Handrit.org is a joint electronic catalogue of manuscripts preserved in the National and University Library of Iceland (Landsbókasafn Íslands – Háskólabókasafn), the Árni Magnússon Institute in Reykjavík (Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum) and the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen (Den Arnamagnæanske Samling). The catalogue also includes descriptions of manuscripts housed at the Swedish Royal Library (Kungliga biblioteket), the Archives of the Icelandic Alþingi (Skjalasafn Alþingis), the National Museum of Iceland (Þjóðminjasafn Íslands) and the National Archives of Iceland (Þjóðskjalasafn Íslands), as well a number of manuscripts still in private ownership. The manuscripts are primarily Icelandic, but there are also important collections of Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Faroese material, as well as around 100 manuscripts of continental provenance.

Handit.org has its origin in the project Sagnanet, work on which was begun in July of 1997, and in a TEI-compatible XML catalogue developed jointly by the Árni Magnússon Institute in Reykjavík and the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen in the period 2001−2004. The catalogue was officially launched on 21 April 2010.

The catalogue provides access to a wide range of material from different periods. The earliest items, many of them fragmentary, are from the 12th century and written on parchment, while the later items, which make up the bulk of the collection, are on paper, some from as late as the beginning of the 20th century. The material they preserve includes sagas, poetry, legal, historical, astronomical and medical texts, and much more. It is possible to browse through the material by subject matter.

The website was awarded the University of Iceland’s Hagnýtingarverðlaun (Utilisation award?) in 2010, and has received financial support as part of the ENRICH project (European Networking Resources and Information concerning Cultural Heritage) from the European Commission’s eContent+ programme, the University of Iceland’s Research Fund, the Sigrún Ástrós Sigurðardóttir and Haraldur Sigurðsson Research Fund, the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNÍS), the National Heritage Fund and the Student’s Innovation Fund.

Cataloguing and digitisation

The cataloguing of manuscripts has gone on continuously since the project’s inception, and individual catalogue records can vary in their level of detail. Some are extremely detailed and may be said to provide a complete record of the manuscripts in question, while others provide only basic information. For a portion of the manuscripts there are as yet only placeholder records or no records whatsoever, but we are working to provide descriptions for these too. In such cases users are referred to the printed catalogues of the main collections:

High-quality digital images of the manuscripts are added to the catalogue records as they become available.

Catalogue records are produced in TEI-conformant XML (P5); more information on the TEI standard for manuscript description can be found here: https://tei-c.org/release/doc/tei-p5-doc/en/html/MS.html.

Any questions or comments on the handrit.org project should be addressed to handrit(at) handrit.is