Launched in 2002, the Nakba Archive is an oral history collective based in Lebanon aiming to document the social and cultural lives in Palestine before 1948. Over the years, the Archive interviewed over 650 first generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and recorded “their recollections of life in Palestine and the events that led to their displacement.” The primary objective of the Nakba Archive has been to complete existing written record by allowing refugees to document their histories in their own terms.
“Diana Allan founded the Nakba Archive in June 2002. She has a doctorate in anthropology and film from Harvard University and has worked on a several activist media projects in the region. Video documentaries include: Chatila, Beirut (2002); Still Life (2007); and Terrace of the Sea (2010).” She is currently an Associate Professor in Anthropology & Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) at McGill University. Co-founder and manager, Mahmoud Zeidan, is a Palestinian refugee from Ayn al-Helweh camp in Lebanon and active member of the Lebanese Center for Refugees Rights Aidun.
Despite not having been updated in a very long time, the Nakba Archive website remains a valuable source of information on where to find, and how to access the interviews conducted in its early years. A few excerpts have been made accessible from the NA website, but the vast majority of the audio and video recordings can today be found in the Jafet Library (American University of Beirut):
Another part of the the project, Photo48, included scanning “personal photos and documents (registration papers, land deeds, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc.) which refugees brought with them from Palestine.” Unfortunately, these materials don’t seems to have been made available online anywhere. Interested people could always reach out to the Nakba Archives founders to inquire about them.
Last, the Nakba Archive produced in 2005 and 2008 two documentaries about archival work that can be ordered from the website, or found in your library: Nakba Archive Excerpts is available at McGill University Library.
The Indian Princely States Online Legal History Archive (IPSOLHA) is an online archive for primary and secondary sources related to the legal and administrative history of the Indian Princely States started in 2021. Originally sponsored by the Society of Fellows of Dartmouth College, and a Digital Scholarship Grant from the American Institute of Indian Studies Digital Learning Initiative, the project later received support from the Department of History and Information Technology & Consulting at Dartmouth College as well as the South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) at the Center for Research Libraries.
“During the period of British colonial rule, there were hundreds of semi-sovereign, semi-autonomous states across the South Asian subcontinent. (…) these states (…) were incubators for innovative legal, administrative, and political ideas and offered a unique counterbalance to the hegemony of British rule. Yet despite their unique history, studying these states is complicated by the scattered nature of their archival remains.“
The main objective of IPSOLHA is to make the archives relating to these Princely States ,more easily accessible by identifying, cataloguing, and digitizing them when possible to support the legal and administrative history of the Indian Princely States. At the time of our visit, the database included the description of more than 3,000 individual documents, and future efforts will focus not only on continuing to enrich the database with new materials, but also on promoting it as a research tool starting with a series of presentations by Elizabeth Lhost, principal investigator.
The Indian Princely States Online Legal History Archive proposes eight categories based on resources types to browse the collection:
Each category displays a list of sources -in a customizable view- some of which accessible online, others to be consulted on site at their holding institution. The left-hand side menu allow visitors to filter results by Subject Headings, Document type, Language, State, and Holding Institutions.
Specialists will particularly appreciate that documents in many languages (English, Gujarati, Hindi, Hindustani, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Urdu, etc.) are included in the database, and that Princely States are identified for each source.
For each item listed, IPSOLHA provides a lengthy description including Subject Headings and Type of resource tags allowing to navigate documents within the database (Main & IPSOLHA tabs), and instructions for accessing the materials (Access tab):
Interested scholars can get in touch with the project team at ipsolha [at] gmail.com, use the Contact form, or follow updates on Facebook, Twitter.
Back in 1973, a preservation campaign of the Timbuktu’s collection made of approximately 400,000 codices was initiated by the Ahmed Baba Center (CEDRAB). In 1996, the newly founded association SAVAMA-DCI started raising awareness among private owners about the value of their family manuscripts, providing technical and financial support for the processing and conservation of these materials, and encouraging them to keep the manuscripts in their possession. If funding was limited at first, the association was over time able to collect enough funds to ensure the preservation and inventory of the collections. In 2012, with the jihadist occupation of Northern Mali, the fear that manuscripts would be destroyed lead to the transfer of Timbuktu’s manuscripts collections to other towns in the region like Bamako. According to SAMAVA-DCI over 370.000 codices were rescued.
