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Re: VMs: "The VMs Research Foundation"...?
I think the first step is usually for some interested specialist or
specialists (usually academics) with credentials in the right field or
fields to make a proposal to the Beinicke Library to undertake a
reasonable program of investigation. The second step is the approval of
the Beinicke. They may not be interested in having unknown folks come in
off the street to examine it, but unless there curatorial or legal
difficulties with examination, they would presumably be all in favor of
one examination by suitable individuals. Anyone who was able to get
permission for this would presumably then apply for funding to appropriate
sources, e.g., the National Endowment for the Humanities in the US, and
various other sources, including donations from independent enthusiasts.
Probably it would be better for management purposes to channel the
donations through some existing funding organization, but I'm vague on the
Alternatively it may be that the Beinicke Library has staff whom they
would prefer to have carry out the investigation, but lacks funds.
One slight glitch. In either case you would be at the mercy of the
scholars conducting the investigation as far as learning the results.
Ideally they would publish them and they might conceive an obligation to
report interesting things to enthusiasts as they learned them, given the
special circumstances surrounding this manuscript. They might not, and
sometimes scholarly publication takes a long, long time to come about.
It is true that many manuscript libraries do allow scholars to conduct a
more or less promiscuous investigation of their collections on demand,
typically after having applied formally for permission, but obviously the
VMs is in a special case, and I don't know on what basis the Beinicke
It's true that my experience in this line is in connection with
collections of manuscript materials dealing with Native American
languages, but I would expect the process for collections of mediaeval
documents, expecially singular and unique ones, to be, if anything, more
So, the first job might be to determine what kind of scholars would
normally do this kind of investigation and then lure one or more into
taking up the project. I assume you want in this case a specialist in
mediaeval manuscripts, and I think those are usually associated with
either institutions such as the Beinicke or classical languages
departments at Universities. Perhaps you could look for folks working on
one of the current major document projects, e.g., the Nag Hamadi Library
or the Dead Sea Scrolls, etc. (Those are a bit older than mediaeval, of
course.) A sort of "vest pocket" project like this might easily interest
someone. The circumstance of the text being written in an unknown script
with unknown content would be to some extent irrelevant.
John E. Koontz
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