In 2001, while I was an intern at the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig I developed a prototype of a Scribe Database which holds information about scribes and copyists of Bach manuscripts.

The goal of this project was to group manuscripts according to their handwriting similarity. I achieved this goal by linking the handwriting characteristics in the manuscripts to a feature tree that contained basic categories of handwriting characteristics. These categories were taken from Georg von Dadelsen’s “Beiträge zur Chronologie” a major publication in research on the handwriting of Bach and his copyists. By linking manuscripts and handwriting categories it was now possible to search for all manuscripts that contained a certain kind of handwriting characteristic.

A simple demonstration of this database is online at my harvard computer society server:

In 2003 – 2005, a similar approach to the problem was taken by the Rostock-based group eNote History in a research project that was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

I am currently working on a completely different approach that involves automatic recognition of handwriting characteristics with the help of neural nets. More info on this project can be found on the SCRIBE Project website at

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