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Renaissance Era: A Resource Guide

Digitized Rare Materials

The three collections in the tabbed box below represent the most robust digitized collections of renaissance primary materials held by the Library of Congress. Throughout many of the Library's reading rooms, there are numerous other items including maps, many other incunabula, additional music scores, etc. which have not been digitized. For example, there are approximately 8,000 incunabula in the custody of the Rare Book and Special Collection Division. While the Rosenwald and Vollbehr collections listed here contain hundreds of digitized items, that only amounts to a fraction of the total number of physical items in these collections. Likewise, there are over 3,000 pre-1700 music scores and documents in the Performing Arts Reading Room of which only 244 have been digitized. To learn more about these renaissance resources consult the appropriate reading room:

Vita et Aesopus moralisatus (image 36). 1485. Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection contains rare books from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries and a handful of medieval and renaissance manuscripts. The collection contains 2,653 items of which many date from the Renaissance.

To browse the items in the Rosenwald Collection, consult the collection's catalog available in PDF format online:

Some of the items in the collection have been digitized and are available online. The digitization of the Rosenwald Collection is ongoing and these selections represent only a fraction of the collection. New material will be added as it becomes available.

Gutenberg Bible (Biblia Latina). Between 1454 and 1455. Otto Vollbehr Collection. Library of Congress Rare Book Division.

The Otto Vollbehr Collection is a large collection comprising 3,114 individual volumes printed in 635 different presses. The items range from 1490-1820. When the Library of Congress purchased the collection in 1930, it quadrupled the number of incunabula the Library had at that time.

Giovanni Palestrina, composer. Missarum cum quatuor, quinque & sex vocibus liber nonvs (image 14). 1600. Pre-1700 Musical Treasures: Manuscript and Print Collection. Library of Congress Music Division.

Pre-1700 Musical Treasures: Manuscript and Print Collection comprises approximately 400 musical imprints that were printed or created before 1700. In 2008, about twenty-five percent of these early musical treasures were selected for digitization. The musical genres represented among these initial selections include partbooks for sixteenth and seventeenth-century masses, motets, magnificats, hymns, madrigals, chansons, airs, villanelles, canzonets, etc.