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Manuscripts, Printed Books, and Near Eastern Studies in North America: The Manuscripts in Arabic Script of the Columbia University Libraries

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The article uses the example of the Islamic holdings of the Columbia University Libraries to explore how at the end of the nineteenth century the emergence of Near East Studies departments at North American universities was accompanied by the establishment of collections of manuscripts in Arabic script. I argue that the analysis of these largely ignored American collections illustrates the interdependence between book collecting, book production, and the book trade between the 1890s and the 1960s, providing new insights into the manuscript-to-print transition. The rare holdings of Columbia University show a marked preference for the acquisition of dated manuscript copies of identified texts, while books printed in Muslim societies beween 1800 and 1914 are underrepresented in the collection.

Affiliations: 1: Columbia University


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