The KCLDS Archive serves as the repository for the Khayrallah Center, established in 2010 by Dr. Moise A. Khayrallah. Initially established to research and conserve history of Lebanese in U.S, the center evolved into a larger project and extended beyond the United States, eventually becoming the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies. As a result of its growth, the center curated a museum exhibit, produced a documentary, and established an archive (KCLDS).
KCLDS Archive houses historical and cultural resources about Lebanese diaspora in the United States and across the world.
“We preserve the heritage and memories of the Lebanese diaspora community and make it accessible through our digital and physical archives.“
The Archive can be explored through three main categories: Collection Guides, Browse the Collection, or Browse the Item. There are 112 collections available, containing a total of 11,634 items.
When using Browse the Collection menu, you can search either in title order or based on the time the item was added to the collection. Detailed information is provided for each collection, such as: Title, Subject, Biographical/Historical Note, Publisher, Date, Language, etc. but more importantly a full description of the collection and finally access to the collection.
Moreover, searching on the item level gives more search criteria, such as Browse by Tag, Item or Reference, also results can be sorted by Title, Creator, Item Date, etc.
Another valuable feature at the item level is the Citation section. When available it is possible to see if the resource was cited, when where and by who.
Moreover, it is possible to search in Arabic using the Arabic-Language Publication Database menu, which provides access to Arabic- language newspaper and books in the States between 1880s to 1950s.
Early Arab immigrants in North and South America have left a rich legacy and history. Much of their histories have been recorded in millions of pages of Arabic newspapers, books, magazines, and other publications. Yet, this rich record has been largely inaccessible because it was dispersed, stored in disparate archives, and stored in older technologies like microfilm. Now, The Khayrallah Center’s Arabic Newspaper Database makes these records digitally searchable.
KCLDS Archive offers variety of resources for researchers, scholars, and anyone interested in exploring Lebanese diaspora. The archive not only preserves the past but also sheds light on the present and provides access to resources for future. With its diverse collection guides, browsing options, and Arabic-Language Publication Database, the archive invites users to access its wealth of materials, facilitating research, discovery, and understanding of the Lebanese diaspora’s journey, memories, and heritage.
Sponsored by the Arcadia fund, the Palestinian Museum Digital Archive aims at collecting, digitizing and making widely available (in Open Access) endangered archival materials documenting Palestinian life and history. Started in 2018, the project has now reached its third phase involving partnerships inside and outside Palestine as well as a broadening of the geographical scope covered.
At the time of our visit, the archive included over 200,000 documents like “identification papers, official records, letters, diaries, manuscripts, maps, photographs, films, and audio recordings” collected from individuals, families, and institutions. The Palestinian Museum Digital Archive only keeps digital surrogates and return the original documents to their owners after processing.
Visitors can either Search the archive, Browse collections or Explore topics.
The basic search only requires to enter keyword(s) in the search bar at the top-right corner of the page. The advanced search offers a more refined search where you can limit by:
The collection browse allows to identify specific archives of interest before searching them. The number of documents in each collection range from less than a hundred to thousands of documents. The time period covered is clearly stated at the right-top corner of each collection:
The topics exploration offers a different way of navigating the website through subjects assigned to documents. Among the long list of topics (fifteen in total), visitors will find the following:
The number of documents in each category is indicated right beside the topic, and when scrolling over the topic, a series of thumbnails gives a snapshot of items that will be found under this topic. To ease navigation, the list could be sorted alphabetically.
It is important to note that all materials in the Palestinian Museum Digital Archive are “copyrighted either by the museum or by third parties who have granted permission for their materials to be included on this site. Visitors can therefore only use the documents “for personal, educational, non-commercial use, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.” It is possible to ask for high-resolution images by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending the request via the form available here.
To submit your personal archive, you may fill out the following form:
The website is entirely bilingual English and Arabic.
The Middle Eastern Film Posters & Lobby Cards Collection is a digital collection launched by Princeton University Library to make available their Arabic Movie Posters and Lobby Cards collection to worldwide scholars. Acquired in Lebanon in 2008, the collection includes 1,748 posters, and 768 lobby cards produced mostly in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. At the time of our visit, the digital collection included 1,646 items which represents a large proportion of the overall collection, and newly digitized items keep being added to it.
