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University of Louisville University Libraries


Digital Collections : Illuminating the Manuscript Leaves

About Illuminating the Manuscript Leaves

About the Collection

This digital collection includes eighteen illuminated manuscript leaves which were acquired by the University of Louisville Libraries in 2006 with funding from the Pzena Foundation. Dating from 1150 through 1867, these leaves represent Western European and Islamic cultures.

Lesson plans mapping to Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) Core Content goals for the 7th grade Arts & Humanities curriculum supplement the online presentation. Faculty from regional universities, local K-12 teachers, and University of Louisville graduate students have already been working with these manuscript leaves to expand the metadata and interpretive context of them and to introduce at-risk K-12 students to these specimens of historic cultures and forms of communication.

Additional leaves, including thirty-two indentures from England, dating from 1572 to 1840, eventually will augment the collection, as will a number of digitized and born-digital creative works by students and artists responding to the concepts of purposeful communication and the interplay of text, art, intellect, and creativity within the manuscript leaves.

Conditions of Use

The University of Louisville welcomes fair use of this website and its contents. If you wish to publish, broadcast, or publicly display these materials, please notify Archives and Special Collections. In addition, it is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions, which may include paying fees for commercial use. For further information about permissions, use, and ordering reproductions, see Copies: Prices and Permissions, or contact Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.

To cite an image from this collection, please use the format:

[Image Number], [Collection], Rare Books, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

To cite the digital version, add its Reference URL (found by following the link in the header above the digital file).


The Pzena Foundation underwrote the initial purchase of eighteen illuminated manuscript leaves in 2006, and has provided funding for additional purchases and support of programming for at-risk youth.

The process of acquiring, describing, and making these manuscript leaves accessible online has facilitated interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration among scholars.

In particular, the Libraries are indebted to Andrew S. Rabin, Assistant Professor of English, for his expertise, vision, and continued support of all aspects of the collection, including selection, description, and presentation. John Begley, Curatorial Studies Professor in Fine Arts, and a group of graduate students developed the instructional materials which allow the University of Louisville to realize the intention of the Pzena Foundation to create an exceptional educational experience for at-risk K-12 students. The following Curatorial Studies students contributed to this effort: Jesse Levesque Bishop; Marion Brown; Gwen Corder; Heidi Caudill; Erin Fletcher; Christine Humphrey; James Leary; Anna Miller; Peter J. Silva; Kelly Williams; Mary Beth Williams; and Youn Ju Yu. Professors Karen C. Britt of Fine Arts and Erika Lin of English, also provided significant assistance. Suzy Szasz Palmer, formerly Associate Dean of Collections, and Traci Simonsen, Libraries Development Officer, supported the program from its inception.

Manuscript dealers Phillip Pirages and Charles Edwin Puckett provided brief descriptions and occasional notes on provenance. Archives & Special Collections staff, including Delinda Stephens Buie, William F. Meehan III, Amy Hanaford Purcell, Susan Finley, and Rachel I. Howard, worked with subject specialists to provide additional detail. The metadata was created largely in accordance with the University of Louisville Digital Initiatives data dictionary (PDF), with the addition of fields such as Language Name, Language Script, and Ornamentation to accommodate the specialized information.

Amy Hanaford Purcell rehoused the manuscript leaves in archival boxes and assigned item-level numbers. In January-February 2007, Purcell scanned each leaf, recto and verso, as 1000 ppi, 24-bit RGB TIFF files, using a BetterLight overhead scanning setup including a Linhof Kardan M camera with 135mm Rodenstock lens.

Rachel I. Howard converted and uploaded the images as lossy JPEG2000 files of Maximum quality, using CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software version 4.2. Terri L. Holtze designed the web pages.

In Spring 2009, Deanna Walton contributed additional research, including a transcription and translation, to the metadata record for the Bible, France, mid 13th century, fragment.


Baker, Colin F. Qur'an manuscripts: Calligraphy, Illumination, Design. London: British Library, 2007.

Brown, Michelle P. A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.

Brown, Michelle P. Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms. Malibu, Cal.: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with British Library, 1994.

Khatibi, Abdelkebir. The Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996.

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