From Manuscript to Print


This primary source packet provides resources related to the transition from manuscript to print in Western Europe. Materials in this packet will help students understand how manuscripts and early books were created, practice analyzing primary sources and material objects, and consider the similarities and differences of these methods for conveying information. 

The manuscripts included in this packet come from Haverford’s J. Rendel Harris collection, and were recently digitized. Harris was a professor of religion at Haverford, and later became a librarian at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. He purchased these and other manuscripts during travels in the Middle East. More information about Harris and the collections is available at

Incunabula refers to books printed between 1450 and 1500, the cradle period of printing. The materials in this packet come from a collection of incunabula recently donated to Haverford by David Wertheimer ‘77. The digital versions are not from Haverford’s copies, but rather from German libraries. To see a list of the entire Wertheimer collection, you can search for Wertheimer. 

Packet contents:

  • List of manuscripts and incunabula (four each), with links to digital versions 
  • Guiding questions for students engaging with these primary sources (specific to each text)
  • Glossaries of relevant specialized vocabulary 
  • Articles which provide background on the creation of manuscripts and the transition to printing
    • Kwakkel, Erik. “General Introduction.” Books Before Print. Arc Humanities Press, 2018, 1-28.  

Lyons, Martin. “Was There a Printing Revolution?” A History of Reading and Writing in the Western World. Palgrave: 2009, 26-42.

List of Manuscripts


Psalter, England? 15th century, Latin, Harris 42

Vulgate concordance, France? 15th century, Latin, Harris 44

Essay on Greek and Roman history, Padua, 1457, Latin, Harris 44a

Thomas Aquinas treatises, England, 15th century, Latin, Harris 45


Zebolt, Gerhard. Tractatus de spiritualibus ascensionibus. Basel: Johann Amerbach and Johann Petri de Langendorff, not after 1489. Wertheimer BX2349 .Z47 1489

Haverford copy record

Digital copy from Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek

Felicianus. De divina praedestinatione. Speyer : Johann and Conrad Hist, ca. 1489. Wertheimer BT810 .F35 1489

Haverford copy record

Digital copy from ULB Darmstadt

Exercises and Handouts

These small group exercises and handouts will lead students through a discussion around these materials:

  • Manuscript Exercise
  • Manuscript Glossary
  • Early Printing Exercise
  • Early Printing Glossary

Philadelphia: Images and Print


These primary sources offer a visual history of Philadelphia from the arrival of William Penn to the present. Including photographs, prints, and maps, these sources could be used by those interested in visual culture, urban studies, and Philadelphia history. Pedagogical goals could include the analysis of visual sources, discussing the representation of Philadelphia over time, and revealing the changing face of Philadelphia. 

Packet contents:

  • List of primary sources
  • Guiding questions
  • Articles for background 
    • Miller, Fredric M., Morris J. Vogel, and Allen F. Davis. “Introduction.” In Still Philadelphia, Xiii-1. Temple University Press, 1983. 
    • Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “World Cities, City Worlds.” In How to See the World : an Introduction to Images, from Self-Portraits to Selfies, Maps to Movies, and More . New York: Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2016. 159-208. 
    • Branch, Jordan. “New World Mapping and Colonial Reflection.” In The Cartographic State : Maps, Territory, and the Origins of Sovereignty, Cambridge University Press, 2013. 

Primary Sources

Thomas Holme. A portraiture of the city of Philadelphia in the province of Pennsylvania in America. London: Sold by Andrew Sowle in Shoreditch, London, 1683. Map [Digitized version]

George Heap and Nicholas Scull. An East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia. 1768. Engraving, HC12-5052 [Digitized version (slightly different from Haverford’s)]

William Birch. Penn’s Tree, with the City and Port of Philadelphia. 1828. Engraving, HC2017-0245 

A.J. Johnson. Philadelphia. New York: A.J. Johnson, ca. 1872. Map [Digitized version]

Stephen Perloff. Welcoming Freedom, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pa. 1988. Gelatin silver print, HC09-4995

Harvey Finkle. Urban Playground, Philadelphia, 1995. 1995. Gelatin silver print, HC09-4950

Peter Sekear. Philadelphia, Morris Ave. Ca. 1938-1938. Gelatin silver print, HC12-6492 

18th & Cumberland Sts., Philadelphia, Pa. Ca. 1915. Gelatin silver print, HC08-0339 

William Earle Williams. Untitled. 1981. Gelatin silver print, HC12-6672 

William Earle Williams, Untitled. 1980. Gelatin silver print, HC12-6661 

There are many more related images and maps of Philadelphia available in Quaker & Special Collections. Please get in touch if you are looking for further resources!

Guiding Questions

Some helpful questions for discussion when viewing each item in this packet include:

  • What is the purpose of this image?
  • What do these images tell you about the city of Philadelphia? What about them says (or does not say) “Philadelphia” to you?
  • What arguments are the images making? How can you tell?
  • How does the medium (photo, print, map) influence your reading of the image? How is that reading different in a digital environment?

Yellow Fever Epidemic: Philadelphia, 1793


This primary source packet provides resources related to the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. These materials can support classes and research interested in epidemics, diseases, race, urbanization, and Philadelphia history, or some combination thereof. Potential pedagogical goals from using these materials might include understanding the historical racialized impact of diseases, comparing personal/manuscript accounts of events and published accounts of those same events, and exploring, analyzing, and putting in conversation primary sources. 

In the summer and fall of 1793, yellow fever spread throughout the United States capital. Many who could fled the city, special fever hospitals were created, and over 5,000 people died. Black Americans took on much of the care of the sick and dying, as it was wrongly believed that they were less susceptible to the disease. When publisher Matthew Carey accused these workers of taking advantage of the sick, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones wrote a defence of their conduct during the epidemic. There were numerous publications about this outbreak, and it features prominently in a number of manuscript sources. 

Packet contents: 

List of Materials

Carey, Matthew. A short account of the malignant fever: lately prevalent in Philadelphia; with a statement of the proceedings that took place on the subject, in different parts of the United States. To which are added, Accounts of the plague in London and Marseilles, and a list of the dead, from August 1, to the middle of December, 1793. Philadelphia: Printed by the author, 1794. 4th edition. 

This link also includes links to a digitized version. 

Jones, Absalom and Richard Allen. A narrative of the proceedings of the black people: during the late awful calamity in Philadelphia, in the year 1793: and a refutation of some censures, thrown upon them in some late publications. Philadelphia: Printed for the authors, by William W. Woodward, at Franklin’s head, no. 41, Chesnut-street, 1794. 

This link also includes links to a digitized version. 

Smith, Benjamin. Letterbook. 1793. HC-MC-975-02-036 [Digital version]

Cresson, Joshua. Diary. 1793. HC-MC-975-01-098 [Digital version: coming soon!]

Questions to Consider

  • Who created the document(s)?  For what purpose?
  • Describe the implied audience for these materials. What informs your opinion?
  • What additional (contextual) information would you need to know to fully understand your document(s)?  Where might you find some of this information, and why might you choose a particular source over another?  
  • How does the document(s) add to your understanding of epidemics, race, and medicine? How does it related to other questions and issues you have been studying?
  • What do you find surprising or interesting about the documents?

Text Analysis


Text analysis is the process of extracting information from a body, or corpus, of texts and organizing it in a meaningful way so that it can serve as the basis for scholarly interpretation.

Pedagogical Possibilities

  • Engaging in close reading by encoding the structural and semantic features of texts
  • Engaging in distant reading by applying computer-assisted analysis to texts
  • Creating digital editions and data visualizations of texts

Texts, Tools, and Examples

For texts, tools, and examples, see the Resources for Text Analysis page of the Resources for Digital Scholarship Research Guide.

