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Archives and Special Collections

Palestine and Arab-Israeli relations

Those interested in Palestine and the history of Arab-Israeli relationships can find material in several collections, including the papers of journalist and Middle Eastern specialist Michael Adams (1920-2005), editor and Labour politician Richard Howard Stafford Crossman (1907-1974) on Palestine in the late 1940s, and British diplomat and academic Sir John Richmond (1909-90) relating to the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although it has not yet been catalogued, the Uri Davis archives contain material on Palestinian activism and resistance to Zionism.

The papers of  the researcher Ya'akov (Hardwin) Firestone relating to the Samarian village of Arrabeh provide a mass of detailed ethnographic information on the history of a single village from 1850 to 1950, including financial, agricultural and legal records, maps, interviews, genealogical data, photographs, plus extensive notes and commentaries.



Material specific to Oman includes the personal papers and photographs of John Shebbeare (1919-2004), British advisor to the Sultan of Muscat and Oman, and the extensive collection of research papers and Omani manuscripts of John Craven Wilkinson, including a rare manuscript notebook (left) relating to water holdings and tribal settlements at al-Falaj al-Malki near Izki, one of Oman's oldest irrigation systems, containing names and holdings of the owners of the water shares over a period of approximately 50 years (ca.1825-75). The 500-page manuscript has been digitized and can be accessed hereThere are also several documents and reports relating to Oman among Sir William Luce's papers.

The Persian Gulf

Our archives are particularly strong in the area of the Persian Gulf, with notable collections including the papers of Sir William Luce (1907-77), British Governor of Aden (1956-60), Political Resident in the Gulf (1961-66) and Special Representative for Gulf Affairs (overseeing Britain’s withdrawal from the region) from 1970-72;  Sir Charles Belgrave (1894-1969), Advisor to the Rulers of Bahrain from 1926-57; the working papers of journalist Jonathan Crusoe (1953-91) relating to Iraq and Kuwait, and a small selection of documents and photographs belonging to diplomat Sir John Wilton (born 1921) relating to Qatar and Kuwait.

Kurdish material

Born in Syria in 1942, Omar Ali Sheikhmous studied in Syria and London before settling in Sweden in the 1970s where he worked on his PhD, before becoming involved in the leadership of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

The Sheikmous collection is a personal archive covering his work as a researcher, lecturer, political activist and translator. It includes books, pamphlets, unpublished papers, conference materials, over 150 rare Kurdish newspapers and journals from both Europe and the Middle East, university publications, PhD research material and an extensive archive of primary materials relating to the activities of various Kurdish political parties including the PUK, the Kurdish National Congress and the Kurdish Pen Club. Material is in English, Arabic, Swedish and Kurdish (Kurmanji and Sorani.)

The papers of journalist Jonathan Crusoe also contain material relating to Kurdish opposition groups in Iraq during the 1970s and 1980s, including presscuttings, pamphlets and bulletins published by Kurdish groups in both Iraq and the UK.


North Africa

Egypt is only one of the North African countries that features in the archives.  Early 19th century visits to Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco are described in the diaries of Admiral George White. There is also a fascinating collection of photographs taken in the Libyan desert by a later explorer, William Joseph Harding King (1869-1933) comprising one box of prints and a wooden box of 55 glass lantern slides. 

With regard to Sudan, there are several items among the papers of Sir William Luce - including desk diaries and typed reports - the David L Perrott papers on Sudanese law cases (1848-1964), and numerous documents - with some photographs and artwork - from the 1940s  and 1950s, relating to the activities of Glencairn Balfour-Paul during his time in the army and Sudan Political Service.


From Ethiopia, there are some religious manuscripts, including a small prayer book (pictured right) written on folded sections, and a 19th century Bible bound in wooden boards. Both texts are written in Ge'ez.



Scholars of Egyptian history and politics can access the papers of Henry Michael Barker relating to his family’s centuries-old involvement in Egyptian commerce, copies of correspondence and reports relating to the political activities of brothers Nabih Al-Azmah (1886-1972) & Adil Al-Azmah (1888-1952) in Egypt, Syria and Transjordan, the research papers of Egyptian scholar Nazih Ayubi (1944-95), material – including recorded interviews – relating to Professor Abdullah al-Fattah Muhammad El-Awaisi’s thesis on the Muslim Brotherhood, and the small collection of papers of Frank G Woodhams relating to King Ismail 'the Magnificent', Khedive of Egypt and Sudan from 1863 until his removal at the behest of the British government in 1879.

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