Penn Manuscripts

Penn Manuscripts on OPenn


All images and their contents from the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Collections are free of known copyright restrictions and in the public domain. See the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark page for more information on terms of use:

Unless otherwise stated, all manuscript descriptions and other cataloging metadata are ©2015 The University of Pennsylvania Libraries. They are licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Licensed version 4.0 (CC-BY-4.0):

For a description of the terms of use, see the Creative Commons Deed:


Images of manuscripts from the Penn Collections were digitized through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Division of Preservation and Access of the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Penn Libraries two grants (in 2009 and 2011) to prepare digital facsimiles of approximately 2,200 European and American manuscripts from the eleventh through the eighteenth centuries. Imaging was undertaken by the staff of the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image with coordination from manuscripts staff in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

On-line facsimiles

The data presented here are intended for aggregators, digital humanists, and scholars who have been directed here to procure high-resolution images of manuscript pages. It is presented in a manner most likely to ensure its long-term digital preservation. For those who would prefer to experience the data in a more user-friendly way, we suggest:


Penn holds over 2,000 Western manuscripts produced before the 19th century; medieval and Renaissance manuscripts comprise approximately 900 items, the earliest dating from 1000 A.D. The medieval manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania, now a collection of approximately 250 items, have been considered and used as a research collection since the private library of church historian Henry Charles Lea came to the University in the early 20th century. Most of the manuscripts are in Latin, but the medieval vernacular languages of Middle English, Middle French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, and Judaeo-Arabic are each represented by one or more manuscripts. They date from the year 1000 through the 15th century. The collection is particularly strong in the fields of church history and history of science, with secondary strengths in liturgy and liturgical chant, theology and philosophy, and legal documents.

The images of these manuscripts are accompanied by detailed manuscript descriptions in machine-readable TEI format. Images and TEI manuscript descriptions are added frequently, so check often to see new additions.

Manuscript images

In general, The Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image follows the NISO standards as articulated in A Framework for Building Good Digital Collections, 3rd Edition:

The following represents specific standards adopted by SCETI in their capture of digital images.

Scanning specifications

Scanning & processing equipment

Master images are captured at a resolution of at least 600 pixels per inch of the image subject. Once all of the images for a manuscript have been captured they are color-corrected, deskewed, and cropped.

The documents on OPenn