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Manuscript Descriptions

The majority of the manuscript descriptions on this website are based on the 1909-12 catalogue of the Parker Library by M.R. James, with additional information drawn from the supplemental handlist by Richard Vaughan and John Fines of 1960 and descriptive material provided by the Parker Library for any manuscripts acquired later. As part of Parker on the Web, project staff have created an XML-encoded version of the catalogues which contains some expanded or corrected information. These descriptive references serve dual functions: providing information about the individual manuscripts and also providing a navigation tool for the collection.

The electronic edition of the James Catalogue

Members of the Parker on the Web team worked to encode the text of the catalogues as a single XML document, including the parts that M. R. James took directly from the 18th-century catalogue of James Nasmith. The standard for encoding is based on the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines for Electronic Text Coding and Interchange (P4) with some customization. It is anticipated that a future release will produce a fully updated TEI P5-compliant document which will include all of James's catalogue, the additional information from Vaughan and Fines, and all material added to the descriptions by the project team.

Revisions and additional information

The goal of the manuscript description work was to provide a useful descriptive and navigation tool to the collection in an electronic format based on the most complete published catalogues available. Therefore, no attempt was made to provide a definitive verification of all the information written by James, and no attempt has been made at this time to remedy all of James's inconsistencies. The long descriptions on this website should thus be considered an electronic reflection of the available printed catalogues. Nevertheless, the Parker on the Web team has enhanced the descriptions to ensure that authors and titles are accurate, and provided updated foliation statements, measurements, and other additions where relevant. Additions or corrections to the descriptions, such as alternative titles or codicological details, are displayed in different typeface and colour on the website (see Interpret MS Descriptions, [tutorial] and [slideshow]). Finally, it will be noticed that some catalogue numbers are further subdivided with letters. These subdivisions, for the most part, reflect the binding history of the manuscripts in question. A list of these manuscripts, and further information, can be found here.