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Middle East and Islamic Studies Library Resources

A guide designed for graduate students and researchers.

Archives and Manuscripts

To locate archival and manuscript collections try these resources:

Islamic Manuscript Studies: Resources for the study of manuscripts produced in the Islamic world and the manuscript cultures they represent: a superb guide to identifying and locating Islamic manuscripts, from the University of Michigan Library

Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources (AMIR): Alphabetical list of Open Access Islamic Manuscripts Collections: links to 56 collections of OA manuscripts, ranging from the Aga Khan Museum, in Toronto, Canada, to the Yemeni Manuscript Digitization Initiative, at Princeton University

ArchiveGrid: a database with over four million records linked from the web sites of the individual repositories, describing archival and manuscript collections, including historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. There are over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, with records for many Harvard archives and manuscripts plus over 2,100 Harvard collection guides included.

Archives Portal Europe: provides access to information on archival material from different European countries as well as information on archival institutions throughout the continent. The site provides a single interface searching across archival collections of national and regional archives throughout Europe. The directory enables researchers to verify contact details and services offered by institutions in preparation for an on-site visit.

European History Primary Sources (EHPS): this is a joint initiative of the European University Institute Library and the Department of History and Civilization of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. It is also part of the WWW Virtual Library History Central Catalogue that is hosted at the EUI. The purpose of EHPS is to provide an easily searchable index of scholarly digital repositories that contain primary sources for the history of Europe and other regions of the world. While not claiming to be complete, EHPS contains the major national digital libraries and many smaller series of e-sources and smaller digitization projects in Europe. It thus reflects to a considerable extent the current state of digitization of historical source materials in Europe, as well as those digitized outside Europe pertaining to its history

ETANA: Electronic Tools and Ancient Near Eastern Archives: a multi-institutional, collaborative, electronic publishing project designed to enhance the study of the history and culture of the ancient Near East

The Internet Archive: a digital library of "Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form." Their Wayback Machine allows you to search archived Web pages from 1996 to the present (excluding the most recent 6 months). The site contains a collection of moving images, including feature films, audio resources from various sources, and a collection of electronic texts.

Afghanistan and the US, 1945-1963 : Records of US State Department Classified Files: covering 1945 to 1963, this collection accesses U.S. State Department Central Classified Files relating to Afghanistan, including 9,674 images of documents from U.S. diplomats, such as: special reports on political and military affairs, studies and statistics on socioeconomic matters, interviews and minutes of meetings with foreign government officials, court proceedings and other legal documents, full texts of important letters, instructions, and cables sent and received by U.S. diplomatic personnel, reports and translations from foreign journals and newspapers, translations of high-level foreign government documents, including speeches, memoranda, official reports, and transcripts of political meetings and assemblies. The collection is arranged topically and chronologically.

Associated Press 4: Middle Eastern Bureaus Collection, 1967-2008: accesses records from some of the AP's most active international bureaus, delivering exclusive stories behind the headlines from 1967 to 2005 with stories stemming from Jerusalem, Ankara, Beirut and their surrounding areas; records include news stories in the form of typescript carbons or wire copy, the version that AP sent on to its member newspapers, which members were free to alter; most-covered topics include military operations, civil and global wars, diplomacy, refugees, cultural clashes, and terrorism, with real-time insights into the second half of the twentieth century regarding issues of global importance

British Library Arabic Manuscripts Collection: the Arabic manuscripts collection includes more than 15,000 works in over 14,000 volumes

British Library Persian Manuscripts Collection: the Persian manuscripts collection includes more than 11,000 works

Chronology of Nineteenth-Century Periodicals in Arabic (1800-1900): this site provides a chronology of nineteenth-century periodicals in Arabic. It is meant to include all periodicals published in Arabic or in Arabic and in another language or in Arabic written in a different script during the period from 1800 to 1900, the chronology is incomplete. Numerous problems arise in dating and locating individual publications as well as identifying their owners, editors, or publishers. A common problem is that journals with different editors used the same title or the same editors published periodicals under different titles. Thus, the chronology is published as a working draft with the purpose of making this information available to the scholarly community [paraphrased from the site’s Introductory Notes]

Confidential print: Middle East 1839-1969: is a collection originated by the need for the British Government to preserve  the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices; some papers were one page letters or telegrams and others were large volumes or texts of treaties. All items marked “Confidential Print” were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to Heads of British missions abroad. This collection includes the following classes from The National Archives, Kew in their entirety: CO 935/1-25 Middle East General, 1920-1956; FO 402/1-33 Afghanistan, 1922-1957; FO 406/1-84 Eastern Affairs (Middle East), 1812-1946; FO 407/1-237 Egypt/Sudan, 1839-1958; FO 416/1-113 Persia, 1899-1957; FO 423/1-70 Suez Canal, 1859-1947; FO 424/1-297 Turkey, 1841-1957; FO 437/1-9 Jordan, 1949-1957; FO 464/1-12 Arabia, 1947-1957; FO 481/1-17 Iraq, 1947-1969; FO 484/1-11 Lebanon, 1947-1957; FO 487/1-11 Middle East General, 1947-1957; FO 492/1-11 Israel/Palestine, 1947-1957; and FO 501/1-10 Syria, 1947-1956. All documents are full-text searchable.

Digital Persian Archive: includes "public" and "private" documents: royal decrees and orders, official correspondence, and shari'a court documents, such as contracts of sale and lease, vaqf deeds, marriage contracts, and court orders. It also serves as a bibliographic reference tool, being a continually updated repertoire of published historical documents.

