Manuscripts Department - History of the collection

Manuscripts Department has been created in August 1947 as a result of concentrating dispersed during war time materials, mainly from two German libraries: Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek i Stadtbibliothek as well as secured collections from the region (so called accession). Currently collection counts over 13.000 handwritten items

Part of collection originated from secularized in 1811 Silesian convents and collegiate, whose materials were passed to the University Library in 1812. Preserved medieval manuscripts from this collection, containing theological, historical and belles-lettres texts (circa 3000 items), are the largest accumulation in Poland. From University Library also originates rich collection (circa 17.000 items) of autographs of writers and scientists connected to Silesia region, from 18th century to 40s of 20th century, and includes, inter alia, legacies of Wilhelm Bölsche (1861-1939), Karl Eduard Holtei (1797-1880), Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), Robert Weigelt (19 century) or Karla (1858-1921) and Gerharta (1862-1946) Hauptmann. In 19th and 20th centuries large collection of oriental manuscripts was gathered (at present about 340 items)

Second group of manuscripts belonged to former City Library, which was one of the most valuable collection in Europe. This library (Stadtbibliothek Breslau) was established in years 1865-1867 from merging three collections: Rehdigerana from St. Elizabeth Church and collections from churches of: St. Mary Magdalene and St. Bernard. Besides classical Greek and Latin authors (circa 50 items), medieval manuscripts and invaluable in historical researches Silesiaca there are chronicles, modern historical elaborations, genealogical materials, collections of songs and poetry. There are very valuable autographs of humanists and scientists from 16th and 17th centuries as well as albums (circa 180 items). It is also worth mentioning some scientific works and biographical materials of Johann Caspr Arletius (1706-1784), Christian Ezechiel (1676-1758), Christian Garve (1742-1798), Christian Gryphius (1649-1706), Władysław Ewaryst Nehring (1830-1909), Albert von Saebisch (1610-1688), Andreas Scultetus (1622-1647) or Walter Tausk (1890-1940?).

In accession collection (circa 8.100 items) there are various manuscripts acquired after 1945 mostly from local collections, donations and purchases. This collection consists of inter alia materials from Schaffgotsch’s library of Cieplice, Sts. Peter and Paul Church from Legnica or valuable manuscripts from J.G. Milich’s library from Görlitz. In post-war years Library also received collection from Library of Upper Lausitz Scientific Society from Görlitz or famous collection of manuscripts of students and continuators of Jakob Böhme (1575-1624).

Variety of origins results in thematic diversity: besides theological and liturgical texts there are works on philosophy, history, law or medicine as well as belles-lettres. Among them materials for regional researches also occur.

The oldest fragment of manuscripts dates from to 5th century to present times. It is a part of Chronicle of Eusebius (call number I F 120d) in Latin translation of St. Hieronymus. The oldest codex is Herbarium (call number III F 19) with medical writings from IX century. There are very valuable liturgical manuscripts, e.g. Psalterium nocturnum (call number I F 440) from Trzebnica, circa 1220, with full-page illuminations that represents Silesian illumination school, Premonstratesian missal (call number I F 361) from 1472 or theological commentary on Apocalypse by Alexander of Staden (call number I Q 19) from 1271 with 84 illuminations. Topographia Silesiae (call number IV F 113b T. 1-3, R 551, Akc. 1948/1094) should be mentioned separately. It is a work containing drawnings by F.B. Wernher who sketched region buildings of Lower Silesia from XVIII century. The most valuable autographs are writings of G. E. Lessing and letters inter alia of Luther, Melanchton, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, Calvin, Craton or Hofmann von Hofmanswaldau. Among oriental manuscripts Hebrew illuminated missal Mahzor (call number Or. I 1) from circa 1290 and a Persian collection of fairytales Tutiname (call number Or. I 56) from 17/18th century deserve special attention.