The following directory is intended to highlight some of the most significant archival collections in the United States that pertain to the history of medieval Europe. Medieval resources in the US have, by their very nature, been displaced from their geographic point of origin, and are thus highly decentralized. Most, but not all, of these collections, are held in rare books and special collections libraries, usually in connection with a public or private college or university. Some collections have been deliberately built to facilitate medieval research in one or more specialized areas, while others have been aggregated over time, through donations and commemorative purchases. These latter collections, like those that are also found in museums across the country, frequently highlight the art and history of bookmaking and manuscript illumination and place a secondary, though no less important, emphasis on the use of their materials for scholarly research.
The following listings are not meant to enumerate all the medieval resources available in the United States, but to offer a guide to scholars seeking the largest and most noteworthy collections available and to present a general idea of the holdings at any given institution. The compilation of this list would have been impossible without the benefit of two more comprehensive guides: The Directory of Institutions in the United States and Canada with Pre-1600 Manuscript Holdings (2010), an update of the de Ricci Census of 1935 and its Supplement of 1962 compiled by Melissa Conway and Lisa Fagin Davis for the Bibliographical Society of America, and the British Library’s Incunabula Short Title Catalogue.