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Middle East and Islamic Studies Library Resources

A guide designed for graduate students and researchers.

Research in Tunisia

Academic research in Tunisia is often focused on resources in the capital city of Tunis due to the concentration of time periods and governments that have ruled in this region, mobility of people through the city, as well as a concentration of universities, cultural centers, and museums.  The aim of this guide is to highlight research opportunities in Tunis and across Tunisia in classical archives, specialized collections, as well as traditional spaces of cultural and political production.  We invite the Harvard community to make use of the guide, contact us for individual research consultations, and send us your suggestions for researching in Tunisia.

Sihem Lamine, "Architectural Tapestry: Rediscovering Medina's Heritage, " TEDx Talk (Nov 21, 2023)


Bibliothèque de la Ville de Tunis - Dar Ben Achour

Bibliothèque de la Ville de Tunis - Dar Ben Achour

Les Archives Nationales de Tunisie

Les Archives Nationales de Tunisie

Les Archives Nationales de Tunisie

Bibliothèque Nationales de Tunisie

Bibliothèque Nationales de Tunisie

Bibliothèque Nationales de Tunisie

Bibliothèque Nationales de Tunisie

Bibliothèque Nationales de Tunisie

Le Musée National d'art Islamique de Raqqada

Le Musée National d'art Islamique de Raqqada

Libraries and Archives

Researching in Tunisia is complex due to the multi-layers of historical time periods, governing bodies, languages, and systems of collecting, gathering and recording information. Contemporary archivists and scholars are increasing taking into consideration the role of gender, religion, political unrest, and climate on formal archival practices.

Types of Collections. Institutional Archives, Public Libraries, Government Administrations, National Ministries, Central Bank, Foreign Embassies, Religious Centers, Private Family Collections

Time Periods   Prehistoric, Punic and Roman Ages (2,000,000 BC-533 AD), Arab Conquest at the end of the Hafsid Dynasty (647- 1500,) Ottomans, Muradids, and Husaynids (1574-1873,) French Protectorate (1881-1956), Tunisia Independence to Revolution (1956-2011,) Contemporary Democratic Tunisia (2011- present)

Preparing for archival work in Tunisia.  Institutions may ask for your passport, Id photos to make a registration card, admission fee, letter of institutional affiliation or proof of student status.  Be sure to note that hours of operation change seasonally, due to academic schedule, or religious holidays. Try to make appointments when possible, even if it is just to notify the staff that you intend to visit the collection.  Consult on-line catalogue and websites before visiting.

For additional advice, helpful apps, tips from the field, and general rules of thumb for conducting archival research see Library Research Guide for Finding Manuscripts and Archival Collections.




Catalogue, Finding Aid, Accessing Collection

Time Period

TUNIS Les Archives Nationales de Tunisie  

ID needed, all bags left at security desk

Reading Room

Catalogue On-Line 

Finding Aids Available by Subject

TUNIS Bibliothèque de la Ville de Tunis - Dar Ben Achour

Library of the city of Tunis.

Reading Room
TUNIS Bibliothèque de l'Institute Pasteur de Tunis

Library of the Institute Pasteur.

La bibliothèque de l'institut Pasteur de Tunis, bien que spécialisée en science médicale, couvre plusieurs domaines scientifiques de la biologie; les revues scientifiques et les ouvrages couvrant différents aspects de la Biologie et de la médecine aussi bien humaine que vétérinaire. Ceci doit permettre à son propre personnel et aux chercheurs universitaires d'être au courant de toute évolution dans ce domaine. Les usagers de la bibliothèque constituent essentiellement 3 catégories: les étudiants, les chercheurs et les enseignants appartenants aux différents domaines de la Biologie et de la médecine.

 Ces périodiques touchent les domaines de médecine interne et clinique, immunologie et hématologie, microbiologie, parasitologie et médecine tropicale, médecine vétérinaire, génétique, biochimie, biologie générale, biologie cellulaire et des revues générales. Les périodques sont essentiellement de langue française et anglaise

List of Journals (here)

List of On-Line Journals (here)

TUNIS Biblioteque Nationales de Tunisie

National Library with range of secondary sources in French and Arabic, with limited materials in English.

Rare book and manuscript collection of medieval subjects including math, pharmacy, astrology, and Islam.

ID needed, all bags left at security desk, admission fee, letter of academic intent for rare materials

Reading Room

TUNIS Bibliothèque Publique du Bardo, Bardo Museum Prehistoric, Punic, Roman.
TUNIS Beit El Bennani

Private library of Mohammed Bennani with Tunisian materials from the 19th and 20th centuries, including books and manuscripts as well as primary sources, letters, and photograph collections.  Permission to consult the library, particularly, its archival papers is based on a research intake appointment with Mohammed Bennani.

Individual consultations with owner of collection for access to collection.

Some for-pay research services available.

See Facebook, Mohammed Bennani to contact for appointment.

SIDI BOU SAID Centre des Musiques Arabes et Méditerranéennes

Centre d'Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT)

CEMAT, research center for American Institute of Maghrib Studies (AIMS) in Tunisia.  A specialized library with works primarily in English language on the Maghrib and Middle East.

Catalog (here)

Reading Room

AIMS membership preferred for collection access

TUNIS Diocesan Library of Tunis
TUNIS Institute de Belles Lettres Arabes (IBLA) Collection of the Catholic religious order, pere blanche/ white fathers and publishers of the journal Revue de I'IBLA.  Collection in Arabic and French sources with special focus on literature and the humanities. 

Reading Room.


Need to pay for membership, present ID and bring 2 photo ids for registration card.

TUNIS Italian Cultural Institute A specialized library mainly focused on Italians in Tunisia in the 19th and 20th century Open shelves. Reading Room.
TUNIS Registre National des Entreprise The Center's mission is to manage the National Register of Companies - RNE - as "a public database to collect data and information relating to companies and their availability to the public as well as to State institutions." It is the place where companies are registered (legal and natural persons) as well as their amending registration. This is a fee based service. 
KAIROUAN Le musée national d'art islamique de Raqqada
TUNIS Archives of the Tunisian press(CDN)
TUNIS Beit Al Hikma
TUNIS INS (Institut National des statistiques)
TUNIS  Institut National du Patrimoine (INP)
TUNIS Association de Sauvegarde de la Medina de Tunis (ASM)
TUNIS Archives of the National Tunisian Radio-TV

Book Stores

Harvard Library has collected extensively across the Maghrib.  Before you buy materials or spend several day photocopying, you may want to check the Harvard Library, Hollis catalogue and WorldCat Database for titles.  Many titles can be found in our library or can be ordered through Inter Library Loan.  In addition, if you do find materials that are not at Harvard, you are welcome to submit Harvard Library's Purchase Request Form (here.)  Please note as much information as possible (especially where you saw the available materials) as we have vendors in country that can help us obtain ship, catalogue and ship materials.  A word about finding books in English, due to publishing restrictions there is limited access to published books in English from academic presses in Tunisia.  However, Arabic and French language materials are widely available.  Similarly due to distribution, Tunisian films are often unavailable in the US market for purchase by libraries, but are found locally in Tunisia. 

Cultural Heritage

  • Museums: Bardo, Carthage, National Army Museum, Musee de la Monnaie, Sidi Amore Abada Museum of Arts and Popular Customs, The Carpet Museum of Kairouan
  • Crafts Organizations: Cartography Institute


Please share your research knowledge and let us know your suggestions for research materials.

Questionnaire (here)