« Dans la nuit noire de notre existence, les manuscrits sont les projecteurs qui éclairent le passé. »
Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara, fondateur de SAVAMA-DCI
The Timbuktu Manuscripts virtual exhibition is incredibly rich (more than 40.000 manuscripts from libraries and private collections) and provides many options to learn about the collections, their history, and the rescue and preservation processes.
The website includes:
shorts videos documenting the manuscripts’ preservation
pictures documenting the rescue operations, and the digitization of manuscripts
The archives includes more than 400,000 handwritten pages from the Qur’an, mathematical, astronomical and medical treatises, sex and black magic manuals, etc. dating from the 11th to the 20th century. A selection of manuscripts are accessible full-text from section 2. The Books. Section 3. Grid View allows to glance at individual pages displayed in a table view when section 4. A Universe of Verses gives access to individual pages in what appears like a much less organized display:
At the very bottom of the main page, The Timbuktu Manuscripts virtual exhibition links to other Google Arts & Culture projects to learn more about Malian music, modern art, architectural heritage, etc.
The Timbuktu Manuscripts website will default to the language of your Google Account. But the interface is accessible in any language available in Google (although some content may not translate).
And for those eager to learn more about the Timbuktu manuscripts, we suggest they go visit the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project website. This project focusing on the “content of the manuscripts, the circulation of scholars and ideas, the economy of the manuscript book, and other aspects of the “work of scholarship” in Timbuktu” was established in 2003 by an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and remains very active.
Digital Ottoman Studies (DOS) is a hub contributing to growing field of Digital Humanities by presenting projects, publications, tools, and events through the lens of Ottoman and Turkish studies.
This website seeks to create a digital network for future projects by bringing together diverse platforms, institutions, studies, and individuals. Thus, DOS provides access to projects and data bases that are created by other organization which includes Ottoman Archives, maps, manuscripts and etc.
Information on DOS is classified into 6 categories of Projects, publications, Tools, Databases, Platforms and under each category, there are sub-categories that direct the users to the respective projects which are encompassing “600-year-old Ottoman Empire’s archival heritage, diverse ethnics and geographical regions., etc.”
The Project category brings together variety of works in GIS, Network Analysis, Text Analysis, Databases, and 3D-AR-VR, each provides access to a wide range of research and academic projects form historical urban and industrial comparative analysis to Mapping Ottoman empire and region, or a digital history research project on Travels in the 19th century Ottoman empire.
Also, users can browse different database projects like Ottoman Inscriptions, Digital History, The Open Islamicate Text Initiative, etc. When possible, the DOS has provided the name of the project managers and then directs the user to the project’s main website.
Moreover, in the Publication tab users can have access a list of published articles, books and dissertations that are classified based on the topic/subject and some are accessible as an open access publication.
The tab of Databases has organized a list of various type of databases such as Archives, Map collections, manuscripts collections, dictionaries, E-resources, Photo collections, calendar convertors and Gazetteers.
During the month of October (September 27th to October 27th), the Islamic Studies Library will be trialing several primary source (mainly newspapers and periodicals) databases that are of interest to anyone whose research focuses on Afghanistan, the Arab World in general and Egypt in particular, or Turkey. Please check below for content and access details.
