Expert insight allows digital cataloguing of 1,300 years of Latin manuscripts

Dr Joanne Edge has digitally catalogued a large collection of Latin Manuscripts using our new online image viewer

You may not realise that some of our Special Collections remain a mystery to us. Constant work is undertaken to explore and catalogue our own collections.

For instance, Dr Joanne Edge has, since August 2018, been improving and digitising the Latin Manuscripts Catalogue. This provides a foundation for further improvement to be done in future.

There are some truly stunning examples of medieval manuscripts in the collections, including the beautifully illuminated 12th century Beatus of Liébana’s commentary on the Apocalypse of St. John (pictured) and even an account book for King Edward II for the years 1323-24.

The material had been partially catalogued in the 1920s and the 1970s, so we had a starting point for completion of the cataloguing – albeit partly in “scribbled on typed up notes”!

The launch of our new online image viewer, Manchester Digital Collections, allowed Dr Edge the opportunity to compile and continue the cataloguing work online. This also means these manuscripts are available to anyone to view and enjoy.

There are many benefits to digital cataloguing of material, creating a living record, as Dr Edge notes:

The wonderful thing about digital records is that they can be modified. I hope to create at least basic records for the majority of the manuscripts (we are still in the process of allotting shelfmarks to some of our newer items!), which can be added to as further scholarship is carried out on particular manuscripts
Dr Joanne Edge

What’s more, this content is now available to other scholars around the globe. In the case of the Edward II account book, it provides valuable context for Edward II scholars, many of whom are now able to access this item more easily.

The collection is available to view now via Manchester Digital Collections.

You can read more about Dr Edge’s work on The John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog.