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A Research Guide to Middle Eastern Studies: Textual Primary Sources

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

Description

A guide to textual sources relating to the Middle East. Most are online, although some essential sources on certain topics are still only available in hard copy (which are linked below to Franklin)

Digitized Historical Sources

A list in roughly chronological order and, when possible, grouped by language. Due for re-organization so excuse the current long list.
Filāḥa Texts Project
“The purpose of the Filāḥa Texts Project is to publish, translate and elucidate the written works collectively known as the Kutub al-Filāḥa or ‘Books of Husbandry’ compiled by Arab, especially Andalusi, agronomists mainly between the 10th and 14th centuries”
Cairo Genizah Collection, Cambridge University, UK
The Taylor-Schechter Cairo Genizah Collection at Cambridge University Library is the world's largest and most important single collection of medieval Jewish manuscripts...At the moment, over 18,000 manuscripts from across the Taylor-Schechter, CUL Or. and Jacques Mosseri Collections are available online, including a substantial number of documents (letters and legal deeds) and liturgical texts (the fruits of a joint project with Ben Gurion University). More manuscripts will be added on a regular basis, until the entire Cambridge Genizah Collection is online.
Open Islamicate Texts Initiative (​OpenITI)
“Multi-institutional effort to construct the first machine-actionable scholarly corpus of premodern Islamicate texts”
Onomasticon Arabicum
“A long-living database project, this new online-version informs on more than 15000 scholars and celebrities from the first Muslim millenary. Its entries in Arabic are compiled from ancient biographical dictionaries, a veritable treasure of Islamic culture. Crossed search allows separate interrogation on any of the different elements of the Arabo-Muslim names, dates and places, reconstructing the identity of a person, trace ways of knowledge transmission and frame historical contexts.”
Empire Online 
It offers images of primary source documents (dating 1492-1969) taken from leading libraries and archives around the world, including folktales, correspondence, diaries, literature, maps, posters, and other illustrations. The database also includes essays from leading scholars in the field of Empire Studies. Covers a range of topics and includes the Middle East, Africa, the Americans, Australasia, Oceania, and South Asia. 
Islamic Lithographs Digital Collection
From the collection of the Islamic Studies Library at McGill University). Browse by language and place of publication.
The Afghanistan Digital Library at NYU
“The project ultimately will digitize, catalog, and make available--in electronic form (website and CD-ROM)--Dari (Persian) and Pashto books published in Afghanistan between 1871 (the earliest known date of a published work) and 1930.”
Digitized Afghanistan Materials in English from the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection
A large collection of materials on Afghanistan in the US. Most of the documents are in English, Persian, and Pashto and date from the 19th c. to the 1960s. The collection was amassed by Arthur Paul, an economic advisor to the Royal Government of Afghanistan from 1960 to 1965. It holds more than 12,000 titles. The Collection contains materials on all subject areas pertaining to Afghan life and culture which includes economics, education, folklore, law, agriculture, language, architecture, geology, geography, history and literature. Documents in this collection are in more than 24 different languages. 
Early Printed Material In Arabic Script  
An inventory of online collections of printed books and other materials in the Arabic script, dating from before 1923.
AMEEL (Arabic and Middle Eastern Electronic Library)
A digital collection from Yale University containing journals, abstracts from Encyclopedia of Islam III, Dictionaries, Manuscripts from the Beinecke and SOAS, Gazettes (Syrian and Palestinian) spanning 1919-1948. To use, click the brown button on the right to “Search or Browse AMEEL.”
“AMEEL holds approximately 350,000 pages of full text, indexed and searchable in the language of publication including Arabic and Western scripts. The full text in AMEEL has been extracted using Optical Character Recognition software (OCR) rather than re-keying all works.”
Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library (1475-1900) 