“The ‘Afghan Central Press’ collection brings together four national, Kabul-based publications of Afghanistan whose long runs and prominence provide a concentrated vantage point for understanding developments in Afghanistan for much of the twentieth century. The English-language Kabul Times is presented alongside Pushto publications Anis, Hewad, and Islah.Together, the archives of these newspapers provide a chronicle of events from the fall of the Kingdom of Afghanistan, the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the Soviet invasion, the rise of the Mujahedeen, the establishment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, invasion by the United States and the ensuing period of reconstruction from the view of the capital.“
“Founded in 1875, Al-Ahram (الأهرام, “The Pyramids”) is one of the longest-running newspapers in the Middle East. It has long been regarded as Egypt’s most authoritative and influential newspaper, and one of the most important newspapers in the Arab world, with a circulation of over 1 million. Prior to 1960, the newspaper was an independent publication and was renowned for its objectivity and independence. After being nationalized by President Nasser in 1960, Al-Ahram became the de facto voice of the Egyptian government and today the newspaper is managed by the Supreme Council of Press. Al-Ahram has featured writings by some of the most important political and literary voices of the day, including Nobel Literature Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, nationalist leaders Mustafa Kamil and Saad Zaghlul, as well as Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein, Yusuf Idris, Edward Said, Hamid Dabashi, and Anis Mansour.“
The interface of ‘Al-Ahram’ is available in both English and Arabic.
“Established in May 1924, ‘Cumhuriyet’ (“The Republic”) is the oldest secular Turkish daily newspaper and is widely considered one of the last remaining opposition newspapers in Turkey. Founded by journalist Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu at the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Cumhuriyet was the first newspaper of the Turkish Republic and promoted a belief in democracy, secularism and the rule of law. According to the newspaper’s editorial principles: Cumhuriyet is an independent newspaper; it is the defender of nothing but the Republic, of democracy in the scientific and broad sense. It will fight every force that tries to overthrow the Republic and the notion and principles of democracy. It will endeavor for the embracing by society of the principle of secularism along the path of “Enlightenment” ushered in by Atatürk’s revolution and principles. Over the last 95 years, Cumhuriyet has stood witness to the changing landscape of Turkey’s political, social and economic environment. Despite the challenges of these times, the institution of Cumhuriyet has sustained its coverage of domestic and international news, providing critical documentation of Turkey’s dynamic history and its relations with the global community. In the twenty-first century, Cumhuriyet continues its dedication to the principles of democracy and secularism as embodied by Atatürk. The newspaper has a daily circulation of over 30,000 and receives roughly 25 million visitors to its website each month. It is one of the most influential newspapers in Turkey and is regarded by domestic and foreign readers as a reliable source for impartial, intelligent news reporting.“
The interface of ‘Cumhuriyet Digital Archive’ is available in both English and Turkish.
‘Kotobarabia: Arab Leaders, Historians and Philosophers’ is “a compendium of early works of an astounding variety of disciplines from important Arab writers, spanning fields from feminism and social theory, to classics of literature, history, and the sciences. Includes works by the Four Imams of the Sunni Sect, the Al Azhar Modern Sheikhs, various authors of the Modern Arab Enlightenment, and rare works by the former Egyptian royal family. Consisting mostly of historic texts, the books in this collection are full-image, with searchable metadata only.“
The online reading interface is very similar for preriodicals and monographs. It allows to navigate easily within documents from the -left or right-hand side depending on the language of the interface- side menu. In addition, users will be able to read in full screen mode, select and copy a section to paste elsewehre, print, download as a PDF, email and cite. It is also possible to search for occurrences within publications: a virtual keyboard is available for those who don’t have non-roman scripts keyboards.
The trials started on Monday, September 27th, and will run until Wednesday, October 27th. These databases can be accessed either using the links provided in this blog post, or going to the A-Z database list (as shown below):
Please note access is based on IP addresses, and therefore limited to members of the McGill community. Also, note that activating the VPN may be required when/if you are off-campus. Check these databases out and let us know what you think!
“We can not fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness.” ― Edward W. Said
In this blog post, we will highlight resources on Palestine, and Palestinians to support students and researchers focusing on this area and seeking to understand the Palestinian Question in its national, Arab, and international contexts. Our list of resources includes digital initiatives, projects, archives, NGOs, academic centers, etc. all which have in common to document Palestine’s history and Palestinians’ lives and preserve the Palestinian heritage. Gratefully, these various collaborative efforts between institutions make materials available in Open Access to scholars, students, and the wider public.
