Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran Digital Archives

Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran (WWQI) is a digital archive of materials related to the lives of women during the Qajar era, inclusive of the period immediately preceding and following the dynastic period (1786 -1925). The goal of WWQI is to address a gap in scholarship and understanding of the lives of women during the Qajar era.

“Given the dearth of available primary-source materials related to women in the Qajar era, it is not surprising that, to date, the vast majority of Qajar social histories have focused almost exclusively on the struggles, achievements, and day-to-day realities of the men of that period. This is in part a matter of expediency; while men’s writing have been easily accessible in various national archives for decades (and many have in more recent years been published in edited volumes), most women’s writings, photographs, and other personal papers have to date remained sequestered in private family hands.”

WWQI aims to open up the documented social and cultural histories of Qajar women, thus allowing for the examinations of broader patterns of life during this era.

The materials included in the archive are not only those contained in private archives and manuscripts but also published materials from the Middle Eastern Collection in Widener Library and other institutions. They consist of:

  • Writings: letters, prose, poetry, travel writings, essays, periodicals, and diaries
  • Legal documents: wedding contracts, dowry documents, settlements, endowments, powers of attorney, wills, sales, and other financial contracts
  • Artworks: calligraphy, painting, embroidery, weaving, other handicrafts, music, and film
  • Photographs
  • Everyday objects
  • Oral histories

You could begin your search either by clicking on “Collections” or on “Browse”. All roads tend to lead to the search engine, where you can refine your search with keywords and filter selection.

The website uses Elastic Search full text search engine which supports both English and Persian language-specific searches. While the results should be consistent, the results may vary slightly in terms of relevancy ranking.

The website also includes a research platform which put students and scholars in collaborative conversations, and generate innovative scholarship on the cultural history of the Qajar period focused on lives of women and issues of gender and sexuality.

To learn more about how the Archive generates the digital holdings, see the documentary essay by Nicole Legnani, Commissioned by the Office of the Digital Arts and Humanities at Harvard University.

The Harvard University Library (HUL) central infrastructure accommodates all image, text, and audio materials collected for this archive. All WWQI materials can be accessed through the following Harvard University Library catalogues as well: Visual Information Access (VIA) system and HOLLIS Catalog.

Fihrist: Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

FIHRIST is an evolving union catalogue, for 11,015 Islamic and other Middle Eastern manuscripts.

The collective holdings of the contributing Libraries of the UK are of substantial intellectual and cultural significance. All contributing libraries have been selectively collecting manuscripts from all subject areas, and of various geographical origins, dating from the 7th to the 19th century CE.

“FIHRIST is a free on-line catalogue for manuscript descriptions.

FIHRIST is not a digital Library”

FIHRIST developed from a pilot-project between Oxford & Cambridge to become               a UK-wide union catalogue. The catalogue is constantly growing in volume, as libraries and research projects are contributing manuscripts descriptions.

The union catalogue provides basic and advanced search options. One can search in English, Arabic or Hebrew by using the additional Keyboard in the search box. When using advanced search, more search options and a list of tips are made available to improve the search results.

In terms of manuscript availability, “if a digital copy of a works exists on-line, a link is provided and maintained by the institution holding the manuscript. To request digital copies, or contact the institution directly, you may use the field Comment on this record at the bottom of every description.” The level of details provided in each entry varies and are changing over time as research progresses.

Sample of an Entry

The user can browse the catalogue by:

  • Classmarks (also called shelfmarks, classification number, etc.)
  • Works
  • People (personal names)
  • Subjects (basic LC subject headings)

While browsing, limiters will varies to best suit each category. For instance, if the user chooses to browse the catalog by classmark, limiters such as language, century, physical form, materials, decoration, institution or collection are made available. Whereas if the user chooses to browse by works, institution & language are the available limiters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Memory of Modern Egypt Project مشروع ذاكرة مصر المعاصرة

The Memory of Modern Egypt project is an attempt to create the largest digital library of materials of cultural and historical value related to the contemporary history of Egypt, beginning with the reign of Muhammad Ali in 1805 to the end of President Sadat in 1981.

