Collections News (page 1)

Collections News (page 1)

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Cataloging is complete for the collection of the Universitätsbibliothek Rostock in northeastern Germany, microfilmed by HMML in 1998. Out of the 527 manuscripts, just over three quarters are written in Latin and around a third are written or partially written in German, Low German, and Dutch. Sixteen manuscripts written in Hebrew, Arabic, Arabic Garshuni, Syriac, Persian, Turkish, and Aramaic were cataloged by Dr. Joshua Mugler. The majority of the manuscripts date between the years 1300 CE and 1600 CE. The earliest manuscript is a 9th-century fragment of the Bible, and the latest texts include 17th-century historical chronicles of Hanseatic cities in northern Germany.

It is remarkable to find Low German texts from the medieval period that have been preserved. The Christian presence in the region around Rostock was relatively late and sparse, giving monasteries less time to build up their libraries. The rise of the Protestant Reformation, which had a stronger foothold in northern Germany, led to the destruction or relocation of the monasteries’ manuscripts, so that Low German texts are rare. Nonetheless, the collection at the Universitätsbibliothek Rostock features manuscripts from former monasteries, including the Franciscan Sankt Katharine and the Dominican Sankt Johannis. The collection contains manuscripts from privately owned libraries donated to the university, most notably that of Johann Albrecht I, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was a patron of humanistic learning. Rostock also boasts a substantial body of early modern manuscripts and incunables, as well as ones pertaining to the Protestant Reformation, notably an autograph by Martin Luther that he was preparing for print in 1530 while exiled from the Holy Roman Empire (49045). The university library of Rostock offers some online facsimiles and a highly researched catalog, yet many of the manuscripts remain inaccessible; by digitizing this catalog in Reading Room, HMML presents a more comprehensive overview of the collection’s contents, allowing scholars to locate the more obscure texts in the collection. View now

The manuscripts in the Bistumarchiv in Trier largely come from the city of Trier and its religious institutions, as well as several manuscripts from the Diocese of Hildesheim. The collection a remarkable set of liturgical manuscripts from the Diocese of Trier, especially from the fifteenth century. Notable too are the manuscripts from the Benediktinerabtei St. Matthias in Trier, and the Benediktinerkloster St. Maximin in Trier. Seveal manuscripts entered the collection during the nineneeth century, when the library of Franz Hyazinth Christoph Philipp Anton von Kesselstatt was donated by his heirs to the Diocese. View now

Cataloging has been updated and completed in Reading Room for the collection of the library of Stift Klosterneuburg. In October 1966, Father Oliver Kapsner, OSB, arrived at Stift Klosterneuburg with his two technicians to begin the microfilming of approximately 1,270 manuscripts dating chiefly from the 11th to the 17th centuries. This constitutes the largest monastic collection preserved in Austria, where one can find materials related to all areas of pre-modern European history and culture.

First founded as a monastery for secular canons in 1113 by the Babenberg Margrave, Leopold III (1073-1136), Stift Klosterneuburg became an Augustinian house in 1133 and has remained so until today. During the Middle Ages, Stift Klosterneuburg was a center for manuscript production, with ties to the University of Vienna and the Austrian rulers. Beyond the large manuscript collection filmed by HMML, the Stift also has extensive art collections, including the famous Verduner Altar and one of the remaining copies of the Austrian Archducal coronet.

Father Oliver appeared mostly to enjoy his four-month stay at Klosterneuburg, but still found the winter spent there a bit cold and uncomfortable. In his letters he mentions the wood-burning stove in his room at the monastery (which was fed from outside in the hallway) and the down comforter (“tick”) that kept him warm at night. However, his feelings about praying the hours in the church were a little less enthusiastic:

  • But the huge stone church is a cold, cold place. Completely unheated all winter, this otherwise beautiful house of God will [be] getting colderer and colderer week by week. I am always glad when we are finished with the longer morning prayers there. [letter from Oliver Kapsner, OSB, to Julian G. Plante, dated 20 November 1966]

Cataloging is complete in Reading Room for the 219 manuscripts of Gunda Gundē Monastery in Ethiopia. The collection was photographed by Michael Gervers, Ewa Balicka-Witakowska, Jan Retsö, and Denis Nosnitsin in a partnership between HMML and University of Toronto Scarborough. Most of the collection is written in Geʻez. Earlier cataloging efforts on this collection include those by Antonio Mordini and Roger Schneider, and much more recently by Michael Gervers and Ewa Balicka-Witakowska.

