GEMMS: Gateway to Early Modern Manuscript Sermons

Search Guide



Browsing GEMMS

To browse the database, select a table to browse at the top of the Basic Search page. Users have the option to browse Bible Books, Manuscripts, People, Places, Repositories, Sermons or Sermon Reports.

Record types

Browsing can be useful if you are interested in a particular Bible Book, person, place or repository.

Bible Book records show all the sermons that have Biblical texts from that book.

People records show all manuscripts, sermons, sermon reports, and places linked to a person. The record shows the role the person played in creating the linked sermons, such as whether he was the preacher, notetaker, scribe, etc., and shows whether the sermons are in a preacher’s autograph.

Place records show the manuscripts, sermons, sermon reports and people linked to a place, as well as any repositories or other places located there.

Repository records show all the manuscripts in the database housed there. The large numbers of manuscripts and sermons in the database make searching more useful than browsing.

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Sorting and navigating tables

Users can sort any of the tables by clicking on the headings of the columns. For example, the People table can be sorted by ‘Last Name’, ‘First Name’, ‘Birth’ or ‘Death’ dates.

Users can select how many results to display by choosing the number of rows from the dropdown menu beside the number of results.

Click on any item to see the full record. Click on ‘Back to Last Search’ to continue browsing a table.

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Searching GEMMS

Full text (Basic) searches

The full text search searches the GEMMS sermon, sermon report, manuscript and people records. It does not search the actual text of sermons because this data is not entered in GEMMS.

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Refining searches

This search allows users to find any records that contain the specified word(s) or number(s).

Full text searching is useful when users want to search for more than one term at a time, such as searching for two or more occasions, genres of sermons, preachers, etc. You can do this by using ‘or’.

Users can narrow results by using ‘and’. Blank spaces are treated as ‘and’.

For example, a search for ‘Easter 167*’ brings up all the results for sermons related to Easter, including Easter Sunday, Easter week, with preaching or composition dates from the 1670s. The full text search likely would bring up some records that are not directly relevant, but the occasions related to Easter would have to be searched individually in the Advanced Search.

Users can use ‘*’ for a wildcard to truncate words. For example, searching for ‘charit*’, will find records containing both ‘charity’ and ‘charitable’.

Full-text searching is the best way to find sermons by preachers from a particular denomination. Some sermon, sermon report and manuscript records mention the preachers’ denominations, and the people records identify the denomination for people who were active from the mid-seventeenth century onwards. Please see our conventions, listed in the GEMMS User’s Guide, for a list of our preferred terms for the different denominations.

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Sorting and navigating search results

Users can sort results by clicking on the headings of the columns: ‘Record Type’ or ‘Title’.

Users can select how many results to display by choosing the number of rows from the dropdown menu beside the number of results.

Click on any item to see the full record. Click on ‘Back to Last Search’ to continue browsing the results of a search.

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Advanced searches

The best way to refine your searches is to use Advanced Search. Click on ‘Advanced Search’ on the Basic search page.

Users must select ‘Manuscripts,’ ‘Sermons’ or ‘Sermon Reports’ to search. ‘Manuscripts’ includes all the manuscripts in GEMMS, and they may contain sermons, sermon reports or both. ‘Sermons’ is a broad category that includes a wide range of records of sermons, including full texts of sermons, sermon notes, sermon fragments and outlines of the main points of sermons. ‘Sermon Reports’ includes other types of manuscript records of sermons that only briefly mention sermons, such as diaries, commonplace books, lists of sermon, and letters. Currently, there are relatively few Sermon Reports entered in the database, but we will continue to add more as we find them.

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Sorting and navigating search results

Users can sort any of the results by clicking on the headings of the columns. For example, Sermons can be sorted by ‘Title’, ‘Repository and Shelfmark’ or ‘Extent’.

Users can select how many results to display by choosing the number of rows from the dropdown menu beside the number of results.

Click on any item to see the full record. Click on ‘Back to Last Search’ to continue browsing a table.

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Downloading search results

To download search results, click on the ‘Download Search Results’ button beside the number of search results. The system with generate a ‘.csv’ document, which is a generic spreadsheet document, with selected fields (including sermon or report title, manuscript title and shelfmark, repository, preacher(s) if known, and extent) from the results.

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Searching for Manuscripts

Users can search for Manuscripts by Repository, Creation Date or People in various roles. All other fields can be searched using the full text search. Users can combine as many fields as they want, but the more fields used, the greater the chance that the search will yield no results.

In Repository

Users can search for sermons in a particular repository by selecting it from the dropdown list. Users cannot currently search for sermons in repositories in a particular city, region or country, but we hope to be able to offer this in the future.

Date Searching

Users can search for sermon reports by Creation date by entering a year or range of years. Creation dates can either be the exact or approximate year(s).

