The following microfilm reel Guide represents the second revision since its first compilation in 1985. Some fifty reels have been added and each reel has been assigned a sequential number. The entire collection now consists of 1856 reels and 179 photocopies, reproducing approximately two million documents. The microfilms, which were at first deposited temporarily in the Library of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, were donated in March 1990 to the Sterling Memorial Library of Yale University and transferred in July. The collection has been catalogued with the title The Ilardi Microfilm Collection of Renaissance Diplomatic Documents ca. 1450 -- ca. 1500. The entire Guide is available on the Internet to facilitate borrowing through national and international interlibrary loans.
Begun in 1959, the collection now includes most if not all significant unpublished collections of diplomatic documents and related papers for the second half of the fifteenth century held in western European archives and libraries. Series of documents containing instructions, dispatches, credentials, ambassadorial powers and passports, treaties, letters of rulers, ciphers, and other pertinent records such as foreign policy memoranda and debates, ambassadorial expense accounts and travel diaries have been filmed in their entirety. An ample selection of other records, such as state internal correspondence and unpublished chronicles with relevance to diplomatic affairs, has also been included. In the relatively few cases where a selection had to be made, readers are so notified by means of an asterisk or by other appropriate means. Manuscript inventories have also been filmed whenever possible with the special permission of the archivists.
Scholars in the United States and abroad have used the collection for various studies not only in diplomacy, statecraft, and military affairs, but also in such diverse fields as literature, biography, musicology, economic and social history, religion, art history, optics, and even animal husbandry! Such is the richness of information included in diplomatic and state correspondence of the age. This comprehensive and diversified feature makes the collection unique in the world for the period. Assembled in one place, these records from numerous European repositories facilitate research and provide a wide variety of samples from a great number of chanceries for the training of graduate students in the techniques of paleography and archival research.
In using the collection researchers are urged to keep in mind the normal limitations inherent in the process of assembling vast quantities of microfilms from different countries. The filming was done over three decades by a great number of state and private photographers operating with varying skills under different conditions without a uniform standard. Although care was taken to be as complete and accurate as possible, some documents may have been omitted from a particular file or series through error. Generally the dates have been given in the modern style, but the accuracy of all the dates could not be checked. Often a file contains undated or inaccurately dated documents. The extreme dates of the collection, 1450 - 1500, have sometime been transgressed in cases where files contained a few documents beyond these limits or for other compelling reasons. Normally the addresses of dispatches/letters have not been photographed unless they refer to persons other than the rulers or if the verso of the folio contains other writing or notations. Since dispatches were nearly always directed to rulers, and often consisted of only one page, the omission of these addresses has allowed additional filming with the saved funds.
The preceding paragraph should serve as a reminder that microfilms are an aid to research and are not intended to substitute for direct study of archival records in situ. Experienced reseachers know the value of personal visits in archives and treat microfilm collections as convenient tools to become familiar with the sources and use their time abroad more efficiently. This is, indeed, an enormous advantage for researchers worldwide for which all of us are grateful to the great number of archivists, librarians, and photographers who have collaborated in creating the collection -- a long list, which will appear in a later publication. Equally crucial for the initiation and success of the project was the financial support generously extended by the following foundations and agencies: Fulbright Program for Italy (1959-60); American Philosophical Society (1960-63); Rockefeller Foundation Research and International Research Programs (two grants, 1961-63, 1963-64), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1970-71), National Endowment for the Humanities- Research Resources Division (three grants, 1976-85), and the National Italian American Foundation (1985).
The present Guide introduces researchers to an important collection containing most of the needed documentation for a fuller assessment of that fateful half century ending with the debacle of 1494-95, which changed the history of Europe forever. The Guide appears as an appendix to the volume The French Descent into Renaissance Italy, 1494-5: Antecedents and Effects, ed. David Abulafia (Aldershot, Hampshire, Great Britain; Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1995). It will be republished with appropriate scholarly apparatus and extensive descriptions of archival collections as part of my forthcoming book on the development of the permanent resident embassy, tentatively titled "Renaissance Origins of Modern Diplomacy: Institutions, Archives, Microfilms."
I am grateful to Prof. David Abulafia for including the Guide in the volume he edited. I also wish to thank Dr. Susanne F. Roberts, Humanities Bibliographer at Sterling Memorial Library, and her assistant, Ms. Shalane Hansen for their dedicated assistance in the preparation of this revision of the reel guide and its electronic edition.
New Haven, Connecticut
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Requests for loan cannot be taken over the telephone. The Library requires a written request, submitted either through RLIN (our LI is CTYG), OCLC (our symbol is YUS, enter it twice), or typed on an ALA or IFLA form. Requests can also be submitted via Ariel (188.8.131.52) and by fax (203-432-7231).
Requests must cite the Ilardi Collection, the Archive and series' names, and the document and reel numbers. (e.g., Ilardi Collection: Genoa, Archivio di Stato, Antico Comune, Politicorum, B.1648 (1451-81), Reel 257.)
Material may be loaned for use in the library only and/or with restriction on photocopying.
Permission to duplicate a few frames with microfilm-reader-printers is hereby granted. To facilitate research, the Italian government has generously authorized Sterling Memorial Library in exceptional circumstances to duplicate at its discretion one or two reels of the Italian holdings. Non-Italian films cannot be duplicated without written permission from the repositories. In all cases it is preferable for researchers to deal directly with the repositories for any duplication beyond the capabilities of microfilm-reader-printers.
For more information concerning Interlibrary Loan policies at Yale, please see the ILL lending page.
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Please send questions and comments to Susanne Roberts.
Last Revision February 6, 2003