in a few months.
- You’ll occasionally find things that have little or nothing to do with heraldry, but are interesting nonetheless (I’ve found a book of Italian Renaissance hedge maze designs, recipe books, books full of drawings of different styles of equestrian bits, etc.). Save these somewhere – you never know.
|English||coats of arms|
|English||album amicorum||“friendship book” – a type of autograph album|
|German||schönbartbuch/schembartbuch||book of costumes and arms from the Schembart Carnival in Nuremberg – there are a lot out there, typically they all show the same set of armory|
|German||schiessen||“shoot” – some records of German shooting tournaments include the arms of the participants|
|Italian||priorista||collection of the arms of people who served on the government of the Republic of Florence|