Laboratory of Manuscript Studies

The Laboratory of Manuscript Studies and Scientific and Technical Examination of Documents was established in the National Library of Russiain as a part of the Manuscripts Department in 1994. Using advanced research methods and modern techniques, it conducts comprehensive examination of manuscripts. This includes the study of the material properties of a manuscript, such as writing material (parchment, paper etc); the study of ancient and historical handwriting, the study of scripts; reviving the faded text. The laboratory also carries out research on palimpsests (a palimpsest is a manuscript from which the text has been scraped or washed off and replaced with a new text). The lower layer of palimpsests can be read using optoelectronic methods.

Building on its research, the laboratory staff prepared the online resource Russian Autographs in the Collections of the National Library of Russia to show the evolution of Russian writing from the 18th century onwards.

The material is intended for the widest possible audience, ranging from students to font designers, criminalists, graphologists, restorers and researchers of manuscripts. Among the items on view are autographs and portraits of major Russian historical figures and authors, amazing examples of ancient writing, teaching aids of various periods. In the future, you will see digital projects on the history of paper, Old Russian book bindings and ornaments, as well as scientific and technical methods for studying manuscripts.

You can view Russian Autographs in the Collections of the National Library of Russia (in Russian).