The collection contains several of the earliest manuscripts of the Bible in Geʻez that still exist, such as a 13th-century manuscript of Sirach (GG 00202). There are also hagiographies and poems for the abbots of Gunda Gundē Monastery that exist nowhere else (GG 00018 and GG 00076). A final highlight is the distinctive art style of Gunda Gundē Monastery, which is presented in both its miniatures and its decorative headings known as ḥarags (for example, GG 00044 and GG 00002). View now

The Mamma Haidara Library is the private library of Abdel Kader Haidara. Haidara descends from one of Timbuktu’s established scholarly families, and he inherited the core manuscript collection from his father. However, his collecting efforts in Timbuktu and a wide area surrounding it have grown the collection significantly. Haidara founded and directs SAVAMA, a Malian NGO and cooperative of private Timbuktu library owners. His relocation of his own library, as well as 35 others, from Timbuktu to Bamako during the Malian crisis of 2012 brought him considerable media attention and local and international fame. So far HMML has cataloged around a quarter (11,344) of this huge collection of over 41,000 digitized manuscripts. While the four-volume Al-Furqan catalog of the library’s holdings, published in 2000, lists information about the first 4,000 or so manuscripts, HMML’s work is drawing public attention to the remaining items for the first time.

The collection includes numerous fine copies of classical books and authors from the Middle East, North Africa, and Andalucia. However, the most remarkable aspects of the collection are the significant proportion of previously unknown authors, largely from Masina, Timbuktu, and areas of present-day Mauritania, pointing to a thriving community of scholars in Islamic law, Qur’anic studies, poetry, and spiritual pursuits. These discoveries are particularly valuable for understanding intellectual life in the region between the end of Timbuktu’s "golden age" (typically the Moroccan invasion of 1591 CE) and the period of societal reform that produced the Islamic states of Hamdallahi and Sokoto (from 1804 CE onwards). Examples include Muḥammad ibn Alfā Sarasire (died 1696 or 1696 CE) who wrote a popular treatise on inheritance law; Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Bagayogo al-Wankarī (died 1665 or 1666 CE), who versified al-Sanūsī’s introduction to Islamic ritual, Umm al-barāhīn; and Muḥammad Dafa ibn al-Ṭāhir al-Sūqī (active 1734 CE).

The library is also valuable for the large number of letters and other documents it contains. Most revealing are over 80 items of correspondence of the al-Ghadāmisī trading family in Timbuktu; specifically, letters between ʻĪsá ibn Aḥmayd al-Ghadāmisī, the two enslaved brothers N’ji and Samba who acted as the family’s principal agents, and the various customers who bought and sold commodities through them. They take us from the 1850s CE into the early colonial period, and while they are an important source for the items being traded across the region during this time, the most fascinating details are how status is represented and negotiated. Specifically, the terms of address for N'jī and Samba changed as they became trusted members of the family and were eventually manumitted. The library also contains correspondence between the Muslim states of Sokoto and Hamdallahi, and the Kunta family, as well as numerous texts written by their leaders. The library also features ʻajamī writings (African languages written in Arabic script) from Fulfulde poems in praise of the Prophet (SAV BMH 19796; SAV BMH 35067) to glosses in Tamashek, Bambara, and Songhai. 

Dr. Ali Diakite and Dr. Paul Naylor, HMML catalogers of West African manuscripts, have cataloged hundreds of copies of the Qurʼan and the Dalāʼil al-khayrāt (a collection of prayers on Prophet Muhammad), some of them beautifully decorated, as well as basic introductions to Islamic ritual such as al-Sanūsī’s aforementioned Umm al-barāhīn. This phenomenon can be explained by the instinct to collect as many manuscripts as possible for preservation, and the fact that any literate person in the region would generally have possessed at least one copy of these works. But we also found some stand-out individual manuscripts, such as SAV BMH 16871, a work by a previously unknown son of the famous Timbuktu jurist Ahmad Baba, which summarizes important events of the 16th century, or SAV BMH 16153, a work previously owned by Ahmad Lobbo, the first ruler of Hamdallahi.

