OPEN SESAME

17 February 2012

An exciting project by Kings College London and the University of Winchester will put inquisitions post mortem on line in searchable form and with free access. Details are here.

The web is slowly opening up to us the treasures of England and the world.
Google is an excellent guide to what is available, a world away from the days of card indexes in individual depositories.

Already many historical documents and illustrations, in depositories far away from most of us, are available for free or for a modest charge; for example, the Fine Rolls of Henry III are online; I used them in Aristotle’s teeth, my look at facts and fancies of Cornwall’s history. And it’s not just England. The French archives, for example, have Rymer’s Foedera on line. And it’s not just history. Google and Project Gutenberg have made many books reachable and readable and the Bodleian Library has an agreement with Google for the digitalisation of many of its books. The British Library has put British newspapers on line and searchable: your Cornwall library card gives you free access as it does to the Oxford English Dictionary. I have mentioned in the blog several map projects on line such as Oxford’s archeological landscape one.

We live in rich times for accessible resources, many free. Of course, too much publically-funded work, especially in the sciences, is behind financially prohibitive paywalls but this is an arrangement that is being challenged as these two recent articles from the Guardian show:
Open access journals: are we asking the right questions? and The parable of the farmers and the Teleporting Duplicator.


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