Looking at medieval manuscripts on your screen

The number of medieval manuscripts that has been digitized grows every week, but you might underestimate the number of manuscripts that have been made available already thanks to modern technology, the efforts of librarians and their technical staff. It amazed me that the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts, maintained at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies of UCLA, has already entered more than 3000 manuscripts into its database. Just one example of a manuscript with great relevance for the textual transmission of one of the most copied medieval texts: the famous Sankt Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, 673 manuscript with the earliest version of the Decretum Gratiani, a collection of texts concerning ecclesiastical law from the twelfth century,  can be viewed at your own desk, thanks to the services of the Swiss site e-codices. This project alone opens the road for visitors at this moment 500 manuscripts. By the way, I deliberately put in the link to the German version of this manuscript’s description, but this site can be used also in English, French and Italian. Hats off!

On December 21, 2009, e-codices added new manuscripts to the site which features now 570 manuscripts.

A postscript

Alas the project for the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts ended when the two brave scholars who started it became eventually faced with too many manuscripts for which they had to create uniform records with a substantial number of fields. Just think of the number of languages of proposed entries, mails with incomplete descriptions of manuscripts fit – or not – for inclusion, and you can imagine the challenge they had to face, and which any team following in their footsteps will encounter.

2 thoughts on “Looking at medieval manuscripts on your screen

  1. Klaus Graf

    I regard the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts as nearly worthless becausse only a little part of the digitized mss. worldwide are in it. There is no ongoing effort to close the large gaps.

    1. rechtsgeschiedenis Post author

      My post dates from 2009, a period when the CDMM still looked a promising and growing resource. Realizing the two moderators behind CDMM have to standardize the input, and taking into account the massive number of newly digitized manuscripts, you will agree it is a huge task indeed. A standard input form is just the start of expanding the contents. Will Stanford reach better results with its DMSS, http://dmss.stanford.edu/, where you can now only find references to a restricted number of medium and large size digital collections? Do you know about any other similar effort?


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