The digital collection can be navigated in two ways. The left-hand side filters allow visitors to limit their search by place of origin, genre or date of creation. The categories accessible via the vignettes below allow to access the materials sorted by both genre and geographical origin:
Within each category, results can be displayed either in a list or a table form, and sorted by title, author, and date (ascending/descending).
When opening an item, the page will show the high resolution image and a succinct description at the bottom. For more information about the document, visitors can expand the right-hand side panel. Images can be displayed full-screen, enlarged and reduced, downloaded (as jpeg, tiff or pdf) or shared via a link.
In addition to aiming at identifying and locating archival materials indispensable to scholarship, the project also explored faster and more appropriate ways to describe and catalogue archival collections “from an African perspective”. To do so, they reflected on traditional Western archival practices, and worked towards adapting them and/or creating new practice better suited for archival materials in non-European languages. They worked closely with partners at SCOLMA, a “forum for librarians, archivists and others concerned with African studies materials in libraries and archives in the United Kingdom”.
The rationale behind the project is thoroughly explained in this video posted on the ‘About‘ page:
The ‘Archives Africa Catalogues‘ section is the heart of the website as it includes the records of archival collections. Catalogues can be discovered browsing a number of categories:
At the time of our visit, the total number of collections cataloguing records in the database was close to 900, identifying and locating a much larger number of documents in Malagasy, French, and English.
The News section, despite not having been updated since 2018, makes available interesting and insightful information about the project.
Those interested in learning more about African archives further should consult the International African Institute‘s website, in particular the African digital repositories page. Based in the United Kingdom (at the School for African and Oriental Studies, SOAS), the IAI “promotes the scholarly study of Africa’s history, societies and cultures” for which archival sources are essential.
The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the emergence of new ideas and projects at the McGill Islamic Studies Library (ISL). One such example is our collaboration with the Arabic Design Archive (ADA) which started in the middle of the pandemic. Originally, the ISL committed to feed the digital archives with scans of book cover from its collections. As time passed, both parties decided to create a joint exhibition titled Archival Alliance: Discovering Arabic Book Covers that was displayed in the Islamic Studies Library from September 15th to December 15th, 2022.
“The Archival Alliance: Discovering Arabic Book Covers exhibition seeks to highlight and broaden the concept of the histories of graphic design beyond Western contributions to present the wealth of design work produced in the Arab World [….], the exhibit [walked] visitors through the history of Arabic books covers design between 1970 and 2000.”
In early 2020, Moe Elhossieny, Egyptian designer, practitioner historian and researcher, started an archiving project that developed later into the digital Arabic Design Archive. ADA is a non-profit initiative aiming to facilitate knowledge production about Arabic design and its historical context by collecting, digitizing, and making available relevant materials; and to create a digital archive serving both for inspirational and scholarly purposes.
To achieve his goal, Elhossieny began to collect Arabic book covers designs from various collections crowdsourcing stored them in their repository, and posted the most interesting ones on the ADA Instagram account. This is where our former colleague, Mrs. Samah Kasha, learned about the project and contacted Moe Elhossieny to offer our contribution by sending a monthly batch of Arabic book covers’ scans from the Islamic studies Library collection. The collaboration started officially in the Winter of 2021.
Between January 2021 and January 2023, the ISL sent the digital copies of 250 book covers to the ADA archive across a wide range of subjects. Book covers were selected based on their date of publication (to comply with copyright requirements) as well as design and style including typography, graphic design, illustration, and calligraphy. The ADA included these images to their repository and posted some of them (when copyright allowed) on their Instagram account: @thearabicdesignarchive. Our materials have been tagged “Collection of @mcgillislamiclibrary.”
Examples of book covers:
While the Arabic Design Archives was growing and diversifying, the ISL relationship with them tightened, and we suggested expanding the collaboration: a jointly curated exhibition seemed like a good way to do so.
Given the restrictions imposed on everyone by the COVID pandemic, The Archival Alliance: Discovering Arabic Book Covers exhibition was developed in a hybrid format including both a physical display and a digital component. The virtual part of the exhibition consisted in a touch table exhibit that offered visitors a unique interactive digital experience. The physical display featured books from the ISL collection, and the digital display gave access to book covers from the ADA archive.
