Medieval Londoners grew out of an undergraduate digital project for an interdisciplinary course on the archaeology and history of medieval London, which is described in an article published in The Digital Medievalist. To help students research the ‘biography’ that they wrote on a medieval object for this assignment, lists of annotated sources were generated that now serve as the foundation of the Resources sections of the Medieval Londoners project.
The project’s searchable database of individuals who lived in medieval London was inspired by the many prosopographical databases developed by Maryanne Kowaleski and her graduate students and by Kowaleski’s experience with two other online databases: the Online Medieval Sources Bibliography and Medieval Digital Resources, both of which were done with minimal funding (but essential coding help by Morgan Kay). The initial aims of the Medieval Londoners project were: 1) to provide students and scholars with a standardized dataset that could support prosopographical studies of the people of medieval London; 2) to facilitate research with an intuitive interface that allows users to discover and analyze records by browsing or searching on specific set of criteria; 3) to employ linked data to connect the records in the Medieval Londoners Database (MLD) with other biographical records of the people we have identified; 4) to accomplish these ends without an expensive custom-coded database; 5) to build in pedagogical exercises that draw upon the Medieval Londoners resources and database; and 6) to use this digital project to provide digital training and experience for students.
Planning for the project began in late summer 2018, and in the fall of 2019 Katherina Fostano created first a Word Press then an Omeka version of the database designed by Kowaleski; Fostano has also facilitated the use of linked data by switching to a new digital platform, Omeka S. Populating the database was accelerated in 2019 when Elizabeth Duchovni helped to create customized programs for electronic extraction of html data, as well as for data validation and formatting. David Howes worked throughout this period to design the Word Press site and to enter data on civic offices. Christie Olek joined the team in June 2019 to focus on the entry of guild-related material. In August 2019, John A. McEwan joined the project as Co-Editor and Digital Advisor. Rachel Podd began to contribute data on medical practicioners in October 2019. We welcome others who are interested in contributing to the project on a regular basis.
The official launch of Medieval Londoners is scheduled for late June 2020.