Week 2

I did not make as much progress on the manuscript descriptions this week because a collegue and I have been asked to proofread the catalog descriptions for the collection of Cistercian manuscripts housed here. My friend Arthur and I, as well as several other individuals began working about 3 years ago on creating a uniform set of descriptions for a printed catalog of the Dom Obrecht Cistercian Collection on permanent loan to WMU. After much work (sometimes unecessary) we are finally in the last stages of the project and luckily I’m here to help. We anticipate to be finished with the proofreading in about a week and a half, or less, at which time we can begin working full-time on the WMU MSS descriptions.  The Special Collections at Waldo Library holds two distinct manuscript collections: one is the Cistercian collection which comprises around 100 MSS ranging from the 1100s all the way to the 1800s which relate exclusively to the Cistercian Order, the other is a collection of about 40 MSS of various origins which primarily date from before 1600 (pictured above in their protective boxes).

Having said that, I was still able to get through 9 basic descriptions which I think are quite suitable.  The elements which I made sure to include in each description include: MS number, title, date, place of origin, incipit (the opening words of the text), material, dimensions, decoration,  script, binding or housing, provenance, and references. These are all elements which one should expect to encounter in an online MARC record (or any online record) of a manuscript.

I had the opportunity to describe my first medieval charter this week. The charter dated from 1241 and involved a French land grant. The most difficult aspect of the discription was trying to determine if the records that the special collections currently have concerning the document were correct. They did indeed seem to be accurate, but I had to add some extra details in the provence statement;  there were several different scripts in  diverse hands on the back of the document for which I had to indicate and provide rough dates for. I’m very grateful for the work that others have done on these mss and charters and I often feel inadequate to the task of turning all of them into uniform statements. Luckily, I do have other medievalists around to at least help confirm or call into question my conclusions.

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