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The Collation

Announcing EMMO's Beta Launch

To kick off the new year at Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO), the EMMO team (Paul Dingman, Mike Poston, Sarah Powell, Caitlin Rizzo & Heather Wolfe, with additional thanks to Rebecca Niles) is thrilled to announce the launch of our beta site. Throughout this test period we will add transcriptions and new features to the site, with a view to making EMMO’s corpus an indispensable resource for early modern scholars in the years to come.

EMMO Beta Site

The EMMO Beta Site

Just under 50 letters from the Folger’s manuscript collection are now viewable with side-by-side images and full transcriptions. We have created three types of transcriptions: diplomatic, semi-diplomatic, and regularized. A diplomatic transcription attempts to present the text exactly as is written (as far as this is possible!). A semi-diplomatic transcription refers to a transcription in which a few changes are made to make the transcription more readable (e.g. abbreviations are expanded and presented in italics; superscript letters are silently lowered). For both the diplomatic and semi-diplomatic versions, the original spelling of the manuscript is preserved in the transcription. Our regularized version “modernizes” the spelling, so the transcription is at its most accessible in terms of readability and searchability. Users can easily download the XML versions of the encoded transcriptions, as well as downloading PDFs of the semi-diplomatic transcriptions.

Image: EMMO Beta Site,

Folger MS L.a.13: Letter from Yeldard Alvey, Oxford, to Walter Bagot, displayed side-by-side with its transcription.

The site design is user-friendly: simply click on the “browse transcriptions” box in the top right-hand corner to access transcriptions. A list of items with basic information will appear on the browse screen, in order by call number. Users may also order the list of items by date or author. Once an item of interest is identified from the browse list, simply select which version (diplomatic, semi-diplomatic, or regularized), and a new screen will appear with the transcription on the left and a corresponding image on the right. Basic metadata is shown at the top (additional metadata and information is available by clicking the “more” link).

A IIIF viewer is incorporated into the EMMO beta site to optimize access to the manuscript images. Users may rotate an image left or right by 90 degrees (to read those bits of text written at an angle), move the image around intuitively by dragging the mouse pointer, toggle to a full screen view of the image, and, of course, zoom in or out. The viewer offers amazing close-up detail without waiting for the page to reload. We invite you to explore these fascinating images and all of the wonders they contain.

Image: EMMO Beta Site, detail from L.a.13: Letter from Yeldard Alvey, Oxford, to Walter Bagot, The Folger Library.

Detail from Folger MS L.a.13: Letter from Yeldard Alvey, Oxford, to Walter Bagot.

A search feature is also included to enable quick explorations of the transcriptions based on user entry of a specific word or phrase. With EMMO, the full text of all the transcriptions on the site is searched, not just summaries or cataloging descriptions, and users can select transcriptions quickly and easily from a results list. Also, there’s no need to worry about getting the original spelling right (or wrong?) for searches because the feature uses the regularized version to find matches. In other words, by entering “time” in the search field, you won’t miss instances of “tyme” from the diplomatic and semi-diplomatic transcriptions.

The transcriptions themselves come from EMMO’s flourishing community of contributing transcribers: including the EMMO team, Folger staff, Folger readers, EMMO interns, volunpeers on Shakespeare’s World, and ultimately the many volunteer transcribers who have participated in transcribathons, Folger Institute’s paleography courses, transcription pub nights, Practical Paleography sessions or other. You know if you are one of us! (And a huge thank you!)

EMMO aims to continue encouraging the study of paleography. With this is mind research guides, paleography learning aids, teaching plans, authority files, and advanced searching options will be added to the site further down the line. Additional genres (such as miscellanies, recipe books, literary works, legal documents, coats of arms) will also make an appearance as the project continues.

The official launch of the EMMO site will take place later in 2017. We are excited about the research potential of this site in the times to come, as more transcriptions are added.



Congratulations on an impressive project. I am especially interested in the wide range of high resolution facsimiles of early modern English handwriting and am wondering what the rights are on these materials. I am assembling a library on early modern handwriting samples, which up until recently have been difficult to find online in sufficiently high resolution for forensic purposes. Yours are very high resolution which is great.

Thanks again.

Dr. Roger Stritmatter
Coppin State University

Roger Stritmatter — January 25, 2017


Thank you for your comment! Yes the images are available under CC BY-SA 4.0. More on information on this here:

Sarah Powell — January 25, 2017


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