Collections of Distinction

Posts Tagged ‘digitization’

Digitizing the BPL’s Earliest Printed Books

Posted on February 27th, 2017 by jmoschella in Collections of Distinction

Thanks in large part to the support of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, cataloging, conservation, and digitization of the BPL’s 550+ incunables continues to move forward. In recent months, copies of many rare, early, and critically important editions have been digitized and made freely available online.

Listed below are a few recent highlights:


Higden, Ranulf. Policronicon
Westminster: Wynkyn de Worde, 1495
Bibliographic record
Link to digitized copy

The Policronicon was compiled by the English Benedictine monk Ranulf Higden (d. 1364). A historical chronicle divided into seven books, the Policronicon recounts the history of the world from Creation through Higden’s lifetime. One of many early chronicles in the BPL’s collections, the Policronicon, takes a special interest in Anglo-Saxon history. This edition is also noteworthy for the fact that it contains, on leaf 101, what is believed to be the earliest piece of music printed in England.


The small woodcut on fol. 101 of the 1495 Policronicon is the first piece of music printed in England (Q.404.21 FOLIO)