The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts advances learning and inspires discovery in Penn's community and around the world. The goals of the Kislak Center align with those of the Penn Libraries as a whole: to make our collections accessible; to use technology in innovative and meaningful ways; to enhance teaching and research; and to preserve our cultural resources for future generations. To learn more about the Kislak Center, visit our website.



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Now showing 1 - 10 of 1124
  • Publication
    Facsimile of LJS 397, Astronomy lecture notes
    (2015-01-22) Porter, Dot
  • Publication
    Facsimile of LJS 242, Basis grammatice
    (2015-01-23) Porter, Dot
  • Publication
    Multispectral Recovery of a Fragment of Richard FitzRalph’s Summa de Questionibus Armenorum from University of Rochester, D.460 1000-03
    (2020-10-26) Huskin, Kyle Ann; Zawacki, Alexander J.; Heyworth, Gregory
    Multispectral imaging—the process of obtaining image data from a range of both visible and invisible wavelengths—is a new frontier in medieval studies, raising the possibility of recovering damaged or palimpsested texts that have been illegible for centuries. In this paper we show the remarkable results of applying this technology to University of X, MS D.460 1000-003, a previously unidentified single-folio fragment that was gifted to the university in 1968. Formerly used as a limp vellum binding for a seventeenth-century volume, the text has become so worn that it is all but completely unreadable to the naked eye. The fragment has consequently received little scholarly attention prior to our investigation. Our team recovered nearly all of the lost text and identified the fragment as an excerpt from Richard FitzRalph’s Summa de Questionibus Armenorum. Although this text survives in 45 other manuscripts and fragments, our discovery is highly significant because the Rochester fragment is the only copy of any of FitzRalph’s works in a non-European collection. Moreover, the fragment, whose handwriting dates to no later than 1370, may be the oldest extant copy of the Summa by at least half a decade. We present the process of this discovery, our conclusions about the text, and the potential for multispectral imaging to unlock new information hidden in known but understudied fragments held in archival collections around the world.
  • Publication
    “My Written Books of Surgery in the Englishe Tonge”: The London Company of Barber-Surgeons and the Lylye of Medicynes
    (2019-01-08) Connelly, Erin
    The Middle English Lylye of Medicynes is an early fifteenth-century translation of Bernard of Gordon’s Latin Lilium medicinae (completed in 1305). The Lylye is contained in Oxford Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1505 as a sole text. Although there are many extant witnesses in Latin, there are no other known Middle English copies. The Lylye contains thousands of medicinal ingredients, including 360 individual recipes identified with Rx, with accompanying guidelines for diagnosis and prognosis. Although the text does contain some medical theory and etiology (based on thought from Arabic medicine, specifically Ibn Sīnā, and Antiquity, predominantly Galen and Hippocrates), its main feature is the large volume of medicinal recipes. It is thought to have been commissioned by Robert Broke, ‘master of the king’s stillatories,’ in the early fifteenth century during the reign of Henry VI. This article explores the later provenance of the Lylye amongst the Gale family of barber-surgeons in sixteenth-century London.
  • Publication
    History from the Margins: Literary Culture and Manuscript Production in Western India in the Vernacular Millennium
    (2022-10-24) Chanchani, Jahnabi Barooah
    Scholars of South Asia have long known of praśastis, eulogistic verses often composed in the transregional Sanskrit language on copperplates, stone slabs, and temple walls, from the early centuries of the Common Era. They have traditionally sieved these documents to recover dynastic histories and have supposed that as a genre, it faded away in the second millennium CE when Islamic polities were established across the subcontinent and new genres of history writing were popularized. In making this supposition they have overlooked the fact that praśastis continued to be frequently composed and written. Yet, their appearance was neither in public spaces nor in public documents, but frequently at the ends of palm-leaf and paper manuscripts. In this paper, I carefully analyze a corpus of hitherto un-translated praśastis and other scribal remarks written at the end of oft illustrated sumptuous Jaina manuscripts prepared between c. 1000 –1600 in western India. This was a period during which manuscript culture and literary production burgeoned in the region. Through my close reading of these genealogical micro histories, I shed new light on the emergence of new power elites, literati associations, centers of manuscript production, the rise of professional authors and scribes, and formation of kinship. I also consider the aesthetics and poetics of patronage in the region and ask why patrons in the early centuries of the second millennium CE sought to legitimize their family histories using an archaic genre.
  • Publication
    In the Orbit of the Sphere: Sacrobosco’s De Sphaera Mundi in UPenn MS Codex 1881
    (2021-04-20) Malcolm, Aylin
    Johannes de Sacrobosco’s De sphaera mundi was the most popular astronomical text in Europe from the late thirteenth century to the late seventeenth, and a core component of the university curriculum. This essay is the first published study of a remarkable copy of De sphaera in a manuscript recently acquired by the University of Pennsylvania (MS Codex 1881), which includes an unedited commentary on De sphaera and a variety of diagrams. I begin by addressing the textual relationships between this codex and other fifteenth-century copies of the main text and commentary, including both manuscripts and incunables. I then evaluate its diagrams, which would have assisted readers in visualizing and memorizing topics introduced in the main text, and which range from simple geometrical volvelles to a compendious climata diagram. To conclude, I consider what MS Codex 1881 might offer twenty-first-century audiences, including my initial work on digital editions of its diagrams. As a useful case study for both research and teaching, this manuscript will likely benefit several areas of inquiry in medieval and early modern studies, including the history of science and the history of education.
  • Publication
    Facsimile of LJS 308, Edward III letter patent
    (2015-03-17) Porter, Dot