Hidden and Uncatalogued Fragment Collections: The Abbey of Stams (O. Cist.)

Watzek Photography (Hall in Tyrol) working on location in spaces provided by Stams Abbey; the conditions of storage required the fragments to be photographed on the premises of the monastery.


Full Title: Hidden and Uncatalogued Fragment Collections: The Abbey of Stams (O.Cist.)

Duration: 2021–2022

Partner institution: Abbey of Stams (O.Cist.), Freundeskreis Stift Stams

Research Fellow: Dr. Claudia Sojer

Research Assistants: Viviana Kleinlercher M.A. (doctoral canditate at the LMU Munich); dott.ssa Caterina Ferragina (doctoral canditate at the Università degli Studi di Verona)

Financed by: Zeno Karl Schindler-Fragmentarium Fellowship, Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Freundeskreis Stift Stams, Stift Stams

Project Description:

Private fragment collections are often uncatalogued and as such not accessible for research. As private collections, they are subject to considerably fewer regulations concerning their conservation and cataloguing, rarely receive public financial support, and attract less attention from scholars and the general public. Access to these cultural treasures depends on the individual attitude of the collector, abbot, librarian or archivist.

In 1973, the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library (HMML, now the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library) sent a mission to the Cistercian monastery of Stams (Austria) and microfilmed their collection of manuscripts. Yet the HMML mission omitted the collection of fragments, including hundreds of detached fragments. Uninventoried, these fragments are not just invisible to scholars, they are at-risk of being lost, expropriated, destroyed, or just of decaying into dust.

This project proposes to conduct a first survey of the fragments, organizing them according to paleographical and linguistic criteria, as well as content. In the first project phase, the fragments were assigned shelfmarks, 262 of them, with some including up to 80 pieces. The fragments have received proper storage in acid-free, alkaline-buffered storage materials.

Together with the company Watzek Photografie from Hall in Tyrol, professional digitization work was conducted in the monastery spaces in January 2022. The resulting high-resolution digitized images are offered on Fragmentarium in two sequences: first, each image is made available as a classic image. The second image contains a color digital grid, true to the millimeter, at 5-, 10- and, in the case of large fragments, 100-millimeter intervals. In this way, each user can get a millimeter-accurate impression of each fragment. Images of the fragments, along with summary information, will be published on Fragmentarium. If, in isolated cases, additional information can be gathered on the host volumes or on the history of transmission or literature, this additional information is provided for the fragments in question in the detailed description on Fragmentarium.

Reconstructions: The Stams fragments provide excellent opportunities to reconstruct dispersed manuscripts. For example, today in the Abbey Archives there are seven fragments of the Diemut manuscript (1095–1130 CE), written at the turn of the eleventh to the twelfth century. Diemut was a nun in the Bavarian monastery of Wessobrunn, then a double monastery, housing both male and female religious. In the first quarter of the fourteenth century, the manuscript came to Stams, where the fragments remain. In addition to publishing the individual fragments, the project will propose a reconstruction of the Diemut Anthology of Christian Scholars and Latin Church Fathers [F-e3qd].

It can be assumed that many of the Stams-fragments come from the same codices as fragments in the University and Provincial Library of Tyrol (ULB Tyrol), on whose fragments the Research Fellow and the Research Assistants have worked for around three years. They, moreover, have identified further related fragments in numerous other libraries, both in Europe and North America. Therefore, the study of the Stams fragments will permit to demonstrate how fragments from Stams help complete the picture of European manuscripts. This project will both draw attention to the vast, undocumented collections of manuscript material lying in non-public collections, and propose a model for preserving and valorizing our shared cultural heritage.

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