The project is a collaborative project of the Palestinian Museum and the Institute for Palestine Studies. To promote a dynamic vision of Palestinian culture engaged with new perspectives on history, society and culture.
Presents a series of anonymous but intimate portraits of Palestinian families living under the Israeli Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. This Law, passed in 2003, prevents Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) married to Israeli citizens from obtaining a legal status in Israel, violating their right to a family life in Israel.
The archive is an oral history collective established in Lebanon in 2002. Since it’s inception, the Archive has recorded over 650 video interviews with first generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon about their recollections of life in Palestine and the events that led to their displacement. These eyewitness narratives, with refugees from more than 150 Palestinian villages and towns, recall social and cultural life in Palestine before 1948, relations with neighboring Jewish communities and the British Mandate, the 1948 expulsion, and the early years of exile. The aim has been to document this critical period through the voices and experiences of those who lived through it, and to bear witness in a way shaped not by political symbolism but rather by the rhythms of personal memory.*
The Birzeit University Palestinian Archive Project (BZUPAP) is dedicated to documenting the life of Palestinians (persons, families and organizations) over the past century. Documents collected include the most diverse types of written and audiovisual materials (texts, photographs, videos, recordings). This growing, largely open archive is being preserved at the university. Incoming documents are organized, categorized, and uploaded on the electronic website http://awraq.birzeit.edu with a clear indication of the donor. The website constitutes an excellent resource for all interested persons and a primary source for researchers around the world, with its easy access and its Arabic and English language materials.*
The Palestine poster tradition offers an exceptional perspective on the history of modern Palestine and is, simultaneously, a much under-valued component of its cultural heritage. The posters themselves are important repositories of primary data. They provide a unique lens through which audiences can gain insight into the attitudes and aspirations of people directly involved in the contemporary history of Palestine, as they have experienced it and recorded it in graphic art.
Al-Quds open archive is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University (CPS) and the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah. Al-Quds open archive includes 392 issues published between 1908 and 1914. The significance of al-Quds, aside from it being the first newspaper in Palestine, was its timing. It both celebrated and tested the new freedom of publication proclaimed by the Ottoman Constitutional Revolution of 1908.
The Jerusalem Quarterly is the only journal focused on the city of Jerusalem’s history, political status, and future. It addresses debates about the city and its predicament, as well as future scenarios for solving the problems of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Quarterly has a prestigious board of advisors selected from leading Palestinian universities and research institutes and an editorial staff. It has been published continuously since 1998 by the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, an IPS affiliate, in Jerusalem and since 2003, in Ramallah. This journal is made available to readers and researchers by special arrangement with the Institute for Palestine Studies.*
The main goal of this project is to digitize the historical periodical collection located at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library in order to create archival quality digital copies of the deteriorating newspapers and magazines. In addition, the project intends to create multiple derivative copies to extend access of these rare materials to scholars, students and the public.*
The Maps and Cartography section contains two kind of documents: original maps of Jerusalem reproduced here as a tool for researchers, and links to existing sets of Jerusalem maps—both historical and contemporary.
Palestine Open Maps is a platform for map-based exploration and immersive storytelling. This alpha version of the platform allows users to navigate and search the historic map sheets, and to view basic data about present and erased localities.*
In these text-maps by Palestinian writers, you will find a fusion of voices. Writers were asked to write a portrait of the city or town their families come from—experienced or imagined. They were to draw from family members, stories, dreams, or other channels. The contributors are listed under their city of origin; those who come from two different cities are placed under the city they wrote about. This map is an architectural metaphor. It’s a construction site, where readers can watch the map being built with every feature.*
More than 120 village memorial books, about the over 400 Palestinian villages that were depopulated and largely destroyed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War have been published. Compiled as documentary histories and based on the accounts of those who remember their villages, they are presented as dossiers of evidence that these villages existed and were more than just “a place once on a map.” *
Hanna Safieh collection consist of black and white photo of Palestine and the Holy Land dating back to 1927 and featuring historic and biblical locations such as Jerusalem and the Old City, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho and more.*
Started in the 1990’s, Dreams of a Nation is a Columbia University based archival project aiming at preserving and promoting Palestinian cinema. Dreams of a Nation resulted in the organization of two Palestinian film festivals held in 2003 and 2204, and the publication of a book entitled Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema authored by Dr. Hamid Dabashi (Verso, 2006).
