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Medieval Resources at Penn

Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library possesses approximately one hundred medieval manuscripts, both codices and unbound documents. The majority of the works relate to liturgy and religious devotion; theology and doctrine; and ecclesiastical administration. A large number of works also concern official and legal matters, and still others represent philosophical or literary texts, including works by Machaut, Aristotle, and Seneca.

The RBM also includes a range of medieval works in Greek, a body of Judaica (including thirty 9th-century Genizeh fragments), and several hundred codices of great interest for the study of the political, social, and legal history of Italy during the 15th-17th centuries.

In addition to these original codex manuscripts, the Library owns nearly one thousand medieval codices on microfilm. Click HERE for a complete listing.

Henry Charles Lea Library

Preserved on Van Pelt’s Seventh Floor in a room that recalls Lea’s 19th-century townhouse, this remarkable collection assembles the personal research library of Philadelphia’s noted medieval historian. While covering all aspects of medieval history, its particular strengths are the Inquisition, Catholic Church history, and early witchcraft.

Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection

The Schoenberg Collection assembles an impressive range of manuscripts from England, Spain, France, Italy, and Germany, codices dating from the 9th to 16th centuries. Many are illuminated, and many others present special interest for the study of texts and music. The Penn library has entered into a unique collaboration with Mr. Schoenberg that allows researchers to view virtual facsimiles via the World Wide Web. This project, envisioned over several years, has already made available two dozen facsimiles on the Internet.

Medieval Studies Reading Room

This newly renovated room (405) assembles a large number of reference works useful to medievalists and provides a quiet, comfortable space in which to work. Primary-text collections such as the Patrologiae Latina and Graeca, the Corpus Christianorum, and the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, in addition to reference works for the study of literature, paleography, Church history, liturgy and religious history can all be found here.


Middle East Seminar Room

Located on the Fifth Floor of Van Pelt (Rm 523), the Seminar room contains a wide-ranging reference collection, including numerous resources for medievalists. Useful standard works for non-Arabists, such as the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Encyclopaedia of the Qu’ran, and the Cambridge History of Arabic Literature can also be found here.

Medievalists @ Penn (M@P)

Medievalists @ Penn (M@P) is a reading group committed to developing broad interdisciplinary understandings of the Middle Ages. Comprised of graduate students from across the School of Arts and Sciences (English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Comparative Literature, and Art History, among others), M@P meets regularly throughout the semester to discuss primary and secondary readings pre-selected from among our various fields of expertise.


Our meetings usually consist of informal presentations by graduate students on material that will be of interest to the broader medievalist community, and are held Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m. in Room 516, Williams Hall. For specific dates, or to be added to our listserve, please contact 2014-2015 M@P coordinators Daniel Davies (, Mariah Min (, and/or Samantha Pious (


We also hold an annual graduate student conference during the spring semester. This year’s conference is entitled “The Medieval Archive” and will be held on February 27, 2015. Previous themes include “Visions of Empire” (2014), “Translatio” (2013), “Textual Intercourse: Medieval Appropriations and Appropriations of the Medieval” (2012), and “Mater(ia) Familias: Family Matters” (2011).

For the 2015 graduate student conference call for papers, please go to the News and Events section @


Other Penn Libraries

Fisher Fine Arts Library

Housed in a stunning 19th-century Romanesque revival structure designed by Frank Furness, the “Furness” Library houses over 140,000 volumes (and 900 periodical titles) relating to the history of art, architecture, urbanism, landscape, and design, and includes extensive holdings in the arts of Islam, Byzantium, and western Europe. The affiliated Image Collection, numbering 475,000 slides and 50,000 digitized images (including David Robb collection of manuscript slides), supports teaching and scholarly research in all areas of art and architectural history.

Library of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

The library of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies supports the advanced research and teaching needs of the Center and the Penn community at large. It houses more than 180,000 monographic volumes and over 1,000 current and non-current journal titles, with approximately 2,000 new titles added each year. The library’s Rare Book & Manuscript Collections include almost three dozen incunabula in Hebrew and Latin, and approximately 450 codices in Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, and Samaritan. An extensive microfilm collection provides additional support for the study of manuscripts, paleography, religion, and literature.

Medieval Studies Collections at the Penn Libraries

A summary of Medieval Studies holdings at the Penn Libraries.

Research Centers

Center for Italian Studies
Center for Advanced Judaic Studies
Middle East Center
Penn Humanities Forum


University Museum

Founded in 1887, the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania is an internationally renowned education and research institution dedicated to the exploration of the history of humankind. Although best known for its expeditions (over 400) and unparalleled collections of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, and ancient Near Eastern works, the Museum also has in its care works of importance to medievalists. The Near Eastern Department, for instance, maintains a collection of Islamic (esp. Mughal and Persian) manuscripts, coins, tablets, inscriptions, and ceramics. The Egyptian Department likewise preserves precious Coptic textiles and sculptures.