Medical Center Library


Active Projects

Funding provided by the President’s Research Fund of Saint Louis University, 2014-2015.

Broken Books is a web-based application that allows for the digital reconstruction of dismembered books that, at some time in their history, were taken apart, "broken" into pieces, and dispersed. Broken Books enables a project administrator to collect, organize, and order digital images and related metadata to virtually reconstruct the original codex. It also permits users to make crowd-sourced contributions of images, information, and descriptive metadata, to a project.

The test-case manuscript for the Broken Books project is the Llangattock Breviary, a lavishly decorated illuminated manuscript made in the fifteenth century. Deriving its nickname from a later owner, John Allan Rolls, the 1st Baron Llangattock, the Breviary was sold at Christie's, London in 1958. After the sale, this manuscript was broken apart and many of the separated leaves were sold on the American market by Goodspeeds, a book dealer from Boston. Saint Louis University owns seven leaves from this manuscript:

Working with collaborative partners, including many members of Digital Scriptorium, digital images of this book's leaves have been collected from institutions and private collections all over the world, including Harvard, U.C. Berkeley, the American Academy in Rome, University of South Carolina, Michigan State, The University of Washington in Seattle, Dartmouth, the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, the Louvre Museum, the Royal Library in Copenhagen, and the Museo Schifanoia in Ferrara. The ongoing reconstruction of the manuscript can be viewed at:

Digisig is a new digital resource for the study of sigillography, particularly medieval seals from the British Isles. Hundreds of thousands of seals survive from medieval Europe, and they provide unique and important information. A seal is ‘a mark of authority or ownership, pressed in relief upon a plastic material by the impact of a matrix or die-engraved intaglio’. Men and women from all levels of society used seals to validate documents, but also to make statements about their family connections, social aspirations and personal values. Seals incorporate both text and images so they are powerful tools of communication and expression. In a period starved of evidence concerning the individual, seals offer insight into identity, and expose regional and local cultural variations.

Developed by postdoctoral fellow John McEwan, Digisig aims to foster sigillographic research by linking and matching sigillographic datasets and making that information available. DigiSig brings together a number of major datasets, produced by the archives, museums, and the higher education sectors, that are publicly accessible and used extensively by the public and academic researchers. These datasets have been reconfigured, enhanced and integrated, so that they can be searched in concert, and photographs added, where available. The system enables users to access sigillographic information in traditional ways, but in a novel format.

METAscripta is a project that will provide open interactive access and extended life to the collection of pre-modern manuscripts from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV) preserved on microfilm at the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library (VFL), a unit of Special Collections in the Saint Louis University Libraries. Over 37,000 BAV manuscripts on 10,000 reels of microfilm will be digitized and made freely available through an online resource that will create unprecedented access to these manuscripts. Presently these manuscripts are captured on deteriorating microfilms, made primarily in the 1950s, that are accessible only for on-site use in the VFL. Within three years, however, the VFL microfilm collection will be rapidly scanned and reformatted into a linked open data environment that will also enable crowdsourced metadata contributions to encourage and support both user access and scholarly research. METAscripta will result in an online reference resource that extends the life of the VFL microfilm collection, renders BAV manuscript images and metadata fully discoverable and freely accessible, and provides an ongoing digital environment to facilitate the study of primary manuscript sources in the humanities long into the future.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

T-PEN is an online transcription environment for use with digitized images of manuscripts. Developed in collaboration with Parker Library on the Web, the Carolingian Canon Law project, and the Walters Art Museum, this project was made possible by generous funding from the NEH and the Mellon Foundation. T-PEN (Transcription for Paleographical and Editorial Notation) version 2.0 has reached development completion, and with hundreds of current users and more joining every day, this open source application is going strong. There are more than 50 international image libraries already available with more to come. For a detailed description of T-Pen see the 22 Oct 2012 blogpost by James Ginther at Early Modern Online Bibliography.

If you have a digital library you want to add to T-PEN for please contact Development has begun for T-PEN 3.0 to make T-PEN fully IIIF compliant, further enhancing the transcription interface.

Digital Humanities has newly developed a web-based application called Tradamus to assist scholars in the creation and publication of scholarly digital editions. It builds upon the successful transcription tool, T-PEN, and provides tools for use in the five main editing methods used in the scholarly editing of pre-modern texts. It will permits scholars to create transcriptions on the fly, import existing transcriptions of manuscripts, collate those witnesses, create an apparatus criticus or other apparatus, attach annotations or commentary (and even translations) to the edition, and assist in the proof-reading of the final product.

The publishing component will support static e-editions for both e-readers and web pages, enable dynamic web-based editions and serialization of the edition, and assist in peer review of print publications.

Upcoming Project

Newberry logo

Newberry French Renaissance Paleography Project

Funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2014-2015.

The Mellon foundation awarded the Newberry Library in Chicago funding to create a set of online tools to allow users to access, practice transcribing, and annotate French manuscript documents dating from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, ca. 1400-1650. The French Renaissance Paleography Project runs for 24 months, from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2015. The Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies directs the project in collaboration with Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, which partners with the University of Toronto Libraries’ Information Technology Services Unit. In collaboration with the University of Toronto, SLU’s Digital Humanities is creating a custom version of T-PEN for the Newberry. It features the familiar tools from T-PEN, but also includes custom tools tailored to fit the needs of the Center for Renaissance Studies.