The USTC project team is pleased to announce the first of a series of planned updates to its database: the addition of over 11,000 digital copies of books published in France between 1501 and 1600. The bulk of the work was accomplished by Arthur der Weduwen, one of the members of our summer internship programme, who spent several weeks of work on this update over the summer. Using these downloads drawn from several digitization programmes, the digital copies were matched to existing copies in the USTC in a chronological process.
This update marks a great addition to the current volume of digital copies relating to France. Previously, the USTC contained around 90,000 digital editions, linked to some 76,772 separate records. But of this total, only 3,633 related to French publications. This represented a great gap in our coverage, since not only was France one of the three largest centres of production in this period, it also made a very significant contribution to the development of typography.
In the first half of the sixteenth century printers in Paris and Lyon produced some of the most beautiful books published throughout Europe. Reprints of the works of classical authors, medical texts, works of Roman Law, literary work and musical part books found both a ready market elsewhere in France and a considerable export trade. This golden age of French typography came to an abrupt end with the onset of the Wars of Religion, to be replaced by searing works of religious polemic. These too are well represented in the books now made available in digital editions through the USTC for the first time.
The provision of digital copies is one of the most popular services offered through the USTC. Further caches of material will be linked to the USTC as they become available through filming programmes currently underway in many of the world’s great libraries.