May 16, 2022

A Lehigh University-Led Partnership Releases Open Web Database of 160,000 Pages Of High-Resolution, Full-Color Manuscripts Dating to the Ninth Century

From Lehigh University:

Led by Lehigh University, a partnership of 15 Philadelphia-area libraries has scanned and digitized more than 160,000 pages from 475 original manuscripts, the earliest dating to the ninth century. The hand-lettered and illustrated pages range from brightly hued, gold-leafed illuminated works of art to functional texts intended for students of science, philosophy and religion.

The pages were digitized and cataloged through a three-year collaborative project of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). The project was funded by a $499,086 grant on the consortium’s behalf to Lehigh University from the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Enabling New Scholarship Through Increasing Access to Unique Materials initiative of the Council on Library and Information Resources, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


The images and metadata are hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries’ OPenn manuscript portal and are also available through the Internet Archive.

Viewers can download material by page, manuscript or collection. Descriptive text includes both the subject of the image and text, as well as other manuscript features, such as doodles, notes or an outline of eyeglasses left inside a book. Databases are searchable by keyword. For example, viewers can pull up illuminations featuring birds, castles, dogs or religious figures, or search by book title, geography or institution.

The effort focuses primarily on Western European texts, with topics ranging from religion and philosophy to science, math, alchemy, astronomy and family lineages. The project has even made it possible to potentially virtually reassemble 1,800 pages belonging to texts whose leaves or incomplete manuscripts have been scattered around the world.

Read the Complete Launch Announcement

Access the Collection

See Also: University of Pennsylvania Libraries are Bringing Philadelphia’s Rare Manuscripts to the World (BiblioPhilly Digitization Project) (July 13, 2018)

See Also: Penn Libraries’ OPenn Manuscript Portal Will Host Country’s Largest Regional Collections of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts (January 12, 2016)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.