Digitized manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum: ReadMe file


The Walters Art Museum houses an extraordinary collection of some 850 illuminated manuscripts from diverse cultures around the world. Full digital surrogates of many of these manuscripts are available on this website. We hope you enjoy them and incorporate them into your work and projects.

For additional details about using this Web site, see the ReadMe documents below.

A note on language support

If you have trouble reading special or non-Latin characters on this page, please make sure you have appropriate Unicode fonts installed and an up-to-date Web browser.

License and use – UPDATED! 6 February 2013

All Walters manuscript images and descriptions provided here are licensed for use under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License.

You are free to download and use the images and descriptions on this website under the licenses named above. You do not need to apply to the Walters prior to using the images. We ask only that you cite the source of the images as the Walters Art Museum (see citation style in the ReadMe document).

Additionally, we request that as a courtesy a copy of any work created using these materials be sent to the Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, mss-curator@thewalters.org.

Note these terms mark a change from our previous license, which placed a noncommercial restriction on the use of these materials. The noncommercial restriction no longer applies, and this license supercedes the previously advertised license, and replaces that found in many of the archival TIFF image headers.

This change follows the Walters Art Museum’s licensing policy. More information on the Walters’ intellectual property policy can be found on the Walters website: http://art.thewalters.org/license/.

Citation style

For Walters manuscripts be sure to indicate that the work is copyright the Walters Art Museum and cite the Creative Commons license the work is under, in accordance with the terms of the license.

The title of an image should include the manuscript number and the folio or binding part of the manuscript.

Here is a sample citation for an image:

For descriptions of Walters manuscripts, cite the

If you wish to use an address for the description, use the TheDigitalWalters.org URL at which you found the description.

For non-Walters books, be sure to adhere to the license terms set up for the individual book.

Persistent URLs (PURLs)

Each manuscript is provided with Persisten URLs (PURLs). PURLs are guaranteed to always direct to the requested resource. While it is (remotely) possible that the URLs used on this site for manuscript pages will change, Persisten URLs are guaranteed to always point to the desired resource. For this reason, we reommend that you use PURLs to for citations. There are four possible types of PURLs for each manuscript:


The images and descriptions of Walters manuscripts on this website were created with funding awarded to the Walters Art Museum by the National Endowment for the Humanities in two projects—Islamic Manuscripts of the Walters Art Museum: A Digital Resource (2008 to 2011) and Parchment to Pixel: Creating a Digital Resource of Medieval Manuscripts (2010 to present). Additional funding has been provided by an anonymous donor.

Intended audiences

The data on the Digital Walters is intended for aggregators, digital humanists, and scholars who have been directed here to procure high-resolution images of manuscript pages. It is presented in a manner most likely to ensure its long-term digital preservation. For those who would prefer to experience the data in more user-friendly ways, we suggest the following sites:

Let us know how we’re doing

We’d be most grateful for your feedback. If you find any errors, have suggestions or comments about what we’ve done well or need to do better, or need help using the Digital Walters, please let us know at mss-curator@thewalters.org.



Nearly all of the Walters’ collection of 128 Islamic codices and 60 loose leaves are available on the Digital Walters. All of them are accompanied by detailed manuscript description information in machine-readable TEI format. Because of their fragile condition or their inordinately large or small sizes, however, a few of our Islamic manuscripts could not be imaged as part of the Islamic Digital Resource project. The Walters is now digitizing its English, Dutch, German, Armenian, Byzantine and Ethiopian manuscripts for the Parchment to Pixel project. As with the Islamic manuscripts, conservation and size considerations may prohibit the digitization of some of these manuscripts.

Manuscript images and descriptions appear on this site as they are completed. Images are added frequently, as the digitization takes place. TEI manuscript descriptions also appear as they become available, but this may be as long as two years after the images are added, as their delivery depends on the completing to cataloging and an editorial review process.

