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Middle Eastern Studies: Primary Sources Online

Library and Research Guide

Primary Sources Online

Manuscripts of the Muslim World includes digital editions of more than 500 manuscripts and 827 paintings from the Islamicate world broadly construed. Together these holdings represent in great breadth the flourishing intellectual and cultural heritage of Muslim lands from 1000 to 1900, covering mathematics, astrology, history, law, literature, as well as the Qur’an and Hadith. The bulk of the collection consists of manuscripts in Arabic and Persian, along with examples of Coptic, Samaritan, Syriac, Turkish, and Berber. The primary partners are Columbia University, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania with significant contributions from Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College. This collection is funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources.

Cambridge Archive Editions presents a wealth of historical reference materials which otherwise would remain unknown, difficult to access, or fragmentary. Considered collectively, this body of documents represents many thousands of original documents of the National Archives (UK) represented in facsimile, including numerous maps, on the national heritage and political development of many countries. The value and discoverability of this content is enhanced immeasurably through CAE’s document-level citations and rich indexing. For many years CAE has specialized in the history of the Middle East, Russia and the Balkans, the Caucasus, Southeast Asia, and China and the Far East. Now, through collaboration between Cambridge University Press and East View, these materials are made searchable and accessible as never before in eBook form.

Confidential Print: Middle East covers Middle Eastern history from 1812-1958; countries included are: Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan, Persia, Suez Canal, Turkey, Jordan, Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Syria. The series originated out of a need for the British Government to preserve all the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. Some of these were one-page letters or telegrams -- others were large volumes or texts of treaties. All items marked ‘Confidential Print’ were circulated to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to heads of British missions abroad.

McGill University Islamic Studies Library includes manuscripts, panels, isolated manuscripts folios, lithographs, incunabula, and contemporary publications (i.e., McGill Institute of Islamic Studies Tehran Branch publications). Dating from the 9th to the 21st century, the materials are primarily in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish and Ottoman Turkish, and cover a wide range of topics related to the Muslim Civilization: religious and exegetical texts (Quran, Hadith, etc.), law, medieval sciences (astronomy, medicine, philosophy, etc.), history and geography, language, and literature. Special attention should be paid to 9th-11th centuries Qur’anic fragments on parchment, 12th-18th centuries Arabic calligraphy panels, as well as 15th-19th centuries colorful Indian paintings and Persian miniatures.

Leiden University Libraries Digital Collections comprises both Western and Oriental manuscripts, archives, and letters dating from the Early Middle Ages until the present time. The Western part consists of Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic script manuscripts. The Eastern part consists of manuscripts from regions as diverse as the Middle East and North Africa, the Jewish World, South and Southeast Asia, and East Asia.

Middle Eastern and North African Newspapers contains content predominantly in Arabic. The collection also includes key titles in English and French. Stanford users can access five in-copyright titles from the region: al-Akhbar (Lebanon, 2006-2019), al-Dustur (Jordan, 1967-2000), al-Jumhuuriyah (Egypt, 1962-1986), al-Riyad (Saudi Arabia, 1972-1996), and Filastin (Israel/Palestine, 1956-1967).

Foreign Relations of the United States offers access to the US diplomatic papers and covers the period between 1861 and the end of the Ronald Reagan administration. The collection has been made available online through the State Department Historian Site and contains archival materials.

Chatham House Online Archive provides a searchable research environment that allows users to quickly retrieve and review briefing papers, special reports, pamphlets, conference papers, monographs, and other material relevant to their own research or study. Key research topics covered in the archive include diplomacy and international relations; energy, environment, and development; international economics, trade, and business; international and national politics; international security and law; and global health security.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts Online 1, curated by Brill, consists of 267 items from the Manuscript Collections of Scaliger, Raphelengius and Golius from Leiden University Libraries.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts Online 2 consists of 140 volumes from the Warner Collection at the Leiden University Libraries, totaling 45,809 pages of Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, and Persian texts. All these manuscripts were acquired by the great scholar Levinus Warner during his stay in Istanbul from 1644 until his death in 1665.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts Online 3 contains Arabic Manuscripts from the manuscript holdings of the Oriental Collection in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest–200 manuscripts with just over 300 works.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts Online 4 includes the 150 manuscripts and a small number of printed works that form the collection of Rafi‘ Shamghudi (1863-1932), a famous scholar and bibliophile from Shangoda, a town in central Dagestan. The collection, with texts in Arabic and Persian, includes copies from the Timurid period.

Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland was published between 1827 and 1834 and contains important travel notes, historical essays, and geographical information on Iran, India, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

The New Asiatic Miscellany includes texts in Sanskrit, Persian, and Urdu, with printing in naskhi, nasta‘liq, and Devanagari characters; also includes essays and translations in English.