The Palestinian Museum – Non-Governmental Association dedicated to supporting an open and dynamic Palestinian culture nationally and internationally. The Museum presents and engages with new perspectives on Palestinian history, society and culture. It also offers spaces for creative ventures, educational programmes and innovative research.*
PASSIA seeks to present the Palestinian Question in its national, Arab and international contexts through academic research, dialogue, education and publication. In order to facilitate understanding of Palestinian positions, it endeavors to analyze current policy issues, provide a constructive forum for open discussion, conduct high quality, independent research and publish studies and information papers. In addition, PASSIA aims to empower young Palestinians through training programs and seminars that build capacity, skills and expertise.*
The Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) was established in Beirut in 1963 as an independent non-profit research institution, unaffiliated with any political organization or government. The creation of the institute, the first of its kind in the Arab world, occurred at a time when the Palestine Question was regaining its central place in inter-Arab politics and when Palestinian identity was regaining its vitality.*
The Center for Palestine Studies promotes the academic study of Palestine by supporting research, teaching, and intellectual collaboration among scholars within Columbia University and beyond. CPS provides an institutional home for faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and students at Columbia in fields that include history, literary studies, the social sciences, religion, philosophy, law, archaeology, architecture, and the arts. CPS also builds connections with other institutions and scholars to strengthen the academic study of Palestine and Palestinians throughout the United States and the world.*
The New Directions in Palestinian Studies research initiative of Brown University’s Center for Middle East Studies, launched in 2012. Over the past generation, the field of Palestine and Palestinian studies has grown rapidly, attracting some of the best and brightest scholars. Launched as a research initiative of Brown University’s Middle East Studies program in 2012, New Directions in Palestinian Studies (NDPS) has built an international community of scholars dedicated to decolonizing and globalizing this field of study New Directions in . Palestinian Studies brings together emerging and established scholars to shape the agenda of knowledge production on Palestine and the Palestinians.*
Cognizant of the Palestine Studies Trust adjacent to the University of Exeter initiated by Dr Uri Davis in the early 1980s, Professor Ilan Pappé and Dr Ghada Karmi founded the European Centre for Palestinian Studies (ECPS) in 2009. It is dedicated to producing interdisciplinary on the history of Palestine and the Palestine/Israel conflict.*
“The mission is thus an open archive dedicated to long-term preservation and to liberation: it is a reliable counter-archive of the Palestinian people.”
The archive is being preserved at The Birzeit University. Received documents from organizational collections, private family documents and archival materials collected by individuals, are organized, categorized, and uploaded to the online archive.
The archived materials will assist interested persons and researchers in understanding Palestinian society and the lives of Palestinians.
What distinguishes BZUPAP is the chronological, spatial and topical diversity of its holdings. Documents collected include the most diverse types of written and audiovisual materials (texts, photographs, videos, recordings)
With a clear indication regarding the donor and the source, the archive primary documents consist of: 17000 documents are already uploaded on the website, 30000 documents are in progress of uploading, 7000 documents are being translated from the Ottoman language.
As for the Special documents, there are newspapers since 1909, Old post cards, documents from the Arab National Committee since 1948 and Ottoman documents in Arabic
The user-friendly website provides easy access to its Arabic and English language materials. The digital archive is an essential source for the history, politics and culture of the Palestinian people.
Syrian Prints Archive is an independent documentary initiative “without any political, partisan or religious affiliations”, that provides archiving and storing services for Syrian print media issued since the outbreak of the March 2011 Revolution, regardless of content or orientations. Between March 2011 and the end of 2014, Syrian media witnessed a significance rise in the number of print publications. To learn more visit the site.
