January 21, 2022

Saint John’s University (MN): Hill Museum & Manuscript Library Awarded NEH Grant to Develop Platform For Manuscript Studies (vHMML 3.0)

From Saint John’s University in Collegeville, MN:

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University an outright grant of $323,958 plus $42,430 in matching funds for development of vHMML (Virtual HMML) 3.0, a platform for manuscript studies.

vHMML 3.0 will offer users greater discoverability of manuscripts and associated metadata, and an enhanced ability to share data with other scholars and digital humanities projects. HMML was one of 245 recipients nationwide, and its award among the largest of the 27 Digital Humanities Advancement Grants.


HMML holds the world’s largest collection of online resources for the study of manuscript cultures both East and West.

vHMML was developed to open that archive to undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, library professionals and anyone interested in manuscript studies. Launched in 2015, the platform provides resources for learning about manuscripts, discovering new texts, comparing versions of known texts in several languages and tracing the circulation and use of manuscripts across time and cultures.

With the release of vHMML 2.0. in August 2016, HMML launched vHMML Reading Room, making tens of thousands of otherwise inaccessible and often endangered manuscript books and archival documents available to registered users around the world free of charge. vHMML Reading Room’s high-resolution, full-color digital and legacy microfilm manuscript collections are searchable by country, repository, author, language, genre, date, features, city or script. Currently, vHMML Reading Room includes over 20,000 complete manuscripts in 30 languages. Collections are added on a weekly basis. Even uncataloged collections are hosted in vHMML Reading Room, lowering barriers to scholarly access.

vHMML Reading Room is one of five components that make up vHMML. Each component provides resources for using, understanding and interpreting HMML’s manuscript collections. vHMML School offers tutorials in the sciences of paleography and codicology. vHMML Folio provides richly described manuscript pages from communities around the globe and across the ages, highlighting the changing history of scripts in these traditions. vHMML Lexicon introduces terms used in manuscript studies, and vHMML Reference contains bibliographical resources searchable by keyword, title, or author’s name.

“vHMML has grown from a suite of online tools for manuscript studies to the world’s largest online collection of digitized manuscripts from around the globe,” HMML Executive Director Father Columba Stewart, OSB, said. “vHMML 3.0 will offer features requested by vHMML users and partner libraries that will ensure easier access to the manuscripts and better tools for sharing discoveries. We are honored that the NEH recognizes the potential for vHMML to transform scholarship across and between manuscript cultures.”

In 2012, the Institute for Museum and Library Services awarded HMML with initial funding for the development of vHMML, while support for development of vHMML 2.0 came from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Henry Luce Foundation.

Direct to vHMML (Virtual HMML)

See Also: NEH Announces $39.3 Million for 245 Humanities Projects Nationwide(August 2, 2017)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.