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University of Louisville University Libraries


Digital Collections : Illuminating the Manuscript Leaves

About Illuminating the Manuscript Leaves

About the Collection

The core of this digital collection is an initial group of illuminated manuscript leaves and other manuscript texts which were acquired by the University of Louisville Libraries with funding from the Pzena Foundation. Dating from 1150 through 1867, these leaves represent Western European, Islamic, African, and Asian cultures. The digital collection now also includes manuscripts found in the University of Louisville rare book collection, including a number of English indentures.

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 Order Reproductions, 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, including taking the manuscript specimens into schools and youth programs.

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, 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 (now retired), and a group of graduate students developed 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, former Libraries Development Officer, supported the program from its inception.

Manuscript dealers Phillip Pirages, Charles Edwin Puckett, and Bouwman Oriental Books provided brief descriptions and occasional notes on provenance. Archives & Special Collections staff, including Delinda Stephens Buie, Rebecca Pattillo, William F. Meehan III, Amy Hanaford Purcell, Susan Finley, and Rachel I. Howard, worked with subject specialists to provide additional detail.

In 2009, Deanna Walton contributed additional research, including a transcription and translation, to the metadata record for the Bible, France, mid 13th century, fragment. In 2010 Rachael Ritter contributed transcription and translation of an Italian Book of Hours leaf. In 2012 Justy Engle contributed significant additional research, transcription and translation of a 15th century French antiphonary leaf. In 2015, Erin Becker researched and created metadata for two Books of Hours, printed by Philippe Pigouchet and Guillaume Anabat, and Sarah Elise Williams contributed a transcription and translation of ULRB 2011.mss.11. In 2017 Sarah Elise Williams contributed a transcription and translation for an English indenture and Francesca Reggiani provided translation for a 16th century Italian letter.

In 2015 William P. Stoneman identified a found in collection manuscript leaf as a leaf from the 13th century Beauvais Missal. The university subsequently provided scans to Lisa Fagin Davis for her digital reassembling of this broken text at "Manuscript Road Trip: Reconstructing the Beauvais Missal."

In 2017 Harold Freeman made introduction to Likekehnat Ayalneh Araya, Abba of St. Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Louisville and Deacon Abbiy Addis who confirmed identification of the Ethiopic manuscripts Book on Virtues and ULRB_2011_MSS_35.

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 eighteen of the leaves, 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. Anne Merkel scanned twenty additional leaves in Summer 2011 using the same equipment, but a resolution of 600 ppi.

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

References (General)

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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