The Manuscript images

Every element of each manuscript is digitized, including text folios, blank folios, flyleaves, later additions, stubs (whenever possible), and bindings (inner and outer boards as well as spine, fore-edge, head, and tail). Some elements of a manuscript may be imaged more than once. This is the case for Islamic bindings with envelope flaps, for example. For these, the first flyleaf on the flap side will be imaged with the flap, and without the flap.

Master images are captured at a resolution of at least 600 pixels per inch of the image subject. Illuminated folios and other decorated elements of a manuscript are captured at higher resolutions, ideally 1200 pixels per inch where the dimensions of the object allows. The dimensions of some larger manuscripts make capturing at 1200 PPI impossible. For these, the highest resolution possible is used instead.

Once all of the images for a manuscript have been captured they are color-corrected, deskewed, and cropped. Four types of images are delivered for each manuscript element:

  1. a full-sized, archival TIFF image, which includes a ruler and a Macbeth color-calibration chart in the frame (600 PPI text folios/ 1200 PPI illuminated folios);
  2. a 300 PPI TIFF suitable for print publication;
  3. a standard all-purpose (SAP) JPEG intended for web use, that is 1800 pixels on its longest side; and
  4. a thumbnail JPEG that is 190 pixels on its longest side.

The ruler and Macbeth color-calibration chart are cropped out of the frame for the three non-master images.

File names indicate the file type or resolution through a “tag,” which is the last segment of the file name before the extension ‘.tif’ or ‘.jpg.’ The following file names are for the 300 PPI TIFF and standard all-purpose and thumbnail JPEG images for W.583, image serial no. 1:

  • W583_000001_300.tif
  • W583_000001_sap.jpg
  • W583_000001_thumb.jpg

For archival master images, the resolution is encoded in the file name. The following file names for master TIFF images show how this works:

  • W583_000008_600.tif
  • W666_000016_1200.tif
  • W658_000056_886.tif
  • W589_000008_1050.tif

For these for images, the names indicate resolutions of 600, 1200, 886, and 1050 PPI, respectively. The first image, image serial no. 8 from manuscript W.583, has a resolution of 600 PPI. The second image has the standard maximum resolution of 1200 PPI. The third and fourth images come from manuscripts whose large dimensions limited their maximum resolutions to 886 and 1050 PPI each.

Manuscript descriptions

Two types of descriptive metadata are provided for manuscripts and manuscript images: Dublin Core for basic metadata and TEI P5 manuscript descriptions for cataloging information.

Dublin Core

Basic metadata is provided for manuscripts and individual archival TIFF images using Dublin Core Metadata Initiative elements. This basic metadata is presented on the manuscript’s HTML page and is also stored in the ImageDescrption tag of the TIFF header of each individual archival image. The following elements are used.

  • Identifier: the shelf mark for manuscripts (e.g., W.582), and the image serial number for images (e.g., W582_000001)
  • Creator: always the Walters Art Museum
  • Contributor: one entry for each project participant responsible for the creation of the manuscript’s data set
  • Date: the date of web page or image creation
  • Title: the title of the manuscript (e.g, “Walters Ms. W.579, Prayer”)
  • Description: a description of the manuscript or image
  • Source: source of the object used to create the image or image collection
  • Type: Image for individual images; Collection for all images of a manuscript
  • Format: image/tiff for images, text/html for a manuscript web page
  • Subject: keywords describing the manuscript or imaged folio
  • Rights: license and usage terms

TEI manuscript descriptions

Manuscript cataloging incorporates not only the identification of the author and title of works, and the date of origin and provenance of the manuscripts, but also detailed descriptions intended to aid the palaeographer, codicologist, art historian, historian, and philologist. A description of the manuscript cataloging, with technical and non-technical detail, is given in the document ManuscriptDescription.html.

How to use this data set

This data set contains complete digital surrogates for the manuscripts it contains. Walters manuscripts are provided with machine-readable TEI manuscript descriptions. The main purpose of the Digital Walters is to give access to entire manuscripts via web-based tools like FTP and RSYNC, which employ the site’s directory structure. We also provide HTML access to the files, which is easier for the individual user to navigate. HTML and directory structure access are described below.

