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Manuscripts on Microfilm

Deborah Brown

The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library holds almost 2,000 microfilm rolls that are reproductions of medieval and early modern manuscripts, the originals of which are held in institutions around the world. Researchers have difficulty using the collection, as it is still without a finding aid. Last year, the library started a project to develop a searchable finding aid for this collection. The project is coordinated by Byzantine Studies Librarian Deborah Brown, who is assisted by Special Projects and Reference Librarian Sarah Burke Cahalan.

In close consultation with Deb and Sarah, Web and Graphic Designer Michael Sohn and Database Specialist Prathmesh Mengane designed a FileMaker Pro database for recording each film’s information. During the summer of 2012, Deb and Prathmesh will design a version of the finding aid and auxiliary pages for the Dumbarton Oaks website. Until the new pages are launched, a simplified version of the database is available to researchers on Library levels one and four.

Key to the project are three graduate students who joined the library staff as interns for the summers of 2011 and 2012: Vladimir Boskovic (Harvard University, Classics/Modern Greek studies), Saskia Dirkse (Harvard University, Classics), and Roderick Saxey II (The Ohio State University, Classics). Their task involves evaluating the physical state of each film, identifying its contents, researching manuscripts using print and online resources, and recording the information into the FileMaker Pro database. In 2011, the team processed 531 microfilms representing 509 manuscripts. The library staff is delighted to welcome the same enthusiastic, friendly, and highly skilled team for another ten-week internship this summer.

For more information about the project, visit the project’s blog or contact Deb Brown.

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