The Palestinian Museum Digital Archive / أرشيف المتحف الفلسطيني الرقمي

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:

  • date (default year range is 1900-2024)
  • type(s) of material
  • collection(s) (generally named after donor)
  • entity(ies) (i.e. institution, organization, etc.)
  • location(s).

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 info@palarchive.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.

Middle Eastern Film Posters & Lobby Cards

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.

We encourage users to read carefully the Statement on Harmful Content and the Rights and Permissions page as they contain important information.

Archives Africa

Archives Africa is an online catalogue of archival collections documenting the history of Madagascar. Building on a former collaboration contributing to the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, the overall project entitled Finding Africa: exploring the potential of a continent’s archives was developed and run by information professionals from King’s College London and the Direction des Archives Nationales de Madagascar. A first phase focused on Madagascar Prime Minister registers between 1864 and 1896. The second phase of the project targeted Diplomatic archives from the 19th century.

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.

Nakba Archive

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.

Foundation for Arab Music Archiving & Research (AMAR) / مؤسّسة التّوثيق والبحث في الموسيقى العربيّة

Launched in 2009, the Foundation for Arab Music Archiving & Research (AMAR) is a private Lebanese organization working towards the preservation of recorded and printed Arab musical tradition of the Nahda (approx. 1903-1935). AMAR also aims at supporting on-going scholarly research in musicology, and promoting traditional Arab music. To do so, AMAR actively collects, catalogues, and digitizes printed scores and audio records, organizes public lectures, scientific conferences, and musical concerts, and ensures its unique collection is accessible to worldwide researchers and the general public.

The Foundation for Arab Music Archiving & Research is supported by numerous artists and music professionals. International renowned musicologists such as Jean Lambert, Nidaa Abou Mrad, Virginia Danielson, or Michael Frishkopf are members of the Consulting & Planning Board. And the foundation is managed by a Leading Team including numerous music specialists and professionals.

Today, AMAR has one of the largest known record collections of Egyptian/Syro-Lebanese Arab music from 1903 through to the 1930s. AMAR also has some partial collections of Lebanese studio recordings that date back to the 1950s.

About‘ page

The geographical focus of the foundation’s work spans from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, the Arab Gulf to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and includes minority groups existing in these countries such as the Syriac, Kurdish, and Coptic communities as well as Sufi orders. If initially, AMAR’s dissemination work relied primarily on CDs and booklets, with the rise of the Internet, efforts were redirected towards the creation of “a website that will deliver Arab music at the highest quality that available technology allows.”

On the website, visitors will find a dynamic timeline highlighting important contributors to the development and circulation of traditional Arab music. Despite some limitations outline in the introductory paragraph, the timeline remains an interesting source of information.

Complementing the timeline, the Artists & Music section offers a different way to navigate the various singers, and composers included in the database:

Moreover, in the past ten years, AMAR produced over 200 Podcast episodes (in Arabic) focusing on individual artists, musical techniques and/or instruments. And the list of events available on a dedicated page gives a idea of the variety of manifestations AMAR participated in and organized: exhibitions, concerts, panels, film screenings, etc. Unfortunately, the most recent ones go back to 2021: one can only hope they will resume activities in this area soon. The Documents page gives access to lengthy and well-documented papers on various people and topics:

Last, the Products page is where one can order materials published by the foundation from, mostly CDs but also a monograph:

It is worthy to note that traditional Arab music enthusiasts will find original music available for listening in a number of the website’ sections (Artists & music, Podcast, and Products). Be advised that the sound quality varies from one recording to another.

For more information, we invite you to consult the Press and Press TV Kits, and/or contact the AMAR Foundation. Their website is available in Arabic and English.

Indian Princely States Online Legal History Archive

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.

About the Project‘, IPSOLHA

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.

RIWAQ رواق

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.

  1. https://thisweekinpalestine.com/riwaq-archive/
  2. https://www.archnet.org/authorities/484

Mizna مزنه

Founded over in 1999 by Kathryn Haddad and Saleh Abudayyeh, Mizna is an Arab-American not-for-profit organization promoting the artistic and cultural production of contemporary South West Asian and North African (SWANA) artists. Mizna is based in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-Saint Paul), Minnesota, USA.

The online platform aims at “reflect[ing] the depth and multiplicity of [the] community and has been committed to being a space for Arab, Muslim, and other artists from the region to reclaim [their] narratives and engage audiences in meaningful and artistically excellent art.”