Earliest Middle Eastern Manuscript Collections, Leiden University: Several of the most important manuscript collections in the Leiden University Libraries (UBL) Special Collections, comprising 443 extremely rare and often unique volumes, have been made available in Open Access via Digital Collections. The available manuscript collections include the private collections of some of the earliest Leiden scholars of Middle Eastern languages, such as Josephus Scaliger, Franciscus Raphelengius and Jacobus Golius, as well as the Ottoman Turkish manuscripts acquired by Levinus Warner in Istanbul between 1645 and 1665.

Fihrist: provides a searchable interface to basic manuscript descriptions from some of the major manuscript collections in the UK. With the continuing contribution of manuscript records from UK libraries, Fihrist aims to become a union catalogue for manuscripts in Arabic script.

Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc catalog of manuscripts in the National Library of Morocco.

Guide to Arabic Manuscript Libraries in Morocco, with Notes on Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, and Spain by Jocelyn Hendrickson: a partial update to Les bibliotheques au Maroc by Latifa Benjelloun-Laroui

Guide to Arabic Manuscript Libraries in Morocco: Further Developments by Jocelyn Hendrickson and Sabahat Adil: an update meant to append to the above guide.

Harvard University Archives: the HU Archives collects records (paper, visual and electronic), papers and manuscripts, publications, and other historical materials documenting the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard University from the 17th century to the present. The Archives serves as the principal repository for the institutional records of the University and faculty archives, including papers and manuscripts. The Archives seeks to document the faculty, students and academic programs at the University, as well as Harvard’s central administration, its libraries, museums, research centers and affiliated organizations. For example, the Archives holds the Papers of George A.R. Reisner, 1932-1948 (inclusive); 21 cubic feet (1 document box); Reisner graduated from Harvard in 1889 and taught Semitic languages, Semitic archaeology and Egyptology at Harvard.

Iranian Oral History Project: this is a unique resource for the study of modern Iranian history. The collection consists of the personal accounts of 134 individuals who played major roles in or were eyewitnesses to important political events in Iran from the 1920s to the 1980s. Of these, 118 narratives have been digitized and are available to researchers through this database. The collection provides scholars and practitioners the opportunity to listen to and read the personal accounts of many of Iran's former political leaders as they recall the times and events that shaped their lives and the life of their country.

Islamic Heritage Project: this is a multi-disciplinary collection of high-quality digital reproductions of more than 270 Islamic manuscripts, more than 300 published texts, and 58 maps from Harvard's renowned library and museum collections. Subjects represented include religious texts and commentaries; Sufism; history, geography, law, and the sciences (astronomy, astrology, mathematics, medicine); poetry and literature; rhetoric, logic, and philosophy; calligraphy, dictionaries and grammar, as well as biographies and autobiographical works.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts Online: provides gradual access to Leiden University Library's world-famous research collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts. Its core collection consists of volumes brought together by, among others, the Leiden Orientalists Joseph Justus Scaliger (d. 1609) and Jacobus Golius (d. 1667). Included in the Scaliger collection are about a dozen manuscripts which belonged to Franciscus Raphelengius (d. 1597). These collections consist of extremely rare, sometimes unique, manuscripts

Princeton Digital Library of Islamic manuscripts: this is the premier collection of Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other Islamic manuscripts in the Western Hemisphere. Material here includes all texts (chiefly New Series) on Shia law and theology; texts related to other non-Sunni sects, such as the Druze and Kharijites; and more than 750 other manuscripts (Garrett Yahuda Series) on a variety of subjects. Also added are PDFs of Islamic manuscripts digitized in response to photoduplication requests. In all, approximately a sixth of the Library's Islamic manuscripts have now been digitized and put online for the benefit of scholars worldwide

SS. Cyril and Methodius National Library (Национална библиотека „Свети Свети Кирил и Методий“ / Bulgarian National Library): among the materials digitized and available here are: manuscripts on parchment 10th-14th centuries, including Enina Apostolos (11th c.), Dobreisho Gospels, Four Gospel from 14th c., Argirov Triodion 13th century, etc.; manuscripts on paper 13th-14th centuries; old-printed books; Bulgarian National Revival newspapers – (Bulgarian periodicals from 1844 to 1878); Ottoman Turkish documents; Arabic manuscripts; old-printed Persian and Ottoman Turkish books; and Arabic newspapers

Tahrir documents, Tahrir Documents is a collection of pamphlets, newsletters, signs, poems, and other texts gathered in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, between March 2011 and May 2012. The physical documents are housed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Special Collections at the Charles E. Young Research Library. However, all documents are available online.

U.S. Intelligence on the Middle East, 1945-2009: , this document set sheds light on the U.S. intelligence community’s spying and analytic efforts since 1945 in the Arab world, including the Middle East, the Near East, and North Africa. It covers the time period from the end of World War II to 2009, including the 2002-2003 Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) assessments, the Global War on Terror, the Iraq War, and Iran’s nuclear program

Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran: this collection explores the lives of women during the Qajar era (1796-1925) through a wide array of materials from private family holdings and participating institutions. It provides bilingual access to thousands of personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, publications, everyday objects, works of art and audio materials, making it a unique online resource for social and cultural histories of the Qajar world

Yemeni Manuscript Digitization Initiative: presents, for the first time, access to manuscripts from three private libraries in Sanaa, Yemen, and virtually conjoins them to additional Yemeni manuscripts held by the Princeton University Library and Staatsbibliothek, Berlin. The texts in this archive were composed, copied, studied, and preserved by Zaydi scholars from the tenth century to the present.