This is the first full-text searchable digital library of early printed books in Arabic script. Covering religious literature, law, science, mathematics, astrology, alchemy, medicine, geography, travel, history, chronicles, and literature, and including European translations of Arabic works and Arabic translations of European books, it exemplifies the long exchange of ideas and learning between Europe and the Arabic-speaking world.
Tahrir Documents
A collection of pamphlets, newsletters, signs, poems, and other texts gathered in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, between March 2011 and May 2012. The physical documents are housed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Special Collections at the Charles E. Young Research Library. However, all documents are available online as scanned PDF files with accompanying English translations. 
Adab.com  الموسوعة العالمية للشعر العربي
Modern and classical Arabic poetry online. Search / browse the works of authors by name, title, country, etc.
Al-Maktaba al-Shamela
Thousands of Arabic texts in a fully downloadable library.
ذاكرة مصر المعاصرة(Bibliotheca Alexandrina)
Digitalized recordings of interviews & speeches, photographs, books, advertisements, documents, maps, and much more.
al-Hakawati | الحكواتي
A digital public library of Arab and Islamic culture, available in Arabic and English.
Qatar Digital Library
Qatar Digital Library is free to use and reuse. This growing archive covers modern history and culture of the Gulf and the wider region, available online for the first time. The QDL provides access to Archival files, Letters, Maps, Manuscripts, Photographs.
Al-Maktaba al-Waqfiyya
PDFs (scans) of Arabic texts.
Multaqa Ahl al-Hadith:
PDFs (scans) of Arabic texts.
Altafsir.com
A searchable database of dozens of classical and modern Arabic exegetical texts.
Al-Mishkat
A searchable database of classical Arabic texts
Al-Mostafa:
Database of PDFs of Arabic texts, modern and classical.
AlKindi 
A searchable index for Islamic heritage works and authorities by Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies in Cairo. The index complies with FRBR (Functional requirements for Bibliographic Records) model that is recommended by the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA).
Asnad.org
A database of Persian historical documents from Iran and Central Asia up to the 20th century. “Growing number of available Persian historical deeds and documents, both published and unpublished. It shall allow work on archival material with the help of incorporated facsimiles without recourse to the original - often remote - place of publication or storage.”
Shamela
One of the largest free digital collections of Arabic books online, with over 6,000 volumes. Mainly collections concern Islamic religious sciences, but also other topics, such as travelogues, chronicles, and biographical dictionaries. Users can search by keyword or browse according to the genre.
Noor Library
A collection of digital texts in Persian and Arabic.
KetabFarsi
Iranian books and serials in pdf--requires individual free registration.
Al-Furqan Digital Library Portal
A searchable catalog of printed materials and manuscripts related to the Islamic world.
MENAdoc – Digital Collections 
This resource provides open access digital documents related to the MENA-region and to Islamic studies, including many early printed books and other out-of-print texts.
Arabic Collections Online (ACO)
A publicly available digital library of public-domain Arabic language content. ACO currently provides digital access to 5008 volumes across 3452 subjects drawn from rich Arabic collections of distinguished research libraries.
Cultural and Political Texts from Iraq | نصوص ثقافية وسياسية من العراق
A database of political and cultural texts from Iraq published by the Iraqi government in the 1970s and 1980s, gathered by Michael Degerald while doing dissertation research on the period of Ba'thist rule in Iraq.
Kotobarabia Arabic E-Library and Kotobarabia Modern Renaissance Collection
These are two extensive collections of e-books in Arabic. They can be discovered directly by author or title in Franklin.
Duke University Libraries Digitized Ottoman Literature (via Archive.org)
Ottoman-Turkish Literature dating to the mid 19th to early 20th centuries covering a range of topics from education to law, food, philosophy, religion, history, science, and literature proper. 
Al-Waraq: Source for Arabic Books | مكتبة الوراق
المكتبة التراثية، المكتبة المحققة، الخ
Rashf
A database holding around 38,000 Arabic e-books
al-Mashkat
Sunni Islamic books.