The Directory of Free Arab Journals (DFAJ)
The Directory of Free Arab Journals (DFAJ) is an initiative of Middle Eastern Open Access activists aiming at producing a directory of all open access (OA) scientific journals produced in Arab countries. DFAJ currently includes 250 journals from 172 publishers in 17 Arab countries. The directory is published under a CC-BY-NC license. Initially launched in 2013, a new version was released in March 2017. To learn more visit the site.
Archives of Arabic cultural and literary journals
This archive aims to preserve Arabic literature and cultural heritage as well as serving research and educational purposes. This digital archives of Arabic cultural and literary journals offers Open Access to no less than 208 journals, among which some of the most significant periodicals of the 19th-20th centuries from Egypt (al-Hilal, al-Manar, al-Muqtataf, etc.), Palestine (al-Karmal), Syria (Journal of the Arabic Academy of Sciences), or Tunisia (al-Fikr). To learn more visit the site.
Middle Eastern and North African Newspapers
The Middle Eastern and North African Newspapers collection is part of East View’s Global Press Archive® (GPA) program. Open Access to this collection is made possible through the generous support of the Center for Research Libraries and its member institutions.. The collection includes publications ranging from across a dynamic region. A broad overview on important historic events from 1870 to 2019. To learn more visit the site.
SANA is an online database that provides access to digitized periodicals published in Iran from the Qajar era- that marks the beginning of publishing newspapers, up until now.
This platform has been very recently made available publicly by National library and Archives of Iran, in accordance with free access to information and in order to provide equal access to information and knowledge for all. Also to facilitate access to valuable resources available at the National library for scholars and researches.
This platform includes lists and full text digitized periodicals, newspapers and Iranian journals from the beginning up until now in various topics such as Iran’s historical, social, political and economical situation, Persian literature, Islamic related topics; as well as publication about Tehran, Isfahan and other cities.
SANA also includes few periodicals in other languages such as German, English, French and some of them dates back to 1906. Such as :
In this database resources are organized chronologically and then under each era periodicals are listed alphabetically. Also when available, description or information about the history of the publication has been given.
Here is the list of four different time categories of publication accessible through this platform:
The Palestine Poster Project Archives (PPPA) was created by Dan Walsh for a master thesis project at Georgetown University, stating that: “It is a work-in-progress.”
The Palestine poster genre dates back to around 1900 and, incredibly, more Palestine posters are designed, printed and distributed today than ever before. Unlike most of the political art genres of the twentieth century such as those of revolutionary Cuba and the former Soviet Union, which have either died off, been abandoned, or become mere artifacts, the Palestine poster genre continues to evolve. Moreover, the emergence of the Internet has exponentially expanded the genre’s network of creative contributors and amplified the public conversation about contemporary Palestine.
Dan Walsh – Silver Spring, MD April 2009
A unique historical repository of primary data on modern Palestine. Audiences who are interested in this rich, yet under-valued module of Palestinian cultural heritage, can have a better understanding of people who were engaged in the contemporary history of Palestine and recorded it in their graphic art.
According to PPPA a “Palestine poster” is defined in a five-part definition as any poster:
1) With the word “Palestine” in it, in any language, from any source or time period.
2) Created or published by any artist or agency claiming Palestinian nationality or Palestinian participation
3) Published in the geographical territory of historic Palestine, at any point in history, including
4) Published by any source which relates directly to the social, cultural, political, military, economic or iconographic history of Palestine or Palestinian nationalism contemporary Israel
5) Related to Zionism or anti-Zionism in any language, from any source, published after August 31, 1897
Site visitors can browse the poster collection by: Artists (2,640), Posters (13,774), Wellsprings, Special Collections (920), Iconography, Original Copies, Portfolios, Duplicates/Exchanges, Year of Publication, Country of publication, and Nationality/Artists
The PPPA is an educational site and does not engage in any commercial or merchandising activities. Posters’ duplicates are frequently traded with private individuals as well as other archives and libraries. Furthermore, The PPPA has a strict policy concerning poster’s removal, as it will never remove a poster from its site. There is a dedicated link on the website for poster submission. Last but not least, the FAQ provides a deep insight into the core objectives of the archive, as it comprehensively answers a wide range of questions, it is worthwhile checking.