"A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event."-Princeton University RefDesk webpage.
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) functions as the repository for Princeton's Near East Manuscript Collections and modern and personal papers relating to the Near East Collections. The Collections include more than 20,000 titles in 11,000 codexes; predominantly in Arabic, but there are also many in Persian and Ottoman Turkish.
Working with primary source materials, such as manuscripts, requires tools that differ slightly from those used when working with secondary source materials. Finding aids, databases, preliminary checklists, collection catalogues and descriptive lists have been created to assist researchers in finding materials within each collection.
The manuscripts listed in the catalogs by Philip K. Hitti, Rudolf Mach, and Rudolf Mach & Eric L. Ormsby (99% of the Arabic Manuscripts) are all in Princeton's Main Catalog. About half of the Persian and Turkish manuscripts of the New Series are cataloged, and the remainder should be in the Main Catalog by the end of 2012. For other Turkish and Persian manuscripts (and a few in Indic languages), the Preliminary Checklists for each series should be consulted. A summary of Princeton's holdings, with links to the checklists, PDF catalogs, and digitized manuscripts, has been provided in this Library Guide.
Access to the non-circulating collections housed in RBSC may or may not be limited, and they may only be used within RBSC's reading rooms.
For more information on RBSC and Princeton's various research tools for locating primary source materials, please click on the links below.
RBSC Online Research Tutorial - discusses the nature of primary research and the methods and procedures through which it can be carried out productively.
RBSC Manuscripts Division - holds an estimated 8,500 linear feet of materials covering five thousand years of recorded history and all parts of the world, with special strength in Western Europe, the Near East, the United States, and Latin America.
RBSC Catalogs, Databases, and Finding Aids - The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has a wide variety of online reference tools that describe its holdings in varying degrees of detail.
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library - Descriptions of all collections held at the Mudd Manuscript Library are available online at the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections Finding Aids website.
Near East Collections in RBSC - include more than 20,000 titles in 11,000 codexes; predominantly in Arabic. In addition to manuscripts, the Collections also include papyri, calligraphy, cuneiform tablets, stone seals, a numismatic collection, and modern and personal papers relating to the Near East.
Princeton University Geniza Project - Initiated in the mid-1980s, the Computer Geniza Project of the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University seeks to extend the methodologies available to Hebrew, Judaeo-Arabic, and Arabic scholars working with the documents found in the Geniza chamber of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo in the late 19th century.
Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center - serves as the Institute for Advanced Study's Archives and documents the Institute's history and the many significant people that have shaped it. We welcome inquiries from both within and outside the Institute community.
"A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them."-Princeton University RefDesk webpage.
The Near East book Collection (NEC) at Princeton University Library contains approximately 457,596 printed books in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish and is one of the greatest collections of its kind in the United States.
The Near East Periodicals Collection (PRNE) of contemporary serials and newspapers are acquired on a regular basis from around the world. The library currently receives approximately 2,000 active serial publications in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, and many Western languages.
The Microforms Collections parallel the general holdings of selected books, newspapers, manuscripts, government publications, dissertations, and other materials at Princeton University.
The Institute for Advanced Study Libraries - the Historical Studies - Social Science Library contains about 100,000 volumes and has subscriptions to some 1,200 journals. The primary foci include classics, ancient history and archaeology.
Marquand Library of Art & Archaeology is one of theoldest and most extensive art libraries in the United States. The collection holds approximately 400,000 volumes, covering world art and architecture from antiquity to present, including distinguished 15th-21st century rare book holdings.
A listing of all Firestone Graduate Study & Seminar Rooms, along with their locations, Departments and/or Library Contacts has been provided here.
Near Eastern Studies Graduate Study Room (SNE) The Near Eastern Studies Graduate Study Room (SNE) houses a sizable non-circulating reference collection, with an emphasis on literary, historical, legal, and religious topics in the Near East.
Religion Graduate Study Room (SREL) The Religion Graduate Study Room (SREL) houses a non-circulating reference collection and is located on the 3rd floor of Firestone Library (3-11-D). The room is controlled access. If there is material in the room that is not available elsewhere, the Circulation Desk staff will provide access. If frequent access to the room is needed, students may contact the Department of Religion to request that a key be issued to them via the Access Office.
Institute for Advanced Study-Seipp Alcove The Institute for Advanced Study maintains a study room, known as the Seipp Alcove, on the 3rd floor of Firestone Library. The room is controlled access, and is only available to members of the Institute through the Institute librarian.
RBSC Reading Rooms & Research Services The non-circulating collections housed in RBSC may only be used within RBSC's reading rooms.
A list of general reference materials has been provided below. The list focuses on surveys that will lead the researcher to the libraries where specific manuscripts are held.
For Princeton University Library's listing of recommended language dictionaries, click here.
A link to baheth.info, a site where you can search five important medieval Arabic dictionaries, has been provided here.
World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts (Z6605.I75 W674 1992) – a guide to collections of Islamic manuscripts from around the world, including access, holdings, and information about significant manuscripts. Once a specific library is identified the relevant catalog can be consulted.
Brockelmann, C. Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (ONLINE)
Sezgin, F. Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums (DS36.85 .S494 1967) – supersedes GAL for the period up to 1050 AD
Storey, C. A. Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey (Z705 .S89 1972)
SHI'ITE MANUSCRIPTS (ARABIC, PERSIAN)
Agha Buzurg. Dhari`ah ila tasanif al-Shi`ah (Z7835.M6 A343 1936)
Patrons may view the complete list of recently cataloged Arabic manuscripts in Princeton's RBSC Manuscript Collections by clicking on the "View RSS Feed" link below.
Patrons may view the complete list of recently cataloged Ottoman Turkish manuscripts in Princeton's RBSC Manuscript Collections by clicking on the "View RSS Feed" link below.
Patrons may view the complete list of recently cataloged Persian manuscripts in Princeton's RBSC Manuscript Collections by clicking on the "View RSS Feed" link below.