Perdita Manuscripts I: Women Writers 1500-1700 – Adam Matthew Digital

by Jessica C. Murphy

Perdita Manuscripts: Women Writers, 1500-1700

“The Perdita Manuscripts project is on the cutting edge of digital scholarship, allowing scholars to consult detailed descriptions and full facsimiles of early modern women’s manuscripts from a wide range of public and private collections through a simple yet versatile search interface.”

Dr Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts, Folger Shakespeare Library

This resource is produced in association with the Perdita Project based at the University of Warwick and Nottingham Trent University. Their goal was to identify and describe all manner of writing by early modern women from diaries to works of drama.

We have now enhanced their path-breaking work by linking the new detailed catalogue descriptions with complete digital facsimiles of the original manuscripts. The result is a resource which is indispensable for anyone interested in women and women’s writing in Early Modern Britain.

One of the key attractions of the resource is that it brings together little known material from widely scattered locations. This resource includes over two hundred and thirty manuscripts from 15 libraries and archives in the UK and North America.

The manuscripts are remarkably varied in their content including works of poetry, religious writing, autobiographical material, cookery and medical recipes, and accounts. Historians and literary scholars alike will find this an invaluable resource. There are contextual essays from academics working in the field, as well as biographical and bibliographical resources.

via Perdita Manuscripts I: Women Writers 1500-1700 – Adam Matthew Digital.

Over the break, I received an email from Lauren Edwards at Adam Matthew Digital with an updated link for what was once the Nottingham Trent Perdita Project. The resource is now available to libraries via subscription.

I have not yet had the chance to take a look at what this paid version has to offer through the free trial, but I do wonder whether this trend to paid-only access to these resources creates significant road blocks for those of us at institutions without subscriptions. My former institution had access to everything, and I know from experience that Adam Matthew puts together good online resources. In particular, the addition of digital facsimiles of the works will be invaluable. The added search feature will also make using the information a lot easier. However, all of this  is now for only those who can afford to use the information, and that in itself makes me a little nervous.