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Middle East & Islamic Studies Databases for Research: Primary Source Databases & Collections

Listing major online databases, full-text or indexes to full-text sources, for the study of the Middle East and Islam.

Region & Country Primary Sources

Confidential print, Middle East, 1839-1969 The collection covers Middle Eastern history from 1839-1969; countries included are: Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan, Persia, Suez Canal, Turkey, Jordan, Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Syria. The series originated out of a need for the British Government to preserve all of the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. Some of these were one page letters or telegrams -- others were large volumes or texts of treaties. All items marked ’Confidential Print’ were circulated to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to heads of British missions abroad.

The Arab League : British documentary sources, 1943-1963 [England] : Archive Editions, 1995. English, with some documents in Arabic or French. On 22 March 1945 the Pact of the Arab League States was signed in Cairo by Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan and Saudi Arabia. Its objectives were closer unity between members, the safeguarding of their sovereignty and co-ordinated political action. Here now in facsimile are the authentic documents of that time, and the following 20 years, following the aims and the progress of the main organ of Arab unity this century. Details include: the origins of the Arab League; its creation and inauguration; issues such as the boycott of Jewish firms and products; policy on Palestine; collective security; inter-Arab, and foreign, relations.

Arab dissident movements, 1905-1955  Slough, England : Archive Editions, 1996. Documents in English, Arabic, and French.  These four volumes of primary source material contain a detailed study of activist movements and personalities, researched from the British Government archives, relating to 20th-century subversive groups and individuals in the Middle East. The coverage includes major categories of Arab nationalists and pan-Arabists with aspirations to Arab unity, as well as activists with specific territorial demands and other anti-régime dissidents. The many groups referred to include: Society for Arab Revival (1906); Young Turks (1908); Lebanese Revival (1908); Al-Fatah (1909); Reform Society of Basra; Arab Revolutionary Society (1914); Palestine Arab Party; Todamun al-Akhawi; Druse rebels; Shakib Arslan; the Liberation Society; Iraq Independence Party; Arab Ba´ath Movement; Moslem Brotherhood; Omani Revolution Council.

Neglected Arabia / Arabia calling : 1892-1962 Gerrards Cross : Archive Editions, 1988. English The Arabian Mission was founded in 1889 by the Dutch Reformed Church in America, with a group of Trustees including Thomas Russell of Montclair, Rev. Prof. J. G. Lansing of New Brunswick and Rev. A. Zwemer of Spring Lake, Michigan. In 1891 the Trustees requested a regular report from the Treasurer and Secretary of the Mission in the field, and the first quarterly Field Reports began on January 1st, 1892, submitted from Basra by James Cantine, Treasurer, S. M. Zwemer, Secretary, and C. E. Riggs M.D. Archive Editions presents here the complete run of the journal of the Arabian Mission of the Reformed Church in America 1892-1962 comprising: Field Reports 1892-1898; Quarterly Reports 1898-1901; Neglected Arabia 1902-1949; Arabia Calling 1949-1962; Annual Reports. This edition is reprinted from original material in the Gardner A. Sage Library of the Reformed Church in America, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

The Persian Gulf administration reports : 1873-1947 Gerrards Cross, England : Archive Editions, 1986. English The bland official title "administration reports" conceals the true value of the series, which is a mine of information on the development of the modern Gulf. British officials appointed to the area in the 19th century were often scholars of high repute and many of their appended monographs have since become a vital source for historians of the region. They range from S. B. Miles' biographical sketches of the rulers of Muscat and E. C. Ross' Memoir on Nejd to notes on the pearl industry, date cultivation and fisheries which contain information still sought after by regional planners. As British involvement in the Arab Gulf states increased so did the range of material included in the reports. Oil exploration is chronicled from the early years of the 20th century as are the subsequent social and economic changes brought about by its discovery. Education, particularly in Bahrain, is regularly reported on as well as developments in health and medical care.

