Skip to main content
Select Source:

manuscript

manuscript, a handwritten work as distinguished from printing. The oldest manuscripts, those found in Egyptian tombs, were written on papyrus; the earliest dates from c.3500 BC parchment, which succeeded papyrus as a writing material, was much more durable; most extant ancient manuscripts are of parchment. Both sides were used and palimpsests, which were erased and reused pages, were common. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the mid-20th cent. added immeasurably to the world's treasury of ancient manuscripts. In the ancient world the making and distribution of extra copies of manuscripts was widely practiced. There is some evidence of such treatment of manuscripts in Athens in the 5th cent. BC, and the great libraries of the Hellenistic world encouraged the making of manuscript copies. The manuscripts of the Middle Ages were often beautifully illustrated in colors (see illumination, in art) on vellum, a fine variety of parchment. Initial letters of first lines and titles were often highly decorated. Although paper was invented in China in the 2d cent. AD, it was not known in Europe until the 11th cent. Paper bases included silk, cotton, and linen, all used before the advent of printing. Medieval pens were made of quills and ink, most commonly black, of various carbon-containing substances. The study of ancient and medieval manuscripts and handwriting is a highly developed and complex discipline (see paleography). After the European invention of printing in the 15th cent., hand-copied manuscripts soon came to be valued by collectors of fine books. Among the important manuscript collections in the United States are those in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; and in the New York Public Library and Morgan Library in New York City. There are numerous superb European collections, notably those at the Vatican in Rome, the British Museum in London, and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. Also known as manuscripts are modern authors' typescripts (or computer printouts) made for publishers and printers. The term includes as well the private and public papers, typed or handwritten, left by public figures for the use of historians and scholars. The Library of Congress holds a very large deposit of manuscripts of this type, including the papers of most U.S. Presidents. Other important collections of this sort are in the New York Public Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society. See book.

See L. Deuel, Testaments of Time (1965); G. S. Hunter, An Introduction to Archives and Manuscripts (1990).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"manuscript." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"manuscript." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/manuscript

"manuscript." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/manuscript

manuscript

man·u·script / ˈmanyəˌskript/ • n. a book, document, or piece of music written by hand rather than typed or printed: an illuminated manuscript. ∎  an author's text that has not yet been published: preparing the final manuscript her autobiography remained in manuscript. ORIGIN: late 16th cent.: from medieval Latin manuscriptus, from manu ‘by hand’ + scriptus ‘written’ (past participle of scribere).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"manuscript." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"manuscript." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/manuscript-0

"manuscript." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/manuscript-0

manuscript

manuscript adj. written by hand; sb. writing; codex. XVI. — medL. manūscrīptus, i.e. manū with the hand and scrīptus, pp. of scrībere write; see MANU-, SCRIBE.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"manuscript." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"manuscript." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/manuscript-1

"manuscript." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/manuscript-1

manuscript

manuscriptadapt, apt, enrapt, rapt, unmapped, untapped •periapt • snow-capped •accept, crept, except, incept, inept, intercept, kept, leapt, overleaped, sept, slept, swept, upswept, wept, yclept •adept • housekept • transept •precept • concept • percept •rainswept • windswept • undraped •pearshaped •conscript, crypt, encrypt, harelipped, hipped, script, unequipped, unwhipped •Egypt • eucalypt • transcript •nondescript • typescript • manuscript •subscript •adopt, co-opt, Copt, opt •unhoped •abrupt, corrupt, disrupt, erupt, interrupt, irrupt •bankrupt •underdeveloped, undeveloped •excerpt • sculpt

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"manuscript." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"manuscript." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/manuscript

"manuscript." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/manuscript