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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

The Catholic University: Semitics/ICOR Library

Introductory Information

The Catholic University of America: Semitics/ICOR Library External

Address: 620 Michigan Ave., N.E. Washington, DC 20064

Telephone number: (202) 319-4532

Contact information External

Online catalog External

Access Policies

Hours of service: Monday-;Friday 9:00 a.m.-;5:00 p.m. by appointment

Open to the public: Yes, by appointment

Interlibrary loan: No

Reference policy: Reference requests are accepted by telephone, email, mail and in-person if they are relevant to the collections.

Background note External :
The Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at CUA was founded in 1895 by Msgr. Henry Hyvernat (1858-1941), who also established the Institute of Christian Oriental Research (ICOR) in 1931.

Hyvernat's private library became the nucleus of the Semitics/ICOR Library;


Books/monographs and periodicals
The Semitics/ICOR Library has approximately 60,000 volumes (monographs and periodicals). The library collections reflect the focus of the Semitics Department on the study of biblical and Christian Near Eastern languages and literatures.

Particular subject emphases of the collections include: ancient Northwest Semitic languages, Christian Near Eastern languages and literatures (Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Syriac, Syriac Garshuni), ancient Arabian languages.

The periodical collection is fully represented in the University Library online catalog; at this time almost 40 percent of the monographic collection is represented in the online catalog. The Semitics/ICOR library retains a print catalog and shelflist.

Archives, manuscripts, correspondences, and/or oral histories

Papers of Fr. Theodore Christian Petersen, C.S.P. (1883-1966) (24 lin.ft.) Focus: Coptic; Coptic binding and manuscript ornament.

ICOR Manuscript Collections include 3 Armenian MSS; 40 Arabic MSS; 2 Coptic MSS; 3 Coptic & Arabic MSS; MS; 2

Hebrew MSS; 23 Persian MSS; 10 Turkish MSS; 18 Syriac MSS. 1 Syriac Garshuni MS. Manuscript holdings from

Ethiopia include 241 Christian Ethiopic codices and 4 sets of codex quires; 377 Ethiopian healing or magic scrolls, and

218 Islamic Arabic MSS associated with Harar in Ethiopia. The ICOR teaching collections include 202 ostraca (Hieratic, Demotic, Greek and Coptic) and 157 numbered papyri fragments (Coptic, Greek, Arabic). There are100 cuneiform tablets and 24 Near Eastern seals. 

The Romain Butin epigraphic collection includes plaster casts, paper squeezes, line drawings, photographs, and other materials documenting Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions of the 1930 joint CUA-Harvard University expedition to Serabit-elKhadim in the Sinai.

The Père Albert Jamme, M. Afr. library brings together in one place some fifty-five years of work (early 1940s-1998) by a leading scholar in the fields of ancient Arabian epigraphy and philology. It is a large integrated epigraphic collection in that the evidence of the inscribed stones, squeezes, photographs, line drawings, are kept with the site/survey documentation, along with Jamme's notes and studies, and reference library.

Approximately 600 glass lantern slides of near eastern antiquities and monuments

Maps are integrated into the S/I Library. Many early travel books from the 16th through the 19th century contain maps from the Near East relating to religion.

Databases and/or electronic resources External

Subject Headings

Ancient Near East--Religion; Antiquities