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Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ 08540-4907)
Sabine Schmidtke (Project Director: July 2017 to present)
The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition: A Digital Repository and Portal

Digitization of 488 Zaydi manuscripts held in European libraries and preparation of 143 microfilm images of manuscripts held at the University of Texas, Austin, and 1,000 images of manuscripts from collections in Yemen, currently held by the Institute of Advanced Study, for uploading to the digital repository at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. All 1,631 manuscripts, which range from the 9th to the 20th century, would be cataloged.

The literary tradition of the Zaydi community, a branch of Shi’i Islam that originated in Kufa and later developed in Northern Iran and Yemen, is among the richest and most variegated strands within Islamic civilization and one of the least studied due to issues of preservation and access. The most significant collections of Zaydi manuscripts are housed in Yemeni libraries, many of which have been damaged or destroyed over the course of the 20th century, and the continuing war constitutes an imminent threat. Only a fraction of collections, including those in Europe, North America, and the Middle East, have been preserved digitally and even fewer are freely accessible. The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition, an initiative of the Institute for Advanced Study and Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, aims to digitize and house the entire Zaydi manuscript culture in a single repository and provide comprehensive open access to its literary tradition for scholars, researchers, and educators worldwide.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Intellectual History; Near and Middle Eastern History; Near and Middle Eastern Literature

Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Preservation and Access

$315,000 (approved)
$315,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2018 – 4/30/2022