Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
609-258-3184
Curator of Manuscripts
609-258-3186

Medieval, Byzantine, and Renaissance Manuscripts

The Department of Special Collections has very significant holdings of western medieval, Byzantine, and Renaissance manuscripts, ranging in date from the 9th to 16th centuries. Most of them are in the Manuscripts Division, in the collections of Robert Garrett, Class of 1897; Robert Taylor, Class of 1930; Grenville Kane; and the growing Princeton Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. While Latin texts are predominant, there are excellent holdings of Byzantine and post-Byzantine Greek manuscripts, vernacular manuscripts in Middle English, Old French Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch or Flemish, and other languages. Also found in these collections are hundreds of separately described miniatures, leaves, and cuttings. The Scheide Library, whose bequest to Princeton by William H. Scheide, Class of 1936, was announced in February 2015, has upwards of 100 manuscripts. There are also a number of manuscripts in the Cotsen Children’s Library; and a small number of other manuscripts in other manuscript series or bound with printed books. In addition, the Manuscripts Division also has thousands of medieval and Renaissance documents, especially in the John Hinsdale Scheide Collection (C0704); Ernest Cushing Richardson Collection (C0341); Charles Carroll Marden Collection of Spanish Documents (C0279); and the Bruce C. Willsie Collection of British Sigillography (C0953).

Two published catalogs provide full textual and codicological descriptions of medieval, Byzantine, and Renaissance manuscripts (through 1600), illustrated with hundreds of color plates. The published catalogs are complemented by an online checklist; individual bibliographic records being added to Voyager, the Princeton University Library’s online catalog (https://catalog.princeton.edu/); and fully digitized manuscripts in the Digital Princeton University Library (dpul.princeton.edu), especially in Treasures of the Manuscripts Division.

Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library. By Don C. Skemer; incorporating contributions by Adelaide Bennett, Jean F. Preston, William P. Stoneman and the Index of Christian Art (Princeton, N.J.: Department of Art and Archaeology and the Princeton University Library, in association with Princeton University Press, 2013). 2 volumes (I: xxv, 483 pages, 88 pages of plates; II: xix, 558 pages, 40 pages of plates): color illustrations; http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10015.html  This catalog chiefly covers the holdings of the Manuscripts Division.

Greek Manuscripts at Princeton, Sixth to Nineteenth Century: A Descriptive Catalogue. By Sofia Kotzabassi and Nancy Patterson Ševčenko; with the collaboration of Don C. Skemer (Princeton, N.J.: Department of Art and Archaeology and Program in Hellenic Studies, Princeton University, in association with Princeton University Press, 2010). xxix, 304 p., [174] p. of plates of color and black-and-white plates: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9055.html  This catalog covers the holdings of the Department of Special Collections, The Scheide Library, Princeton University Art Museum, and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Checklist of Western Medieval, Byzantine, and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library and the Scheide Library. This checklist is not a catalogue, but rather a listing of more than 500 manuscripts in the Princeton University Library and the Scheide Library by holding unit, collection, and manuscript number. The Checklist provides links for more than well over 2,000 digital images of miniatures, illustrations, and selected diagrams and decoration in the manuscripts, about a third of which are illuminated. The same images can be found with detailed descriptions in the Index of Medieval Art (formerly, Index of Christian Art) and ArtStor. Links to the digital images in this Checklist are accessible free-of-charge for reference purposes, and have been put online for those researchers who do not have access to the thousands of images in the Index of Medieval Art and ArtStor, both of which are subscription-based. Imaging services and photoduplication are readily available since online reference images are generally insufficient resolution for publication.

Please contact the curator responsible or the Public Services staff (rbsc@princeton.edu). For conservation reasons, use of a few manuscripts is restricted. For additional information and to make appointments, potential researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, at dcskemer@princeton.edu

 

Collections with Divisional Holdings

  • Robert H. Taylor Collection

    Placed on deposit in the Princeton University Library in 1972, and received as a bequest in 1985, the Robert H. Taylor Collection consists of over 4,000 rare books and 3,300 manuscripts illustrating the scope of English literature from the fourteenth century to the 1920's. The collection began about 1930 and progressed to its present form in several distinct stages. It was moved to Princeton in 1960 and housed in the former Princetoniana Room in Firestone Library in 1972. 

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