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Closed-access collection of Oriental manuscript and archive resources

Collection Details

Closed-access collection of Oriental manuscript and archive resources held at University of Manchester Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Manuscripts: The 20,000 items are in forty-three different languages and range in date from the third millennium BC to the present day. They are written in most of the materials ever used by man for his records, including clay tablets, papyrus, linen, parchment, paper, wood, palm-leaf, bone, bamboo, and bark. Archives: These include papers of former teaching staff of the University, including S. Alexander, J.A. Boyle, T. Fish, E.A.E. Reymond, and T. Theodores; papers of military and civil service personnel and missionaries including those of C. Auchinleck, J. Bowring, C.E. Carrington, E.E. Dorman O'Gowan, H.B. Rattenbury, the Spring Rice family, and O. Wingate; and relevant papers in the (Manchester) Guardian Archive, the papers of W.P. Crozier (editor of the Manchester Guardian), and the Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society Archive.

History and development

The Library's Jewish, Near Eastern, and Oriental manuscript and archival resources come in large measure from the private libraries formed by Pierre Leopold van Alstein, H.C. Millies, Nathaniel Bland, G.W. Hamilton, and others, which had been assimilated in whole or in part into the Bibliotheca Lindesiana of Lord Crawford. Many of the Samaritan, Hebrew, and Arabic manuscripts derive from the collection of Moses Gaster, and more recent additions to the Arabic and Syriac collections are the results of collecting activity by the former librarians, J. Rendel Harris and Alphonse Mingana.


The Library has one of the most important Near Eastern manuscript collections in Britain. By far the earliest items are the Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform tablets from the third and second millennia BC, while Arabic, Persian, Coptic, Hebrew, Samaritan, and Turkish manuscripts are especially well represented. Though relatively small, the Far Eastern and Indian manuscript collections are extremely rich in their diversity.

General arrangement and access regulations

The materials are kept on closed access in different language and subject groups.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Central Asia and the Caucasus, East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, South East Asia.

Languages of material

Akkadian, Arabic, Armenian, Balinese, Batak (Indonesia), Bengali, Buginese, Burmese, Chinese, Coptic, Egyptian (Ancient), English, Geez, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Kawi, Khmer, Madurese, Makasar, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Pahlavi, Pali, Panjabi, Persian, Pushto, Samaritan Aramaic, Sanskrit, Sinhalese, Sumerian, Syriac, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ottoman (1500-1928).


Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Communication and media, Development, Economics, Education, Environmental sciences, Geography, History, Human rights, Industries, International relations, Language, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Philosophy, Politics and government, Recreation, Religion, Science and technology, Sociology, Travel, Women.

Names relevant to the collection:

Alexander, Samuel Auchinleck, Claude, 1884-1981 Bowring, John, 1792-1872 Boyle, John Andrew, -1978 Carrington, Codrington Edmund, 1769-1849 Crozier, William Percival, 1879-1944 Dorman O'Gowan (formerly Dorman-Smith), Eric Edward, 1895-1969 Fish, Thomas Gaster, Moses, 1856-1939 Rattenbury, Harold Burgoyne, 1878-1947 Reymond, Eve A.E. Spring Rice, Cecil, 1859-1918 Theodores, Tobias, 1808-1886 Weizmann, Chaim Wingate, Orde, 1903-1944

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Manuscripts.

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed.

Content date range

0 to 0 AD

Collection Catalogue Information


These are listed on the relevant pages of the Library's Guide to Special Collections (

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