University of Pennsylvania Libraries

University of Pennsylvania Libraries

Repository ID: 0002 | Metadata type: TEI

Documents from the University of Pennsylvania



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 hosted here are ©2024 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:

Intended Users

The data presented on OPenn is intended for aggregators, digital humanists, and scholars who have been directed here to procure high-resolution images and their associated metadata. It is presented in a manner most likely to ensure its long-term digital preservation. 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.

For those who would prefer to experience the data in a more user-friendly way, we suggest:

About the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, University of Pennsylvania

With approximately 250,000 printed books and nearly ten million pieces of manuscript material, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is a small part of the University's 5 million-volume library system. The Rare Book and Manuscript Library serves faculty and students across the Penn campus and around the world. Special strengths also include American literature, drama, and history; English, Spanish, Italian, and German literature; the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection in the history of chemistry; and the Horace Howard Furness Memorial Library devoted to Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

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.

Over half the manuscripts of the 17th and 18th centuries are records of the political, economic, legal, and social history of Italian noble families and communities. In addition to Italian, the other major languages of the early modern manuscripts are Latin, Spanish, French, English, and German. Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew are represented by a small number of manuscripts. Other subject strengths of the collection in these centuries are Aristotelian and scholastic philosophy, in the form of commentaries and lecture notes; science, particularly astronomy and chemistry; and occult practices such as alchemy.

OPenn includes some of the items from the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. For more information on all available collections see:

Image standards and specifications

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.

Image specifications

Imaging and 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.

In 2015, SCETI began using IQ280 Phase One digital cameras; however, OPenn contains images that were captured using different equipment before this time. If you have questions about a specific manuscript or image, please refer to the header of the Master image or images in question or the accompanying XMP files. You can see this, for example, in the Master images for Penn Manuscript Ms. Codex 1096 at Note the metadata in the image header of 0396_0000.tif or in its sidecar XMP file 0396_0000.tif.xmp as seen below.

<rdf:Description rdf:about=''
  <tiff:Make>Phase One</tiff:Make>
  <tiff:Model>P 45+</tiff:Model>
  <tiff:Software>Capture One 4 Windows</tiff:Software>


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.

The documents on OPenn