The Islamic Book Collections

The acquisition of four great Middle Eastern libraries by the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center has immeasurably boosted the Islamic holdings of Boston University’s libraries. These acquisitions are also distributed across the three great Middle Eastern linguistic areas: Arabic, Iranian and Turkic.

The libraries of the great German Turcologistists Menges and Jettmar cover the whole field of Turkic studies, with many rare and possibly unique items from Russia and Chinese Central Asia as well as Turkey itself.

The library of Professor Muhsin Mahdi, James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic Emeritus at Harvard University contains a large number of Islamic (mostly Arabic) texts and much secondary work on Islamic literature, philosophy and civilization.

The Richard N. Frye Library represents the books—almost five thousand in number— and other materials collected over more than sixty years by Richard Nelson Frye, who was the Aga Khan Professor of Iranian at Harvard University for much of the second half of the twentieth century.

This collection focuses on Iran and neighboring areas deeply affected by Iranian civilization such as Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is particularly strong on pre-Islamic Iranian civilization and languages, but there is a very substantial amount of Islamic literary, religious, historical, and other material.

An outstanding feature of the collection is secondary literature in Russian and German, the primary scholarly languages, until recently, for Iranian studies. In all, more than forty languages are represented, including Caucasian languages such as Armenian and Georgian as well as lesser Iranian languages such as Kurdish and Pushto.

The breadth of Professor Frye's scholarly associations is reflected in hundreds of offprints of scholarly articles. There are also about a hundred mostly complete runs of important journals in the field of Middle Eastern studies as a whole; a fantastic resource for Islamic research and scholarship.

Return to Overview of Collections