The digitized collection is composed of materials drawn from collections of various libraries. Items include materials from senior politicians and Egyptian writers, as well as materials from many institutions and private collections related to the history of modern Egypt during the past 200 years, in addition to the historical archives of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The Digital Library aspires to be the main source of historical material related to the history of Egypt, and has thus been designed in a way that allows the addition of new materials as they become available.

Searching for materials is simply a matter of clicking on the desired topic (rulers, prime ministers, events, topics or public figures). From there, icons appear on the left half of the page indicating the number of available materials for the desired topic, which can be further searched by clicking on the icons.

The timeline at the bottom of each page follows the contemporary history of Egypt beginning in 1799 and ending in 1981. This timeline helps the researcher to determine the time-frame for research. For example, when moving from the right side using the mouse until 1860 and from the left until 1900.  It reduces the number of materials available to coincide with the selected 40 years. This is shown by changing the number of available materials indicated by the icons on the left side of the page, which match the chosen time-frame.

Here are some of the FAQ that may be of interest

What is the purpose of this website and who created it?

This site documents the history of modern Egypt from the rule of Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1805 until the end of the presidency of the late President Mohamed Anwar Sadat in 1981. There are numerous articles related to the history of Egypt during the past hundred and sixty-seven years. These materials include digital photographs of documents, photographs, coins, stamps, audio and video recordings, among others. The establishment of this site was a concerted effort between the International Institute for Information Studies (ISIS), a specialized research institute at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and the library’s project management, which was responsible for collecting the content of the site and passing it on to the International Institute for Information Studies On the past to be available to future generations in a digital format.   

Q-Will this site be available in other languages?

Thus far, there are no plans to translate the site into other languages and a large proportion of the original material is available in Arabic.

Q-Can I upload pictures, movies, documents, etc., from your site?

Copyright is held by the contributors to this project, who gave the Library of Alexandria the right to display these materials only for public benefit. The library does not have the right to make these materials available for printing, so one cannot download or print any of the materials available on the site.

Qatar Digital Library

Qatar Digital Library (QDL) is a growing repository for over 500,000 historical and cultural records of the Gulf and wider region. The Archives is available online and includes wide range of materials: maps, manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs and much more, complete with contextualized explanatory notes and links, in both English and Arabic.

The QDL was made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding on Partnerships between Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Library and The British National Library. The aim of this partnership is to make a world-class resource freely available for everyone, for general audience and academic researchers.

The site was launched on 27 October 2014. According to Cogapp, an industry-leaders in producing software for online archives and museums who designed and developed the software; the interface is user friendly and it is accessible across multiple devices, including mobiles, tablets and desktops. Everything is shareable on social media. All items can be zoomed to explore incredible details. It also allows the user to conduct a highly filterable search; 150 facet options are available to refine the search. The site and content meet archival standards and accessibility criteria.

The repository also include 147 articles to explore, all grouped under Articles From Our Experts which can be filtered by topic, geographical location and time period. Switching from Arabic to English is possible through the language tab located on top of the page.

“This is going to result in a whole new generation of historians, a boom in the historiography of the Gulf. This is profound; this moment right now is a milestone in the history of the region.”— Dr James Onley, Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern History, University of Exeter
“Students, scholars – whether here, in the Gulf region or indeed anywhere on the planet – will be able to explore this material, find new learnings from it, make new connections and make new discoveries.”— Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library

 

 

 

 

Discover Islamic Art

Discover Islamic Art is an initiative of the Museum With No Frontiers in collaboration with 14 countries from around the Mediterranean. Islamic objects, monuments and historical sites from the northern, southern and eastern shores are brought together in a virtual museum; to complete the collection, relevant Islamic items from museums in Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom are included as well.

