Sunday, December 14, 2008

Digitized Medieval Manuscripts

Matthew Fisher of UCLA recently posted to the Digital Medievalist list this excellent news of a new site which indexes and links to complete digitized medieval manuscripts in many different collections.

It is with great pleasure that we would like to draw your attention to the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts. Hosted by UCLA's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Catalogue seeks to provide a technological solution to a simple and rather delightful "problem": the breathtaking increase in the number of medieval manuscripts available on the web in their entirety, but in a bewildering range of venues and formats.

Currently, almost one thousand manuscripts, digitized and available in their entirety on the web, have been entered into the Catalogue. Users can search the Catalogue on basic information about manuscripts, such as the location, language, or date of a codex, or browse through the complete Catalogue.

We welcome feedback on your experience using the website, and particularly welcome suggestions for sites not currently represented in the Catalogue.

The Catalogue can be accessed at: More information about the project:, or by contacting Matthew Fisher at fisher[at]humnet[dot]ucla[dot]edu.

The site currently links to 37 institutions hosting digitized manuscripts. Although most of the full records include at least a brief note of the contents in the manuscript attributes section, in a random check of about 30 I found three in the St. Gallen collection (Mss. 18, 902, and 722) that do not, and although all the other links I tried worked, the one to the manuscript images for St. Gallen 902 redirected to a 404 message. Fortunately the URL for the error page was specific to that manuscript and simply going up the directory to worked.

I noticed one minor oddity of the interface related to navigation of multipage search results. Page numbers at the bottom of the page link as one would expect, but "Next" takes you to the next span of 10 pages rather than to the page after the one you're at.

Some collections I know of that are not among those indexed are the Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Coloniensis in Cologne, the Royal Library in Copenhagen, the St. Laurentius Digital Manuscript Library at Lund University, the Olomouc Research Library, and the Irnerio Project at Bologna (although the images there are too small to be of much practical use, I suspect).

A good page of resources on medieval manuscripts can be found at Georgetown's Labyrinth site.

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