Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance - Search Guide

This guide will help you find sources for Medieval studies and search for journal articles in the Iter database. If you have any questions, or if you need assistance with this database or your research in general, please contact Ivana Niseteo, the Liaison Librarian for Humanities, at / 778.782.6838.

On this page:

Before you start to search, think about your topic. What are the main ideas, the main concepts of your topic? Define them. These concepts will be the keywords that you will use in your Library catalogue or Journal article database search.

There are two ways you can go about finding journal articles in the field of Medieval studies.

  • One way is to start with your textbook, or an article you already have, and use the list of sources cited (the bibliography) to identify other articles or books on your topic.
  • The second way is to search Journal article databases, such as:
    • Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (your first choice)
    • Humanities and Social Sciences Index
    • Historical Abstracts
  • If you are doing library research for an assignment, you will likely use a combination of these two approaches. For example, you might use ITER to identify a few good articles on your topic, and then use their bibliographies to find other similar articles.

What is Iter?

Iter (pron. 'ee-ter'. Lat. 'a journey', 'a path') is a bibliography of close to 500,000 records for articles, essays, books, and reviews in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, with some full-text online. Covers the time period 400-1700, and it's updated daily.

Iter includes three databases:

  • Iter bibliography - all literature pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700).
  • Iter Italicum - the first online version of Paul Oskar Kristeller's Iter Italicum, "the most comprehensive finding list available of previously uncatalogued or incompletely catalogued Renaissance humanistic manuscripts found in libraries and collections all over the world".
  • International Directory of Scholars - detailed information on the research and teaching careers of scholars around the world

Accessing the database

  • From the SFU library home page go to the alphabetical list of Article Indexes and Databases.
  • Click the letter I, or scroll downt the list, and choose Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
  • On the next page, click on Connect.
  • You can search this, and all the other SFU library databases, from your home. (You will be prompted to provide the ID and a password. Use your last name and the library barcode number (the one which starts with 2934500---), or your ACS name and password (the one you use for accessing your e-mail.) If you have technical problems, please contact the Library Systems at 778.782.4706, or
  • Choose the option Search the Database (Subscribers Only), and then Iter Bibliography.

A sample search of Iter

Once in the database, you have the option to do a Basic or Advanced search. The database is simple to use, but it's not sophisticated. I suggest that you perform several simple searches, rather than one complex one. When you perform a search, use the "Go back" button provided in the database, not the "Back" button of your browser.

  • Basic Search
    • Use this option for a quick search. For example, search for the author of an article that you found in a bibliography.
    • Search in the Title field if you know the title, or *some words* from the title. This approach might give you the most relevant articles. For example, if you search for 'peasants' revolt' in the title field, Iter will find articles that contain this phrase anywhere in the title. You'll get other "peasants' revolts" as well, but then you could do a selection.
    • Search in the Word anywhere field for a single term, or a combination of terms, using Boolean operators AND, OR. For example, type in: '(peasants' revolt OR uprising) AND england'. Use parentheses and don't worry about the capitals.
  • Advanced Search
    • You can use this option to do a search similar to the one above. Combine terms in different fields, in the boxes provided. If you like, you can limit your search to the language you want, or to a particular publication year.
  • Whatever search you performed, whether Basic or Advanced, locate one or two articles which seem relevant for your topic.
    • In our example, #4 looks like a good one: "Peasant's revolt and the government of England", published in the Journal of British Studies.
    • Go into the Full record of this article, and check the Subjects listed. For example, you'll find the Subject Term 'Tyler's Insurrection, 1381', and this is exactly what we need. We can tell that ITER uses this Subject (and not something like "peasant's revolt") for this historical event, so we can use it too.
    • Now click on this Subject (use others as well if you find them appropriate) to retrieve more articles on the same topic. In our example, by clicking on 'Tyler's Insurrection, 1381', we retrieved 16 relevant articles.

Does SFU have the journal?

  • The last stage in the process is to determine whether or not SFU Library has the journal which contains the article you want.
  • Unfortunately, Iter doesn't have the "Where Can I Get This? feature you might be familiar with from using some other databases. But you can still find out if SFU has the journal where the article you want has been published.
  • To do that, you'll have to go into the Library catalogue and search for the journal under the 'Journal title'.
  • Make sure that you have written down or printed out journal (periodical) name, year of publication, volume, issue, and page number.
  • In the example above, check the catalogue to see if SFU library has the Journal of British Studies. You will find that SFU has two formats of this journal: Print and Electronic.
  • All print journals (bound and unbound) are located on the 6th floor, shelved under the title of the journal.
  • Remember that ITER also includes articles from many journals which SFU does not have. However, if another library in western Canada has the journal, you will be able to order a free photocopy of the article through the Interlibrary Loan Request. Just fill in the online form.

Other sources for Medieval studies


  • Background information
    • Dictionary of the Middle Ages (13 vol.). Bennett Reference, D 114 D5
    • Who's Who in the Middle Ages. Bennett Reference, D115 F5

Primary sources

Web sources