Iranian Oral History Project

The Iranian Oral History Project (IOHP) was launched in fall 1981 at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. In the Autumn of 1980, the director of the project Habib Ladejvardi was encouraged by Edward Keenan, the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, to document Iranian oral history.

Keenan as an historian believed that the immigration of many of Iran’s former leaders to western countries after revolution presented a great opportunity to gather valuable historical data through collecting the personal accounts of those individuals who played an important role in political events or decision making. The focus of the project is to collect information about the political history of Iran between the 1920s and 1970s. Various restrictions on information after the revolution makes this project even more valuable.

The aim of Iranian Oral History project is to provide:

  • A better picture of the way the Iranian political system actually functioned from the point of view of the actors involved – for example, how decisions regarding foreign and domestic issues were reached and implemented.
  • Circumstances behind major political events and decisions.
  • Additional details regarding the background, character, and career of key political figures of the period.

The IOHP’s goal is to gather first hand accounts of these major historic moments, events and decisions. Therefore, a wide range of leaders from different political parties, groups, and institutions, including foreigners who were involved or somehow had an impact in Iran’s political events at the time were interviewed. Interviews were conducted in Paris, Washington D.C., Cambridge, Austria, Switzerland and some other cities around the world. In addition, some politicians who still had an official role in Iran at the time, participated in the interviews while travelling to other countries.

896 items are available in this collection that can be browsed and searched by subject, interviewee, language, ….furthermore a comprehensive background on the project and detailed methodology used on gathering the information and interviews structure is accessible from here.

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.

Arabic Collections Online

Arabic Collections Online (ACO) is a publicly available digital library of public domain Arabic language content.

ACO currently provides digital access to 9,587 volumes across 6,039 subjects drawn from rich Arabic collections of distinguished research libraries. ACO contributing partners are New York University, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, American University in Cairo, American University of Beirut and United Arab Emirates National Archives. This project aims to feature up to 23,000 volumes from the library collections of NYU and partner institutions.

ACO mission is to digitize, preserve, and provide free open access to a wide variety of Arabic language books in subjects such as literature, philosophy, law, religion, and more. Many older Arabic books are out-of-print, in fragile condition, and are otherwise rare materials that are in danger of being lost. ACO will ensure that this content will be saved digitally for future generations.

ACO can be used by students, scholars, academics, researchers, librarians, and general interest readers. All out-of-copyright books from NYU and partner institutions are selected for ACO. These titles, in turn, have been collected over centuries by subject specialists at each respective institution for their academic quality and relevance to intellectual and literary inquiry.

ACO digital library website is presented in both Arabic and English side by side. There is no need to switch between Arabic and English. Before searching the collections, it is useful to read the tips in Arabic transliteration which were made to facilitate the search.

All digital imaging meets the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI), which was developed with wide review and consensus by the cultural heritage community’s digital experts.

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.

Persuasive Maps: P.J. Mode Collection

Persuasive Maps is a collection of more than 800 maps collected by P.J. Mode housed at Cornell University library. This collection holds maps dating from the 1800s to the present day and covers various geographical areas of the world.

….While this map provides a reasonably accurate view of the world as known in 1681, it was intended primarily for religious education, bound (folded) into copies of English-language bibles and other religious works of the 17th and early 18th centuries (Shirley 1983, #457). The seven days of creation are illustrated in the panels at the top of the map. Below are the expulsion from Paradise, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, God speaking to Moses, the Ten Commandments, the Crucifixion and the Ascension. The voice of God is represented by Hebrew characters…The map is centered on Eden.

Persuasive Cartography seeks to communicate more than geographical information and intends to influence opinion or to send a particular message. Since maps represent a subject viewpoint, cartographers needed to decide what information to include or exclude.

Maps sit somewhere on the spectrum between science and art and subjectivity and objectivity. The maps of this collated collection are chosen because they communicate messages beyond geographical information. For instance, they illustrate a whole range of human concerns from religious, political, military, commercial, moral and social.

On May 3, 2016 P.J. Mode in a presentation to The Grolier Club of New York and New York Society, gave an interesting talk entitled “Deconstructing Persuasive Cartography”, in which he elaborated on the concept and idea of Persuasive maps and discussed different examples of maps from his collection. Link to the video

 

…Lady Liberty, wearing a cape labeled “Votes for Women,” stands astride the states (colored white) that had adopted suffrage. She holds aloft her torch, bringing “enlightenment” to women in those states still in the dark. The faces of these women are turned up to the light, and some reach out in hope. (Many have fashionably short hair and hats, reflecting the middle and upper class core of the suffrage movement. Dando 2010, 224)….

Along with developments in technology and communications, the methodology of persuasive cartography has also developed. “The collection reflects a variety of persuasive tools: allegorical, satirical and pictorial mapping; selective inclusion or exclusion; unusual use of projections, color, graphics and text; and intentional deception.”

