University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ex Libris Project

Ex Libris is a project organized by Heather Wacha, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, and driven by four graduate students from the iSchool at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. As a digital humanities project, we seek to engage and educate a public audience about working with original sources, such as medieval and early modern manuscripts, and conducting original research thereupon.

A benign cover may hide exiting secrets… (University of Wisconsin Memorial Library, Special Collections D 1328)

The project advocates for archives in general, and for the University of Wisconsin Special Collections in particular.  Its inception sprung from a desire to share the excitement of reading and working with historical manuscripts, to help a broad audience become aware of how accessible these materials are, and to illuminate the unique connection at the University of Wisconsin with history that comes from handling and working with these manuscripts. It also offers graduate students the opportunity to gain experience organizing and executing an interdisciplinary, collaborative, digital humanities research project.

For example … Isaac Newton’s handwriting at the top of the title page, suggesting the title should read thusly: “The Entrance Opened into the hidden Palace of the King.” (University of Wisconsin Memorial Library, Special Collections, D 1328.)

The final product of Ex Libris will be a series of short, educational videos that showcase the stories and people behind manuscripts now held in Memorial Library Special Collections. The video series will target both a public and scholarly audience, revealing the accessibility of archival materials by breaking down manuscript barriers with a “you can do this too!” attitude.

The broad nature of all that encompasses Ex Libris requires the utilization of a wide range of skills. We foresee learning more about Medieval/Renaissance Latin and vernacular paleographies, as well as cinematographic and video editing skills. The video series is scheduled to be released late spring 2018. You can stay updated with our progress through regular blog posts published on this site.