Pierre de Gigord collection of photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, 1853-1930

French businessman Pierre de Gigord compiled an important collection of Ottoman-Era photographs in the eighties while traveling in Turkey. This collection of more than 6,000 photographs taken by over 165 photographers documents the late years of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. The bulk of the collection is urban sites in Constantinople (Istanbul), the Balkans, Bursa and Smyrna (Izmir) as well as sites in Greece, Egypt, Palestine, India and China. In addition to photographs, the collection includes a few pamphlets and offprints about photography in the Ottoman Empire and a small collection of photographic ephemera. Pierre de Gigord collection of photographs now housed in the Getty Research Institute was recently digitized and made openly available to the public. The digitization project prioritized images from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (up to World War I).
A detailed finding aid available on the Getty Library website gives access to a descriptive summary, biographical and historical notes, a lengthy description of the scope and content of the collection as well as to a container list.

Individual descriptive records (see below) are very detailed showing at first sight if the material is accessible online and allowing to link directly to the digital images. They can be printed, saved, shared and cited directly from the database (export to RIS format, Bibtex, Endnote, Easybib, and Refworks).

Albums can be browsed and images viewed in a custom-made reader displaying one page/one image in the middle column, a clickable list of pages/images on the left-hand side, and a summary of the descriptive record on the right-hand side. Images can be downloaded, printed, enlarged up to actual size and turned left or right.

As in any digital collection use restrictions apply. If the website states that “digital images and files saved from this website should be suitable for most purposes”, more information is available on the Library Reproductions & Permissions page.

Historical Maps of the Middle East in Open Access

Today we are highliting three online resources making freely accessible historical maps of the Middle East: Palestine Open Maps, the Perry-Castañeda Library Map collection, and The Afternoon Map.

Palestine Open Maps is a platform making available and searchable historical maps from the British Mandate of Palestine period (1920-1948). Materials come from a number of institutions like the National Library of Israel, the National Library of Australia, the David Rumsey Map Collection. The platform includes a large collection of 1940s survey maps in the public domain “covering the territory at scales of up to 1:20,000. It also offers great search and overlay capabilities highlighting the human, natural, and urban geography transformations over the past century. Initiated in March 2018 by Vizualing Palestine and Columbia University Studio-X Amman, Palestine Open Maps is now maintained and developed by Vizualizing Palestine in collaboration with individuals. More information about the platform, the map collection or terms of use can be obtained here.

Screenshot of the Palestine Open Maps platform, July 24, 2019.

The Perry-Castañeda Library Map collection at the University of Texas at Austin includes  over 250,000 maps among which a number of historical maps of the Middle East. If only 20% of the overall maps collection has been digitized so far, the effort to make more content available online is continued. Published between 1849 and 1973, The Middle East maps collection cover the Arab World, Turkey and Iran from 500 B.C. to the 1970s. Materials are listed alphabetically by name of locality, and accompanied by a brief description. They can be opened, downloaded or saved in PDF format. More information about the collection or terms of use can be obtained here.

Aleppo [Alep] 1912. From Palestine and Syria… Handbook for Travellers by Karl Baedeker, 5th Edition, 1912.

The Afternoon Map is an Ottoman-Turkish-Middle Eastern-Balkans cartography blog launched and maintained by Dr. Nicholas Danforth, Senior Policy Analyst at Bipartisan Policy Center. The purpose of this academic blog is to publish “original, visually appealing and intellectually engaging maps harvested from archives and libraries around the world.” Maps are systematically introduced and put in historical context, and can easily be downloaded and saved. In addition to historical maps, the blog includes “Home Made Maps” covering a broad range of topics like earthquakes death, folk song, food, borders or trains. Last, The Afternoon Map also posts “Non Maps” (pictural materials like posters or caricatures), and “Articles” on a variety of topics authored by the blog’s owner. For more information about the maps or terms of use, or to contribute to the blog, contact the author.

Screenshot of The Afternoon Map blog, July 25, 2019.

Islamic Manuscripts Scientific Initiative

The  Islamic Scientific Manuscripts Initiative (ISMI) is a collaborative project between researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (Germany) and McGill Institute of Islamic Studies in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) aiming at making available information on Islamic manuscripts in the exact sciences. As such it includes manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and other languages covering a broad range of topics like astronomy, mathematics, optics, mathematical geography, music, mechanics, etc.

Initiated in 1996, the project was over the years funded by numerous government agencies and private institutions. It is currently supported by the Canada Research Chair in the History of Science in Islamic Societies and Compute Canada.

