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Arabic Script Manuscript Collection

Identifier: GTM-760101a

Scope and Contents

This collection contains manuscripts written in the Arabic script and contains texts in the languages of Persian and Turkish, as well as a number of Arabic dialects. The texts vary widely in subject matter. This small collections contains a number of Korans and other religious works, as well as books of history and poetry, and the Kama Sutra. The provenance and dates of acquisitions vary from item to item, some having come from the University Archives, some through purchase, and some through donations. For a detailed description of items within the collection, see the Inventory section below or the original finding aid in External Documents.


Volume 1
Title: [Stories and Poetry]
Date: 1544
[219] pp.
Description: foldover tooled sheep, 17.5 cm.
Notes: Persian, stories and fragments of poetry, copied in 1421 (951 A.H.).
Provenance: Gift of Archibald Roosevelt, Jr.

Volume 2
Title: Koran
Date: 1830
[412] pp.
Description: calf with tooled covers, with blue paper worked into calf, front cover detached, 21.0 cm.
Notes: Maghribi script, copied in Muslim year 1246
Provenance: Mullowrny, John F., Consul to Morocco, 10 September 1845.

Volume 3
Title: [Christian Prayers]
Date: before 1848
[470] pp.
Description: black calf with gilt borders, 13.5 cm.
Notes: reference to a death in the family of the owner of the book (Anton, who died 21 July 1848) is written on the flyleaf.
Provenance: unknown.

Volume 4
Title: Jāmiʿal-Tawārīkh
Author: Rashīd al-Dīn Ṭabīb
Date: 19th century
[452] pp.
Description: calf with laquered covers, illustrated; contained in modern green box, 37.0 cm.
Notes: Persian, well known medieval Muslim historian, history of the Monguls, includes four miniature illustrations.
Provenance: Gift of Archibald Roosevelt, Jr., in celebration of Lauinger's Millionth Volume, 1983.

Volume 5
Title: Koran, extracts
Date: 19th century
[122] pp.
Description: calf, gilt, binding by Joseph Milligan, 10.0 cm.
Notes: Notes in Persian at the end, 170 empty pages except for the borders follow the text.
Provenance: Formerly in the possession of Commodore Stephen Decatur, who was said to have taken it from the body of a Muslim sailor at Tripoli. Possibly one of the earliest Arabic manuscripts to have come to America.

Volume 6
Title: Koran
Date: 19th century
[695] pp.
Description: red calf, tooled and gilt with beautiful Islamic design, 11.5 cm.
Notes: in Maghribi script, beautiful illuminations and marginal decorations, which increase toward the end of the text.
Provenance: From the Collection of Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J.

Volume 7
Title: Kitāb Tuḥfat al-albāb wa-taḥiyat al-iʻjāb wa ʿajāʾib al-dunyā (The Book of the Marvels of the Mind and A Tribute to the Wonders of the World)
Author: (Shaykh) Muḥammad al-Gharnaṭī al-Maghribī
Date: 19th Century
[140] pp.
Description: foldover calf, red and gilt, 20.0 cm.
Contents: Chapter 1 - History of the World / Chapter 2 - The architecture of certain areas: Story of the Brass City from the Arabian Nights which the jinhs had built; the story of the Lake which had jinhs imprisoned within; the Library of Alexandria and Alexander the Great; various cities in Syria, Persia (the palace of the Persian emperor), etc. / Chapter 3 - Description of the sea and the animals that live there. Talks about China Seas Islands, the River Nile animals, etc. / Chapter 4 - Description of the graves and the Resurrection following the Day of Judgement. This chapter also contains some poetry. / Chapter 5 - Tale of an unusual story.
Notes: Maghribi script, with a postcard describing gift of this manuscript from Jacques O'Hana to Thomas Walsh included.
Provenance: Gift of Edward M. and Lorna Gill Walsh, from the library of their late brother, Thomas Walsh (1871-1928), poet, editor and scholar of Hispanic Culture.

Volume 8
Title: [Prayer Book]
Date: 19th century
[95] pp.
Description: sheep on cardboard, gilt design and borders on covers, 20.0 cm.
Notes: Turkish
Provenance: Purchased, in 1976?

Volume 9
Title: Kama Sutra
Author: attributed to Vatsyayana
Date: late 19th or early 20th century
[94] leaves, 39 full-page illustrations
Description: contained in modern orange box, text on 94 leaves, plus two blanks, 21.0 cm.
Notes: from Afghanistan, with upper cover and portion of lower cover of the manuscript included, with illuminated drawings, mostly of erotic activity.
Provenance: Gift of David Gilsin, 1979.

Folder 10
Title: [unidentified Persian Text]
Date: unknown
[4] pages on two leaves
Description: two manuscript leaves, blue paper with brown
and orange borders, 32.0 cm.
Provenance: Gift of Eric F. Menke, July 1979.

Folder 11
Title: [Astrological Table, unidentified]
Date: 1729 (1249 A.H.)
[2] pages on 1 leaf
Description: 1 manuscript leaf, obverse has table in Arabic dealing with the Zodiac and Stars, reverse has an unidentified Persian text; both sides bordered in red and brown.
Provenance: Gift of Eric F. Menke, July 1979.


  • 1544-1800s

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.


1.25 Cubic Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Archibald B. Rooselvet, Jr.; John F. Mullowrny; Susan Decatur; Edward M. and Lorna Gill Walsh; David Gilsin; and Eric F. Menke; circa 1830s-1983

Processing Information

Dr. Irfan Shahid and Dr. Mouldi Hadiji helped identify these volumes.

Arabic Script Manuscript Collection
James Helminski
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057