Vatican Library: more than 500 documents and 1 million pages digitized
July 13, 2015 9:06 AM   Subscribe

In March 2014, the Vatican Library announced it was beginning its efforts to digitize a portion of its extensive collection in coordination with the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford. In the past year, they've made good progress, as documented on the project's blog, which provide some good insight into the process and the documents that have been digitized to date.

The digitized collection is not just works related to the Church, as implied by this short video on the digitization project. The current collection of works online include The Codex Borgia (a painted Pre-Columbian Aztec manuscript), Chinese, Japanese, Tonkinese, Annamese, and Mongolian manuscripts, and an original copy of the first international best-selling cookbook* (Google auto-translation; original Italian article; English translation of select recipes), with two bonus recipes.

* De honesta voluptate et valetudine by Bartolomeo Sacchi, who is also known as Platina, was not the first cookbook as often described, but falls into the category of second generation of early Italian books on cookery (PDF, first chapter of Tastes and Temptations: Food and Art in Renaissance Italy by John Varriano).
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
Goodness gracious, the Vatican Library has been a thing of mythic myth mythiness for centuries. If they were to actually digitize it all (and not just the bits they feel are okay for public consumption) it would be one of the biggest releases into the public sphere of rare and unique historical documents in the history of humankind.
posted by hippybear at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


In the prior thread, Eyebrows McGee had a great write-up on how people can access the Vatican Archives (in short: you need to be a researcher, because many of these items are rare and fragile). While I don't think they'll be digitizing everything, the goal of digitizing 3,500 manuscripts by 2018 is pretty great. Apparently, The Vatican is also still seeking funds to digitise the remaining 76,000 manuscripts, which it estimates will take more than 15 years, over €50m, and the efforts of more than 150 specialised experts.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's great they put the Aztec manuscript online though it'd be greater if the church hadn't wilfully destroyed thousands of others. They note this clinically as "the destruction of the Spanish missionaries".

Also "Vatacan" in the title is making my eye twitch, mods?

Great post though. My mom worked in the Vatican Library for many years.
posted by Rumple at 9:39 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also "Vatacan" in the title is making my eye twitch, mods?

Fixed! Also tucked a little more below the fold, that was pretty long on front page. Neat stuff, though, thanks for putting this together filthy light thief!
posted by cortex at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Christ, what an archive.
posted by cake vandal at 11:02 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


While the project is laudable and I'm delighted, I'm also puzzled.

The Church, one of the single richest organizations on the planet, a place with actual, no fooling, gold thrones encrusted with jewels, is "seeking funds" to digitize the rest?

WTF Francis? Just cut a damn check and get the job done. You're rich. Fifty million euro is pocket change for the Church.
posted by sotonohito at 11:08 AM on July 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I have a suspicion that Nicolas Cage is involved somehow.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:22 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait, I can't seem to find the porn section.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:26 AM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


WTF Francis? Just cut a damn check and get the job done. You're rich. Fifty million euro is pocket change for the Church.

How Rich Is the Catholic Church? Nobody really knows, because religious groups don’t need to follow regular accounting and disclosure rules. And it's not clear how various branches and elements of the church exactly tie back to a larger (and wealthier) part. The archives may be (fiscally) separated from other parts of the Church.

Wait, I can't seem to find the porn section.

Eyebrows McGee had a response to this, also, first by linking to a Straight Dope article that says the "Vatican has a huge porn collection" rumor is a myth.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:32 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


put the Aztec manuscript online

The Borgia Codex has actually been online for quite some time, thanks to FAMSI, which has scans of just about all the other surviving pre-Hispanic codices.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:25 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


True, I should have noted that the codex is an improved digitization, as compared to FAMSI's images.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:48 PM on July 13, 2015


At some point in the early 90s, I heard a rumor that the Vatican would someday be putting their manuscripts on that new web thing. I couldn't even imagine, but just the thought was a large part of why I got online. Hooray for this!
posted by korej at 8:15 PM on July 13, 2015


what do i need to go back to school or how do i get a job being a specialist who can scan in old documents because i kind of never get bored looking at old manuscripts? the only reason i joined tumlbr was to follow those manuscript ones like discarding images and the special collections ones.

i want to see the vatican basement and attic and find all the weird shit.
posted by sio42 at 5:24 AM on July 15, 2015


on page 18 of the Borgia codex, someone is not having a good day.
posted by sio42 at 5:26 AM on July 15, 2015


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