East India Company offers access to a unique collection of India Office Records from the British Library, London. Containing royal charters, correspondence, trading diaries, minutes of council meetings and reports of expeditions, among other document types, this resource charts the history of British trade and rule in the Indian subcontinent and beyond from 1600 to 1947. The collection has five modules: Module 1 contains digitized files of archival items on trade, governance, and empire between 1600-1947. Module 2 deals with factory records for South Asia and South-East Asia. Module 3 contains series G. factory records for China, Japan and the Middle East, 1596-1870. Module IV features series E., which contains correspondence on early voyages, formation, and conflict. Module V makes available series E. correspondence, detailing aspects of domestic life, governance, and territorial expansion of the company.

The Oriental Collections includes translations from several Middle Eastern and Asian literatures including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, Sanskrit, with illustrative plates including alphabets and some music; original texts included, with commentary on various languages. Edited by Major Sir William Ouseley and reproduction of original from British Library.

Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 comprises British Foreign and Commonwealth Office files and selected files from the Prime Minister’s Office and Defence Intelligence. The collection consists of three modules: module 1 dealing with the 1973 Arab Israeli War and the Oil Crisis; module 2 with the Lebanese Civil War and the Camp David Accords; and Module 3: Middle East, 1979-1981: The Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War.

Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia Online is the full-text searchable online version of the work compiled and written by John Gordon Lorimer (1870-1914), an official of the Indian Civil Service. The Gazetteer is one of the most important European primary sources for the study of the modern Gulf region from the 17th to the early 20th century.

Supplement to the Persian Gulf Gazette was instituted as the administration of British interests in the Gulf. The collection covers the period between 1953-1972.

Manuscripts of the Islamicate World and South Asia at the University of Edinburgh Library is a finding aide. It provides detailed information on over 700 manuscripts pertaining to the Islamicate world and South Asia, dating from the 10th to 19th centuries C.E. (the majority being post-1500). Chiefly bound paper codices, it includes sacred texts of importance to the Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh faiths, Qur’anic commentaries, Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, and the Shiite Imams, works treating Islamic law, world history, the history of India, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, divination, philosophy, ethics, grammar, rhetoric, dictionaries, poetry, prose, tales and romances, proverbs, travel, music, agriculture, and war. It also includes biographies, and correspondence between Indian rulers and dignitaries, and East India Company officials.

Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library is the first full-text searchable digital library of early printed books in Arabic script. Covering religious literature, law, science, mathematics, astrology, alchemy, medicine, geography, travel, history, chronicles, and literature, and including European translations of Arabic works and Arabic translations of European books, it exemplifies the long exchange of ideas and learning between Europe and the Arabic-speaking world.

Arabic Collections Online is a publicly available digital library of public domain Arabic language content. Funded by New York University Abu Dhabi, this mass digitization project aims to expose up to 15,000 volumes from NYU and partner institutions over a period of five years. NYU and the partner institutions are contributing all types of material—literature, business, science, and more—from their Arabic language collections. ACO will provide digital access to printed books drawn from rich Arabic collections of prominent libraries.

Library of Congress Persian Language Rare Materials consists of manuscripts, lithographic books, and early imprints, as well as printed books, housed in the African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

World Digital Library Persian Language Treasures contains cultural heritage materials gathered during the World Digital Library (WDL) project, including thousands of items contributed by partner organizations worldwide as well as content from Library of Congress collections.

Walters Manuscripts makes available online the Walters Art Museum holdings. Nearly all of the Walters’ collection of 128 Islamic codices and 60 loose leaves are available on the Digital Walters and in the Stanford Digital Repository. All of them are accompanied by detailed manuscript description information in machine-readable TEI format. Because of their fragile condition or their inordinately large or small sizes, however, a few of the Islamic manuscripts could not be imaged as part of the Islamic Digital Resource project. Stanford Digital Repository mirrors the content available from the Digital Walters site, provides long-term preservation of the content, and adds additional functionality for re-use.

Berlin State Library Digital Collections is where you will find digitized copies of books, manuscripts and other media that are physically held by the Berlin State Library. The database contains more than 200,000 digitized items, including dozens of premodern manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish.

Göttingen University Library Digitization Center collects printed works, manuscripts, and images electronically and makes them available in digitized format for research, teaching and study, including items in major Middle Eastern languages.

Gallica is one of the major digital libraries available for free via the Internet. It provides access to any type of document: printed documents (books, press and magazines) in image and text mode, manuscripts, sound and iconographic documents, and maps in the keep of the National Library of France.

International Digital Ephemera Project is a project based at UCLA Library. The project endeavors to build international and global collections of knowledge and to preserve the historical and cultural record so that present and future generations can access and use ephemera that document the larger arena of discourse that takes place alongside mainstream media and scholarly publications. At present, in this website we present UCLA’s collections with content from Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, and South Africa ranging from fragile early 20th century newspapers to posters, postcards, cellphone videos, and much more. These collections represent significant content that was used during political movements, but that is ephemeral in nature and likely to be lost without proactive curation.