Kislak Center
for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts

Guided by the vision of its founder, Lawrence J. Schoenberg, the mission of SIMS at Penn is to bring manuscript culture, modern technology and people together to bring access to and understanding of our cultural heritage locally and around the world.

We advance the mission of SIMS by:
  • developing our own projects,
  • supporting the scholarly work of others both at Penn and elsewhere, and
  • collaborating with and contributing to other manuscript-related initiatives around the world.

Locally, we manage the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, which enables scholars to trace the provenance of manuscripts from origin up to today, and we provide space for the meetings of the UPenn graduate student paleography seminar.

Farther afield we collaborate with T-PEN, a web-based tool for working with images of manuscripts (, and the Shared Canvas initiative at Stanford University ( SIMS is active in the local rare books and manuscripts community, and welcomes manuscript-minded scholars and students to join our conversations.

The latest from our blog:

Dot Porter, Curator, Digital Research Services at the University of Pennsylvania Library, offers a video orientation to Penn Library’s LJS 60, Cosmographia, by Mela, Pomponius. This manuscript was written in [Italy, between 1440 and 1450], in Latin, and it is a geographical work describing the populated areas of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia as known to the historian and geographer Strabo. Many leaves of the manuscript are palimpsests, the parchment having been formerly used for legal documents and washed for re-use. The earlier texts are occasionally faintly visible running perpendicular to the Mela text.