**JORDANUS:
***The
History of the Project*

In 1977 Menso Folkerts began a project at the University
of Oldenburg, supported
by a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation, with the title "Materials
for the History
of Western European Mathematics in the Middle Ages and Renaissance."
The Foundation
financed this project for a period of six years, up to 1980 in
Oldenburg, and
then in
Munich. The objective was to gather in a single place descriptions -
and, if
possible, copies - of all mathematical texts written in Western
European languages
(Latin and vernacular) between 500 and 1500. For practical reasons the
word
"mathematics" was used at that time in a relatively strict sense that
excluded all
texts which, according to modern criteria, belong to astronomy,
physics, philosophy
or other disciplines. Also excluded were texts written in Greek, Arabic
or
Hebrew.

The main source for locating these texts were the
manuscript catalogues of the
different libraries and collections. Everyone working with manuscript
sources knows
about the difficulties stemming from inadequate printed catalogues, in
particular
those of the most important manuscript collections. To solve this
problem at least
partially, Folkerts visited more than a hundred libraries and checked
the hand- or
typewritten inventories. In total, more than 1300 books, articles,
pamphlets and card
indexes were consulted, describing about half a million manuscripts,
about 150,000 of
which are from the Middle Ages. Altogether 2300 of those contain
"mathematical" texts
in the restricted meaning of the word; some of them contain up to 30
works, while
others have only short mathematical notes. Additional information was
obtained partly
from articles and books on history of science - especially from
periodicals such as
*Zeitschrift für Mathematik und Physik*, *Abhandlungen
zur Geschichte der
Mathematik*, *Bibliotheca Mathematica*, *Bullettino
Boncompagni*,
*Isis*, *Osiris*- and partly
by using unpublished catalogues by historians
of science describing sources all over the world (A. A. Björnbo, D. W.
Singer,
M. Clagett) or special collections (M. S. Mahoney: Munich, B. Hughes:
Basel). In
general, information from these sources is more reliable than that from
the library
catalogues, because they stem from distinguished historians of science
familiar with
the contents of the manuscripts.

At the same time as descriptions of manuscripts were
collected,
copies of these
manuscripts were acquired, thus building an archive of mathematical
texts in
mediaeval Western manuscripts. Most libraries generously provided the
project with
microfilms or paper copies. The general intention was to order
microfilms of the
complete manuscript, and accordingly copies not only of mathematical,
but also of
astronomical and other scientific texts are available in the archive.
The collection
was enlarged by microfilms donated by the historians of science H. H.
L.
Busard,
P. Kunitzsch and
B. Hughes. At
present the archive is located in the library of the Monumenta
Germaniae Historica in Munich (see http:
//www.ngh.de/bibliothek/mikrofilme/). It contains copies of
more than 5000 manuscripts and is an important source for
historians of the mathematical sciences of the Middle Ages.

When the grant from the Volkswagen Foundation came to an
end, Menso Folkerts
obtained another grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
(1985-1989) for
establishing a database of mathematical and scientific texts in
mediaeval Western
manuscripts at the Institute for the History of Science in Munich. At
this time, work
for compiling a database with the name *International Computer
Catalogue of
Mediaeval Scientific Manuscripts *(ICCMSM) started. It was
directed in the first years by Warren Van Egmond and later by Andreas
Kühne. About ten years later, ICCMSM was renamed to JORDANUS.

The collection of microfilms and paper copies (now at
the MGH in Munich) was gradually expanded to about 5000
reproductions, and the cataloguing of the sources was extended in order
to
include all mediaeval mathematical manuscripts and many related texts
as well.
Information from different sources was compared and verified as far as
possible. The
project also collaborated with the *Benjamin Data Bank of
Mediaeval Scientific Manuscripts*, run by N. Hahn in Dunellen,
New Jersey.