Papal Document Finding Aid & The Digitization of Western MS 82


Greetings, digitalists and medievalists.

I am Yanchen Liu. I will be working at the Digital Humanities Center of Columbia University Libraries as an intern this year. I entered the Ph.D. program in the History of Christianity at Columbia University in the fall of 2015. My primary research interest concerns the interaction between the medieval papacy and the compilations of medieval canon law during the eleventh to the thirteenth century in Western Europe.

My project at the Digital Humanities Centers comprises two parts. The first part originally aimed to develop a prototype for an online database, based on a digitization of older finding tools, that could enable scholars to quickly access papal documents. I planned to focus on the pontificates from Pope Leo IX to Gregory VII (1002-1073), using the second edition of Philip Jaffé’s Regesta Pontificum Romanorum as the basic text. The plan was to update the information, references and bibliographies in Jaffé and to connect the basic text to other online resources and databases on papal documents. However, during the process of finding the most recent resources on papal documents to update the information in Jaffé, I have come across two current projects of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Regesta Pontificum Romanorum online, as well as a third edition of Philip Jaffé’s Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, which will eventually produce something like what I wanted to begin developing.  I have established connections with the researchers of these projects to learn more about their work, and hope to continue to follow those projects closely to see if they are implementing all of the features that I had hoped to include in my database.

From this experience I have discovered a large number of key research projects, online databases, paper publications and analytical works on medieval papal documents produced during the last few decades scattered around the world, and unfamiliar, or even unknown to scholars and students. Therefore, I have decided to switch my goal for this part of my internship to contribute my findings to Karen Green’s current project to update the Libraries’ Ancient and Medieval resource guide. I believe this new information can prove useful for scholars and students as they seek to navigate across the complex world of medieval resources.

The second part of my project will involve a digitalization of Western MS 82, a twelfth-century medieval Canon Law manuscript preserved in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Columbia University.

Columbia acquired this manuscript in 2004. The codex has 119 folios and was probably produced in the region of Champagne in France. High-resolution images of nine pages in this manuscript are available on Digital Scriptorium.

Currently I am transcribing the capitulatio of the canonical collection Collectio Sinemuriensis in the manuscript. With the help of Dr. Consuelo Dutschke, curator of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, this manuscript is being processed by the Conservation Department of Columbia. Hopefully, this preparation work will be done by the end of November, and further transcription and digitization will follow immediately after that.

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