The library undoubtedly has many more surprises waiting for us as we continue our cataloging work. View now

The collection of Notre Dame University, Louaize is now fully cataloged and available online in vhmml. This collection represents several smaller collections gathered from the monasteries of the Mariamite Maronite Order such as Dayr Mār Buṭrus wa-Būlus, Karm al-Tīn (Matn, Lebanon) and Dayr Sayyidat al-Luwayzah (Zūq Muṣbiḥ, Lebanon). Manuscripts are mainly in Arabic Garshuni but also in Syriac and Arabic, and only a few manuscripts in Latin. They represent a wide range of Biblical, Maronite liturgical, apologetic, theological, and historical themes, with many commentaries. The earliest manuscript of this collection is a Synaxarion copied in 1253 CE (NDU 00045).

Significantly, many manuscripts of this collection were composed and copied in the Maronite monasteries in Rome, particularly Dayr Mār Buṭrus wa-Marshillīnūs (Rome, Italy), such as the Medulla theologiae moralis of Hermann Busenbaum which was copied there in 1727 CE (NDU 00276). Other manuscripts were copied in Cyprus (NDU 00301, in 1688 CE) and in Marseille, France (NDU 00298, in 1830 CE). Unexpectedly, some manuscripts were copied in small Egyptian cities such as al-Manṣūrah and Damietta, such as NDU 00337 (1898 CE). A unique text in the collection is the Response to the Encyclical letter of Pope Leon (NDU 00332). It is a copy of the printed edition of this text which was composed in Arabic and printed in Kāzān, Russia in 1894 CE. View now

Cataloging is complete for 803 manuscripts of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Baghdad (CPB), digitized by our partners at the Centre Numérique des Manuscrits Orientaux (CNMO). The collection is primarily in Syriac and Arabic, but also includes European languages and modern Neo-Aramaic dialects. The collection contains some of HMML's earliest Syriac manuscripts, including two dated to 794 and 822 CE (CPB 00464 and CPB 00440, respectively), but tragically, several of these ancient treasures were severely damaged during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, before they were digitized. The library also includes the private collections of the late Chaldean clergymen Buṭrus Ḥaddād (1937-2010, project code CPB PH) and Yūsuf Gūgī (1886-1971, project code CPB YG), ranging from private notebooks to family heirlooms. View now

Cataloging is complete for the collection of the Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany, which was microfilmed by HMML in 1987-1988. The collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts is largely written in Latin, with just over a quarter of the texts in German. 29 manuscripts written in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, Aramaic, and Coptic were cataloged by Dr. Joshua Mugler.

The majority of the manuscripts—which are comprised of liturgical and devotional texts, theological and scientific treatises, and legal works—fall within the years 1200 CE and 1550. The earliest manuscript is a 7th-century fragment, and the latest manuscript is an index written in 1934-1946 that accompanies a 16th-century German manuscript. By featuring manuscripts gathered from local secularized monasteries and lectures of university figures, the collection offers a glimpse into the spiritual and intellectual history of the sociolinguistic region of the Upper Rhineland that spans Germany, France, and Switzerland. Out of the 608 manuscripts, 46 are clearly identifiable as originally copied for or by a woman or a female community, including two of the most beautiful manuscripts in the collection, Hs. 283. The university library of Freiburg im Breisgau boasts online facsimiles and a robust catalog; by digitizing this catalog in Reading Room, HMML presents the data in an integrated format, allowing for more comprehensive analysis both within the collection and across other collections. View now

The manuscripts in the Bibliothek Bischöfliches Priesterseminar in Trier largely come from the Benediktinerabtei St. Matthias in Trier, with others coming from the Kartause Sankt Alban in Trier, the Stiftskirche Sankt Paulin in Trier, the Benediktinerkloster St. Maximin in Trier, and Kartause Sankt Beatusberg and Stift St. Florin in Koblenz. The collection is rich in devotional material from the High and Late Middle Ages, with some interesting miscellanies containing parts of the Imitatio Christi. Works by Hildegard of Bingen and other religious writings for the women's Augustiner-Chorherrenabtei Springiersbach stand out. The manuscripts from the Benediktinerabtei St. Matthias have largely been digitized and are linked to the records via the Virtuelles Skriptorium St. Matthias project. The collection is largely in Latin with one online and two printed catalogs linked to the records. View now

Cataloging is complete for 359 manuscripts from the Near East School of Theology (NEST), a Protestant seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. The collection includes valuable works on theology, history, and science from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions. The vast majority of the collection is in Arabic, but it also includes significant amounts of Armenian and Syriac and small portions in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, English, and Kurdish. This includes HMML's first ever manuscript of Kurdish in Armenian characters, a 20th-century hymnal (NEST B 00022), which complements examples from other collections of Kurdish in Syriac, Arabic, and Roman characters.