Person and role

Users can search for a person in a particular role or roles. For manuscripts, almost all the associated people are manuscript owners, though a few dedicatees are included. First, select the role or roles from the role dropdown list, and then select the person from the people dropdown list.

Users can select multiple roles to search by clicking in the role box to add more roles. It can be helpful to search for the both certain and uncertain roles at the same time, such as ‘manuscript owner’ and ‘manuscript owner?’.

When you choose a role or roles, the people dropdown list will only include those people that have that role or one or more of those roles. This helps limit the number of searches with zero results.

If you find that there are no people listed in the dropdown list, then you may have chosen a role that is only used in sermon or sermon report records, such as ‘patron’ or ‘author of letter’. Please choose a different role or search for sermons or sermon reports.

When searching for a particular person, make sure you look for alternate spellings in the dropdown list because variant spellings of names are common in manuscripts from this period.

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Searching for Sermons

Users can search for Sermons by Repository, Manuscript, Composition and/or Preaching Dates, Bible Book, People in various roles, Sermon type, Sermon genre, Preaching Occasion or Location. All other fields can be searched using the full text search. Users can combine as many fields as they want, but the more fields used, the greater the chance that the search will yield no results.

In Repository

Users can search for sermons in a particular repository by selecting it from the dropdown list. Users cannot currently search for sermons in repositories in a particular city, region or country, but we hope to be able to offer this in the future.

In Manuscript

Users can search for sermons in a particular manuscript by selecting it from the dropdown list. Manuscripts are listed by the name of the repository, followed by the shelfmark.

Date Searching

Users can search for Sermons either by Composition date, Preaching date or Both. We recommend searching either by Preaching date or Both because Composition dates are used to provide a broad range of probable dates for undated sermons. Preaching dates are provided when sermons are dated or it is possible to narrow the range of probable dates for sermons.

If you want to include only dated sermons in your search, use Preaching dates, otherwise search by both Composition and Preaching dates.

If you are searching by Preaching dates or Both dates, you can narrow your results by entering months and days along with a year or years. Otherwise, you can simply enter the desired range of years and leave the month and day fields blank.

Users can search for sermons with preachings on particular months and/or days irrespective of the year by searching by Preaching dates (not by Both dates) and entering the desired month and/or day without a year in the ‘Date not before’ field.

Date searching can be complicated because many sermons are undated and can only be assigned to very broad date ranges, often based on external evidence.

One thing to note when searching for dates is that some dates are entered by the ‘Old’ reckoning and others by the ‘New’ reckoning. This is specified beside preaching dates. In GEMMS, ‘Old’ or ‘New’ reckoning does not refer to the Julian and Gregorian calendar, as the Gregorian calendar was not adopted in Britain until 1752. ‘Old’ style refers to the system in which the year starts on 25 March. ‘New’ style refers to the system in which the year starts on 1 January.

The date search assumes that users are entering Old style dates, so it is best to extend your date search by a year to ensure that your results include any relevant sermons with New style dates. For example, if you want to search for sermons from 1662 and include sermons with both New and Old style dates, you should search for dates with a Start date of 1661-01-01 and an End date of 1663-03-24.

Bible book

Users can search by Bible Book by selecting the book from the dropdown list. The list only includes Bible Books with associated sermons in GEMMS.

Including a chapter or chapter and verse is optional, but it is possible to further narrow your results by including these.

Person and role

Users can search for a person in a particular role or roles. First, select a role or roles from the role dropdown list, and then select a person from the people dropdown list.

We use ‘auditor’ for someone who attended the sermon but otherwise was not associated with the manuscript sermon; we use ‘notetaker’ for someone who takes notes on a sermon, whether they heard or read the sermon.

Users can select multiple roles to search by clicking in the role box to add more roles. It can be helpful to search for both certain and uncertain roles at the same time, such as ‘preacher’ and ‘preacher?’. For example, searching for ‘preacher’, ‘preacher?’, ‘notetaker’ and ‘notetaker?’ for William Sancroft the Younger, gives results for all the sermons for which he had one of these roles.

When you choose a role or roles, the people dropdown list will only include those people that have that role or one or more of those roles. This helps limit the number of searches with zero results.

If you find that there are no people listed in the dropdown list, then you may have chosen a role that is only used in sermon report records, such as ‘author of letter’. Please choose a different role or search for sermon reports.

When searching for a particular person, make sure you look for alternate spellings in the dropdown list because variant spellings of names are common in manuscripts from this period.

If you want to find sermons by preachers from a particular denomination, search for the denomination in the full text search, which will find any relevant records. Please see our conventions, listed in the GEMMS User’s Guide, for a list of our preferred terms for the different denominations.

