Skip to Main Content

Manuscript Books

Discover original manuscripts in the UH Libraries' Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Collection, and learn more about manuscripts.

What is a manuscript?

A manuscript is a handwritten book. The word manuscript comes from the Latin "manu scriptus"... literally "written by hand."

Manuscript books were used in Western Europe primarily from the 4th century through the 16th century. They were written on parchment (animal skin) and often decorated with initials, borders, and miniature scenes in paint and gold leaf. Manuscripts from different traditions have different characteristics.

Manuscripts in Special Collections

Book of Hours, Use of Sarum.

Book of Hours, Use of Sarum. [Southern Netherlands-Bruges, early 15th century].

To find a list of original Western European manuscripts in Special Collections, visit the library search box/catalog and enter "Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Collection," then limit to Special Collections under Library on the left hand side. The UH Libraries hold 11 original manuscript books and fragments from Western Europe, and 10 original manuscript leaves. The Libraries also hold a manuscript al-Qur'an from Turkey as well as two manuscript Qur'an leaves, and a manuscript Torah from the former region of Bohemia and Moravia, which is on view in the Special Collections reading room.

To view manuscripts in person, visit Special Collections