HMML Fast Facts

September 2019


Preserving and sharing the world’s handwritten past to inspire a deeper understanding of our present and future.

Major Areas of Focus

  1. Digital preservation of rare and endangered manuscripts.
  2. Archiving, cataloging and sharing these resources online.
  3. Fostering research and scholarship opportunities into the cultures that produce them.

Active Digitization Projects

1 location

Partnering with Bishop Jovan Culibrk of the Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Slavonia in Pakrac to digitize Serbian manuscripts throughout Croatia and other countries of the former Yugoslavia. These manuscripts witness to formerly flourishing communities dislocated by ethnic conflict.

1 location

Working with the Monastery of Saint Macarius in the desert of Wadi al-Natrun, ancient Scetis, to digitize their collection of more than 500 Coptic manuscripts. Began work at Saint Macarius Monastery, the largest of the Coptic monasteries of Egypt, in 2015.

1 location

Partnering with Dominican friar, Fr Nageeb Michael, overseeing digitization work at the Digital Center for Eastern Manuscripts (CNMO). Digitizing at the studio in Erbil is being done by refugees who had to flee their Christian villages in the summer of 2014. They recently completed all the work on the manuscripts of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad. These collections have never been digitized until now. Given the volatility of the region, digitizing the collections in Erbil remains urgent.

Old City of Jerusalem
2 locations

Digitizing the collections at Saint Anne’s Church is well underway. This is a collection of 200 Christian Arabic manuscripts.

1 location

Working with the Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut to complete digitization of a collection of 1,895 manuscripts, mostly Christian, but with a large number of Islamic manuscripts, as well. Now developing new projects in Lebanon and associated communities in Syria.

3 locations

Continuing to digitize five fonds (groups of documents) at the National Archives of Malta: the Tribunal Segnaturae Justitiae (TSJ), containing trial records from 1799-1800; the Officium Syndicatus Congregationis Munium et Belli (OMB) fonds, instituted to raise funds for the defense of the island and for the upkeep of the walls; the Curiae Episcopalis et Provicarialis Notabilis Civitatis (CAN) fonds, which were separated from the Cathedral Archives in 1798; the Officium Bullae Sanctissimae Crociatae (OBC) fonds, which detail the church’s role in financing military operations of the Order of Malta; the Tribunal Debitorum Religiosorum (TDR) fonds, instituted specifically to deal with cases related to debts with or against the Knights of Malta just prior to the French occupation in 1798.

2 locations

Working in Timbuktu to preserve manuscript collections that remained in the city during the Jihadist occupation of Timbuktu in 2012. Partnering with the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library for a project based at the Imam Ben Essayouti Library, located next to the famous Dyingerey Ber Mosque. We continue work with our partner in Bamako, SAVAMA-DCI, founded by Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara and collaborate with experts from the Center for the Study of Manuscript Cultures at the University of Hamburg to build local capacity in conservation, description, and digitization of manuscripts.

1 location

Working with the support of Bishop Amfilohije of Montenegro, HMML partners from Pakrac in Croatia are digitizing a collection of Slavonic manuscripts dating from the 13th and later centuries, many of which are of exceptional artistic and literary importance. The monastery of Cetinje is a focal point for Serbian identity in the republic of the former Yugoslavia.

2 locations

Working with the support of the Gerda Henkel Stift, a Bavarian Foundation, HMML is partnering with the Asha Archives, a community-run non-profit in Kathmandu, and the Bhatta Family collection in Bhaktapur, to digitize their manuscript collections.

1 location

Digitizing approximately 2,000 Slavonic and Greek manuscripts in the collections at the Sheptytsky Museum, in L’viv, Ukraine. The project could take four to five years.

2 locations

Work with the Imam Zaid Bin Ali Cultural Foundation (IZBACF) co-sponsored with the Prince Claus Fund is nearing completion. We are in conversation with them about next steps for transfer of the images and uploading to vHMML Reading Room, Meanwhile, the Zaydi Manuscript Tradition project with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton continues to grow, with images being contributed from libraries around the world.

Strategic Direction

Key Strategic Plan Initiatives

  • Strengthen HMML’s capacity to respond to urgent needs for manuscript digitization
  • Make vHMML the leading platform for sharing digitized manuscripts and learning how to use them in research
  • Leverage HMML’s leadership position and global relationships to advance scholarship in manuscripts and the cultural traditions that created them
  • Inspire a broader public with compelling stories and experiences related to HMML’s work and collections

Financial Stability and Leadership

Budget & Endowment

  • Budget: $2,646,113 (FY 2020 Budget ends June 30, 2020)
  • Endowment: $15,475,162 (as of June 30, 2019)

Major Foundation Support

  • Percentage of overall support: 57%
  • Major funders: The Institute for Museum and Library Services, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, and Arcadia Fund.
  • Largest funder: Arcadia Fund is HMML’s largest contributor over its five decades of manuscript preservation, having contributed $7 million.

Most Recent Campaign

  • Began July 1, 2008 (FY09) and ended June 30, 2017 (FY17).
  • Raised a cumulative total of $20,143,358 (124% of $16.2M goal) in cash, grants, and pledges.
  • HMML’s goal was part of Saint John’s University’s larger campaign goal of $160 million, which raised more than $190 million.

Staff & Board

  • Staff: Father Columba Stewart, OSB, is executive director and leads a staff that includes 10 full-time and 4 part-time staff (on site)
  • Board of Overseers: 29 elected Board members (FY ends June 30, 2020), with additional ex officio members appointed to represent the Saint John’s University Trustees, Saint John’s Abbey, the Order of Saint Benedict Abbot, Saint John’s University President, and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Medieval Studies.