HTML access

To ease human navigation of the site, a series of web pages is provided. The entry point is the ACCESS_WALTERS_MANUSCRIPTS.html file, which lists all of the Walters manuscripts currently on the site. The amount of detail for each manuscript varies, based on the progress of the manuscript’s cataloging.

A typical entry for a manuscript will look something like this:

W.586, Work on the duties of Muslims toward the Prophet Muhammad with an account of his life, ʿIyāḍ al-Yaḥṣubī (d. 544 AH / 1149 CE), Arabic (1777 CE, Turkey)

Browse manuscript | Manuscript Description (TEI format)

This entry lists the shelf mark, the title assigned to the manuscript, the author if known, the language, and the manuscript’s provenance. Beneath the summary are a link to the manuscript’s page, and a link to the manuscript’s description in TEI format if it is available.

Each manuscript listed in this table of contents has its own page. The individual manuscript page has a list of all of the images associated with the manuscript and the manuscript’s Dublin Core metadata (including identifier, date, title, description, creator, contributors, source, type, format, subjects, and rights).

A simple entry is provided for each manuscript image. An entry looks like the following.

  1. Upper board outside

    W.586, Upper board outside

The entry features a thumbnail version of the image (in this case the front cover of the manuscript), links to each of the images, and the size of each file.

Directory access

The primary intent of the Digital Walters is to provide access to the images and manuscript description data of the Walters’ NEH-funded manuscript digitization projects. There are a number of ways to access this data through Internet-based tools described in the Technical ReadMe file (http://thedigitalwalters.org/04_TechnicalReadMe.html). As a result, the primary method for accessing manuscript images is through the site’s directory structure.

The directory structure, starting from the website root is as follows:

01_ACCESS_WALTERS_MANUSCRIPTS.html  # list of Walters manuscripts
02_ACCESS_OTHER_BOOKS.html          # list of other books here
03_ReadMe.html                      # this file
04_TechnicalReadMe.html             # technical information
Data/                               # data: images and manuscript descriptions
 |--- DigitalGalen/                 # Galen palimpsest
 |     |--- ...
 |--- OtherCollections/             # Non-Walters manuscripts
 |     |--- ...
 |--- WaltersManuscripts/           # Walters manuscripts
       |--- ManuscriptDescriptions/ # TEI P5 manuscript descriptions
       |     |--- ...
       |--- W102/                   # Image files for manuscript W.102
       |     |--- ...
       |--- W106/
       |--- W12/
       |--- W13/
       |--- ...

Within each manuscript directory, manuscripts are collected in a data delivery package called a Bag, which is defined by the BagIt specification and described in detail in the Technical ReadMe document. A typical manuscript directory has this structure:

 |--- bag-info.txt                  # description of the data package
 |--- bagit.txt                     # bagit protocol version, text encoding
 |--- manifest-md5.txt              # list of files with check sums
 |--- tagmanifest-md5.txt           # list of BagIt files with check sums
 |--- data/                         # the manuscript data proper
       |--- metadata.xml            # preservation metadata for image files
       |--- W.579/
             |--- 300/              # 300 PPI TIFF images
             |     |--- W579_000001_300.tif
             |     |--- W579_000002_300.tif
             |     |--- W579_000003_300.tif 
             |     |--- ...
             |--- master/           # master archival images
             |     |--- W579_000001_1171.tif
             |     |--- W579_000002_1200.tif
             |     |--- W579_000003_1168.tif  
             |     |--- ...
             |--- sap/              # standard-all-purpose JPEG images
             |     |--- W579_000001_sap.jpg
             |     |--- W579_000002_sap.jpg
             |     |--- W579_000003_sap.jpg
             |     |--- ...
             |--- thumb/            # thumbnail JPEG images
                   |--- W579_000001_thumb.jpg
                   |--- W579_000002_thumb.jpg
                   |--- W579_000003_thumb.jpg
                   |--- ...

