The Newberry is pleased to announce a new grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund the building of “Italian Renaissance Paleography,” a website where scholars and students can learn to transcribe medieval and early modern Italian documents from the collections of the Newberry and other institutions.
Paleography, the study of handwriting, opens up access to otherwise incomprehensible primary sources, enabling scholars to pursue more thorough research from a variety of perspectives.
The Newberry’s Mellon summer paleography institutes (recently renewed for another four years) offer hands-on training for a few scholars; digital resources, meanwhile, can bring tools related to paleography to a wider audience around the globe.
“This new grant will help us build on our existing paleography and digitization projects,” said Lia Markey, director of the Newberry’s Center for Renaissance Studies. “We’re grateful for the chance to collaborate with our partner organizations to give scholars the tools they need to expand the scope of their research using original manuscripts.”
The Italian Renaissance Paleography project complements the Newberry’s French Renaissance Paleography website, which has been accessed by roughly 10,000 users since its launch in January 2016. This initiative aims “to expand the field of paleography and provide further instruction and new resources—both in the classroom and beyond—for medieval and early modern Italian studies,” according to Markey, who will lead the Italian Renaissance Paleography project.
The manuscripts available on the site will be curated largely from the Newberry’s collection. As with the French Renaissance Paleography site, the Newberry manuscripts will be supplemented by collections from other institutions, including the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Getty Research Institute, and the Huntington Library. For the technical implementation of the website, the Newberry will partner with the University of Toronto Libraries, the Center for Digital Humanities at Saint Louis University, and ITER: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Particularly rich in letters and humanist texts, the Newberry’s collection of Italian manuscripts also includes copy books and calligraphic instructional manuals, constructed and ornamental alphabets, legal documents, maps, ceremonial books, letters, inventories, and ledgers.
The Newberry plans to launch the website in 2019.