With digitisation you can see more manuscripts than ever before! It’s opened a wondeful playground/ mine of information. Sure, there was microfilm, but that is clunky and time consuming and so on; lots of good work was done in the past with early photocopies or photographs, but that was expensive. Now you can read thousands of digitised manuscripts for no cost except your internet connection!
I plan on using it to improve my ability to read medieval handwriting, which is very hard to read. And to research period clothing and artefacts as seen in illustrations. And find out more alchemical information.
Useful examples of texts that I have found online include Manget’s collection of alchemical texts, Borgnet’s Opera Omnia and a 16th century printed version of John of Rupescissa’s De Consideration Quintessentia, useful for checking the 15th century English translation of the original Latin in archive.org; French’s book of distillation from the 17th century; Conrad Gesner’s Thesaurus Euonymi Philiatri in the Bavarian state library; all the scanned manuscripts in the British library, with more added regularly; The Bodleian library has a large number of scanned manuscripts.
I’vc been surprised at the sheer variety, and almost every library that has manuscripts and printed works is getting in on the act. It makes independent research a lot easier and is an example of the internet being a force for good.