Persian Gulf & Red Sea naval reports 1820-1960 Cambridge : Archive Editions, 1993. English. The aim in publishing the Persian Gulf & Red Sea Naval Reports is to draw together material previously scattered through two government archives into a concise and convenient format. Most of the documents are found scattered through the vast expanses of the British Admiralty files (one record class alone, ADM 1, runs from 1648 to 1960 and contains over 900,000 pieces). Some material is also found within the British Library´s Oriental & India Office Collections, specifically in the Persian Gulf Residency files, the Aden records and the Proceedings of the Bombay Marine. There are only minor gaps in the 140-year sequence where reports for certain years are no longer found on the files. The detailed bibliographic listing of the documents, giving file references, provides a valuable service for researchers.

DLME: Digital Library of the Middle East  The DLME is a worldwide effort to federate all types of cultural heritage material, including archives, manuscripts, museum objects, media, and archaeological and intangible heritage collections. The core principle of our collaboration is that of service to partners and peoples across the Middle East and North Africa—to help reveal, share, honor, and protect collections of cultural materials and the living and historical cultures they represent. The DLME provides a digital platform that federates digital records of accessible artifacts ranging across twelve millennia. It incorporates metadata describing many aspects of each object or document, including its sometimes contested meaning or significance, its history, and its provenance when available. The DLME is accessible through desktop computers, tablets, and phones, and it will be continually augmented though subsequent generations of scholarly input, crowd-sourcing, and new knowledge discovered through its use. By providing accessibility and encouraging documentation and digitization, the DLME implements international cultural preservation goals and can help mitigate looting and the illegal resale of heritage materials.

Iran : political diaries, 1881-1965 Book Cambridge : Archive Editions, 1997. In English. A key source work for modern Iranian history: this comprehensive series of British political reports not only provides an insight into the complexities and conflicts of Persian politics, but also closely reflects the changing nature of the relations between Britain and Persia revealing the extent of those mutual misunderstandings which sometimes made the relationship a difficult and sensitive one. In 1881, when the first of the diplomatic reports reproduced in this work was written, Persia was being ruled by its 4th successive Qajar Shah, Nasir al-Din. He had come to the throne in 1848 and his was to be the longest reign of that dynasty, being brought to an end by an act of assassination in May 1896. When this series of volumes ends in 1965, the second Pahlavi Shah was still on the throne, but an important religious leader, Rouhalla Khomeini, was writing his first lectures on the theory of Islamic government.

The Iran-Iraq border, 1840-1958 [Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire, England] : Archive Editions, 1989. English "Published in association with the International Boundaries Research Unit, University of Durham."
"The documents published here have been reproduced in approximately equal measure from originals in the Public Record Office and the India Office Library and Records London"

v. 1. Negotiations culminating in the Treaty of Erzeroum, 1840-1847
v. 2. Efforts of Delimitation Commission and preparation of maps of frontier zone, 1848-1873
v. 3. Further delimitation efforts and disputes over Pusht-i-Kuh and Khotour, 1874-1897
v. 4. Ottoman encroachments across northern border and recurrence of Muhammara dispute, 1903-1911
v. 5. Negotiations culminating in the Constantinople Protocol, 1912-1913
v. 6. Demarcation of boundary by Mixed Commission of 1914 and border disputes following the Great War, 1914-1928
v. 7. Disputes over status of Shatt al- ľArab and validity of Constantinople Protocol, 1929-1934
v. 8. Reference of the Shatt al- ľArab dispute to the League of Nations and subsequent bilateral negotiations in Tehran and Geneva, 1934-1935
v. 9. Tehran Treaty of July 1937, new efforts to demarcate boundary and future of Basra Port, 1936-1958
v. 10-11. Maps.

444 Days: Selected Records Concerning the Iran Hostage Crisis 1979-1981  / US National Archive – January 2017.

Palestine and Transjordan administration reports, 1918-1948.  Cambridge : Archive Editions. Facsims of eds. originally published by various governmental publishers, 1918-1948.  This 16 volume work presents a comprehensive collection of British administrative reports and associated documents, including extensive material hitherto unknown and unpublished. The series includes the pre-Mandate reports of 1918-1923, the Mandate and Departmental Annual Reports from 1923-1947/8, including the unpublished Mandate Reports for 1940 and 1941, the extensive Survey of Palestine 1946/47 and the formal papers covering the termination of the Mandate in 1948. This is an essential research source for information on British administration in Palestine and Transjordan, on the continuous tensions of the period between the Arab and Jewish populations, on civil disorders and the eventual unworkability of the Mandate.

