Ottoman sources teaching session
This week’s blog has been written by Rosa Vercoe, Projects and Operations Manager at LCSS, London Centre for Social Studies, and co-ordinator of the recent Training Programme on Ottoman and Archival Studies, which took place in London and Oxford, and included a visit to SOAS Archives on 5th August.
The LCSS Ottoman Programme is designed to fill the gap for so much-needed short-term courses to help researchers and Master’s /PHD students working in the field of Ottoman Studies. It aims to familiarise researchers with the relevant archival resources available in UK and the key institutions with the greatest expertise in the field. The Programme included visits to the National Archives, British Library, SOAS Library, Senate House Library, Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation and the Weston Library of the Bodleian Libraries of the Oxford University. The Programme attracted a number of researchers and academics from the academic institutions of UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France and USA and significantly expanded their networking circles.
The participants acquired a valuable knowledge about UK-based Ottoman resources and manuscripts as well as research tools necessary to locate archival materials throughout the world. The trainees got an invaluable opportunity to study some highly sought-after original documents, and network with leading experts on Ottoman Turkish and Islamic sources working in UK.
Visits to both the SOAS Library and SOAS Archives were a key feature one of the Programme. SOAS librarian, Mary Fisk, gave a brilliant presentation on SOAS Library Resources for Turkish and Ottoman Studies including printed resources, offsite materials, materials in other scripts, audio-visual materials and SOAS archives and manuscript collections. Guidance was also given on a number of extremely useful databases related to Islamic, Middle East and Central Asian Studies, confidential print of the Middle East as well as theses databases, specialised web portals and websites related to Ottoman Studies. Trainees also received a comprehensive guide on Ottoman archives, rare books and manuscripts at SOAS Library, including personal papers, maps, atlases and pictorial works kindly prepared by the Dominique Akhoun-Schwarb, Subject Librarian (Middle East & Central Asia).
The participants then had a fascinating session with Ali Bayindir, PHD Candidate from Dundee University, about the Ottoman Studies research methodology followed by demonstration of original pictorial works and manuscripts from the SOAS Archives. Dr Naguib, a lecturer in Islamic Studies from Lancaster University, mentioned that “…the final presentation on archival research, and the visit to the store and reading room – where a specially selected manuscripts were laid out for the group- had been very enriching”.
SOAS archives staff invited the group to the archives premises where the trainees could learn how the priceless archival materials are stored and preserved. Apparently, SOAS archival storage facilities comply with the international standards for manuscripts preservation. The participants really enjoyed both sessions- at the Library and the Archives. This was a truly unforgettable and enjoyable event!