Legal and Governmental Sources

The Ghassem Ghani collection, Manuscripts and Archives of the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University
A rich collection of documents in Persian of the Qajar period (1785-1925). The collection consists of more than 1,000 documents including official correspondence of the Qajar rulers and statesmen, important daily notes –such as those addressed to Naser al-Din Shah (1848-1896) by his celebrated premier Amir Kabir as well as financial documents, diplomatic dispatches, intelligence reports, and private letters of such important figures as Mirza Hosein Khan Moshir al- Dowleh, the celebrated statesman of the 1870’s, and Mirza ‘Ali Asghar Khan Amin al-Soltan, premier in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The private letters of the celebrated premier of the early 1950s, Mohammad Mosaddeq, in his early career is also part of this collection. Moreover, there are documents about political dissidents and revolutionaries before and during the Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911), as well as correspondence regarding the Babi-Baha’i leadership in the Baghdad exile in the 1860s, Persian merchant communities in Cairo and harassments by diplomatic representatives in the 1870s and 1880s, letters by Qajar elite women and reports on well-known dissidents such as Jamal al-Din Afghani and Mirza Malkom Khan. There are also random royal decrees, petitions to Qajar shahs and officials by the ordinary people and details of litigations brought before the state authorities. The collection also includes a substantial group of letters in grand style and appearance exchanged between Fath ‘Ali Shah (1798-1834) and his crown prince ‘Abbas Mirza and European courts in the early nineteenth century including the British Prince Regent and Napoleon Bonaparte when Persian alliance was sought by both the British and the French and when Iranian provinces in the Caucasus were first exposed to Russian threat and eventual conquest.
Corpus of Arabic Legal Documents
The first online collection of scattered editions of legal documents from the 2nd/8th to the 9th/15thcentury, often with improved readings compared to earlier print versions. Documents are presented with the Arabic text in modern spelling and with full bibliographical data.
Istanbul Kadı Sicilleri
A searchable database of Ottoman court records (dating between 1500-1700) from İstanbul (city in Istanbul) and bilad-i selâse (Üsküdar, Galata, Eyüp), made possible by İslam Araştırmaları Merkezi (ISAM).
Confidential Print: Middle East, 1839-1969, National Archives, UK. Archive Direct.
“The series originated out of a need to preserve the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. These range from single-page letters or telegrams to comprehensive dispatches, investigative reports, and texts of treaties. All items marked ‘Confidential Print’ were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet and to heads of British missions abroad.
This collection consists of the Confidential Print for the countries of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and Sudan. Beginning with the Egyptian reforms of Muhammad Ali Pasha in the 1830s, the documents trace the events of the following 150 years, including the Middle East Conference of 1921, the mandates for Palestine and Mesopotamia, the partition of Palestine, the 1956 Suez Crisis and post-Suez Western foreign policy, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Egypt: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1853-1962
State Department archive for Egypt from before the opening of the Suez Canal through the era of British domination, Egyptian nationalism, and, finally, independence.
Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Trans-Jordan: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1836-1944
State Department records for Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Trans-Jordan, from Ottoman rule through the era of British and French mandates following the First World War.
The Middle East 1916-2001 : A Documentary Record, Yale Law School.
A selection of diplomatic and government documents relating to Middle Eastern history.
Anwar Sadat Archives (University of Maryland)
Comprehensive electronic archive of publicly available, English-language material (both written and audio-visual) pertaining to the presidency of Anwar Sadat
Palestine and Transjordan administration reports, 1918-1948.  
Cambridge: Archive Editions. Facsims of eds. originally published by various governmental publishers, 1918-1948.  This 16-volume work presents a comprehensive collection of British administrative reports and associated documents, including extensive material hitherto unknown and unpublished. The series includes the pre-Mandate reports of 1918-1923, the Mandate and Departmental Annual Reports from 1923-1947/8, including the unpublished Mandate Reports for 1940 and 1941, the extensive Survey of Palestine 1946/47 and the formal papers covering the termination of the Mandate in 1948. This is an essential research source for information on British administration in Palestine and Transjordan, on the continuous tensions of the period between the Arab and Jewish populations, on civil disorders and the eventual unworkability of the Mandate.
Mandate for Palestine 
The United States. Department of State. Division of Near Eastern Affairs, author book Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1927. English Correspondence referring to economic rights in the mandated territory. Principal documents
American-British Palestine Mandate Convention of December 3, 1924.
Records of the Hashimite dynasties: a twentieth-century documentary history 
[Great Britain]: Archive Editions, 1995. English
Some text in French. Records of the Hashimites is a rare and valuable publication, an encyclopedia of authentic historical documents, tracing in detail through 15 volumes the destiny of the Hashimites, the most ancient and distinguished family in the Middle East. Through painstaking and expert research in government and private files, the editor and his assistant editor have located diaries, secret reports and a wealth of previously unpublished correspondence. These documents are now reproduced in exact facsimile to make available for your library and your own research the primary documents and archival evidence for the history of the Hashimites.
Records of the Hashimites focuses on the 20th century and provides the reader with a detailed study of the convergence of Hashimite and British interests that led to the Arab Revolt in the First World War and the establishment of Hashimite rule in Iraq, Jordan and, briefly, Syria following the defeat of Turkey. Of the many hundreds of documents collected and made public in this great work, some of them ancient, many of them normally hidden or scattered in obscure archives, some of great political importance and all of historic interest - here we give you a glimpse of the sequence and contents of these 15 volumes. The following are merely a few highlights from the c. 10,000 pages of this modern reference work for Hashimite history.
Bibliothèque diplomatique numérique 
Ministère français de l'Europe et des affaires étrangères (MEAE).  Histoire diplomatique * Documents diplomatiques * Ministères des Affaires étrangères * Des diplomates: formation, récits et portraits * Droit international * Traités, accords et conventions * Protectorats et mandat français * Publications officielles étrangères ou intergouvernementales.
French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE). Diplomatic History * Diplomatic Documents * Ministries of Foreign Affairs * Diplomats: Training, Narratives and Portraits * International Law * Treaties, Agreements and Conventions * French Protectorates and Mandate * Foreign or Intergovernmental Official Publications.
The King and the People in Morocco 1950-1959: US State Department Records on the Internal Affairs of Morocco
A database of primary source documents from the US State Department dealing with the political situation in Morocco during the 1950s.
444 Days: Selected Records Concerning the Iran Hostage Crisis 1979-1981  
A collection and timeline curated by US National Archive – January 2017. These records were then included as part of this special project for a total of approximately 7200 pages of newly declassified records from several series.

