A new BHL-type database of Latin hagiographical texts and manuscripts at the IRHT?

It seems that something is going on at the IRHT (= L’Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes).  For those who do not know, the IRHT is the French manuscripts people.  They do all sorts of very useful things.  But there is no announcement, nor much online.  It’s a new database, designed to allow you to look up a particular Latin hagiographical text, and find what manuscripts it appears in.

We already have something of the sort.  A couple of decades ago, the Bollandist “BHL” index (= Bibliographica Hagiographica Latina) was turned into the BHLms database.  I use it intensely.  You look up a text by the BHL reference and it will tell you the libraries that have copies in manuscript, the manuscript reference number (= shelfmark), and the pages or folio numbers.  It’s great. But it is obviously old.

Last night I saw a job advert.  It’s for 6 months, starting in September.  It’s actually in various places, but I saw it here.  Excerpts (Google translate) –

Job offer – Study engineer (M/F). Feeding a database devoted to Latin hagiographic manuscripts

As part of the “Latin Legends” project – the result of a partnership between the IRHT, the Société des Bollandistes (Brussels) and the University of Namur – the IRHT offers a 6-month fixed-term contract to contribute to the data load of a new database dedicated to Latin hagiographic manuscripts.

This database, still in the process of being run in, is intended to list all the manuscript witnesses (medieval and modern) of Latin hagiographic texts identified by the “Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina” (“BHL”). Once published, it will work in conjunction with the other databases hosted by the IRHT (Medium, Pinakes, Biblissima).

Sounds interesting!

– he will contribute to integrating the data from the Bollandist files (approximately 9000 handwritten files, now digitized on the IRHT servers). If necessary, he will complete the information, and, in case of doubt, will verify its accuracy.  …

The recruited research engineer will work under the scientific direction of Cécile Lanéry-Ouvrard (IRHT Researcher), within the Latin section of the IRHT (Aubervilliers site). He will also be in contact with the other researchers and technicians involved in the “Latin Legendaries” project (in particular Cyril Masset, from the IT department of the IRHT, and Fernand Peloux, researcher at the CNRS in Toulouse). On occasion, he may be required to correspond with the Société des Bollandistes de Bruxelles, or with other researchers specializing in hagiography. 

Part of the work may be carried out remotely, with this restriction, however, that he has permanent access to the tools necessary for the proper performance of his activities (access to IRHT servers, access to bibliographic tools, etc.)

The list of skills is formidable, but this isn’t really an IT role, as one bit amusingly makes plain:

some skills or previous experience in the field of databases and their operation would be welcome, to facilitate exchanges with the IT department of the IRHT, responsible for maintaining the database.

So it basically requires manuscripts skills, rather than hard-core SQL.  I wonder what the database actually is.

A bit of googling reveals another worker on the project, Antoine Charrié-Benoist, who is listed as doing data load for the BHLms database, and gave a paper about the project.

It would be good to know more.  But clearly whatever database is planned will be immensely useful.  Excellent news.


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