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Medieval Manuscripts: A Finding Guide: Catalogs

This guide describes resources and strategies for finding manuscripts (focusing on medieval manuscripts)

Subject vs Keyword

subject words = less hits & better 

keywords = more hits & sometimes worse

A keyword means find the word anywhere--title, author, notes, description, publisher, etc.

Requesting Books from Elsewhere

For BOOKS already checked out, or that we don't have:

Borrow Direct

Click on the link above, connect to Borrow Direct, search for the book and if it's available from another Ivy League university, we will have it shipped to Cornell. Borrowing period is one month. Books arrive in 3-4 business days. (This service is for BOOKS only).

For items (books, articles, microfilm) we don't have:

Interlibrary Loan Services

If Cornell Library does not have an item you need, Use ILLiad (InterLibrary Loan Internet Accessible Database) to request that we borrow materials from other libraries. Loan period is usually one month. Items can arrive in as little as a few days to a couple of weeks.

For items at another campus library or the Library Annex, use the "Request" button inside the Library Catalog and choose Library to Library Delivery.

Facsimiles or published manuscripts

Facsimiles or published editions

Search for published, edited, and sometimes translated manuscripts in online library catalogs (particularly Worldcat) using the name of the medieval author (also try variants of the author's name too, i.e. the Latin version of the name) or title or shelf number. Try both title/author searches and keyword searches.

For facsimiles, try a keyword search in online catalogs using the using author or title words or shelf mark and the keyword facsimile.

Published Guides to Archives

Published guides to collections, archives, and libraries help identify and locate manuscripts. Print and online examples are listed below.

Tip: Use Cornell's Classic Catalog to identify other guides, and use Worldcat to idenfity guides Cornell does not own.

Examples of the complexities of Library of Congress Subject Headings--

British Museum. Dept. of Manuscripts.
British Library. Department of Manuscripts--Catalogs
Medicine, Medieval Manuscripts Catalogs
Bibliothèque nationale (France) Département des manuscrits Catalogs.
Manuscripts, Italy--Facsimiles
Manuscripts--Great Britain
Manuscripts, English--Catalogs
Manuscripts, European--England--London--Catalogs
Manuscripts, Latin (Medieval and modern)--Vatican City--Catalogs.

Tip: Examples of useful terms for keyword searching in library catalogs--
archives
bibliography
manuscripts
catalog? (truncation of keyword in the classic catalog will find catalog[s] or catalogue[s])
micro? (truncation of keyword in the classic catalog will find microfilm, microprint, microtext, microfiche, or microforms)

Browsing

Browse for sources in manuscript

Tip: Try returning to some of the classic guides to medieval studies for descriptions and locations of source material:

Caenegem, R. C. van. Guide to the sources of medieval history. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1978. (Olin Reference Z6517 .C12) This is a revised, translated, and expanded edition of the earlier Dutch editions. It is divided into five sections--1. Typology of the sources of medieval history, 2. Libraries and archives, i.e. repositories of medieval manuscripts, 3. Great collections and repertories of sources, 4. Reference works for the study of medieval texts, 5. Bibliographical introduction to the auxiliary sciences of history. Each section consists of a number of explanatory or bibliographic chapters citing and describing a wide range of sources for the many aspects of medieval studies. (Balay, 1996).

Chevalier, Cyr Ulysse Joseph. Répertoire des sources historiques du moyen âge. Paris: Picard, 1894-1907. Reprint, NY: Kraus, 1959-60. (Olin Reference Z6203 .C52 +) Formerly of first importance for the literature of medieval history, still useful for its biographical orientation. The first part is arranged alphabetically by personal name (in the French form), the second by place and topic. Under each name, references are given to sources. An immense mass of material is indexed, but without critical indication of value.

Powell, James M. Medieval studies: an introduction. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1992. 2d. ed. (Olin Reference Z6517 .M48 1992) Designed to offer the student "a convenient orientation in the field." (Introduction). Essays by various authors on all aspects of medieval studies. Bibliographical footnotes and/or substantial bibliographies at the end of each chapter cover to the mid- to late 1980s. Includes paleography, diplomatics, chronology, literature, music, archaeology, law and science. (Balay, 1996).

Paetow, Louis John. A guide to the study of medieval history. Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprint, 1980. (Olin Reference Z6203 .P19) A classic, prepared under the auspices of the Medieval Academy of America. This is a revised and corrected edition of the 1931 edition. It concentrates on Western Europe with "restricted attention to Northern and Eastern Europe" and exclusion of England. (Balay, 1996).

Medioevo latino: bollettino bibliografico della cultura europea del secolo VI al XII. Spoleto: Centro Italiano di Studi Sull'Alto Medioevo, 1980-. Annual. (Also on CD-Rom in the Olin Electronic Text Center.) Considered one of the standard bibliographies for medieval studies. An extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources often annotated. Classed arrangement, with indexes of authors and manuscripts. Includes citations to critical reviews. (Balay, 1996).

Repertorium fontium historiae medii aevi: primum ab Augusto Potthast digestum, nunc cura collegii historicorum e pluribus nationibus emendatum et auctum.. Rome: Instit. Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, 1962-89. 6 vols. (Olin Reference Z6203 .P86 1962 +) The first volume is an alphabetical listing of sets of chronicles, miscellanies, and other collections, together with their contents of sources of medieval history up to 1500. The "Fontes" section offers a repertory of medieval writings arranged by individual author's name or anonymous title of the chronicle or document treated. (Balay, 1996).

Cahiers de civilisation médiévale: bibliographie.. Poitiers: Centre d'Etudes Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale, Universite de Poitiers, 1958-> Annual. (Olin stacks D116.5 .R42 and D111 C13 +) The first volume is an alphabetical listing of sets of chronicles, miscellanies, and other collections, together with their contents of sources of medieval history up to 1500. The "Fontes" section offers a repertory of medieval writings arranged by individual author's name or anonymous title of the chronicle or document treated. (Balay, 1996).