Seals and Inscriptions

Thesaurus d’épigraphie islamique
This large database contains records and photographs of inscriptions produced across the Islamic world until the year 1000 AH. Created by the Max van Berchem Foundation.
Database of Ottoman Inscriptions (DOI)
A searchable digital database comprising information about, as well as transliterations and pictures of, all the Turkish, Arabic, and Persian architectural inscriptions created in the Ottoman lands during Ottoman times.
Monumental Inscriptions of Historic Cairo     
“The initial aim of this project was to photograph, transcribe and translate the unpublished inscriptions in pre-1800 monuments in Cairo. In addition, it was hoped to record those inscriptions, published or not, most in danger of disappearing because of their fragile state of conservation. First of all, it may be asked, why the cut-off point of 1800? The main reason for this was the realization that the anticipated budget and projected time for the project would simply have become too great if, for instance, the inscriptions of 19th century monuments were added to it. The period also coincided with the demise of direct Ottoman rule.”
Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia (OCIANA)
Aims to compile digital corpus of all known pre-Islamic inscriptions in North and Central Arabia. Entries include: reading of each text both in roman transliteration and in fonts reproducing the ancient letters, translation in English, references to earlier readings, commentary where necessary, bibliography, and all known information about the inscription (provenance, carving technique, relationship to other texts or to rock drawings, structures, etc.) as well as photographs (where available) and facsimiles of each text that can be downloaded free at publishable resolutions. Fully searchable for names, words, grammatical features and subjects.
Digital Archive for the Study of pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions (DASI)
“DASI seeks to gather all known pre-Islamic Arabian epigraphic material into a comprehensive online database, with the aim to make available to specialists and to the broader public a wide array of documents often underestimated because of their difficulty of access.” Current projects include Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions, Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia (OCIANA), Corpus of Aramaic Inscriptions, and Corpus of Nabataean Inscriptions.
Islamic Seals Database from Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
“Initially the database will contain mainly images of seal impressions found in the more than 2600 manuscripts that make up the Chester Beatty Library’s Arabic Collection. The number of images will increase steadily until the seals in all of these manuscripts are included as well as all of those found in the Library’s other Islamic manuscripts (those in its Qur’an, Persian, Turkish and Mughal-era Indian Collections).”
Seal Impressions
From the Islamic Manuscripts Collection, University of Michigan. 361 photos of seal impressions that appear in manuscripts from the Islamic Manuscripts Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan.

