The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Carolyn P. Schriber

    Rhodes College

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The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies
Carolyn P. Schriber
Rhodes College
Keywords: website, medieval studies, teaching

The "heart" of The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB) is an encyclopedia that provides original essays written by leading scholars in each field. These introductory remarks, designed for entry-level college students, are supplemented by bibliographic essays that lay out the state of current scholarship in the field and discuss research methods. Specialized essays on related topics expand each field for more advanced students. Links to other ORB sections flesh out the encyclopedia. We provide detailed bibliographies, maps, original source material in translation, diagrams, works of art, sound clips, and photographs. Instructors can also find sample syllabi, teaching aids, lists of related websites, addresses of specialized scholarly organizations, journals, and discussion groups. These are the building blocks, from which instructors can design individual courses that meet the specific needs of their students.
Current holdings have expanded to over 90 megabytes. We have 123 contributing writers from 10 countries. Materials are primarily in English, but we also carry entries in German, French, and Latin. We have affiliated websites around the world; these allow our topic editors to maintain their materials at their own universities while retaining full accessibility through ORB. Our Sourcebook, which contains over 300 short teaching selections, resides at Fordham. The library of book-length translations remains at Kansas and is mirrored at Berkeley. The section on Late Antiquity is at Nipissing University in Ontario. The Anglo-Saxon section, appropriately enough, runs from the Center for Computing at Oxford. Medieval Spain is at Little Rock. The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity is at Evansville. The database on women's religious houses is at Mt. Holyoak. The database of liturgical imprints is at the University of Michigan. Old English literature is at Georgetown, the Scots language and Literature project is at the university of Glasgow, the Dante site is located in Berlin, and the material on the Low Countries is centered in Amsterdam.

ORB has received favorable reviews in The Chronicle of Higher Education and in a publication of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It has been catalogued for inclusion on OCLC and MARC--a sign of its acceptance among librarians as a valuable research tool. ORB, of course, will never be finished. It is an on-going project, in which materials are added and updated on a regular basis. It will expand in step with our own increasing technological capabilities. Of course the crucial question is whether these materials are being used. At the moment the Rhodes server alone is receiving over 6000 hits per day. That works out to over four connections per minute, 24 hours a day. Inquiries and comments come from all over the world. We are still actively recruiting writers and expanding our coverage of topics. This conference seems to be an ideal place to inform scholars of the resources we offer and to encourage others to contribute to our efforts.

As editor of The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB), I am very interested in presenting our year-old WorldWideWeb project to participants in the Joint International Conference of ACH-ALLC'97. I would be happy to present a poster session and to conduct live demonstrations of our website at

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info

In review


Hosted at Queen's University

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

June 3, 1997 - June 7, 1997

76 works by 119 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ALLC (9), ACH/ICCH (17), ALLC/EADH (24)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC