Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England

[Image: Witness list of a royal diploma, S 497 (extract); Aelfwine]


The Search Column

The Search Column

The leftmost column is the Search Column. Clicking on the controls here allows the user to select which records he or she wishes to view by applying a filter to the contents of the database: only those records that match the criteria set by the user are displayed.

Value Selectors

The most important controls in the Search Column are the Value Selectors, labelled Contains Text, Persons, Source, Possession, Location, Event, and Date when the page is first loaded.

The purpose of the Value Selectors is to allow users to select the entities they are interested in for display in the Results List. For instance, if a researcher is only interested in persons mentioned in the works of Bede, he or she would, in person view, click the Source control to open it and then select Bede from the list that appears. The Results List would then display the name and identifier of every person mentioned by Bede.

It is also possible to use the selectors to combine these values. If the user were interested in particular in the late seventh century, he or she could then select Date -> l vii, and the Results List would update itself to display only those persons who are both mentioned in Bede's writings and known to be alive during that time.

The numbers that follow each value indicate the number of results that would be returned if the value were selected. Note also that the interface automatically eliminates all values that would produce no results. For instance, once Bede has been selected, the user is no longer offered the choice of selecting the early eleventh century under Date, as Bede died in 735 and thus does not record events after that year.

Value Selector Controls

The most important interactions with the Value Selectors are simple clicks: users open selectors and select values within them by clicking. Depending on the nature of the selector, however, the user may be presented with additional controls.

Expand: Many selectors are organised hierarchically. In such cases clicking on the Expand button will reveal the next level down in the hierarchy.

Letter Picker: In selectors in which values are ordered alphabetically, clicking a letter in the Letter Picker allows the user to jump to the selected point in the value list.

Text Search Box: Users with targeted searches in mind can enter text into the text search box, which is located immediately below the Letter Picker.

Clicking 'Go' then causes all values associated with the selector and that match the text to be displayed in a list below the search box.

All text searches are implicitly followed by a '*' wildcard character – so that searching for 'Ulf' under name brings up not only 'Ulf', but also 'Ulfr', 'Ulfcetel', 'Ulfcytel', 'Ulfgrimr', and 'Ulfkil'.

Note that although the Contains Text text search box appears in many ways similar to the search boxes associated with Letter Pickers, its behaviour – described below under the Contains Text header – is slightly different.

The Search Column: Other Controls

In addition to the Value Selectors, the Search Column contains two further sets of controls.

Persons/Factoid Selector: The PASE database interface can display information about two kinds of entities: persons (historical individuals) and 'factoids' (assertions made in our sources concerning these individuals).

Using this control, users can switch between these two search targets.

Coin/Domesday Filters: The PASE database holds a great deal of information drawn from Domesday Book and from numismatic sources. Valuable though such sources are to historians, much of the data they hold does no more than testify to the bare existence of a witness or moneyer. Such lists of otherwise-unknown persons can easily 'swamp' meaningful results. Checking or unchecking these boxes thus allows the user to include or exclude these sources from the search.

The Search Column: What the Categories Mean

The category labels supplied for the Value Selectors are intended as far as possible to be self-explanatory. The complexity of the time period and of our sources, however, means that this goal has by no means always been achieved.

Contains Text Contains Text is unlike all the other Value Selectors. Rather than allowing users to select one value from a range of options, it presents them with a text input control. Entering text and then clicking on 'Go' then causes a search for all records containing the search term(s) across the entire database.

Note that, unlike the other text search boxes available within PASE, the Contains Text search does not automatically append a wildcard “*” character to the text string. A search for 'king', for example, will not return records containing references to 'kings'. To retrieve these a separate search for the full string will have to be performed.

Persons This category contains all terms that directly characterise persons. It is subdivided into the following categories:

Name The names of persons and institutions.

Gender This heading is somewhat more expansive than one might expect, and incorporates 'Institution' as a category.

In addition, note that the value 'M/F' refers to mixed groups of people and 'undefined' to groups of people about whom no information regarding gender composition is given – rather than to individuals of both or neither gender.

Status The social status accorded an individual. Note that the lines separating 'Status' from 'Office' and 'Occupation' are often fuzzy; users who fail to find an expected term here are advised to check the other two selectors also.

Office An office held by an individual. Note that this category potentially overlaps with both 'Status' and 'Occupation', both of which may hold terms the user might expect to find under 'Office'.

Occupation An individual's occupation. This category is sometimes difficult to distinguish from 'Status' and 'Office', and users may have to check all three selectors to find a term they are looking for.

Personal Information This selector groups together individual traits not otherwise categorised. These are: education, ethnicity, intellectual repute, language competence, moral repute, obit, other, physical characteristics, piety, provenance, psychological character, religion, reputation, residence, saintly status, stated health, and wealth.

Relationship An individual's recorded relationship to other individuals. This is a hierarchical category, and broader than one might expect. It includes:

Education Instances in which individuals are recorded as being students or teachers.

Source The Source selector allows the user to search for persons and factoids according to the historical source in which they appear.

This selector is hierarchical. Author names and document categories (e.g., charters, Domesday Book) form the first level of the hierarchy. Its second level typically consists of individual works, either written by that author or belonging to that class of document.

Possession Possessions recorded as having been owned by individuals in the database.

This is a hierarchical selector. Its top level consists of general categories (e.g., 'tithes', 'land'), its bottom level of specific instances of these categories ('tithes from Somerton', 'Appleford, 5 mansi').

Location Locations associated with individuals and factoids in the database.

This selector holds two sub-selectors, Region and Specific Location. Note, however, that the specificity of values within these sub-selectors varies widely. Because the majority of PASE data concerns England, references to locations within England are often much more specific than those of other countries – so that e.g. 'Norway' appears as a region alongside 'Northumbria' and 'Nottinghamshire'.

Event This selector holds values describing the very wide range of events held in the database.

This selector is hierarchical. Although the structure and headings of this hierarchy are intended to be self-explanatory, this might not always be the case, and users are encouraged to explore the various levels and subhierarchies in order to gain a sense of the material arranged here and how it is organised.

Date Allows the user to filter results by date. Owing to the nature of our sources, this selector's chronology is defined in terms of thirds (early, middle, and late, abbreviated 'e', 'm', and 'l') of centuries (6th through 12th) – so that clicking 'e xi' within the selector will, for example, select all persons or factoids associated with the early eleventh century (1000 - 1032 AD).

Note that the dating here is floruit dating, indicating only that a person was alive during the period indicated.