About ABO

About the project

Annotated Books Online is a virtual research environment for scholars and students interested in historical reading practices. It is part of the research project “A Collaboratory for the Study of Reading and the Circulation of Ideas in Early Modern Europe” funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and co-ordinated by Arnoud Visser. Generous additional funding was provided by Anthony Grafton for the edition of Gabriel Harvey’s annotations to Livy (Mellon Foundation).


Reading is a crucial form of intellectual exchange, but it is also an elusive activity, something that can be done in very different ways. To uncover the history of reading historians look for traces of these different reading practices. Handwritten annotations in books are an important key to understand how historical readers used their books. ABO aims to bring these books together. It is a digital library that reveals the variety of traces that readers left in their books. These examples were previously dispersed over many different libraries in the world. Yet it is also a digital laboratory, where visitors can work together: ABO has tools to enrich the early modern annotations with transcriptions and translations. ABO seeks to encourage collaboration. It invites contributions of colleagues in all related disciplines.  

Project info

This website is free software released under GNU General Public License version 3 and downloadable from GitHub. The content of this website is not covered by this license, please read the Conditions of Use for more information.

Copyright: Mathijs Baaijens, Iris Bekker, Renze Droog, Maarten van Duren, Jeroen Hanselman, Bert Massop, Robin van der Ploeg, Gerben van Veenendaal, Tom Tervoort, Tom Wennink.