As electronic resources continue to permeate scholarship, the challenge of keeping abreast with new developments becomes ever more pressing. The Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts 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. Digitizing medieval manuscripts and releasing the images on the web has a long history, but the number of digitized manuscripts rises swiftly as the cost of high-quality digital images decreases, and the expertise needed to create easily navigable web sites becomes more common. What has been notably lacking, however, is any centralized site to collect and disseminate basic information about what is available.
The Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts offers a simple and straightforward means to discover medieval manuscripts available on the web. Very much a work in progress, the database will initially provide links to hundreds of manuscripts, which we expect quickly to grow to thousands. Basic information about the manuscripts is fully searchable, and users can also browse through the complete contents of the database. As the project develops, a richer body of information for each manuscript, and the texts in these codices, will be provided, where available.
The Catalogue first began to take form in Christopher Baswell's talk at the MLA conference in December, 2005. Generous support by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, has enabled Professors Matthew Fisher and Christopher Baswell to develop this site, and make it publicly available in its current form through the CMRS web site. An additional grant from the UCHRI (University of California Humanities Research Institute) made possible additional data entry, and substantive refinements to the back-end technologies in place. We welcome feedback on your experience using the website. We also particularly welcome suggestions of sites offering fully digitized medieval manuscripts that are not currently found in our database.
September 13, 2010