Every month new resources, archives, and databases for historians of the Middle East are coming online. Zachary Foster introduces us to the most important ones.
The library became one of the richest Ottoman archives in the world in 1931 when it acquired millions of Ottoman documents from Turkey. Today, the library’s Oriental Department contains more than 160 sijills, 1000 registers, 1,000,000 individual documents, and thousands of manuscripts, from all the provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The library is truly a hidden gem for scholars of the Middle East and the Balkans.
The John Rylands Library in Manchester is one of the best libraries in the United Kingdom, and holds more than one million manuscripts and documents, including important collections of material in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and other Near Eastern languages.
Located on the grounds of the National Garden in the Topkhane district of Tehran, the library and museum are a must-see not only for researchers but also anybody visiting Iran’s capital. While the museum holds an extensive collection of various artifacts, coins, artworks and carpets, the tens of thousands of Islamic manuscripts, many of which are rare and some unique, make the library one of the largest depositories of its kind in Iran.
The Museum of Textbooks or “Matḥaf al-Kitāb al-Madrasī” is a unique resource for historians interested in education, not only in Jordan, but also in Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. The museum is located on the grounds of the secondary school for boys in Salt, approximately twenty miles from Amman and houses textbooks used in Jordan, but written and published throughout the region. These textbooks mainly date from the 1920s through the present but also include a few Ottoman-era works, as well as documents relating to Jordanian education, particularly at the Secondary School for Boys.
The Bosniak Institute in Sarajevo was a foundation established to promote the development and preservation of the cultural wealth, history and identity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Institute offers a large, multi-themed library, a manuscript and rare books collection, an archive and various special collections such as those of postcards and audio records.
The National Archives of Japan are an important resource for scholars interested in examining Japan’s evolving relationship with the Middle East. The archive contains material on all aspects of Japanese governmental and scholarly contacts with the Middle East since the nineteenth century.
The Historical Archive of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece contains a rich and largely unexplored collection of Ottoman documents. The archive’s collection includes more than 4,000 registers produced over the course of three centuries of Ottoman rule and constitutes a remarkable source for the history of Thessaloniki (Selanik) and its surrounding region.
The Central Historical Archive is the main depository of historical documents in the Republic of Georgia and a major archive in the Caucasus region. Famed for its large collection of ancient Georgian manuscripts and Imperial Russian documents, the archive also preserves primary sources that are of great value to scholars of Ottoman and Persian history.
The Archivo General de Simancas (AGS) is the primary central archive of the Hispanic Monarchy for documents from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, although it also holds documents dating from the medieval period. It is located in the fifteenth-century castle of Simancas in a small village of the same name, ten kilometers from Valladolid. It is a valuable repository not only for the study of early modern Iberian empires, but also for North Africa and the Mediterranean.