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  • Digital Monumenta Germaniae Historica (dMGH)
  • Patrick Sahle and Georg Vogeler
Monumenta Germaniae Historica and Bavarian State Library. 2005-2010. Web. <>.

The Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) publishes scholarly editions of source material relevant to the history of the Realm of the Franks and the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages. The enterprise began in the early nineteenth century and became a research institution of its own in 1935. The publication of critical editions remains the central goal of the MGH. Over the last 150 years, the MGH has gained a reputation for the high quality of their editions, although they had to redo some of their early volumes in order to integrate new research results. The series is divided into several sections: historiography in the scriptores, law texts in the leges, charters in the diplomata, letters in the epistolae, and various genres from poetry to necrologies in the antiquitates. In the international community, the c. 400 volumes are considered the most prestigious editions of continental European sources of the early and high Middle Ages, both in terms of scholarly standards and completeness. The majority of these sources are in Latin, with a smaller selection in German.

By the early 1990s, the MGH started to digitize its editions in cooperation with Brepols Publishers under the label of eMGH (electronic MGH). The eMGH as a CD-ROM publication from 1996 onwards was based on the CETEDOC software, and the resulting product is mainly intended as a philological research tool. From 2004 to 2010, the MGH received three grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to create a new digital version (thus dMGH) of the existing printed editions in cooperation with the Digitization Center at the Bavarian State Library. This review draws upon a monographic discussion of the dMGH by Patrick Sahle and Bernhard Assmann, published as the first volume of the Schriften des Instituts für Dokumentologie und Editorik in 2008, shifts its focus towards philology, and extends it to the project's recent developments. [End Page 135]

As of 2012, the dMGH presents without any access restriction an impressive amount of textual material: some 350 volumes with more than 165,000 pages, presumably all editions that have been published until 2007. 23 of these volumes are parts of two additional series, which are not part of the core sections, i.e., the Quellen zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters and Deutsches Mittelalter, Kritische Studientexte. New editions are supposed to be added every three years after their publication in print according to the official statement. However, when checking the website in late November 2012, we found some volumes from 2005 and 2007 that are still missing (capitula episcoporum 4; diplomata 14.2; concilia 6.2). In fact, we have been told by a project staff member that 30 volumes from 2005 to 2009 should be available online in early 2013. All editions are available as digital images as well as electronic full-texts.

A declared aim of the dMGH was to create an identical representation of the printed version to ensure that a citation from the dMGH could be found as well in the printed version. Accordingly, the website offers a main menu with the series and volumes of the printed version. The interface is primarily a tool to flip through page images in the original order. Once the user has chosen a volume, further browsing through a table of contents or by page number is possible. The user can zoom in and out of the images, and also switch between scanned images and an HTML version of the full text. The scans can be printed as single images or downloaded as a PDF for larger parts, even entire volumes. However the user should be aware that the PDF contains only images, not the full text. To ensure "citability" in the digital realm, every page has a permanent link that is part of the URN-identification system used by the Bavarian State Library. But the dMGH also provides another mechanism that draws on the established canonical references to the volumes and their pages and implements a PURL approach (persistent URL). To give an example, page 40 in the scriptores volume 17...