Apart from the file extension, opening shelf mark segment (W579) and final identifying segment (for example, 300, 1200, sap, and thumb), each file has a serial number expressed in a six-digit text value ending in a sequential number: 000001, 000002, and 000003. The identity of the file contents, whether it’s a binding element, flyleaf, or folio is stored in the metadata.xml file and in the manuscript description.

Identifying file contents for human users is aided by a system of static HTML files accessible from the [01_ACCESS_WALTERS_MANUSCRIPTS.html][] file, which is discussed above.

Other collections on the Digital Walters

In addition to Walters manuscripts, this data set also includes images from books and manuscripts from non-Walters collections. Among them are a Galen palimpsest and a small number of books and manuscripts in the OtherCollections directory.

In addition to Walters manuscripts, this data set also includes images from books and manuscripts from non-Walters collections. Among them are a Galen palimpsest and a small number of books and manuscripts in the OtherCollections directory.

The DigitalGalen directory contains a fully documented, self contained data set. Within the OtherCollections directory, manuscripts and books are ordered alphabetically by shelf mark.

Note that each of these items has its own licensing terms, and it is the responsibility of each user to understand and adhere to those terms.


Project management

Director: William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, Walters Art Museum

Manager: Michael B. Toth, R.B. Toth Associates


Digitization Specialist: Diane Bockrath, Walters Art Museum

Digitization Specialist: Ariel Tabritha, Walters Art Museum


Conservator: Abigail Quandt, Walters Art Museum

Conservator: Stephanie Jewell, Walters Art Museum

Conservator: Linda Owen, Independent Conservator

Data management

Data Manager: Doug Emery, Independent Consultant

Network Administrator: Henry Alperovich, Walters Art Museum

Network Administrator: Eric Ziegast, Internet Systems Consortium

Adviser: Carl Malamud, public.resource.org


Many scholars over the years have contributed to the documentation on and description of the illuminated manuscripts of the Walters Art Museum. The list below highlights the major contributors to specific parts of the collection, concentrating on those who have made contributions during this digitization process. Those mentioned below build on a wealth of material gathered under the curatorial supervision of Dorothy Miner, Lilian M.C. Randall, Roger Wieck, M. Shreve Simpson, Elizabeth Burin, and William Noel. Major contributions have been made to the cataloging of the collection by Judith Oliver, Lisa Fagin Davis, Christopher Clarkson, and Abigail Quandt.

Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman manuscripts

Principal cataloger: Adam Gacek

Cataloger: Amy Landau

Cataloger: Sita Smith

Contributor: Marianna Shreve Simpson

Contributor: Diane Bockrath

Armenian manuscripts

Principal Cataloger: Sirarpie Der Nersessian

Cataloger: Amy Landau

Cataloger: Lynley Herbert

Austrian manuscripts

Principal Cataloger: Jeffrey Hamburger

Cataloger: Lynley Herbert

Cataloger: Christine Sciacca

Contributor: Consuelo Dutschke

Byzantine manuscripts

Principal Cataloger: Georgi R. Parpulov

Dutch manuscripts

Principal Cataloger: James Marrow

Cataloger: Lynley Herbert

Contributor: Alex Devine

Contributor: Consuelo Dutschke

Contributor: Dorothy Miner

Contributor: L.M.C. Randall

English manuscripts

Principal Cataloger: Kathryn Smith

Principal Cataloger: William Noel

Cataloger: Lynley Herbert

Contributor: Consuelo Dutschke

Contributor: Larisa Grollemond

Ethiopian manuscripts

Principal Cataloger: Getatchew Haile

Cataloger: Lynley Herbert

German manuscripts

Principal Cataloger: Jeffrey Hamburger

Cataloger: Lynley Herbert

Cataloger: Christine Sciacca

Contributor: Elizabeth Archibald

Contributor: Consuelo Dutschke