Statistics and Reports

Arab Barometer
The Arab Barometer is a multicountry social survey designed to assess citizen attitudes about public affairs, governance, and social policy in the Arab World, and to identify factors that shape these attitudes and values. In this first round of the Arab Barometer, respondents in the countries of Jordan, Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, and Palestine were queried regarding (1) economic questions, (2) evaluation of political institutions, political participation, and political attitudes, (3) identity and nationalism, (4) politics and religion, (5) religiosity, and (6) the Arab world and international affairs. 
Iran Data Portal
An online portal offering social science data on Iran. For example, socioeconomic data, electoral data, political parties, and translations of selected laws and regulations. In both English and Persian.
Yale University's List of Statistical Data by Country
Links to stats for Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and several multi-country sources. 
Yearbook of International Religious Demography
An annual snapshot of the state of religious statistics around the world (past, present, and future) in sets of tables and scholarly articles spanning social science, demography, history, and geography.

Digitized Mid East Sources translated into English or in English

English-language Databases. There is some cross-listing between this list and the previous sections.
Empire Online 
It offers images of primary source documents (dating 1492-1969) taken from leading libraries and archives around the world, including folktales, correspondence, diaries, literature, maps, posters, and other illustrations. The database also includes essays from leading scholars in the field of Empire Studies. Covers a range of topics and includes the Middle East, Africa, the Americans, Australasia, Oceania and South Asia. 
The Iran-Iraq border, 1840-1958 
[Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire, England]: Archive Editions, 1989. English "Published in association with the International Boundaries Research Unit, University of Durham."
"The documents published here have been reproduced in approximately equal measure from originals in the Public Record Office and the India Office Library and Records London"
v. 1. Negotiations culminating in the Treaty of Erzeroum, 1840-1847
v. 2. Efforts of Delimitation Commission and preparation of maps of frontier zone, 1848-1873
v. 3. Further delimitation efforts and disputes over Pusht-i-Kuh and Khotour, 1874-1897
v. 4. Ottoman encroachments across northern border and recurrence of Muhammara dispute, 1903-1911
v. 5. Negotiations culminating in the Constantinople Protocol, 1912-1913
v. 6. Demarcation of boundary by Mixed Commission of 1914 and border disputes following the Great War, 1914-1928
v. 7. Disputes over status of Shatt al-ʼArab and validity of Constantinople Protocol, 1929-1934
v. 8. Reference of the Shatt al-ʼArab dispute to the League of Nations and subsequent bilateral negotiations in Tehran and Geneva, 1934-1935
v. 9. Tehran Treaty of July 1937, new efforts to demarcate boundary and future of Basra Port, 1936-1958
v. 10-11. Maps.
Iran: political diaries, 1881-1965 
Book Cambridge: Archive Editions, 1997. In English. A key source work for modern Iranian history: this comprehensive series of British political reports not only provides an insight into the complexities and conflicts of Persian politics, but also closely reflects the changing nature of the relations between Britain and Persia revealing the extent of those mutual misunderstandings which sometimes made the relationship a difficult and sensitive one. 
Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files, Africa and Middle East, 1960-1969
U.S. State Department Central Files that have not been microfilmed by the National Archives or distributed by other publishers. It contains a wide range of sensitive materials from U.S. diplomats in foreign countries: reports on political, military, and socioeconomic matters; interviews and minutes of meetings with foreign government officials; important letters, instructions, and cables sent and received by U.S. diplomatic personnel; and reports and translations from foreign journals and newspapers. 
The King and the People in Morocco 1950-1959: US State Department Records on the Internal Affairs of Morocco
A database of primary source documents from the US State Department dealing with the political situation in Morocco during the 1950s.
444 Days: Selected Records Concerning the Iran Hostage Crisis 1979-1981  