Records of the Hashimite dynasties : a twentieth century documentary history [Great Britain] : Archive Editions, 1995. English
Some text in French. Records of the Hashimites is a rare and valuable publication, an encyclopaedia of authentic historical documents, tracing in detail through 15 volumes the destiny of the Hashimites, the most ancient and distinguished family in the Middle East. Through painstaking and expert research in government and private files, the editor and his assistant editor have located diaries, secret reports and a wealth of previously unpublished correspondence. These documents are now reproduced in exact facsimile to make available for your library and your own research the primary documents and archival evidence for the history of the Hashimites. Records of the Hashimites focuses on the 20th century and provides the reader with a detailed study of the convergence of Hashimite and British interests that led to the Arab Revolt in the First World War and the establishment of Hashimite rule in Iraq, Jordan and, briefly, Syria following the defeat of Turkey. Of the many hundreds of documents collected and made public in this great work, some of them ancient, many of them normally hidden or scattered in obscure archives, some of great political importance and all of historic interest - here we give you a glimpse of the sequence and contents of these 15 volumes. The following are merely a few highlights from the c. 10,000 pages of this modern reference work for Hashimite history.

Records of the Hijaz, 1798-1925 [Cambridge?] : Archive Editions, ©1996. English This important regional study provides historical research materials on the Hijaz province before its incorporation into the modern Saudi Kingdom. This work is therefore an essential complement to our companion works on Saudi and Hashimite history. Records of the Hijaz addresses aspects of Ottoman rule, Turkish-Arab relations, administration under Egyptian occupation, and power struggles within the ruling regime. Political, commercial, regional and tribal affairs are all covered and there is extensive material on the main cities of Jeddah, Yenbo, Mecca and Medina.

Records of Jerusalem 1917-1971 [Great Britain] : Archive Editions, 2002. English  A documentary history of the city of Jerusalem, concentrating on the half-century from 1917 to 1971, with some reference to earlier circumstances. The starting point of this collection accompanies the end of Ottoman rule in the Near East and the establishment of British military control in Jerusalem in the eventful year of 1917. As far as possible an attempt has been made to provide research resources specific to Jerusalem and excluding material relating to Palestine in general. Broader questions including the territorial limits and administration of Palestine and the origins of the state of Israel are covered in other related titles. However, it is impossible to disentangle such material entirely and after 1917 the echoes of the Arab–Jewish struggle form a continuous background to the development of the city.

The Zionist movement and the foundation of Israel 1839-1972 Farnham Common : Archive Editions, 2004. English These ten volumes draw together documents found in the British National Archives to trace the origins and development of the Zionist movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, with specific reference to the idea, and eventually the goal, of establishing a Jewish homeland. Material is relatively sparse in the 19th century and volume 1 is rather an historical volume covering the rise of Zionism, including the work of Theodor Herzl and the first Zionist Congress at Basle, ending in 1916 with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The bulk of the material, volumes 2 to 8, relates to the years 1916-1948 when the Zionist debate raged, the movement became factionalised, split, and eventually, partly because of events surrounding World War II, achieved its goal of the creation of Israel. Volume 10, like volume 1 ranges over a greater number of years in less detail, covering the period after the creation of Israel in 1948 to the most recent releases by the British government from 1972, when the main question for Zionism, perhaps, was whether it still had a role to play beyond the inception of the State.

Land legislation in Mandate Palestine Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge Archive Editions, 2009. In English and French. A great many books have been written on the subject of Jewish land-settlement and the Arabs, or the land question in Palestine, but rarely does one have the opportunity to access the original documents among which the research has been made. This new collection of original documents from Cambridge Archive Editions allows scholars to form their own opinions on this most controversial, and critical, series of events.

The political history of Palestine under British administration Great Britain. New York : Reprinted by British Information Services, 1947. English. Memorandum by His Britannic Majesty's Government presented in 1947 to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, published at Jerusalem, 1947.