Physical display in the ISL – Photos: Lauren Goldman
Physical display in the ISL – Photos: Lauren Goldman
Physical display in the ISL – Photos: Lauren Goldman
To incorporate the digital aspect of the exhibition, we asked our colleague Gregory Houston, ROAAr (Rare & Special Collections, Osler, Art, and Archives) Digitization Administrator for help. His expertise in developing touch table experience combined with Moe Elhossieny’s expertise in design resulted in a colorful and engaging touch table exhibit, showcasing books covers, animated clips, documentary videos, illustrated pages presenting the narrative of the exhibition, historical photographs, etc.
Touch Table experience – Video capture: Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian – Featuring: Samira Meshkin (Senior Library Clerk at the Islamic Studies Library)Animated book cover clip created by Moe Elhosseini
The topics covered and the materials included in the The Archival Alliance: Discovering Arabic Book Covers exhibition were identified and selected over the course of several meetings. If more than 500 ISL book covers were scanned and sent to the ADA during our two years-long collaboration, only 20 of them were chosen for the physical display. While selecting the book covers, we realized that three artists had played an important role in designing book covers in the 20th century: Hilmi El-Tuni, Mohieddine Ellabbad and Bahgat Osman. With materials gathered for his personal research and the Arabic Design Archives, Moe Elhossieny was able to create documentary-style videos highlighting the work of the three featured artists (video1, 2 and 3). These videos were available for watching on the touch table.
video 1. Mohieddine Ellabbad- Video credit: Moe Elhossieny
video 2. Bahgat Osman- Video credit: Moe Elhossieny
video 3. Hilmi Al Tuni Evoking Popular Arab Culture by Yasmine Taan | Copy + Paste Syndrome | Nuqat 2015, YouTube, uploaded by: Nuqat, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW72ub0HIvY
Materials on both the touch table and in the display cabinet were assigned to three main subject areas : Religion, Literature, and History. Book cover design can teach us a lot by reflecting design trends and techniques of the period when they were published. To offer a more meaningful experience to visitors, the Islamic Studies Library made additional books accessible for discovery along side those in the physical display.
The graphic design and visual elements for the promotional materials like postcards (images 1 & 2) and poster (image3) were collaboratively developed.
If the plan was to host a launch or closing event in the presence of Moe Elhossieny, travel restrictions to Canada unfortunately did not allow us to do that.
The exhibition concluded on December 15th, 2023 after attracting numerous visitors from McGill and from the larger Montreal community. We received a lot of positive feedback: some visitors were impressed by the wide range of designs, others found the concept original and unique, others enjoyed the touch table experience and its audio-visual materials.
The exhibition was, curated by Anaïs Salamon, Head of the Islamic Studies Library, Moe Elhosseiny, The Arabic Design Archive, Samah Kasha, former Senior Library Clerk at the Islamic Studies Library, and Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian, Senior Library Clerk at the Islamic Studies Library.
We also thank Dr. Charles Fletcher, Head Library Clerk at the Islamic Studies Library, and Lauren Goldman, Communications and Events Administrator in the Office of the Dean of Libraries, for their invaluable support, and many contributions to this project.
Image 2: Post card-Back side
Image 1: Post card-front side
Image 3: Exhibition posterPhysical display, touch table and additional book covers in ISL- Photo: Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian
This blog post is written by Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian and proofread by Anaïs Salamon.
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):
Main tabIPSOLHA tabAccess 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.
RIWAQ is a non-profit organization funded in 1991, and its goal is the protection and development of Palestine’s architectural heritage by documenting and restoring architectural heritage sites and buildings.
Documentation of Palestine history and cultural heritage have been challenging throughout its history. Primarily because of the destruction of many of architectural and cultural heritage, especially during Nakba (1948) where many of Palestine’s cultural heritage sites were destroyed along with villages, buildings, etc. Secondly due to lack of accurate and scientific registry of architectural heritage, in other words, due to various reasons such as the impact of the system of power, or colonialism, it seems that even the existing documentations of Palestine’s heritage have been conducted to serve a mission or an agenda and not necessarily to serve scientific purposes.
