The Beginnings of the Fragment Collection of Leipzig University Library



Partner Institution: Leipzig University Library

Financed by: Zeno-Karl-Schindler Foundation and Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Stiftung

Fellow: Ivana Dobcheva, MA

Project Leader: Christoph Mackert

Additional Team Members: Student Assistants of the Leipzig Manuscript Centre

The project is a further step in the long-term initiative of the Leipzig University Library (UBL) to catalogue its fragment collection of nearly 800 shelfmarks and to make it known and accessible to the scientific community. In the framework of a previous Fragmentarium Case Study, the UBL published on Fragmentarium around 270 fragments together with scholarly descriptions. The aim of the current project, generously funded by the Zeno-Karl-Schindler Foundation and the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach foundations, is to go back to the beginnings of the Leipzig fragment collection. The research concentrates on seven softbound fascicles with the shelfmarks Ms 1607 to Ms 1614, which host several groups of fragments. They can be traced back to Ernst Gotthelf Gersdorf, librarian in 1833-1874, who sorted detached bookbinding waste by period or subject matter and bound the items in separate booklets. Ms 1607 is an assemblage of fragments from classical authors; Mss 1608 to 1613 are ordered according to date of origin, and Ms 1614 contains fragments of German texts. In the course of the three-month project, 50 Latin fragments from these booklets will be analyzed by research associate Ivana Dobcheva and made available digitally via Fragmentarium. In this way, the UBL will publish additional digital facsimiles of detached Latin fragments from its collection together with descriptions recording their content, as well as codicological and palaeographical characteristics. Furthermore, by enriching the descriptions and publishing the digital images at Fragmentarium it will be possible to examine the fragments side by side and make partial virtual reconstructions of previous existing manuscripts. One leaf of Ms 1613, for instance, belonged to the same French manuscript of Boethius’ De divisione as did two other leaves in the fragment collection, namely, Fragm. lat. 58 ( and Fragm. lat. 106 ( The project aims, however, not only at providing new source material for future fragment studies but also at identifying as many host volumes of the fragments as possible. Tracing their provenance will  provide answers as to: Which manuscript volumes or early prints were examined for fragments in the middle of the 19th century? What kind of manuscript remains were of interest and what was neglected? Thereby, the study will shed light to the rationale for the creation of the collection and the first steps in the scholarly evaluation of bookbinding waste at the Leipzig University Library.

Ivana Dobcheva, completed a BA in Classical Philology (Sofia University) and a MA in Medieval Studies (CEU, Budapest), and is a specialist in manuscript studies. In addition to her current work for the Leipzig University Library, she is a research associate at the Manuscript Department at the Austrian National Library.

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