Week 3/4

*I missed several days of work in the past two weeks due to familial obligations. This post is a summary of both.*

I’ve made good progress on the MSS descriptions. The first few items in the collection were full manuscripts. These were followed by a collection of manuscript leaves from liturgical books. What I have been working on recently are medieval legal documents such as charters and papal bulls.  Dealing with these documents requires something of a slightly different approach: the script is significantly different than in liturgical manuscripts and can sometimes be much more difficult to read, there is slightly different set of vocabulary needed to describe the various physical characteristics of the documents, and there are different reference works that one should refer too. However, in some ways, medieval charters and bulls can be easier to work with due to their highly formulaic nature

I also have begun to receive assistance from my colleague, Arthur Russell, in creating more advanced descriptions for the full manuscripts. On Friday of last week, we discovered that MS 102, a French Book of Hours, probably had all of its illustrations excised at one time. There were three clues that led us to this conclusion:  1. Books of Hours rarely (to my knowledge) appear without a program of images to accompany the various sections 2. the sections of our MS all seemed to either begin or end defectively 3. the binding indicated that many leaves had been repaired at critical locations. We then crafted a statement in our description to appropriately indicated this discovery.

My archives project is also moving along nicely. I have now managed to update 33 records. The process of creating an appropriate description of the contents of an archival collection is challenging but fun. There’s a real art to providing enough information that a researcher will be able to determine if there is something of value in a collection, while also trying to avoid overwhelming them.  This is not the same kind of process as creating a printed finding aid—which can contain much more information than a 520 field of a MARC record. Another challenge involves trying to provide the appropriate subject headings for an archival collection, especially ones with incredibly disparate items. I look forward to discussing this more as I continue working on the RHistory project.


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