Descriptions of Manuscripts

Description of Barocci Manuscript 199

If a digitised collection is to be used, it is necessary to provide accurate descriptions online to facilitate finding and identifying each item. For some of the materials digitised in this project, the existing descriptions are more like small works of scholarship than like standard catalogue records. They identify contents, scribes, ownership, etc., and record physical characteristics that cannot be identified just by looking at images of the pages.


As we review the manuscripts and incunabula selected for digitisation in this project, we are considering how much descriptive information we need to have online and in what format. In the review of the Barocci collection we have retrieved some very thorough descriptions of the manuscripts made in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the descriptions are in great condition (legible, well organized, easy to read) and some are a bit of a mess, but all contain a mix of handwritten descriptions in English and Greek (see image above).


When added to the very brief online finding aid for the collection (which is in English), the more thorough descriptions of the manuscripts in the Quarto Catalogues (which are in Latin, Greek, and English), as well as the important descriptions of the illustrations from this collection which can be found (in German) in Irmgard Hutter’s work, this amounts to lots of metadata, but from four different sources and in four different languages. Ideally, we would like to bring all of the descriptions together, but it will take considerable resources to transcribe all of this and to merge the different records. In the short term, we may decide to make brief records available online and to link to scanned images of the more detailed descriptions. This won’t be ideal for their ‘searchability’ but it is a first step.