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Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
Digital manuscript preservation for scholarly research
Digital manuscript preservation for scholarly research

Hill Museum & Manuscript Library's posts

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Another great news story about our global preservation work, this time on "The World Today" from the Australian Broadcasting Company.

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Another great piece featuring Father Columba and HMML's global work from NPR's Here and Now, a public radio magazine program produced by NPR and WBUR in Boston, Massachusetts, and distributed NPR to over 450 stations, across the U.S. with an estimated 4.5 million weekly listeners.

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It’s Valentine’s Day in the United States and we found this little gem on vHMML Reading Room: an 18th Century Eastern Christian manuscript from Lebanon. In our modern context, the illustration suggests our idea of “Valentine’s Day” – hearts, cherubs/cupid and his arrow. However, the Arabic text doesn’t directly point to love and has very little to do with the illustration. In red ink: “We begin by the help of the Exalted One, and the goodness of his consent, to write some spiritual prayers containing the specific virtuous deeds that are important for the faithful to obtain salvation.”

Our theories? On the facing page, the text quotes a line from the psalms, praying “O God, my God, I will seek you early; my soul thirsts for you (Psalm 63:1). Guide me with your wisdom, comfort me with your compassion, cover me with your power. May Jesus Christ the Crucified be with me, and his mother, my Lady, the Virgin Mary. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.” Love could definitely relate to that. Also, we speculate the pages may have been illustrated after the text was written; the point of the heart looks like it was curved to avoid the text below. Additionally, the artist may have misread the second word on the last line as “love,” as it looks identical in Arabic except for one dot. Or, perhaps the illustrator was just feeling lovesick that day.

Make your own discoveries on vHMML Reading Room:
See more of this manuscript by searching “USJ 1217” in the HMML Project Number field.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Today in vHMML Reading Room News: Lebanon. In 2002, HMML identified the Eastern Christian cultures of the Middle East, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus as a strategic priority for manuscript imaging and cataloging. At the same time, HMML advanced from microfilm to digital media. Our first stop? Lebanon. HMML has been working in Lebanon since 2003, engaging with both Christian and, eventually, Islamic communities. The Monastery of Saint Dimitrius collection, from Koûsba, Lebanon, consists of 14 books, mostly 19th Century Eastern Christian liturgical books written in Arabic.

See more by searching “DIMI” in the HMML Project Number field:

See more of HMML’s work in Lebanon at:
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Today in vHMML Reading Room news: The Chaldean Archdiocese of Kirkuk, Iraq.

Kirkuk in is the north part of Iraq, about 270 km directly north of Baghdad. The Chaldean Church is an Eastern Syriac sect of the Catholic church; the community has existed for centuries, tracing its heritage back to the Assyrian Church of the East between the 1st and 3rd centuries. In this century, as tensions in Iraq have risen, many within the community have sought refuge in the United States.

HMML began working in Iraq in 2010, forming a partnership with Father Nageeb Michaeel, O.P. and the Centre Numérique des Manuscripts Orientaux (Digital Center for Eastern Manuscripts, or CNMO). Together, we began digitizing the manuscript heritage of ancient Mesopotamian Christianity. The collection is large, 133 manuscripts, and we’re updating the cataloging data as we’re able. Most of the manuscripts range in dates from 13th Century to 19th Century and are mostly liturgical texts written in Syriac.

See more of the collection on vHMML Reading Room by searching “ACK” on the HMML Project Number field:

See more about HMML in Iraq at
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At HMML, we rely on many international partners in our work to preserve the world’s handwritten heritage. Our work isn’t limited to Catholic or Christian traditions; we work with a diverse set of communities, including secular libraries, Islamic libraries and Orthodox libraries.

HMML Executive Director Father Columba Stewart recently traveled to Rome as part of the 14th Meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Father Columba was one of several scholarly members that presented papers at the meeting.

Pope Francis was in attendance and, in his homily, noted, “Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other’s gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first.”

See more about HMML’s global work online at

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Today in vHMML Reading Room news: Notarial Archives of Malta. HMML’s mission to preserve the world’s handwritten heritage extends beyond the sacred. Many of our manuscripts are secular, including texts on science, mathematics and history. This collection from Malta contains 16th Cen archival documents, notarial archives from various cities throughout Malta. Primarily legal documents, the manuscripts feature marginal notes on many leaves - evidence of doodles, important notes, even scribbles of the notary scribe. The collection was digitized in partnership with the Notarial Archives Resource Council.

See more of the collection:
Search “NOTMr” in the HMML Project Number field

Learn more about HMML’s Malta Study Center:

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Get a glimpse of a unique map from Louis Hennepin, dated 1698. Our new exhibition on maps in our Collegeville Reading Room opens this week! 

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Come see HMML in NYC on Feb. 6! Executive Director Fr Columba Stewart will be giving a lecture on Monday Feb 6 at 6pm at Fordham University.

The lecture, "Out of the Flames: Preserving the Manuscript Heritage of Endangered Syriac Christianity in the Middle East," will discuss the significance of Syriac Christianity as a counterpoint to historically dominant Greek and Latin Christian cultures, with a particular focus on the manuscripts that embody and represent Syriac heritage.

Lecture details: South Lounge, Lowenstein Building Plaza Level
Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus
113 West 60th Street | New York City
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