The ISMI database gives access to authors, their works, and extant manuscript witnesses in the various fields of the sciences. links metadata with manuscripts images  When possible, digital images are made public. Designed to facilitate research on these materials, the database allows for great flexibility in cross-searching descriptive fields (author, title, place of production, dates, etc.). Alternatively, the database can be browsed by name, title, place of production but also repository, etc. Results always display as a list where items are clickable.

 When made public, scanned images display in a reader offering single page, double page or thumbnails view. Digital copies include photographs of the binding, flap, spine and page edges allowing for a better codicological understanding of the codex. “Unless otherwise noted all ISMI content can be used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: CC-BY-SA.”

Any questions and/or feedback can be sent to ismi-feedback@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de.

Online exhibition: “If Walls Could Speak: The History of Morrice Hall”

After displaying a physical and touch table exhibitions in the Winter of 2018, the Islamic Studies Library is pleased to launch the online version of If Walls Could Speak: The History of Morrice Hall. Accessible from the main page of our blog (see capture below), this online exhibition retraces the history of  Morrice Hall currently home to McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS), Islamic Studies Library (ISL), and Tuesday Night Café Theatre (TNC).

Using a mix of drawings, photographs, plans and maps, publications, and video, this online exhibition takes you through the history of the building since its construction in 1882: from Presbyterian College, to war hospital, to offices for the International Labour Organization during WWII, to a house for McGill University departments.

The original display was curated by y Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian (Senior Library Clerk, ISL), Jillian Mills (Senior Library Clerk, ISL) and Anaïs Salamon (Head Librarian, ISL) with the help of Gregory Houston (New Media & Digitization Administrator, Digital Initiatives) for the creation of the Touch Table exhibit.

This online version is the result of a School of Information Studies practicum student -Gabriela Cestero-‘s work in the Winter 2019, with the support of Ekaterina Grguric (User Experience and Digital Technologies Librarian, Digital Initiatives) and Gregory Houston (New Media & Digitization Administrator, Digital Initiatives).

Full page screenshot of the “Foundation” page, 2019.

Special thanks go to the McCord Museum, the Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives, and Library and Archives Canada for allowing us to publish photographs from their collections. Please note that copyright rests with them, and that any download or reproduction remains subject to their approval.

Persian Culture Workshops at the Redpath Museum in May & June 2019

Located on the McGill campus, the Redpath Museum is an academic unit of the University. “Its mandate is to foster understanding and appreciation of the diversity of our biological, geological, and cultural heritage through scientific research, collections-based study, and education.”

As part of its Spring programming, the Redpath Museum will be hosting two series of  Persian Culture Workshops in English designed respectively for children ages 7-9 and ages 10-12. The workshops, offered by Dr. Farshid Sadatsharifi, visiting scholar at the McGill Institute of Islamic Studies, and Mrs. Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian, Senior Library Clerk at the Islamic Studies Library of McGill University will explore “the historical events, the colorful medieval paintings and the beautiful collection of poems kept within the pages of the Persian Epic of Kings.”

The full programming is as follow:

  • May 5th: The Persian Epic of Kings – Part 1 (ages 7-9)
  • May 12th: The Persian Epic of Kings – Part 2 (ages 7-9)
  • June 1st: The Persian Epic of Kings – Part 1 (ages 10-12)
  • June 15th: The Persian Epic of Kings – Part 2 (ages 10-12)

Please note that as space is limited, registration is required and will close a few days before the workshops.

Facebook users may follow the series there: The Persian Epic of Kings for Children ages 7 to 9 and The Persian Epic of Kings for Children ages 10 to 12.

To go further, the Islamic Studies Library collection includes a significants number of miniatures and manuscripts copies of the book Shahnameh – Epic of Kings. Some of them are accessible online in the Shahnameh by Ferdowsi digital exhibition:

For more information about Persian culture, you may visit the Islamic Studies Library of McGill University.

A new acquisition!! Eastlaws, an Arabic legal database

Founded in 1995 in Alexandria, Egypt, Eastlaws network specializes in the production of Arab legal programs as well as on the automation of prosecutions, courts, law firms, and legal departments. As such, the network collects, indexes, and makes available legal documents originating from professional associations, administrative units at all levels of Arab judiciary Institutions, Faculties of Law and legal Research Institutes, legal Departments of private Companies, and international Organizations. Eastlaws database includes a wide variety of legal sources such as court rulings, legislations, fatwas, Islamic judicature, etc.

The Islamic Studies Library and the Nahum Gelber Law Library recently subscribed to a number of modules from Eastlaws providing the McGill community with access to original legal sources from the Arab World. The list of modules available to us is as follow:

  • Legislative Database for 18 countries (Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, KSA, Oman, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Algeria and Lebanon)
  • Rulings Database  for 18 countries (Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, KSA, Oman, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Algeria and Lebanon)
  • International Commercial Arbitration
  • International and Arab Treaties and Conventions
  • Administration fo Fatwa
  • Islamic Judicature
  • Legal Terminology
  • Legal Dictionary.

