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Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mirella Ferrari, ed. R. H. Rouse, University of California Publications: Catalogs and Bibliographies, 7 (Berkeley; Los Angeles; Oxford: University of California Press, 1991). xxix + 185 pp.; frontispiece + 36 figures. ISBN 0-520-09687-8. $65.00[pounds].

This catalogue describes the diverse collections of mediaeval and Renaissance manuscripts in Latin script held by five libraries of the University of California, Los Angeles. The catalogue was originally produced in 1977 by Mirella Ferrari. Her descriptions of these UCLA manuscripts represent an important early stage of the ambitious plan to describe in depth the scattered mediaeval and Renaissance holdings in California's public and private institutional libraries. This project has been nurtured and developed by Richard H. Rouse and Consuelo Dutschke. The fruits of their combined scholarly labours include published catalogues of mediaeval and Renaissance manuscripts in the Claremont libraries (1986) and the Huntington Library (1989), with a catalogue of the holdings in the Bancroft Library (Berkeley) currently in progress. The publication of Ferrari's catalogue now offers Rouse a useful opportunity to take stock of the general progress of manuscript cataloguing in North American libraries. Unlike Ferrari's work, and the research on the Claremont libraries, much of the recent scholarship in this area has been assisted by external funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The scholarship Ferrari has brought to her task confirms Rouse's general point concerning the importance of the |human factor' in cataloguing, where the provision of adequate funding needs to be matched by |the quality and motivation of the individual cataloger' (p. xii).

Ferrari's catalogue was written primarily for teaching purposes, and this has influenced both the nomenclature of script and also the organization of individual entries. The accompanying plates usefully illustrate and supplement written details in the catalogue descriptions. There are a few places where the manuscript details are perhaps inconsistently given or incomplete, but in general Ferrari has sensibly followed a version of the format devised by N. R. Ker for his Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. The manuscript descriptions have been revised and updated for the present volume, with an additional summary listing of manuscript identifications and acquisitions provided for the years 1978-90. The largest library holding described is the steadily growing collection of manuscripts housed in the University Research Library's Department of Special Collections. This poses special problems, primarily because it includes both the Italian Diplomatic Collection (University Research Library 100 bx 113/114, containing charters and cartulary of the Delfino family, described p. 41) and the large Orsini Archive, held in 532 boxes and containing c. 1000 items dated before 1600 (University Research Library 902, described p. 83). Understandably, both the Delfino and Orsini documents are given scant attention in Ferrari's catalogue. On the other hand, two of the manuscripts in the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana which Ferrari describes in detail were written long after 1600, the date that, for pragmatic reasons, she usually takes as the upper limit for her catalogue. These two special cases are Belt Library 68 and Belt Library 73 (described on pp. 6 and 7, also fig. 36). Both are described as eighteenth- or nineteenth-century imitations of sixteenth-century documents, but it is arguable whether a description of either should have been included in the volume. Given the nature of the manuscripts that are described, however, it is important that the |human factor' should continue to have a part to play in such decisions. In its present revised and published form, Ferrari's catalogue will continue to offer interested scholars a valuable research tool for many years to come.
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Author:Thompson, John J.
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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