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e-codices newsletter

The e-codices newsletter provides information about the latest updates, highlights, and activities of our project and appears about 4-5 times per year.
We are delighted to count you among our readers!

The e-codices team

In this issue
  1. Suggest manuscripts for e-codices!
  2. e-codices is mandated by swissuniversities
  3. Community Development: An addendum to the Blog „Sustainability : A long and complex undertaking”
  4. Manuscript IDs
  5. 49 new manuscripts from eight different collections
  6. One of Switzerland’s most beautiful Gothic manuscripts: The Gradual from St. Katharinenthal
  7. Six ages du monde – Sion
March 2017

Issue N° 28




Suggest manuscripts for e-codices!
In the coming years, the five partners in the project „e-codices 2017-2020“ will work together to provide access to about 120 manuscripts on e-codices. The libraries have agreed to reserve together a total of 20 manuscripts to be proposed by scholars. The prerequisite for selection of a given manuscript is a short, persuasive answer to the following three questions:
  1. Why is this manuscript significant?
  2. Why is this manuscript important to research?
  3. Could you contribute a piece, e.g., a new manuscript description, to e-codices?
Manuscripts are selected by the libraries; proposals can be submitted at any time. We expect to repeat this offer next year.
Proposals should be submitted to the following address: e-codices@unifr.ch.
mandated by
Since 2013, e-codices has been integrated into the swissuniversities program "Scientific Information" in order to develop a network of digital services. As reported in the last newsletter, the swissuniversities program has approved our follow-up project „e-codices 2017-2020“ and has ensured financing through 2018.
Our application was submitted together with Basel University Library, the Bibliothèque de Genève, the Abbey Library of Saint Gall, the Burgerbibliothek of Berne and the Martin Bodmer Foundation. The sum to be awarded (CHF 1,226,717), together with in-kind contributions (CHF 1,592,483), will enable us to realize three project objectives: First, every year 160-200 new manuscripts will be published in digital form. Second, we will continue to develop the web application, e-codices v2.0, in order to make new contributions to the field, for example in the area of interoperability. Third and most importantly, we will work to ensure the sustainability of e-codices. It is our goal by 2020 at the latest to transfer e-codices as a consolidated operation to an institution that can guarantee its continuous ongoing development.
Community Development: An addendum to the Blog „Sustainability : A long and complex undertaking”
Most digital projects fizzle out. This happens because they fail to develop an enduring community. The beginning is relatively easy: external funding enables the creation of a great project. The project is presented at various conferences, and eventually it comes to a successful conclusion. Then what?
Most such projects have no future: the crowd-sourcing project vainly awaits its crowd, the highly-praised tool gets checked out but does not catch on, project managers turn to new projects and consider completed ones legacies at best, liabilities at worst.
In fact, digital projects do not age well — unless they continue to develop. A book is something complete in itself, something immutable. Digital projects can never be thus. Over the long term, digital projects can survive only if they develop an active community or join an established community. Developing a community for a digital project requires much more effort than does disseminating a published book. It demands constant attention and initiative of the operator. Such community development is the most important and greatest challenge for running a sustainable digital platform.
Manuscript IDs
The more manuscripts are catalogued or even edited on the internet, the more important it is to make them discoverable and to unify information about them. For this, authority records are fundamental. Recently, several countries have recognized the need to assign identifiers to manuscripts. Manuscript IDs not only can signify manuscripts at the level of content, but can also better identify a manuscript as a unique copy that usually consists of several works and that changes location quite often.
Together with Biblissima, IRHT and the Bavarian State Library, e-codices has launched an international exchange in order to standardize information about manuscripts and make them fit for the semantic web.

An international meeting on “Manuscript IDs” will take place on April 26-27, 2017 at the IRHT in Paris. If you are interested in attending this meeting, please register at: e-codices@unifr.ch (Only a few places are still available).

Zürich, Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, LM 45751, recto – Fragment with the Crucifixion from the Gradual of St. Katharinenthal (Thurgau)


Zürich, Braginsky Collection, S8, Vorderseite – Megilla Esther (מגילת אסתר) / Esther Rolle

49 new manuscripts from eight different collections
The current update publishes a total of 49 new manuscripts from eight different collections
One of Switzerland’s most beautiful Gothic manuscripts: The Gradual from St. Katharinenthal
This gradual contains one of the most important artworks of Gothic illumination in Switzerland. The gradual is from the Dominican Convent St. Katharinenthal in the Canton of Thurgau and was created in that same convent in 1312. The book used to contain about 150 ornate initials (among them 60 historiated initials), which also were created in the area of Lake Constance. Several initials were cut out and are today held in various locations. e-codices is planning a virtual reconstruction of the manuscript.

Zürich, Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum, LM 26117, f. 161v – Gradual from St. Katharinenthal (Thurgau)


Sion/Sitten, Archives de l'Etat du Valais/Staatsarchiv Wallis, S 109, Open view – Six ages of the World

Six ages du monde – Sion
The « Six ages du monde » from the library of Walter Supersaxo (1402-1482, Bishop of Sion: 1457-1482) contains a roll of 8 meters in length, which consists of 12 leaves and was probably created in Paris at the end of the 14th century or beginning of the 15th century. It contains the Universal Chronicle, showing influences by Augustine, is and divided into six ages. The anonymous French text is influenced by the Compendium historiae in genealogia Christi by Pierre de Poitiers, a work that also was often presented on rolls (see, among others, in Cambridge Mass., Harvard University, Houghton Library, Ms Typ 216 or Philadelphia, Free Library, Lewis E 249A-B). The Sion roll contains three diagrams, various family trees, and above all 36 lively pen and ink drawings. A related roll can be found in Reims, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 61.
Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland
Rue de l’Hôpital 4, CH – 1700 Fribourg

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