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Rare Books and Early Manuscripts at the University of Chicago Library

This guide contains resources, descriptions, and tutorials on how to use the rare book and early manuscript collections at the University of Chicago Library. There is also information and resources on book history, printing, and book collecting.

About Early Manuscripts

The early manuscript collections include manuscripts from the ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and early modern periods to 1700.  Among them are the Edgar J. Goodspeed papyri collection; the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection of New Testament and related liturgical and devotional texts; late medieval and Renaissance secular and religious texts, including books of hours and works of Boccaccio and Chaucer; the Sir Nicholas Bacon Collection of English Court and Manorial Documents; the Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Collection of Northern Italian Historical Documents; and commonplace books, musical scores, sermons, papal dispatches, poetry, and letters.

Select Early Manuscript Collections

What is an Early Manuscript?

Early manuscripts are those documents produced by hand, rather than printed by machine.  At the University of Chicago, our early manuscripts holdings encompass a variety of formats, including papyri, scrolls, and bound (or codex) manuscripts composed on parchment or vellum.  

How to Use the Short Title Catalog to Locate Codex Manuscripts

The short title catalog is a database that contains records on codex manuscripts housed in Special Collections. You can use this catalog to locate the manuscript number for a specific manuscript and then request that manuscript through the Library's online catalog. 

Glossary of early manuscript terms

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Catherine Uecker