Eddies in the timestream! And this is his couch?
January 30, 2010 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Timelines: Sources from History is a decade-by-decade visual index to the holdings of the British Library from the 1210s to the present.
posted by Horace Rumpole (11 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Fantastic. The best quality interactive database I've seen. Thanks for posting this.
posted by uraniumwilly at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2010

Bibliogasam. Brb.
posted by clarknova at 8:23 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ditto uraniumwilly. I have mixed feelings about the digitalization of all of these collections: on the one hand, the access to historical documents is obviously improved, improving the quality of scholarship (theoretically). The sorting ability of this one is fantastic! It would take an istorian decades to do this manually. So there's that. OTOH, the Romantic in me realizes that now there's no need for the adjunct historian to apply for that grant to spend a month in the British Library. Good old-fashioned archival skills--turning yellowed pages, completely happening upon an undiscovered diary entry or letter or newspaper clipping--aren't they sort of essential? Or am I just the Hopeless sort?
posted by njbradburn at 8:34 AM on January 30, 2010

njbradburn, this is just the tip of the BL iceberg--adjunct historians are in no danger of running out of yellowed pages to turn anytime soon. In any event, as valuable as the digitization of special collections is, it's never a complete substitute for physical interaction with original materials. In fact, digitizing collections tends to increase the amount of use they get in the reading room.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:41 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is not for the hardcore pros other than as a teaser because it's a secondary source. Research historians will still want to get their hands dirty with the original documents. It is very much for me, though! I'm glad someone posted it.
posted by immlass at 8:50 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is not going to sit well with my plans for a productive Saturday morning.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:59 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

So the 1440 "Recipe for Custarde" has an audio clip attached of a person reading the recipe. I have always wondered, how is it that they think they know how Middle English sounded? Is it all guesstimation based upon how it was written / spelled or is there more certainty involved?
posted by XMLicious at 9:15 AM on January 30, 2010

This is excellent. I may have a chance to look over these materials at the British Library this summer and I am freaking out!
posted by duvatney at 9:20 AM on January 30, 2010

"I have always wondered, how is it that they think they know how Middle English sounded?"

I suspect Middle English spoke in English Pirate, only with a substantial dignified flair. Luckily we all know how to speak pirate.
posted by uraniumwilly at 9:21 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is why I am in love with the internet - thank you!
Bibliogasm indeed...
posted by smartypantz at 9:27 AM on January 30, 2010

I had to comment simply because the title of this post is my all-time favorite line from the HHGTTG series. I constantly try to explain to people why I think it is so funny and am met mostly with blank stares, so it brought me great joy to see someone else reference it.
posted by GatorDavid at 1:20 PM on January 30, 2010

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