Mandate for Palestine United States. Department of State. Division of Near Eastern Affairs, author Book Washington : United States Government Printing Office, 1927. English Correspondence referring to economic rights in mandated territory. Principal documents
American-British Palestine Mandate Convention of December 3, 1924.

Manuscripts Collections Online

Alquds Manuscripts: The Arabic Manuscripts Digital Library of Jerusalem. Partner Libraries: Khalidi Library, Budeiri Library, Al-Aqsa Library and Islamic Museum, Ansari Library and the Waqf Restoration Center.

Islamic Heritage Project at Harvard University: Hundreds of Islamic manuscripts, maps, and published texts from Harvard’s library and museum collections.

Islamic manuscripts at Michigan [Islamic Manuscripts Collection]

Islamic Manuscripts listing Adventskalender (Türlein XI) - Islamische Handschriften online

The Minassian Collection of Qur'anic Manuscripts: A collection of 200 Qur'anic manuscript folios dating from the 9th to the 16th centuries. A project of Brown Digital Repository (BDR).

British Library's Persian Manuscripts: A selection of 15,000 manusripts from the

British Museum and the India Office Library. These manuscripts originate from the whole of the Persianate world, in particular Iran, Central Asia and India and range in time from the 12th century to recent years, representing most of the traditional fields of humanities and religious studies. Many of the Persian manuscripts are copies of rare texts, with examples of some of the finest illustrated Mughal, Timurid and Safavid paintings. - See more at:

Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum:Illuminated and illustrated manuscripts produced in Islamic lands from the 9-19 centuries (Exhibit).

Princepton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts. The Princeton University Library has some 9,500 Islamic manuscripts, chiefly bound paper codices, containing a total of more than 20,000 texts. The manuscripts are located in the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, at the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library. Robert Garrett (Princeton Class of 1897) collected approximately two-thirds of these manuscripts and donated them to the Library in 1942. Since then, the Library has continued to acquire manuscripts by gift and purchase. The manuscripts are chiefly in Arabic but also include Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other languages of the Islamic world. They date from the early centuries of Islam through the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Most of the manuscripts originated in Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and other main centers of Islamic civilization. But there are examples from Moorish Spain and the Maghreb in the West, to the Indian sub-continent and the Indonesian archipelago in the East, and even sub-Sahara Africa.

Orient-Digital is the database of Oriental manuscripts at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.  The collection comprises 43,000 volumes (manuscripts and block-prints) in more than 140 languages and 70 different scripts from Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Primary Sources on Religions & Minorities

Records of the Kurds : territory, revolt and nationalism, 1831-1979 : British documentary sources Cambridge, United Kingdom : Cambridge Archive Editions, 2015. Preface, foreword, and contents in English; documents in Arabic, English, and Kurdish (Sorani). These nine thousand pages of facsimile documents trace early insurgencies directed by the Kurdish people against regional and metropolitan powers, and their interrelations with neighbouring tribes and other ethnic groups at historical flash points, from the origins of nationalist sentiments through a series of disparate revolts in the nineteenth century, and then on to a larger, more cohesive and discernible nationalist movement launched in the aftermath of World War I. They concomitantly depict the extent of territories pertaining to the Kurdish 'homeland', the use of the term 'Kurdistan' generally refers to an agreed geographical area, not to a legal or political entity. Kurdish populated territory evolved over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with some regions becoming entrenched, others subject to constant flux. The map box provides illustrations of the changing territory, or those sections subject to alterations and contestation.

Islam : political impact, 1908-1972 : British documentary sources [Slough, England] : Archive Editions, 2004. English This work presents a documentary survey of the impact of Islam in the early and mid twentieth century with particular reference to its political and international dimensions. The intention is to make available to scholars a broad research base of primary materials for the modern period reflecting Islamic affairs and expansion in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. While such a project cannot be comprehensive, it is hoped that the wide range of geographical references will provide many starting points for further enquiry. Other Archive Editions titles explore certain topics in greater depth, including the history of the Hajj, the Hashimite dynasty, the Arab League, pan-Arab and Islamic movements, and other matters.

