Since the last report on Middle Eastern resources at CRL (see: FOCUS, Spring 2004, Volume 23, Number 3), CRL has substantially augmented its collections in response to member feedback. Acquired through CRL’s collection-building programs, demand purchase, or cooperative programs, the resources described below represent critical primary source collections of interest to scholars today. For a more in-depth review of CRL’s collections and services in this area, view the presentation of the August 2011 Webinar on Middle East and Islamic Resources.
Arabic Manuscripts in the British Library
The British Library’s collection of Arabic manuscripts numbers over 20,000 works, one of the most important collections in Europe. CRL has acquired several components of the collection, filmed according to 18 broad subject categories. CRL’s holdings currently include:
• Ḥadīth: collections of traditions and statements of Muhammad, along with commentaries and critical works.
• Kalām: theological debates and texts on the Qur’an.
• Islamic mysticism and philosophy: works of Muslim philosophers in all fields of philosophical study. Subsets include:
• Prayers and sermons
• Mysticism and pietics
• Ethics and polity.
Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of the S.O.A.S.,
University of London
This collection contains more than 400 manuscripts, covering traditional Islamic disciplines such as Tafsir, Hadith, and Fiqh, as well as diverse works on mathematics, astronomy, medicine, falconry, archery, and military equitation. A sizeable portion of the collection relates to Shi’ah literature.
British Intelligence and Policy on Persia (Iran), c. 1900–49: India Office Political and Secret Files and Confidential Print
This set, filmed from the British Library Oriental and India Office Collections, contains gazetteers and handbooks, military reports, route books, and other printed correspondence collected by the Government of India Foreign Department and U.K. Foreign Office.
In addition to these major sets, CRL continues to acquire on-demand important doctoral dissertations outside the U.S. and Canada on the subjects of Middle East and Islamic studies. CRL and the British Library recently collaborated to make available online 400 doctoral theses focusing on these subjects. The theses—which represent a wealth of UK postgraduate research into politics, culture, and society in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and North Africa—are freely accessible via the British Library’s EThOS (Electronic Theses Online) service. CRL also purchased numerous doctoral dissertations from Israel in the subject matter of Jewish and Israel Studies.
The Middle East Microform Project (MEMP), CRL’s collaborative program devoted to acquiring and preserving important Middle East resources, continues to build an impressive collection of émigré and opposition newspapers, including publications such as Agos (1996−2008), a source for news of Armenian minority in Turkey); Kayhan (1984−2010), representing the Iranian community in London as well as other world areas; and Nur (2001−08), a Syrian opposition newspaper representing communist and other leftist organizations.
MEMP has also completed the preservation of an important collection of Iranian left-wing materials including pamphlets and other ephemeral material (1941−79) collected by the noted scholar Dr. Cosroe Chaquèri. More recently, MEMP completed the preservation of the Library of Congress Arabic Pamphlet Collection, collected by Dr. George Atiyeh, head of the Near East Section of the Library from 1967 to 1996. The collection includes pamphlets, speeches, and other ephemera collected from across the region. The collection contains more than 4,000 items on 89 microform reels, grouped into 39 major subjects.