The Directory is online at:
It’s a pity how carelessly US institutions handle their European pre-1600 manuscripts. In my opinion the average European manuscript library takes more care in its manuscripts than most US libraries do. If you cannot be a good trustee for this precious items give them back to European institutions where they are more appreciated!
1. No appropriate descriptions!
It’s a shame that in most cases the only published descriptions can be found in De Ricci and that this fundamental work isn’t available OPEN ACCESS!
with the entries on European libraries.
The Conway/Davis Directory doesn’t note the few websites with online descriptions like
THIS ISN’T HELPFUL!
Important European libraries have databases with new literature on their manuscripts:
2. Few wholly digitized manuscripts
For German libraries see my link list
The “Directory” isn’t helpful to locate digitized manuscripts.
3. Ruthless deaccessiong leads to cutting up manuscripts for profit
There are enough examples that in recent years medieval manuscripts have been cutted up and therefore destroyed as historical source (see discussions in the Exlibris list). I have to admit that I have NO evidence that US institutions are actively part of this business (even I would not wonder if they were) but giving old manuscripts in the trade means that there is a risk (I also admit: not very high) for cutting (“breaking bad” but not the TV show: https://smallnotes.library.virginia.edu/2014/02/06/this-just-in-breaking-bad/
Most deaccessioned medieval manuscript are not available in libraries because most libraries cannot afford the high prices of Les Enluminures, Joern Guenther etc. They are in private hands and cannot be located by researchers.
Lawrence Schoenberg has purchased a stolen Herzogenburg manuscript and sold it 2001 via Sotheby’s. Sotheby’s declined to provide information on this manuscript. I guess Schoenberg knows very well who has buyed his manuscript but he also declined to help.
I guess most private buyer of medieval manuscripts don’t give access for research purposes!
Did you know that the City of Cologne (which has lost some of its precious manuscripts in the archives catastrophe in 2009) has payed the magnificent catalogue of the Ludwig manuscripts? But the hope to get the manuscripts was vain. After a conflict with the city Ludwig decided to sell them to the Getty Museum which has shameless deaccessioned a part of the Ludwig collection (see p. 6 of the Directory).
The Directory doesn’t give a link to my list of the Ludwig manuscripts still in the Getty ownership I published in 2011:
The Directory also doesn’t give links to the Getty catalogues which are available online:
(To put the content of the Directory in a PDF format isn’t appropriate in 2014. The better way would be a wiki.)
To say it frankly from a European point of view: Deaccessioning medieval manuscripts is a shameful practice!
Scott Gwara wrote me: “Now common, deaccessioning is becoming more secretive: Haverhill Public Library (Massachusetts, USA) has quietly sold its small collection of manuscripts.” (In 2012, according to the Directory).
I mailed Ms. David on this case on March 28, 2014 but I did not receive any answer until now.