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

“The exploration of the history and art of Islam in the Mediterranean aims to create a more complete knowledge of the historical relationship between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and to make this information accessible to the general public in the countries represented in the consortium and beyond. The consortium’s aim is to promote deeper understanding between the peoples of Europe and their Muslim communities and the Islamic world on their doorsteps, and ultimately to celebrate the contribution of Islamic civilisation to world culture and art.”

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Objects and monuments in the Permanent Collection can be sorted by country, period/dynasty, partner or date. Sorting by country provides related content such as timeline that ranges from 400 A.D.to 2000 A.D.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

In the Database, different categories like location, provenance, architect/artist/Master, Materials/Technique can be selected while entering the search criteria. Date range and language will narrow down the search. Glossary and spelling feature facilitate getting the correct spelling of the transliterated Arabic terms used in the database.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean exhibition is set up with the support of the European Union. The virtual exhibition groups objects, monuments and historical sites under dynasties or themes. A download option is available once you start exploring the topic.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Artistic Introduction: Islamic Art in the Mediterranean provides guidelines that “will help readers to begin to visually identify the various traditions of Islamic architecture in the Mediterranean region”.

Partners, Timeline, Learn with MWNF, and My Collection are additional links that are worthwhile exploring.

A Piece of Heart and a Piece of Art: Damascus Room

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180, Wood (poplar) with gesso relief, copper and tin leaf, glazes and paint, plaster with stone paste inlays, and multicolored stones; installation (approx) 240 x 180 x 144 in.© Museum Associates/LACMA

The story began in the fall and early winter of 2011-12, when Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), decided to pursue an acquisition of a period room from eighteenth-century Damascus, Syria. Komaroff is one of the people who makes LACMA a very unique institution. In Unframed post titled Preserving Small Piece of Damascus, Komaroff describes the new acquisition:

The Damascus Room came to signify more than the unique opportunity to acquire a rare work of art that would become a destination for museum visitors but the very embodiment of what LACMA is as an encyclopedic art museum. Although the room was removed from Syria nearly thirty-five years ago, the notion that we would be helping to preserve a small part of the cultural history of one of the world’s oldest, continuously occupied cities, intensified my interest in bringing the room to Los Angeles so that its story can be told and appreciated in this twenty-first-century city.

The room was dissembled in 1978 from one of the courtyard houses located in the al- Bahsa district, which was later demolished in order to accommodate the growth of the city of Damascus. The room was then exported from Syria to Beirut, Lebanon where it remained in storage for over 30 years. It somehow made its way to a London warehouse where it was found by Komaroff. Although the room was maintained in its original state, some restoration was required and an armature was created to make the room self-supporting so that it could be installed in an already-existing space or reinstalled elsewhere. Komaroff describes the Damascus Room thusly:

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180. © Museum Associates/LACMA

It has multicolored inlaid stone floors, painted wood walls, elaborate cupboard doors and storage niches, a spectacular arch with plaster voussoirs decorated with colored inlays that served to divide the room into upper and lower sections separated by a single tall step; and an intricately inlaid stone wall fountain with a carved and painted hood. The painted wood surfaces are embellished with a particular type of relief decoration known in Arabic as al-‘ajami (“meaning non-Arab or foreign”) or as pastiglia in the West.

The restoration work was undertaken in collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and with the support provided by the Friends of Heritage Preservation, LACMA. The reassembling of the Damascus Room was a two-year project completed in December 2015. The room was on display at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from 2016–2018 and will be returned to Los Angeles to tell its story to a new audience.The reconstruction of the Damascus Room has been one of the Linda Komaroff’s curatorial career:

Being in the room is a joy; it exudes a kind of beauty, warmth and comfort, which is in keeping with its original function as a place for welcoming guests. But that joy is tempered by the sadness of the continuing deterioration of daily life in Syria, the diaspora of its citizens, and the destruction of its historic monuments. For now, the room must play one more role as a preserver of memories of Syria, as so beautifully expressed by the Syrian-American hip-hop artist and poet Omar Offendum, whose performance* was recorded in the room.

* Video attribution: www.lacma.org