Islamic movements in the Arab world, 1913-1966 [London?] : Archive Editions, 1998. English This set examines the progression of pan-Islamic organisations, movements and activists extant in the Arab states in the early 20th century, particularly in the Hijaz (Saudi Arabia), Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and most of the Maghreb states, together with the involvement of Islamic institutions in regularising and interceding in aspects of both religious and secular life. The contents include primary source material on: early fundamentalist (Wahhabi) support for King Abdul Aziz from 1913; repercussions following the end of the Caliphate, 1920s; the World Islamic Conference in Mecca, 1926, opened by King Abdul Aziz; plans for a Pan-Islamic League, 1919; pan-Islamic activity in Jerusalem; Islamic propaganda missions to the Maghreb states; Saudi proposal for an Islamic pact; records of numerous Islamic conferences from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Minorities in the Middle East : Christian minorities, 1838-1967 Destani, Bejtullah D., editor Book Cambridge : Archive Editions, 2007-2007. In English. This large collection of primary source material consists of original political despatches, correspondence and reports covering: Christian communities in the Levant 1838 to 1955 in overview, and the affairs of the Assyrian communities 1880 to 1951, the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Jacobite, Chaldean and Syrian Catholic communities, and Protestant communities in the Levant and Iraq, in particular, with further detail about the Maronite communities in the Levant 1841 to 1958, and Coptic Christian communities in the Levant and Egypt 1917 to 1967. These volumes also cover the Jeddah murders of 1858 and 1895, and the treatment of Armenians in Turkey and the Levant, including the Armenian massacres during the First World War.

Religious communities in Jerusalem 1843-1974 and minorities in Israel [Slough] : Archive Editions, 2005. English  This is the second of the new document collections available as part of the multi-part set Minorities in the Middle East. In these four volumes the selection of documents combines to give an overview of the interplay within and between the different faiths existing in Jerusalem. These 2400 pages contain documents exploring the treatment and position of the diverse religious minorities within Jerusalem and more generally in Israel after 1948. Historically, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims have varied according to political events. Within the confines of Jerusalem and its environs the many different claims of the main faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity to parts of the city have exacerbated the effects of the political climate. Furthermore, struggles for rights to minority worship within the State have been diverted as rivalries between churches, particularly within the Christian church, have divided congregations.

The Yearbook of International Religious Demography presents an annual snapshot of the state of religious statistics around the world (past, present, and future) in sets of tables and scholarly articles spanning social science, demography, history, and geography. [20152016]

Primary Source Collections & Aggregated Archival Documents


Topical Collections & Sources

Diplomacy in the near and middle east : a documentary record, 1535-1956 Hurewitz, J. C., 1914-2008, editor Book Cambridge, United Kingdom : Archive Editions, 1987. English This reproduction of Professor Hurewitz's now classic work is designed "to unfold European diplomacy in and on the Near and Middle East in modern times". His collection of documents covers more than 400 years, from the early (1535) Ottoman-French treaty, through Napoleon's instructions to the French mission to Persia, and Treaties for suppressing Slave Traffic and Piracy, up to the modern period including the Sykes-Picot agreement for the partition of the Ottoman Empire, 1916 and a Soviet-Iranian exchange of notes in 1955.

Travelers in the Middle East Archive* A digital archive that focuses on Western interactions with the Middle East, particularly travels to Egypt during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Topics on Modern Muslim Women Database Compiled by: Rubina Ramji, Lucy MacDonald and Alyssa MacDougall. This research database offers articles and media dealing with topics on Muslim women. [Religion and Diversity Project, hosted at the University of Ottawa,]

Sultan Baybar's Quran British Library Project "Turn the Pages" of Sacred Texts.

Digitized Francophone Press in Egypt La Presse Francophone d'Égypte numérisée - PFEnum

Bibliothèque diplomatique numérique [FRANCE] Ministère français de l'Europe et des affaires étrangères (MEAE).  Histoire diplomatique * Documents diplomatiques * Ministères des Affaires étrangères * Des diplomates : formation, récits et portraits * Droit international * Traités, accords et conventions * Protectorats et mandat français * Publications officielles étrangères ou intergouvernementales.

The Correspondence of Ignaz Goldziher An online database of over 13000 letters in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Historical Documents

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