The University of Chicago Digital Middle East

Material Description

In 1983 the Middle East Department of the University of Chicago Library, in collaboration with University of Chicago faculty, initiated an ambitious program to assemble and preserve in microformat valuable Ottoman, Persian, and Arabic research materials under the rubric Middle East Documentation Center (MEDOC). Materials were acquired by staff traveling to Turkey and Iran through purchases facilitated by local vendors, and through loans from institutions and individuals. The Chicago Ottoman Microforms Project: Ottoman government publications: state, ministry, provincial, and city yearbooks; budgets and financial reports; commerce and industry reports; and the publications of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The Ottoman and Modern Turkish Journals and Popular Press: newspapers and journals on such topics as political satire, women’s issues, religion, and intellectual, social, and cultural matters. The Divan Project: collaborative project with the Library of Congress, Princeton, and UCLA to assemble and microfilm a complete collection of all published Ottoman divans (poetry collections). Ottoman Histories, and Ottoman Literature, Writers and the Arts: important early literary sources. The Chicago Persian Microforms Project: journals, including titles in the fields of literature, politics, religion, women’s studies, and the social sciences. Also include some government materials, and the documents, letters, and papers of the Shaykhi religious movement, founded in the nineteenth century. The Chicago Arabic Microforms Project: journals, including a collection of late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century publications from Egypt which include important women’s and Coptic Christian publications. Other Arabic Research Materials includes indexes of manuscript collections, and the official gazette of the Syrian government.


The University of Chicago Library proposes a 2-year project to digitize a collection of 1,175 monograph and serial titles from our Microform Projects in Ottoman, Persian, and Arabic. This collection offers a rich resource for scholars in a broad range of academic disciplines, including social, intellectual, and political history, literature, religion, and philosophy, relating to the Arab World, Iran, North Africa, and the areas included within the former Ottoman Empire. Materials date from 1734–1997, though the bulk are fragile materials from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The project will utilize the existing preservation-quality microform surrogates to create an efficient and cost-effective digitization workflow and will consult with a Faculty Advisory Group to ensure we meet scholarly needs. Digitization and cataloging will be done by vendors, local staff will process the resulting files. The digital files will be made available through records in OCLC, the Library’s catalog, and HathiTrust.


Digitizing Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added



The University of Chicago


  • Ms. Elisabeth Long (University of Chicago)
  • Ms. Marlis Saleh

Date Range

1734 - 1734

Geographic Scope

The bulk of the materials in this collection were published in the Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey, Iran, and the various Arab countries. A small number of the journals were published in Europe or the United States.


  • 792 Serials