It is important to note that all documents in Eastlaws are in Arabic. A very basic translation into English and French can be generated by Google Translate, embedded within the database. The interface of the database itself is also in Arabic, and partially available in English (some menus and options are not translated).

To access Eastlaws database, there are a number of options:

  • The McGill library catalogue

  • The Database A-Z list from the Library main page

  • The Islamic sources subject guide

Winter 2019 database trials at McGill

This term, the Islamic Studies Library is trialing two databases relevant to students and researchers in the field of Islamic and Middle East studies:

Make sure you try them out, and share your feedback with us!

1. The Afghan Serials Collection (ASC)

ASC gives access to partisan serials from the Wahdat Library which is “the most comprehensive private collection of rare newspapers and journals from Afghanistan.” The Afghan Serials Collection includes 46 newspapers and journals published in Persian, Pushto, Arabic, Urdu, and English (i.e. more than 2,500 issues). As outlined on the database homepage: “the Afghan Serials Collection covers the use of the press by many groups that sought to shape Afghanistan’s social and intellectual landscape including the Communist People’s Democratic Party (PDPA); exiled loyalists to the deposed Afghan monarchy; independent humanitarians and intellectuals seeking to better their country; anti-Soviet mujaheddin groups from a range of political movements; the Taliban; and minority political parties that have emerged following the post-2001 transition towards democracy.”

Features offered by this database are numerous:

  • journal titles can be either browsed or searched in original language and English transliteration
  • journals can be ordered alphabetically (title), chronologically (Afghan/Islamic or Gregorian calendar), by country of publication or language
  • rubrics within each issue can be independently accessed for online reading and downloaded in PDF
  • searching for occurrences within a title is possible, in English transliteration only

ASC will primarily be of interest to social scientists (sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, historians, etc.).

2. Cambridge Archive Editions Online

CAE gives access to thousands of primary source documents from the British National Archives in facsimile, including maps, on the Middle East, Russia and the Balkans, the Caucasus, Southeast Asia, and China and the Far East. The Near and Middle East Collection alone includes 118 titles documenting the history of the region between 1850 and 1980.

Documents can be searched, browsed, or discovered by topic (15 topics are used to classify the materials). They can be read online using the “Reading Mode” (full page display with left-hand side navigation bar) or dowloaded in PDF. WHat makes CAE particularly interesting is the fact that documents have been OCR’ed (Optical Character Recognition) allowing for searching occurrences within a publication.

CAE will be of particular interest to historians.

IFEA Map workshop archives

Launched and managed by the French Institute for Anatolian Studies (IFEA) and the OUI (Urban Observatory of Istanbul), the Map workshop archives is a cartographic database making available several hundreds of maps and plans of Istanbul and Turkey from the 12th century to present day. The project Archivis carto from which the database emerged continues, and maps are regularly added to the archives.

At the time of our visit, the archives included close to 400 high resolution digital maps and plans with short bibliographic descriptions (title, cartographer, editor, place and date of edition, scale).

Visitors can either search the database or use the Research by theme feature offering eighteen historical, geographical, and cartographic categories to browse:

 

 

 

All materials can easily be downloaded and/or shared using a permalink, however they are strictly provided for personal (individual or institution) use within the scope of research. For commercial use, contact: carto@ifea-istanbul.net. “It is forbidden to redistribute or publish this documentation without informing the IFEA, otherwise the IFEA would be free from any copyright problems or conflicts with the publishers of the concerned documents.”

The website is available in English, French and Turkish.

Islamic Law Materialized : a Corpus of Arabic Legal Documents

A Corpus of Arabic Legal Documents (CALD) is a database of edited (transcribed) primary source materials from the pre-modern period (8th-15th century). According to the creators, CALD “is the first-ever collection of scattered editions of legal documents often [provided] with improved readings compared to earlier print versions”.

CALD is supported by the European Research Council (ERC), and results from the concerted efforts of individuals from several institutions among which the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT).

CALD includes a great variety of documents, such as sales contracts, lease contracts, acknowledgements, charity aims, court attestations, etc., available in PDF with the original Arabic text in modern spelling as well as complete bibliographical data. In addition, images of original materials and/or URL links are provided when possible.

Example of an edited document

Visitors can browse documents either by location (city) or library inventory number, or search the database for legal terms in Arabic.For greater access to CALD’s functionalities, visitors can create an account: logging in allows to cross-search Arabic terms, document types, dates and keywords.
The interface is available in French, English and Arabic.