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Medieval Facsimiles in Special Collections: Home

Special Collections: Getting Started

Special Collections, located on the first floor in Hodges Library, preserves and provides access to rare and unique materials that support instruction and research at the University of Tennessee. Available formats include rare books, manuscripts, letters, diaries, photographs, and digital collections. This research guide identifies only the Medieval facsimiles held by Special Collections; there are also some in the Hodges stacks.

This guide is intended to be a comprehensive list of our facsimiles, and will grow with the arrival of new acquisitions. If you notice a facsimile that isn't listed, please email special@utk.edu.

Medival Facsimiles - Introduction

Because medieval manuscripts were each made by hand (manus is Latin for hand), they were very expensive and relatively rare.  Centuries later, those original books are still very expensive, and have become even more rare. Many of these one-of-a-kind items are held in museums and libraries in Europe and therefore inaccessible to most people in the U.S.

Facsimiles are copies of these unique manuscripts, created in lots of a few hundred rather than one at a time.  Early facsimiles tend to be books with black and white images of the manuscript printed within the pages of the facsimiles.  These are useful for study, or to prepare for working with the original, and are much easier to handle than microfilm. Later facsimiles have become increasingly realistic, reproducing the size and colors of the original, often bound with a cover similar to the one currently housing the manuscript.  Some modern facsimiles include real gold leaf, make holes in the pages to correspond with the manuscript, and even use real thread to mimic repairs.

The facsimiles in this guide have been divided into Full-Format (the very realistic ones), Complete (the early ones), and Selected Images (only the fancy pages, often with helpful commentary).  Within each tab, they are grouped by centuries, to facilitate making comparisons or seeing developments across time.

Helpful Vocabulary

Apocalypse - another name for the book of Revelation

Book of Hours (Fr. Heures) - a collection of prayers, psalms, and other texts meant for personal use

Codex (pl. codices) - book format, as opposed to a scroll

Evangelistary - selections from the Gospels to be read during worship services

Psalter - the book of Psalms, intended for use in worship services

Sacramentary - a collection of the words said by a priest while leading various kinds of worship services

Special Collections Subject Guides

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