Universiteit Leiden

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Manuscript and Early Book Destruction

Monday 22 May 2023
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden
An example of a manuscript that was heavily damaged during the Second World War. The manuscript is Chartres Bibliothèque municipale, 0139 (0157) (vol. 1 fol. 6v). Image credit : L’Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, 2013, Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0).

Manuscript and Early Book Destruction

It is tragic to reflect on the medieval manuscripts and early printed books that survived hundreds of years, only to be destroyed in the twentieth and twenty-first century.  What sorts of records were lost in this way? How did factors such as theft and the deliberate dismemberment of manuscripts shape the survival of medieval books in the modern age? How should we approach manuscripts that have been water damaged, or those that have been dismembered, and how can digital technology help? This symposium will explore these and other topics through an interdisciplinary set of papers. Speakers will highlight projects aimed at identifying and rehabilitating damaged manuscripts and archives, and will explore topics such as wartime manuscript loss, theft, and the deliberate dismemberment of manuscripts for resale.

This one-day symposium is organised by Dr Krista A. Murchison, in the context of her NWO-funded research project on wartime manuscript destruction.


10 to 10:15 Coffee, Tea, and Registration
10:15 to 10:20 Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:20 to 11:15 Keynote presentation: Andrew Pettegree (University of St Andrews, UK)
‘Books in wartime: victims or guilty parties?’

11:30 to 12:45 New Directions in Charting and Recovering Lost Manuscripts
Chair: Irene O'Daly (Universitair docent of Book History, Leiden University, NL/KNAW)

  1. Jérémy Delmulle (Chargé de recherche au CNRS, Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, France)
    Making destroyed manuscripts talk again: a presentation of the database ‘Deperditi’
  2. Hanno Wijsman (Responsable de la base de données Bibale, Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, France)
    Leuven University Library 1917-1940: The Case of a Destroyed yet Uncatalogued Manuscript Collection
  3. Krista Murchison (Universitair docent of Medieval English Literature, Leiden University, NL) A Newly Discovered Source of Information about Lost Manuscripts from Coventry

12:45 to 13:45 Lunch Break (Vegetarian options available; please indicate preferences at time of registration)

13:45 to 15:00 New Directions in the Protection and Recovery of Books I
Chair: Maretta Johnson (Curator Heritage Research and Innovation, Rotterdam Library)

  1. Caroline Shenton (olim Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, UK)Protecting the British Library and the Public Record Office Collections in World War II (via livestream)
  2. Anne Michelin (Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, France)
    Simple and low-cost imaging methodology to recover writings in fire-damaged medieval manuscripts
  3. Laurianne Robinet (Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation, Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, France)
    Retrieving knowledge from the Chartres fire-damaged medieval manuscripts (via livestream)

15:00 to 15:15 Coffee and Tea Break

15:15 to 16:30 New Directions in the Recovery of Manuscript Fragments
Chair: Thijs Porck (Universitair docent of Medieval English Literature, Leiden University, NL)

  1. Alison Alstatt (Associate Professor of Musicology & Music History, University of Northern Iowa School of Music, America)
    The Wilton Processional: a Case Study in the Identification and Recovery of Otto F. Ege’s Liturgical Music Manuscripts (via livestream)
  2. Stephanie Azzarello (University of Toronto, Canada)
    Broken But Not Destroyed: Methodological Approaches to Post-War Fragmented Manuscripts (via livestream)
  3. J. R. Mattison (Universitair docent of Medieval and Tudor Literature, University of Groningen, NL)
    French Fragments, English Bookbindings, and the Development of Literary History

16:30 to 17:00 The Future of Manuscript Digitisation: Emerging Researchers Session
Chair: Krista A. Murchison (Universitair docent of Medieval English Literature, Leiden
University, NL)

Fatima al Moufridji (Leiden University, NL) and Jose M. J. Pereira (Leiden University, NL)

17:00 to 18:00 Drinks reception

18:30 Dinner at Oudt Leyden
All participants and speakers are invited to join us (traditional Dutch cuisine; at participants’ own expense)

Registration form
Registration is free; please register early because space is limited.

More information: Please contact Dr K. A. Murchison at the email address above.

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