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Egypt: African and Middle Eastern Reading Room Country Guide

Digital Collections

Middle East Book Binding. 18th century. From "Near East Collections: An Illustrated Guide." African and Middle Eastern Division Near East Section.
An elaborate display of brightly enameled flowers highlights this lush eighteenth- century Islamic book binding from the Kirkor Minassian collection.

The Near East Section was established in 1945 following the end of World War II. It has in its custody materials in several formats: from exquisite manuscripts to early printed books; and from historic and contemporary newspapers, on microfilm and microfiche, to political and cultural ephemera-in over 40 languages of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as those of the countries and peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The Section's Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Turkic & Iranic language collections are renowned for their high scholarly quality, as are the Armenian, Georgian and Central Asian language materials which are growing rapidly and constitute major research collections.

The largest collection-the Arabic-is rich in manuscripts and early printed books, as well as in newspapers, serials and monographs in numerous fields including in literature, the social sciences, and the humanities, The Armenian collection is representative of the literary tradition, in manuscripts and printed works, accomplished both in Armenia and in its extensive, historical diaspora.

The Persian collection holds a number of splendidly illuminated manuscripts which are now digitized, as well as a unique collection of lithographs and early imprints which are currently being digitized. Its twentieth century collections of books and journals is very extensive as well.

The Turkish collection is strong in both modern works and Ottoman printed materials and includes both manuscripts as well as digitized materials such as the Abdul Hamid II gift books and album collections.

Efforts to collect works published in Georgia and in the post-Soviet States of the Caucasus and Central Asia have proved remarkably fruitful.

In its continuing efforts to make its collections accessible to researchers in the United States and beyond, the Section has continued to digitize and mount many of its vital collections.

The Section hosts a variety of special events, such as annual symposia, briefings, exhibits, lecture series and other programs to highlight its collections and to promote their use by scholars and researchers.

The Near East Section's specialists in the languages, countries and cultures of the Near East offer group and individual briefings both on site and on location. Queries from researchers and scholars are encouraged via Ask-A-Librarian, email, telephone, or in person.

Source: Near East Collections: An Illustrated Guide.

Featured Digital Primary Sources

The following materials represent selected digitized primary source materials and web archives relating to Egypt from the Near East collections along with links for further exploration.

More About the Eltaher Collection

A subset of the Eltaher Collection—more than 100 Palestinian pamphlets—is now digitized. These pamphlets are documents that relate, in some detail, to the British Mandate in Palestine (1923-1948). They cover the impact of the 1917 Balfour declaration and the Mandate on Palestine, and the way in which they enabled the Zionist movement to establish a state in Palestine in 1948. Born in Palestine in the city of Nablus, Eltaher moved to Egypt in 1912 at the age of 16. Through a small olive oil import business that he established in Cairo, Eltaher began mingling with a number of Egyptian nationalists and became an early advocate for Arab nationalism and a critic of the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916). Eltaher published extensively on these subjects, and was imprisoned several times for his views. In 1924, he established a weekly newspapers, Al-Shura (Consultation), in Cairo. It served as an important voice for the Arab nationalist movement in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as for Muslims in other regions of the world. In 1926, the paper was banned and accused of triggering a Palestinian protest in Cairo. In 1931, when the newspaper's license was revoked, Mahmoud Azmi Pasha, an Egyptian nationalist, transferred the licenses of his own newspapers, Al-Jadid and Al-Shabab, to Eltaher free of charge so that Eltaher's advocacy could continue. Following the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Egypt imposed strict media censorship. As a result, Eltaher's publications were banned, and he was imprisoned once again. In 1941, after escaping from prison, Eltaher became a political fugitive for 11 months until he gave himself up in 1942. After the 1952 coup d'état by Colonel Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir and General Muhammad Najib, Eltaher was issued a decree to resume the publication of Al-Shura, however the Egyptian police banned him from publishing it ever again. Following his visit to Syria to attend the celebration of Syria's independence in 1955, Eltaher went on to live there for two years before settling in Lebanon. He never returned to Egypt.

Featured Web Archives

The Library of Congress Web Archive manages, preserves, and provides access to archived web content selected by subject experts from across the Library, so that it will be available for researchers today and in the future. The Library of Congress web archives are organized in thematic and event-based collections, and contain websites documenting a variety of U.S. and international organizations representing a broad range of subjects and topic areas. Relevant web archives are described and linked below.