The collection can be searched or browsed by subject, posted date or the entire collection. Each item provides more information about the item such as title, subject, date, creator, size/extent, and collector’s note. The collector’s note are the result of P.J. Mode research and analysis.

 

 

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.

Library of Congress’ Adbul Hamid II Digital Collections

Among the Library of Congress‘ numerous digital collections, two collections include Ottoman photographic and textual materials from the African and Middle East Division: the Abdul Hamid II collection and the Abdul Hamid Collection of books and serials gifted to the Library of Congress.

Made up of 1,819 photographs in 51 large-format albums from the late 19th century, the Abdul Hamid II collection illustrates the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, and  the modernization of of the Ottoman Empire. Photographs were taken by well-known Ottoman commercial photographers, Turkish military photographers and the Photographic Unit of the Imperial School of Engineering. Abdul-Hamid (1842-1918) was an avid collector and promoter of photography. He presented a copy of the survey to the Library of Congress in 1893 or 1894 and gave a very similar collection to the British Museum (now housed in the British Library).

[Tuberculosis ward of the Hasköy Hospital for Women] / Abdullah Frères (Constantinople), between 1880 and 1883.

The Abdul Hamid Collection of books and serials gifted to the Library of Congress contains over 300 original Ottoman Turkish, Persian and Arabic works as well as translations from European languages of medical, historical, or legal, works. All the volumes are bound in red Morocco with gilt edges, and richly embossed with the following inscription in English, French and Ottoman:
Gift made by H.I. M. the Sultan Abdul-Hamid II to the national library of the United States of America through the Honorable A.S. Hewitt Member of the House of Representatives A.H. 1302-1884 A.D.“.
The collection was donatedto the Library of Congress in 1884.

Medhal-i fıkıh / Abdüssettar. İstanbul : Mahmud Bey Matbaası, 1299 [1882]

Digital contents are available for download in very high resolution, and free to use or reuse as they are in the public domain.

REAL: Repository of the Library and Information Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Documents and materials from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ Library and Information Centre invaluable collections are being digitized, and made available through the Academy’s institutional repository (REAL):

  • REAL-d hosts theses submitted at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • REAL-EOD hosts books digitized by the Library and Information Centre (modern books published by the Library, books published by, or related to the Academy and its members)
  • REAL-J hosts hundreds of historical journals -scientific and popular- -most of which in Hungarian
  • REAL-MS hosts hundreds of digitized manuscript materials from the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books and the Oriental Collection
  • REAL-PhD hosts PhD thesis deposited at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and in nine other Hungarian Universities and Institutions
  • REAL-R hosts digitized rare books and manuscripts from the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books and the Oriental Collection

All collections can be either searched (simple and advanced searches) or browsed. Browsing categories, however, vary from one to another to include year of production/publication, author, title, codex, series, University, subject (Library of Congress subject headings), collection, etc.

REAL-MS is the most relevant collection to Islamic and Middle East studies as it contains more than 300 Arabic manuscripts, 155 Persian manuscripts, and 50 Turkish manuscripts. In addition, REAL-MS includes an impressive amount of famous Orientalists’ and Hungarian scholars’ personnal papers and correspondence like Ignaz Goldziher’s correspondence (over 13,000 documents).

Siddiqi, Muhammad Zubair (1925) M. Z. Siddiqi’s letter to Ignaz Goldziher. , Charlottenburg (Manuscript)

If Persian manuscripts can be previewed and/or downloaded as colour PDFs, access to most Arabic and Turkish manuscripts is for the moment “restricted to Repository staff only”. However, a copy can be requested for research purposes.

REAL interface and bibliographic descriptions are available in both Magyar and English.

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.

Egyptian Caricatures Archive / أرشيف الكاريكاتير المصري

In May 2018, the French Centre for Economic, Legal, and Social Study and Documentation (CEDEJ) based in Cairo, Egypt, launched in association with Bibliotheca Alexandrina a new portal to host its rich collection of Egyptian caricatures.

Egyptian Caricatures Archive/أرشيف الكاريكاتير المصري makes available 12,000 humorous drawings published in Egyptian newspapers between 1970 and 2010. This invaluable collection of primary source materials now available in Open Access to researchers and the general public.

The caricatures have been catalogued by the CEDEJ Library allowing for the database to be searched by different fields:

  • title of caricature
  • date of publication
  • title of newspaper where it was published
  • topic (drop-down menu)
  • author
  • keyword.

Images are provided in JPEG, and can easily be downloaded and saved.

 

At the time of our visit the interface was only accessible in Arabic, but according to the official announcement made by CEDEJ, the implemention of the English and French interfaces is scheduled for Octobre 2018.