Therefore, in response to the great need in documentation, preservation, and discovery of Palestine’s cultural heritage, public space enthusiasts and heritage activists established RIWAQ. At first it was formed as a project called RIWAQ Registry of Historic Buildings in Palestine, which resulted in creation of a database of historic buildings in Gaza Strip, West Bank, especially to register the most endangered components of cultural heritage.
Later, between 1994 to 2004, 50320 historic building were documented by RIWAQ registry from various villages and cities, which later was also published in three volumes. Moreover, the field work conducted by RIWAQ team resulted in creation of 400 GIS map and a collection of photographs.
RIWAQ’s archives contains a rich collection of over 50000 analog photographs and more than 100,000 digital photographs. This collection presents Palestine’s documentary heritage from 1980’s and show cases its transformations.
“Archives are perceived as the memory of a nation archival documents, transcripts, photos, and maps narrate the everyday life of a given society. They bear witness to the main crucial turning points in the history of society.”1 Thus RIWAQ’s archive is an important and valuable source of information/knowledge to Palestine’s cultural heritage.
However, RIWAQ’s work is not limited to documentation of historic and architectural sites, but their work changed the paradigm in the field of heritage from economic, social, and environmental liability into an important tool for economic and social change. Their focus has been mainly on the rural areas and by taking on restoration of villages in Palestine they also helped job creation along with preservation of the cultural heritage sites. Moreover, their project helped raising awareness about the role of cultural heritage in Palestinians identity.
“Through its work, RIWAQ has succeeded in responding to the vital question of what it takes to rehabilitate an entire town, not only physically, but socially, culturally, and economically.”2
To this end, an interesting and interactive map of Jerusalem’s rural areas has been created. This map is a collection of sketches documenting oral history in that area.
By clicking on different parts of the map user will have access to a more data that narrates an object’s history, a popular vocation at the time or an artifact, etc. It also provides information about where the data is collected with the name of the narrator as well as pictures of those places and more detailed drawings.
Besides their active role in documentation and restoration of cultural and architectural heritage, RIWAQ also offers workshop and training in specialized topics and techniques such as the structural analysis of stone structures, traditional iron works, mural paintings, and photometry to those interested in working in restoration field.
Riwaq won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
RIWAQ’s website provides access to a wide range of different types of information, such as maps, photos, articles, etc.
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.
Explore the numerous options available to navigate the exhibition
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:
2. The Books
3. Grid View
4. A Universe of Verses
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.
The Minassian collection consists of numerous precious miniature paintings from the Persian, Mughul and Indian traditions. The manuscripts and miniature paintings of this collection are housed in John Hay Library at Brown University.
“Figure lying on bed in outdoor setting is watched by four other figures. Possible funeral scene. The text that is second from the top, encased in the peachish area, says, in Arabic, “Bismillah e rehman i rahim”. “Leaf” Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:80654/
This collection is from the estate of Mrs. Adrienne Minassian the daughter of an active art collector and dealer of Islamic and Near-Eastern antiquities, Kirkor Minassian (1874-1944), he was based in New York and Paris in the early 20th century. Mrs. Minassian continued her father’s legacy and she too was one of the few dealers of Islamic art in America. After her passing in a serries of bequests her collection was given to Brown University. To read more about Mrs. Minassian and her Father click here.
This collection is accessible online through the Brown University Center for Digital Scholarship.
The paintings often include text from Persian and Indian tales. Many of the illustrations within the Minassian Collection are depictions of stories from the classical Persian text, Shahnama of Ferdowsi.
Physical Description: Excellent workmanship on miniature. Image in excellent condition, slight damage to surrounding paper. Paper is rather heavy, but not coarse. Water stain evident on verso. Beautiful specimen. Colors appear as brilliant as inlay. Leaf is very similar to a depiction of Yusof published in Soudavir which is identified as Bukhara style. “Leaf” Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:80651/
the collection can be browsed based on 3 Thematic Categories of Image and content, Material and Technique and Style and Type. Under each category there are more sub-categories. On the item level a description consisting of an abstract of the item and a note is provided, which present more detailed technical and historic information about the paintings style and content .