Digitizing Manuscripts

Background Information on Digitizing Manuscripts
Digitization of Old Manuscripts
“Digitization of Old Manuscripts: A Technical Point of View by Stanislav Psohlavec gives a solid overview of both the “whys” and the “how”s of digitizing manuscripts. It’s part of the “Memory of the World” project.

Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents
The Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents was established in 1995 under the auspices of Oxford University’s Faculty of Literae Humaniores to provide a focus for the study of ancient documents in Oxford. They are currently engaged in a variety of imaging projects, including Greek eipigraphic materials, and the Vindolanda tablets. Their third newletter from autumn of 1996 has an article on digitizing ancient documents.

The Electric Scriptorium
Approaches to the Electronic Imaging, Transcription,
Editing and Analysis of Medieval Manuscript Texts: A Physical & Virtual Conference.

Introduction to Imaging: Issues in Constructing an Image Database
Introduction to Imaging: Issues in Constructing an Image Database by Howard Besser and Jennifer Trant, writing under the auspices of The Getty Information Institute, an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. They literally wrote the book on image databases, and this site discusses image production, quality, resolution, display, annotation—just about everything.

Specific Digitizing Projects
The Digital Scriptorium
Housed at the University of California, at Berkeley, the Digital Scriptorium consists of ca. 8,500 color images from the joined holdings of the Berkeley and Columbia-affiliated libraries, as well as the Union Theological Seminary (NY) and the De Bellis Collection (CA).

Electronic Beowulf Project
This is one of the earliest and most important Old English or Anglo Saxon manuscripts we have. I know Beowulf is not Celtic, but there are real connections between Germanic and Celtic motifs and illumination styles, and it’s a wonderful site. Professors Kevin Kiernan of the University of Kentucky and Paul Szarmach of the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan Univerity, are working to digitize several different kinds of photos of the entire manuscript, and then publish them on a CD-ROM. The Beowulf manuscript was severely burned in a fire but digitally enhanced images can recover details that the unaided human eye can no longer see. This site has manuscript images, both those that have been digitally cleaned and enhaced, and “before” images, a well as interesting explanations of what was done, and why we should care. There is a miror site for
FTP access at the
University of Kentucky.

The Website for Digitizing Medieval Slavonic Manuscripts
in Bulgaria, curated by Milena Dobreva. Among their projects was a summer school on preservering and digitizind medieval manuscripts, held in Sofia, July 26 – August 13, 1999.

Medieval Multimedia: Digitizing the Middle Ages
This is a joint project of Bernard Muir (Reader in medieval language and literature) and Nick Kennedy (Arts Multimedia Manager), both of the University of Melbourne. In addition to their published facsimiles and books, the site also discusses their online Latin Paleography course Ductus.

Access to the Middle Ages: Medieval Manuscripts in Facsimile
Based on a 1997 exhibit prepared Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame by Dr. Marina Smyth, Librarian of the Medieval Institute with the assistance of Catherine Kavanagh and Kathleen Tonry, graduate students in the Medieval Institute. It’s well done, with an overview of non-digital methods of manuscript reproduction, and a good discussion of various kinds of script.

Philodemus Project

The Philodemus Project is an international effort which aims, supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the generous contributions of individuals and participating universities, to reconstruct new texts of Philodemus’ works on Poetics, Rhetoric, and Music. These texts will be published, along with translations and notes, in a series of volumes by Oxford University Press.

The Project’s Directors are David Blank (UCLA), Richard Janko (University College, London) and Dirk Obbink (Christ Church, Oxford). Individual texts in the series are also being edited and translated by David Armstrong (University of Texas, Austin), Robert Gaines (University of Maryland, College Park), James Porter (University of Michigan), and Costantina Romeo (Sorrento). Other participants in the Project include Daniel Delattre (C.N.R.S.) and Michael Wigodsky (Stanford).

Oxyrhynchus Online
This is one of the projects sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, and it includes images of papyri from Oxyrhynchus as well as Herculaneum.

American Memory Technical Papers
The American Memory Collections produced by the National Digital Library Program (NDLP) at the Library of Congress required the creation of archiving, tagging, and databasing standards. This is the place to start if you are planning a large scale scanning and archiving project.

Dublin Core Metadata Standard
The web is vast, and search engines are only as good as their indices. Dublin Core in one attempt at a standardized vocabulary for describing digital data, with an idea to XML as the data structure.

Library of Congress Archiving Standards
Pay particular attention to the “Core Metadata Standards,” for labeling and describing the archive data.

Getty Art History ProgramStandards
The Getty Standards Program “focuses on enhancing access to information on the visual arts and related disciplines by promoting standards and guidelines critical to developing, managing, preserving, and delivering information in electronic form.” The Getty AHP materials are particularly useful in terms of descriptive vocabulary.

National Information Standards
Organization (NISO)
Pretty much what it says, and not for the faint hearted.

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