Potential Assignments

  • Text encoding with the Text Encoding Initiative Standard (group and/or individual) – select text(s) for encoding, develop and document decisions for how the text(s) should be encoded, encode texts according to guidelines, determine online versions of the text(s) should be displayed
  • Text mining with Voyant – select text(s) for analysis, clean up the text and upload it to Voyant, determine stopwords (i.e. words that should be excluded from results), experiment with the various tools, write up experience

For more information about text analysis and its use in the classroom, contact the Digital Scholarship team in the libraries.

Data Visualization

Data visualization is an excellent way for students to engage with course materials in ways that open interpretation and lend themselves to original discoveries. The same information when displayed as a graph or map often reveals new and unexpected features.

There are several web applications to create simple visualizations such as:

Raw Graphs,

Plotly Chart Studio,

Data Wrapper,

As part of several courses, Jake Culbertson (Anthropology) asks his students to contribute to a collaborative spreadsheet of the people, places, key topics, and debates that students encounter in course readings.  This provides a tangible task for students as they read, to highlight significant ideas and entities, and to report their results to the class. The spreadsheet provides a common pool of references to significant information that can be used for papers and class discussions.  The spreadsheet also provides opportunities to discuss how best to transform the information in the texts into structured data.

With the spreadsheet and a tool from Stanford called Palladio, students then create maps, graphs, and facets that allow them to identify significant patterns and features in their data. The spreadsheet exercise offers project-based collaboration with outcomes that benefit students’ engagement with readings and builds a shared knowledge base for faculty research that continues to be developed with students from semester to semester.     

Digital Exhibits

Digital Exhibits are an effective way of engaging students with digitized primary sources, curating digital media, teaching visual literacies, and producing collaborative scholarship. Exhibits can help students reach a broader audience with their scholarship, and introduce them to creating multimodal and non-linear narratives.

Teaching Goals

  • Close reading of primary sources or visual resources
  • Curation of digital objects
  • Digital publishing and a critical understanding of the Web
  • Public and/or multimodal scholarship


Digital exhibits can be created in almost any web framework or content management system. The Digital Scholarship team in the library can support all of the tools mentioned here, and many that aren’t.


Omeka is a web-based digital collections and exhibits builder. With no specialized software needed, students can create digital collections by uploading their own or linking to digital objects on the web and describing them using library and archival standards. The platform is aesthetically rigid–only a few themes exist and it is not as easily customizable as some others–but what it lacks in flexibility it makes up for in ease-of-use. Students can focus on their content without needing to learn much technical. Omeka is available on Haverford Sites, so your class can either work on a single common instance hosted by the library or each student can host their own Omeka site.


While WordPress was originally built as a blogging platform, it is now one of the most popular site builders on the web. It has a very active developer community that builds themes and plugins that extend the functionality and aesthetics of the core installation. It’s a tool that many students are already familiar with, and its simplicity allows them to focus on content creation. Those who wish to “get under the hood” can still do so. Like Omeka, WordPress is supported on Haverford Sites, so each student could create their own site or the class project can be hosted on a library server.

Jekyll or Static HTML Sites

More robust web frameworks like Jekyll offer total control over the look, feel, and functionality of a digital exhibit or website, and they create static web sites that are easy to host, migrate, and preserve. However, static sites require that students learn some markup language (either Markdown or HTML) to publish their work. While this critical making approach facilitates deeper understanding of the web, it requires more time for instruction and mastery of the required technical skills.


Possible Assignments

  • In the final weeks of the semester, students create their own WordPress or Omeka exhibits on a research topic of their choice (possibly adapting a paper they’ve written)
  • As a class, students create a common collection of items that they upload to Omeka over several weeks or throughout the semester. From that common collection, each student or group of students creates an exhibit exploring a theme within the collection.
  • Throughout the semester and with regular library instruction, students undertake a scaffolded series of assignments in which they learn markup, create one or more digital collections, and co-curate a digital exhibit to be launched at the end of the course.