The historical archive of the Schott music publishing house in Mainz, Germany is one of the largest and most significant music archives both locally and on a larger, worldwide scale. Since 2017 the Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) along with the Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz) and other German institutions has been working on its documentation and online presentation. The diversity and volume of the material in both rare editions and music manuscripts dating from ca. 1770 till the middle of the 20th century, as well as in business records, correspondence and local indexes signify the value and challenges involved in the project.
The presentation attempts to delineate the role of scientific documentation in the research of music resources by taking Schott’s publishing history into account. Moreover, the specific steps being followed in rare material cataloging – from the moment of acquisition till its digitization – are being discussed and analyzed. Special emphasis is given on the use of reference materials for the purpose of determining dates of publication as well as on those factors that should be taken into account when designing and implementing the final online portal.