A collection and timeline curated by US National Archive – January 2017. These records were then included as part of this special project for a total of approximately 7200 pages of newly declassified records from several series.
Confidential Print: Middle East, 1839-1969, National Archives, UK. Archive Direct.
“The series originated out of a need to preserve the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. These range from single-page letters or telegrams to comprehensive dispatches, investigative reports and texts of treaties. All items marked ‘Confidential Print’ were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet and to heads of British missions abroad.
This collection consists of the Confidential Print for the countries of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and Sudan. Beginning with the Egyptian reforms of Muhammad Ali Pasha in the 1830s, the documents trace the events of the following 150 years, including the Middle East Conference of 1921, the mandates for Palestine and Mesopotamia, the partition of Palestine, the 1956 Suez Crisis and post-Suez Western foreign policy, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Egypt: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1853-1962
State Department archive for Egypt from before the opening of the Suez Canal through the era of British domination, Egyptian nationalism, and, finally, independence.
Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Trans-Jordan: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1836-1944
State Department records for Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Trans-Jordan, from Ottoman rule through the era of British and French mandates following the First World War.
The Middle East 1916-2001: A Documentary Record, Yale Law School,
A selection of diplomatic and government documents relating to Middle Eastern history.
Anwar Sadat Archives (University of Maryland)
Comprehensive electronic archive of publicly available, English-language material (both written and audio-visual) pertaining to the presidency of Anwar Sadat.
Palestine and Transjordan administration reports, 1918-1948.  
Cambridge: Archive Editions. Facsims of eds. originally published by various governmental publishers, 1918-1948.  This 16-volume work presents a comprehensive collection of British administrative reports and associated documents, including extensive material hitherto unknown and unpublished. The series includes the pre-Mandate reports of 1918-1923, the Mandate and Departmental Annual Reports from 1923-1947/8, including the unpublished Mandate Reports for 1940 and 1941, the extensive Survey of Palestine 1946/47 and the formal papers covering the termination of the Mandate in 1948. This is an essential research source for information on British administration in Palestine and Transjordan, on the continuous tensions of the period between the Arab and Jewish populations, on civil disorders and the eventual unworkability of the Mandate.
Mandate for Palestine 
United States. Department of State. Division of Near Eastern Affairs, author Book Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1927. English Correspondence referring to economic rights in mandated territory. Principal documents American-British Palestine Mandate Convention of December 3, 1924.
Records of the Hashimite dynasties : a twentieth century documentary history 
[Great Britain]: Archive Editions, 1995. English
Some text in French. Records of the Hashimites is a rare and valuable publication, an encyclopedia of authentic historical documents, tracing in detail through 15 volumes the destiny of the Hashimites, the most ancient and distinguished family in the Middle East. Through painstaking and expert research in government and private files, the editor and his assistant editor have located diaries, secret reports and a wealth of previously unpublished correspondence. These documents are now reproduced in exact facsimile to make available for your library and your own research the primary documents and archival evidence for the history of the Hashimites. Records of the Hashimites focuses on the 20th century and provides the reader with a detailed study of the convergence of Hashimite and British interests that led to the Arab Revolt in the First World War and the establishment of Hashimite rule in Iraq, Jordan and, briefly, Syria following the defeat of Turkey. Of the many hundreds of documents collected and made public in this great work, some of them ancient, many of them normally hidden or scattered in obscure archives, some of great political importance and all of historic interest - here we give you a glimpse of the sequence and contents of these 15 volumes. The following are merely a few highlights from the c. 10,000 pages of this modern reference work for Hashimite history.