Perdita Manuscript icon

Resource in focus: Perdita Manuscripts

The Perdita Manuscripts is an excellent resource for those interested in Early Modern history, Women’s Studies, and the History of the Book. It provides access to digital copies of little known manuscripts written by women, together with helpful notes and essays by experts in the field.

Screen shot of an example  manuscript from Perdita Manuscripts database.

The database holds over 230 digitised manuscripts created and compiled by women in the British Isles during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  These previously ‘lost’ (perdita) female authors produced a diverse range of content such as account books, calligraphic writing, culinary writing, diaries, medical writing, prayers, prose, translations, travel writing, verse and more. The collection also includes writing in English, French, Greek, Italian, Latin and Spanish.

Screen shot of an item record from Perdita Manuscripts.

Document detail pages include a thumbnail of the original document, which you can enlarge to view or download as a pdf, alongside details of the manuscript. Links on the left may provide further physical descriptions of the manuscript, additional information on the repository holding the item and bibliographic data.

Some manuscripts also include section details; these highlight sections within the manuscript that contain your keywords and provide additional notes plus a link to the relevant part of the document:

Screen shot of section details from Perdita Manuscript item record.

The manuscripts can be explored and accessed in three ways:

Documents Section

Under the Documents tab, you can browse the manuscripts by alphabetical listing, genre, repository, date and language.

Searching Aid Section

The Searching Aid tab allows for browsing by Perdita Women (primary authors of manuscripts), Names in general (key names included in the database, excluding the Perdita Women), Places, Genre and first lines of poetry or prose.

Search Tool

The search tool located in the top right, provides options for a basic keyword search and an advanced search.  While BOOLEAN operators, phrase searching, and wildcards can be applied in both search options, advanced search allows for a more complex query to be constructed by searching particular fields (e.g. title or perdita women) and applying limits to language, genre or source.

The Help section provides further useful advice and guidance on searching the database and using the digitised images in your study, research or teaching.

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