Through Mizna, audiences have the opportunity to engage in the work of Arab and Muslim artists on its [sic] own terms. And our community has a critical opportunity to see some facet of their own experience reflected on the page or the screen.

https://mizna.org/about/

Since the beginning, the organization has been publishing a biannual literary journal entitled Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America. As of 2021, 38 issues had come out, some of which are still available for purchase on the website. Over the years, more than 400 writers have contributed to Mizna among whom Suheir Hammad, Mahmoud Darwish, Laila Lalami, etc.

In 2003, Mizna engaged in producing the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival (TCAFF) which has become “the largest and longest running Arab film fest in the Midwest”. TCAFF has been showcasing contemporary cinema from the Arab World and from the Arab diaspora, produced by emerging, independent, and established filmmakers, with the objective to present the Arab and Arab American communities in all their complexity far from the stereotyped ways in which they are often depicted in mainstream Western media.

Today, Mizna is run by a Board of Directors and a team of eighteen staff members: an artistic director numerous program curators, event and communication coordinators, editors, and teachers.

The organization was named a Regional Cultural Treasure in 2021 by the Ford Foundation and McKnight Foundation, and received several cultural awards such as multiple Knight Arts Challenge Awards, and the Ordway’s Sally Award for Social Impact. Mizna is funded and supported by:

To be informed of their activities, it is possible to sign up for the newsletter, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube.

Islamic Manuscripts at Morgan library and museum

Morgan Library & Museum, located in New Your City, is a museum and an independent research library and is famous for its manuscripts’ collections which mainly consists of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, yet Morgan Library and Museum houses various important Islamic manuscripts as well.

An online exhibition, “Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan” show cases some of these manuscripts containing exceptional paintings as well as religious and secular documents. These manuscripts range from the one that highlight works of “science, biography, history, and poetry” to Qur’an manuscripts. This exhibition provides access to a rich and diverse collection of Islamic manuscripts dating from the late Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.

“Included are such important manuscripts as the Manāfi˓-i hayavān (The Benefits of Animals)—one of the finest surviving Persian examples—and the richest illustrated life of the beloved poet Rūmī (1207–1273). Also featured are pages from the Mughal and Persian albums that Pierpont Morgan acquired in 1911 from Sir Charles Hercules Read, Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities at the British Museum, and miniatures illustrating the work of great Persian poets.”

Manuscripts are digitized with high resolution which makes it easy to look at various details and vivid colors in paintings. Each page or painting comes with a more detailed information about its time of creation as well of a description about its content.

Youth Flexing a Bow
Al-Su˓ūdī, The Valley of Diamonds and Jewels

To read more about how the Morgan’s Islamic collection came to existence click here .

CEDEJ carto portal

Established in 1968, CEDEJ (Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques Juridiques et Sociales) is a French Research Institute whose main Branch is located in Cairo, Egypt. The core objective of CEDEJ is to facilitate and support multidisciplinary field research focusing on Egypt and surrounding countries like Sudan where a small Branch is located.

CEDEJ is home to an important collection of books (35,000 volumes), journals, newspapers, statistical data as well as maps and plans (over 5,000 items). Part of this collection came from the collection of Cairo French Law School (founded in 1891 and closed in 1956). Among the numerous resources available through CEDEJ, one will find thematic Press Reviews, a digital Press Archive and digital monographs collection -both in collaboration with Bibliotheca Alexandrina-, and a Census Portal (CAPMAS):

CEDEJ map library per se is quite unique: it holds “a multi-scalar collection of cadastral, topographic, and geographic maps covering all of Egypt” running from the end of the 19th century to the 1990s. In November 2021, CEDEJ launched an ergonomic, dynamic and interactive online catalog allowing users to access, extract, and explore textual and geo-referenced data: CEDEJ carto.

cedejcarto.org

We carry an open data policy in strict compliance with the legislation and in the spirit of Plan S, namely “that data should be as open as possible and as closed as necessary”.

https://scienceeurope.org

cedejcarto.org Portal offers to discover the collection via three different options:

  • The advanced search allowing to cross-search location, scale, series and date of publication
  • The search by index allowing to access maps/plans based on the series they pertain to (among the 71 existing series)
  • The search by location allowing to access maps/plans by a simple a click on a large map of Egypt.

Scholars should note that cedejcarto.org is not a database of scanned maps where they will find high resolution images available for download. This portal is a dynamic and interactive online catalogue that will help them identify maps and plans relevant to their research among the large collection of cartographic documents held by the CEDEJ library. Materials can then be requested by filing out the dedicated form and submitting to hala.bayoumi@cedej-eg.org & directioncedej@cedej-eg.org. For more information about usage permissions, people can visit the map library webpage.

cedejcarto.org interface is only available in English.