Crowdsourcing Codicology

A conundrum solved, collectively: a 15th century Italian manuscript identified

In January 2012, we posted a plea for help in identifying a motif found in one of our medieval manuscripts: msBR65.A9S2 – a Pseudo-Augustinian Sermones ad fratres eremo. …within a few days we had re-dated the manuscript 100 years later, found out that it was probably made in Lombardy, had come to us via the French invasions of the late 18th century.  … What began as an experiment in a new way of tapping into new scholarly networks ended up telling us more about this manuscript than we have ever known.

From the blog of the Special Collection of the University of St Andrews, this is an incredible example of a library reaching out to the medieval manuscript studies community to learn more about a manuscript in their collections. I hope some day I can contribute to these discussions—or at least watch more of them from the sidelines! I think crowdsourcing questions like this one is exactly the kind of things libraries and other manuscript researchers should be doing in this digital age to increase our collective knowledge about a particular work as well as awareness of a particular library’s valuable holdings.

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3 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing Codicology

  1. There are some communities where this outreach works extremely well, for example the cryptography scene – they did that for ages, putting out requests to solve certain ciphers and code. Many of those have historical interest as well.

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