How to find manuscripts

The library’s collection of manuscripts date from the Middle Ages to the present. Some of these are available online and others can be viewed in our reading room.

Heart-shaped book with handwriting

Ophav ukendt

In the collection, you can find:

  • Manuscripts in different languages
  • Manuscript scores
  • Historical records
  • Documentation of everyday life in the past and present
  • Archives belonging to individuals and organisations
  • ...and much more

The manuscripts are all written by hand (or on a typewriter), making them unique.

Digitally accessible manuscripts

A small but growing portion of the handwritten manuscripts have been digitised. You can find these by searching this page or directly in the digital collections of the library, where new digital materials are made available on an ongoing basis.

Searching the physical collections

  1. Go to search or use the collapsible search field by clicking the magnifier on top of the page
  2. Search for author, title, subject or location mark
  3. Choose ”manuscripts” in type of materials under limit results

You can reserve manuscripts by clicking ”order”.

There may occasionally be items (volumes, capsules, boxes or the like) included in the search results that you have no interest in. In some instances, there will be an order button for each item.

In other instances, there will only be one order button for the entire archive. In this case, you will need to write in the comment box which unit(s) you want to order. The library intends to have an order button for each individual item.

In general, manuscripts are only accessible in the research reading room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen. Please note that the reading room is subject to special regulations.

On rare occasions, the library may choose to reject a reservation, perhaps due to fragile materials or size. Some collections are subject to a proviso, meaning that authorisation is required for use.

In general, a maximum of 10 items (such as boxes) can be used at a time in the reading room, meaning that large orders may be divided by the staff.

Manuscripts in other languages

When you search for manuscripts in the library system, you are primarily searching through manuscripts in western languages, such as Latin, Danish, German, French or English. The search process for manuscripts in either Jewish or Oriental languages is a little different.

If you are interested in manuscripts in Jewish languages, like Hebrew or Yiddish, they can be found in the Judaica collection.

You can search for materials from the Judaica collection by limiting your search results to "Judaica collection" under "Physical special collections" or "Digital special collections".

Please note that you also need to choose "manuscripts" under "Type of material" if you have no interest in book results from the collection.

If you know of any manuscripts from other sources, like from a catalogue, but cannot find these in our library system, please contact us through Ask the Library with as detailed information about the manuscript as possible. On our Judaica collection page, you can find information regarding manuscripts that are not registered in our library system.

If you are interested in manuscripts in oriental languages ​​such as Arabic, Urdu or Japanese, they can be found in the Oriental collection.

You can search for materials from the Oriental collection by limiting your search results to "Oriental collection" under "Physical special collections" or "Digital special collections".

Please note that you also need to choose "manuscripts" under "Type of material" if you have no interest in book results from the collection.

If you know of any manuscripts from other sources, like from a catalogue, but cannot find these in our library system, please contact us through Ask the Library with as detailed information about the manuscript as possible. On our Oriental Collection page, you can find information regarding manuscripts that are not registered in our library system.

Having trouble finding what you were looking for?

There is a large number of printed catalogues, registrants and databases of the collections that may help your search. These can currently be found on our old website.

If you still cannot find the material, you are welcome to contact the library staff through Ask the Library. It may take a while for a response.