Sermon type

Users can search for sermons by selecting particular types of sermons, such as auditor’s notes, preacher’s outline, sermon, etc., from the dropdown list. Please see our blog for a description of our sermon taxonomy (http://gemmsproject.blogspot.ca/p/gemms-sermon-taxonomy.html)

Sermon genre

Users can search for sermons by sermon genre. Most of the genres identified relate to the sermons’ occasions, such as anniversary, charity, funeral or thanksgiving, though some of the genres relate to the content of sermons, such as devotional, instructive or reproof.

Be aware that sermon genre is an optional field in the database, and search results will likely not include all the sermons in the database of the specified genre. In many cases, the genre of a sermon is not given in a sermon record because the contributor has not read the sermon.

Searching by sermon genre is most useful when users want to find all the sermons related to a type of occasion, such as anniversaries or political occasions, which would be included as multiple entries in preaching occasions. For example, the search results for ‘Anniversary’ sermons would include all the sermons preached on the various anniversaries, including the anniversaries of the Gowry plot, the Gunpowder plot, the accession of Elizabeth I, the execution of Charles I, and the Restoration of Charles II.

Preaching occasion

Users can search sermons by preaching occasion. If you cannot find the desired occasion in the dropdown list, please check alternate names for the occasion. For example, in GEMMS we have used Whitsunday instead of Pentecost.

Preaching location

Users can search sermons by preaching location. A search for sermons at a specified location will also include all sermons at locations contained within the specified location. For example, a search for Oxford will include all sermons preached at churches, chapels, colleges, etc. in Oxford, along with sermons it is known were preached in Oxford, although the specific venue is not known.

Thus, it is possible to search for sermons by town or city; county, shire or province; country or colony; and continent. For example, if you are interested in sermons from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, but not from the colonies in the new world, you should search for sermons from ‘Europe’.

In the dropdown list of locations, the place the location is contained within is given in parentheses. Places contained within the provinces of Canterbury or York are dioceses rather than cities.

We have tried to be historically accurate when entering preaching locations. This means that towns or cities would be placed in their historic counties, which may be different from their current counties. For example, Bangor was historically in Caernarfonshire, but it is currently in Gwynedd. In the database, it is placed in Caernarfonshire.

We also have placed preaching venues in the appropriate region of London, i.e. London, Westminster, Southwark, Lambeth, etc., because the geographical limits of London changed during the course of the period. So, if you want to search for sermons from London, you may have to do multiple searches to find all the relevant sermons. It might be simpler to search for all or several of these parts of London using the full-text search, though, because this search includes all the fields in sermon records, those results would likely include some sermons that were not preached in London.

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Searching for Sermon Reports

Users can search for Sermon Reports by Repository, Manuscript, Composition Date, Bible Book, People in various roles, or Sermon Report type. All other fields can be searched using the full text search. Users can combine as many fields as they want, but the more fields used, the greater the chance that the search will yield no results.

In Repository

Users can search for sermon reports in a particular repository by selecting it from the dropdown list. Users cannot currently search for sermon reports in repositories in a particular city, region or country, but we hope to be able to offer this in the future.

In Manuscript

Users can search for sermon reports in a particular manuscript by selecting it from the dropdown list. Manuscripts are listed by the name of the repository, followed by the shelfmark.

Date Searching

Users can search for sermon reports by Composition date by entering a year or range of years. Composition dates can either be the exact or approximate year(s).

Bible book

Users can search by Bible Book by selecting the book from the dropdown list. Some of the Bible books listed do not have associated sermon reports.

Including a chapter or chapter and verse is optional, but it is possible to further narrow your results by including these.

Person and role

Users can search for a person in a particular role or roles. First, select the role or roles from the role dropdown list, and then select the person from the people dropdown list.

We use ‘auditor’ for someone who attended the sermon but otherwise was not associated with the manuscript; we use ‘notetaker’ for someone who takes notes for a report, whether they heard or read the sermon.

Users can select multiple roles to search by clicking in the role box to add more roles. It can be helpful to search for the both certain and uncertain roles at the same time, such as ‘preacher’ and ‘preacher?’.

When you choose a role or roles, the people dropdown list will only include those people that have that role or one or more of those roles. This helps limit the number of searches with zero results.

If you find that there are no people listed in the dropdown list, then you may have chosen a role that is only used in sermon or manuscript records, such as ‘dedicatee’. Please choose a different role or search for sermons or manuscripts.

When searching for a particular person, make sure you look for alternate spellings in the dropdown list because variant spellings of names are common in manuscripts from this period.

Sermon Report type

Users can search for sermon reports by selecting particular types of reports, such as auditor’s sermon diary, list of sermons, preacher’s commonplace book, etc., from the dropdown list. Please see our blog for a description of our sermon taxonomy (http://gemmsproject.blogspot.ca/p/gemms-sermon-taxonomy.html)

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