The BNU owns a collection of manuscripts containing about 6 900 documents. The collection was reconstituted after the disastrous fire in 1870, which destroyed one of Alsace's most famous manuscripts, the Hortus Deliciarum by Herrade de Landsberg. It will never be possible to remedy this loss, of course, but it was nevertheless the reason for the arrival in Strasbourg of a collection of extremely interesting manuscripts, which currently form the core of the library's most valuable collections. Some of the manuscripts are relatively famous, including the exemplar of the mystic autobiography of the monk Henri Suso (fourteenth century), and tracings of the Hortus Deliciarum made before the fire by a number of specialists, which make it possible to imagine what the lost treasure was like. There are about 700 manuscripts from the medieval period.
The collection also includes more recent manuscripts that witness to the continuity of culture in the Rhine area, including papers by Strasbourg scientists, and by poets.
The catalogue of manuscripts can now be accessed on the Internet via the Calames database. It is being added to gradually with new acquisitions, using BNU funds and grants from local authorities, gifts from individuals, and deposits. Consultation of the originals depends on whether or not a substitute medium (microform or digitised version) is available.
There are other sets of manuscripts within the BNU's collections, including the Franciscan collection, which contains very many, and the De Turckheim family archives, deposited at the BNU, comprises manuscripts exclusively (29 000 items).
The manuscripts are the object of many digitisation operations:
- manuscripts on Rhineland mysticism
- the Cairo Geniza manuscripts
- the BNU's manuscript maps
- the BNU's Greek papyruses
- Goethe's manuscripts kept at the BNU
The BNU receives manuscripts by contemporary authors such as the poet Claude Vigée, and the theologian Gabriel Vahanian.
The manuscripts were originally classified in language groups (manuscripts in Latin, German, French, Hebrew, Arabic and Persian languages, etc). A specific classification is reserved for manuscripts on Alsace-related topics. These groups may be found on the Calames site.
The collection includes every medium for writing and is witness to the diversity of writing throughout history and across the continents.
Manager of Reserve Stacks:
tel.: +33 (0)3 88 25 28 20
For more information:
Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire. Manuscrits Czarnowsky concernant l'Alsace. Strasbourg, 1983.
Hoghoughi, Askar. Catalogue critique des manuscrits persans. Strasbourg, 1964.
Kussaibi, Nazih. Catalogue critique des manuscrits arabes de la Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg. Avec un aperçu de ses autres collections arabes. Safat, 1985.
Marichal, Robert; Samaran, Charles. Catalogue des manuscrits en écriture latine portant des indications de date, de lieu ou de copiste... Paris, 1965.
Tripâthî, Chandrabhāl. Catalogue of the jaina manuscripts at Strasbourg. Leiden, 1975.
Weltz, Carolus. Descriptio codicum graecorum. Strasbourg, 1913.