Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
How do I find primary sources?
Q: I don't read Latin/Old High German/Medieval Arabic/etc. How can I find sources in English?
A: You're in luck! There are many resources in English right here in the library and online. Click the links in the grey and white box for some of the larger ones. To find even more, perhaps on a specific topic, try finding one by beginning at a more generalized topic.
For example, I clicked on the link in the grey box for Medieval worlds: a sourcebook. In SuperSearch, you can click on the record title (pictured below) and scroll to see the subjects listed, including subjects with "source" in them. These typically have translated or transcribed primary sources.
Below are links to primary sources and source collections. These are not the only sources available to you, but they represent a wide sample.
Take a look at the links, use them to brainstorm searches using the tips on the left, and don't hesitate to reach out if you want to do some searches with a librarian!
Link is to ecopy, Wellesley also holds a paper copy in the stacks.
A great number of primary sources in translation, some of which include secondary sources for further reading at the end of the entry.
The Crusades: a reader
This beautiful addition to the Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures series brings together an unprecedented range of primary source texts on the topic from the medieval era. Of special note are the non-Christian materials—Muslim and Jewish sources—included along with standard European Christian texts.
The documents collected date from the 8th through the 15th centuries and have been translated from Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Castilian, Catalan, and Portuguese. Includes visual materials and increased coverage of Jewish and Muslim affairs, as well as more sources pertaining to women, social and economic history, and domestic life.
Other Middle Ages
"Translated from their original Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic, these texts, many of them first person narratives or testimonies, give insight into those figures who made Medieval society uneasy."
Pageant of Medieval England
"he Pageant of Medieval England covers various topics, including Anglo-Saxon England, Medieval monastic life, the life of the feudal aristocracy, popular medieval religion, and the disintegration of medieval society. " Sources with contextual text.
The France and England Project: Medieval Manuscripts between 700 and 1200
800 manuscripts from The British Library and the Bibliotheque nationale de France, digitized and organized by theme, authors, places, and centuries. Subcategories are fairly fine and provide the searcher with good control over the search results.
A growing image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research.
Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
illustrated and searchable catalog Western illuminated medieval and Renaissance manuscripts held in the British Library. Each manuscript has an electronic description and a selection of captioned images.
Modern Language Translations of Byzantine Sources
A searchable list of Byzantine sources in translation. Wellesley does not own all of these, but you can request a copy via InterLibrary Loan (see Find Secondary Sources tab).
Byzantine Sources in Translation
Another good list of sources in translation that can be requested through InterLibrary Loan.
Artstor This link opens in a new window
Digitized images of art, architecture, and other forms of visual culture from around the world, from museums, archaeology, photo archives, slide collections, and art reference works, dating from B.C.E. to present.
Requires creation of an Artstor account to download images. This account also grants you off-campus access for 60 days. If your account is inactivated or you need to create an account, make sure to use a library link (such as this one) to get to Artstor so that you will be recognized as a Wellesley user.
Internet Medieval Sourcebook
Sources relevant to the history of the medieval world, organized and collected for ease of academic use. Edited by Paul Halsall, the ORB Sources editor, at Fordham.
The Labyrinth provides free, organized access to resources in medieval studies. The Labyrinth’s easy-to-use links provide connections to databases, services, texts, and images around the world.
Medieval Family Life
A trial database containing the papers of several families. Includes some visual materials.
Medieval Travel Writing
This new collection from Adam Matthew Digital presents manuscripts of some of the most important works of European travel writing from the later medieval period. The chief focus is on journeys to central Asia and the Far East, including accounts of travel to Mongolia, Persia, India, China and South-East Asia.
Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516
a massive Internet project providing a descriptive list of the more than 2,100 markets & 2,500 fairs in England & Wales, c. 900-1516 CE. Samantha Letters, of the University of London, Centre for Metropolitan Research, is using the pre-1974 designations for English counties, listing markets & fairs by town within the counties.
Avalon Project: Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Documents
Legal and political documents relating to the Roman Catholic Church, imperial decrees, laws, the Magna Carta, and more.
Epistolae: Medieval Women's Letters
Letters translated from the Latin, 4th-13th century AD. Courtesy of Joan Ferrante, Columbia University.
Links to digitized sources, like letters from crusaders, chronicles of Emperors, papal documents and edicts, and more. Not all sources are in translation.
British Library Digital Collections
Virtual books that you can interact with, including audio summaries and descriptions in English.
NetSERF: The Internet Connection for Medieval Resources
an ever-expanding site that lists various online resources dealing with the medieval world. There is an excellent link to a Medieval Glossary on the left side of the opening page.
Global Medieval Sourcebook
Online, interactive collection of medieval texts and their translations - Stanford University