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A Research Guide to Middle Eastern Studies: Home

An introduction to resources both at Penn Libraries and freely available elsewhere online.

Frieze Tile

Frieze tile with phoenix  |  ca. 1270s  |  Iran (probably Takht-i Sulayman)  |  Fritware, overglaze luster-painted  |  Metropolitan Museum of Art.  (12.49.4)

An Intro to the Middle East Guide

(Muqarnas entrance hood, Fatima Masumeh Shrine. Qom, Iran)
Welcome! This guide is meant to act as a toolbox of digital and print resources for those researching or studying the Middle East. As a living document, this is by no means an exhaustive guide, but it's certainly a good place to check for resources you may not have considered before. This guide aims to consolidate info from Near/Mid East guides at numerous institutions, mixing in newly found resources at Penn and beyond, into a unified toolbox that reflects researcher needs and approaches. This guide would not have been possible without the hard work of librarians at other institutions before me. Please see the "Useful Links" tab to find links to their guides. I have updated resources and removed long-dead links and reorganized material into the form you see here.
Above in the tabs, you'll find more specialized lists of resources by type relating to the Middle East. These are freely available to Penn users online through our proxy or the wide web, and a few are linked to the print copies available in our libraries. You'll find several of the bigger sources cross-listed amongst our lists and links to handlists of collections housed at Penn.
Below are the basic/introductory research tools available at Penn, which are foundational for any stage of study or research. These are not specific to the Middle East, but often include many major journals and sources pertinent to the field.
Know of a great tool that somehow wasn't listed here? Feel free to send an email to have it added to our guide.

Middle East Library Locations at Penn

The Middle East Collection is housed in various locations of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, depending on the type of material and its content. Below is a general orientation:
The Van Pelt Library houses the main contents of the Middle East Collection. The collection is integrated into the main stacks, which is in turn, arranged by the Library of Congress Classification system. Floor-by-floor, the layout is as follows:
  • First floor: Current periodicals, microfilm.
  • Third floor: Arabic literature (PJ), Persian, Turkish, and Central Asian literatures (PK, PL), bibliographies and manuscript catalogs (Z)
  • Fourth floor: Islamic studies (BP), social sciences (H), Islamic Law (KBL, KBP)
  • Fifth floor: Histories and politics of Turkey (DR), Middle East and Iran (DS), Egypt and North Africa (DT). Middle East Seminar Room. Offices of the Middle East Bibliographer and Middle East Technical Services.
Located on the 6th floor of Van Pelt Library, the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses a number of important rare books and manuscripts in Arabic and Ottoman Turkish. Further details can be found by clicking here.
Most of the works dealing with Islamic art and architecture are housed in the Fisher Fine Arts Library.
Within the Museum Library, patrons can find the holdings dealing with archaeology and anthropology of the ancient Middle East, and related topics. Official publications of Middle East-based institutions concerned with archaeological conservation and excavations can also be found here.
CAJS houses a small collection of reference works and monograph titles related to Arabic and Islamic studies, in addition to a collection of over 80 manuscript codices in Arabic and other languages of the Middle East.

An Introduction to Penn's Online Resources

JSTOR offers the back issues of journals from a range of humanities and social science disciplines, which you can search by individual title or across the entire database. You can access articles as both as images and as text.  Access to journals from JSTOR is restricted to current Penn faculty, staff and students.
Google Scholar via Penn Libraries
A tool that allows you to access to a wide range of works, many of which are downloadable from various databases, including JSTOR and Project MUSE. Thus it saves you the time of individually searching each database. Searches on Google Scholar link to articles, dissertations, etc. housed within institutional repositories and freely accessible download. It also generates hits from Google Books, which offer book previews or sometimes even free downloads for public domain titles. Added bonus: Google Scholar provides "related citations" for many of its sources, linking to other relevant scholarship while including citations and download links. Use the Penn link above so that Google Scholar provides PennText links for available articles, that is, it logs you in via Penn's system. Directly going to Google Scholar does not provide this service. International periodicals in the humanities and social sciences, which include journals in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and many other Western languages. International periodicals in the humanities and social sciences, which include journals in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and many other Western languages.
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses: UK & Ireland
Databases through which you can search for dissertations and theses. In many cases, you can download a PDF of the dissertation. These resources also include citations and some full-text research papers.
Periodicals Index Online
International periodicals in the humanities and social sciences, which include journals in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and many other Western languages.
EBSCO MegaFile
A multidisciplinary database of academic journals, popular magazines, and newspapers, often with full-text. You can limit your search to "area studies" to narrow to journals and other publications that are more likely to be related to Japan and Asian studies. In addition, searches can be limited by the type of publication, to scholarly, peer-reviewed journals only, or to only articles with linked full text. This database offers abstracts to more than 16,000 periodicals bibliographic citations with indexing.
Historical Abstracts
A database of over 2,000 journals published throughout the world including major historical journals from many countries, in addition to hundreds of journals in the social sciences and humanities. All publications featured date from 1974- present. Updated three times a year. It offers historical coverage of the world from 1450 to the present (not including the U.S. and Canada).

The General Tools of Penn Libraries

Penn Libraries
If you can't find it at Penn? you can request it via BorrowDirect or InterLibrary Loan.
Penn E-Resources
Digital Penn

Union Catalogues

Comprehensive online catalog of library holdings across the globe, which will provide listings of books, journals, maps, recordings, films, scores, and other materials located in public, academic, corporate, school and specialized libraries all over the world. Check Worldcat for holdings of material that are not available at Penn. Available items may be requested through Interlibrary Loan.
Subcatalog within Worldcat, which acts as the union catalog for digital resources from open archive collections representing multidisciplinary resources from more than 1,100 contributors worldwide. Records contain a digital object link allowing users access to the object with just a click

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