Skip to Main Content

Special Collections: Manuscripts and Incunabula

Teaching a class that would benefit from using Special Collections Materials?

Manuscripts and Incunabula


The Manuscript Collection consists of three parts. The first is a collection of books beginning with two manuscript codices of the 12th century, a Gospel of Mark, and the Acts of the Apostles, a 13th century substantially complete manuscript bible and three Bibles printed in the incunabula period. A second part is a collection of some 800 parchment indentures, wills, and other legal documents written between 1597 and 1895 on parchment or paper ranging in size from 4 x 12 inches to large folded documents 20 x 36 inches that are part of the Downing Collection. The final piece is the Kuenzel Collection which contains documents relating to the Church in Italy and numbering 839  items dating back to the 14th century.


Sixty-five incunabula—books printed before 1501— is one of the largest collections in the state of Iowa.  The earliest, printed in 1471, is the Nicolas Jenson printing of Quintilian’s Institutiones.  The importance of this collection is not only that it contains books from the earliest years of printing but that the texts represent the thinking of some of the most outstanding scholars of the time.

A French Book of Hours

 book of hours

Image and Imagination from the Middle Ages

This site is an interactive internet exhibit designed and executed by undergraduate students for the Loras College Library. The project was part of the coursework for HIS 341, “The Age of Love and Reason, 1075-1517,” a History course on the Late Middle Ages taught by Dr. John Eby, a Loras College History professor.  Inside this site you will find topical essays, images and information, and a link to a full-text scan of one of the most impressive manuscripts in the Loras College Rare Books Collection.