The collection dates back to the 13th century, including early manuscripts of rare Arabic works on Sufism (NEST AB 00044), mathematics (NEST AP 00015, NEST AP 00025), history (NEST AH 00008), and grammar (NEST AB 00027), and an Armenian hymnal (NEST B 00014) from 1270. The collection also includes the original 19th-century drafts of the Old Testament from the so-called Van Dyck Bible, the most important Arabic Bible translation of the modern era (69 manuscripts grouped under project number NEST AC 00036, starting with NEST AC 00036 01). Cataloging of this collection was begun by former HMML cataloger Salam Rassi some years ago and has now been completed. View now

The Lebanese Armenian Red Cross Collection in Beirut, Lebanon, is now fully cataloged and available in Reading Room. These 26 manuscripts represent the Armenian liturgical traditions, Gospels, homilies, Psalters, hymnals with musical notations, mathematical works, philosophical discourse, and works on astrology. The collection ranges from the 15th century to the mid-20th century.

One highlight in the collection is a Kʻatsʻurdaran (LARC 00023), a special hymnal, copied in Aghtʻamar island in the Lake Van region, in the year 1430, providing interesting details about the historical context which survives in a damaged colophon. View now

The patriarch's collection of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul (Constantinople) is now fully cataloged and available in Reading Room. The collection consists of 223 manuscripts, most of which are in Classical Armenian, some in Arabic and Ottoman-Turkish. There are multiple texts in Armeno-Turkish (Turkish written in Armenian script), mostly romance novels, and one interlinear Bible in Classical Armenian and Armeno-Turkish (APIP 00067). Among these manuscripts are beautifully illuminated Gospels, illuminated liturgical books, Synaxaria/Menologia, two illuminated prayer scrolls, homilies, commentaries, hymnals (Sharagnots‘) with musical notations, Psalters, philosophical works, and interesting collections of astrological writings and calendars, suggesting peoples’ preoccupation with horoscopes.

Some of the books represent the Mekhitarists of Venice and their publications. The collection also includes several commentaries translated from Latin into Classical Armenian (APIP 00082, APIP 00083, and APIP 00084). One manuscript documents the collection of donations for the poor living in different Armenian vilayets in Turkey (APIP 00224). A highlight is a group of manuscripts on the history of the St. Savior Hospital (APIP 00169-APIP 00176); these appear to be the handwritten drafts of Arshak Alpōyachean (1879-1962), and the published version of the same work can also be found in the collection for comparison (APIP 00190).

These manuscripts range from the 15th century to the mid-20th century, and they offer a fascinating window into Armenian religious and socioeconomic life in the Ottoman Empire. View now

Cataloging is complete for 419 manuscripts from the Melkite Greek Catholic Archdiocese of Aleppo (GCAA). This collection includes a wide array of Christian Arabic liturgical, theological, devotional, and Church historical works, among which are a few rare and unknown translations. For example, GCAA 00092 is a previously unknown, anonymous Arabic translation of a rare late-18th-century Italian work defending certain practices of the Armenian Catholics against the suspicions of their Western European counterparts.

The collection is primarily Arabic, but includes small amounts of Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Persian, Turkish, and other languages. Cataloging was begun some years ago by former HMML cataloger Adam Bursi and the remaining projects have now been completed. View now

Over the course of the Austrian phase of HMML’s preservation work (1965-1973), the microfilming team worked at universities in Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Linz, Klagenfurt, and Graz. By far, the largest of these collections was the one in Graz (Styria), where HMML preserved more than 1200 manuscripts along with hundreds of manuscript fragments

Many of these manuscripts came from monasteries closed during the reforms of Emperor Joseph II in the 18th century, including Milltstatt, Neuberg, Sankt Lambrecht, Seckau, Seitz (Žiče in Slovenia), and elsewhere. Not only is the collection rich in monastic manuscripts, it also holds some of the oldest extant manuscripts in the Georgian language, as well as several ancient papyrus fragments from Egypt. Many of these manuscripts have been digitized by the University of Graz, and the HMML records include links to these digital images. View now

Cataloging is now complete for the Private Library of Bét Qušā, located in Qārū, Iraq. This collection contains ten manuscripts in Syriac script, and the manuscripts are primarily liturgical in nature, though one of them contains a collection of saints’ lives. The manuscripts range in date from the 16th-19th centuries. One particularly notable manuscript is PLQ BQ 00010, which is a complete Ḥudrā manuscript, dated 1892 CE. View now

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