Digitizing a 600 Year-Old Scroll

by Jeff Emanuel, Senior Fellow


Photograph by Jeff Emanuel

At left: Julia Featheringill, assistant manager of digital imaging and photography in the Harvard Library’s Preservation and Imaging department, scans a portion of MS Typ 41, a French historical and genealogical scroll completed in 1461 CE.

At right: Featheringill tests the coloration of the original scroll with a spectrophotometer and checks the result against the new digital image to ensure an exact match. Imaging is a division of Harvard Library’s Preservation Services, and the documents handled there are digitized to archival standards.

MS Typ 41 is being digitized for use in "The Book: Histories Across Time and Space," a modular learning experience currently in development at HarvardX that will include lessons taught by faculty from across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. This particular manuscript will be featured in a module titled "Scrolls in the Age of the Book," taught by Thomas F. Kelly, Harvard's Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music.

Jeff Emanuel, Senior Fellow at HarvardX and CHS Fellow in Aegean Archaeology and Prehistory at Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies, is director of production and instructional/curricular design for The Book: Histories Across Time and Space.