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Public invited to delve into the secrets of Medieval Londoners

Members of the public are invited to help uncover the details of everyday life for Medieval Londoners as part of Transcription Tuesday 2023.

Medieval painting of boats on the river Thames
Medieval painting of boats on the River Thames

The Get to Know Medieval Londoners project, a collaboration between The Centre for Medieval Studies at Fordham University and the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London, is digitising over 3,000 medieval property records to give an in-depth insight into people’s day-to-day lives in the city.

The project is one of four taking part in Transcription Tuesday 2023, organised by the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are magazine. The event, on Tuesday 31 January, brings together family historians from across the world to transcribe valuable documents online and make these available to fellow researchers.

For Transcription Tuesday, the project researchers are asking for the public’s help to transcribe easy to read index cards based on records from London’s Husting Court, a civic body that heard the cases of the city’s inhabitants and preserved records of judgements and agreements. These documents contain incredibly detailed information on where people lived, their interactions with family and neighbours, and at a wider level, the changes to the capital’s fortunes over time.

In a recent blog post about the project, Grace Campagna explains how Get to Know Medieval Londoners builds on the work of the Social and Economic Study of Medieval London, which in the 1980s translated and transcribed the original Latin records onto over 4,000 index cards. Last year, Grace worked with the Institute of Historical Research, who currently hold the physical cards, to prepare high-quality scans of the cards to use in the Get to Know Medieval Londoners project.

The team, with help from the public, are now working to create accurate digital versions of these index cards and to make this material more accessible to those who wish to use it in their research. All of the data produced through this project will become part of the open-access database on the Medieval Londoners website, where participants will receive credit for their contributions.

Transcription Tuesday will run on 31 January 2023. Details on how to take part can be found on the Who Do You Think You Are? website.