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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

West African Arabic Manuscripts -MES: Archives

This guide was created to aid in the finding of manuscripts from West Africa that are written in Arabic or in Arabic-script.

This work is used in accordance with a CC-BY-NC-SA license from SOAS, University of London - the Digital Library Project Office. 

West African Archives by Country

Manuscripts held in private collections - See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts for additional details. 
Centre Nationale des Archives

As of 1993, the archives held more than 150 manuscripts. The archive is located at Rue des Archives Nationales - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 

 

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique

Formerly known as the Centre Voltaique de la Recherche Scientifique, the center's manuscript was reported to have held more than 200 manuscripts in 1992. The center is located at Captain Thomas Sankara Avenue - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 

 

Manuscripts also held in private collections - See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts for additional details. 
University of Ghana - Balme Library

The University of Ghana's Balme Library has an Arabic collection of approximately 5,000-6,000 books and 500 manuscripts. The manuscripts collection was a project undertaken by the Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana, to document the history of the Arabic language in West Africa. The library is located on W.E.B. Dubois Rd. - Accra, Ghana. 

 

Manuscript holdings also found in private collections. See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts (1992) for more detail. 
Manuscripts held in private collections. See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts (1992) for more details. 
Manuscripts held in private collections. See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts (1992) for more details. 
Ahmad Baba Aboul Abbass Library

With the support of SAVAMA, the Ford Foundation, and the Mali-Luxembourg Cooperation, the Ahmad Baba Aboul Abbas Library is located in the Badjinde district of Timbuktu, and is estimated to hold a collection of 5,500 manuscripts. On the premises are a manuscript and reading room, which scholars may use to study the resources available. 

 

Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research (IHERI -AB)

Formerly known as the Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research (CEDRAB), the Institute currently holds approximately 30,000 manuscripts. The Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation has already published a catalogue of approximately 9,000 manuscripts. Items contained within the archive were sourced from all over Mali, in addition to some from the borders of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea, Niger, Algeria, and Cote d'Ivoire. 

 

Ahmad Boularaf Library

With funding from SAVAMA, the Ford Foundation, and the Mali-Luxembourg Cooperation, the Bibliothèque Ahmad Boularaf is located in the Badjinde district of Timbuktu and is home to nearly 3,600 manuscripts. On the premises are the manuscript room, a print room, and a reading room for scholars to use to study the materials. 

 

Alpha Mahamane Library

Located in the city of Diré, in the Timbuktu Region of Mali, the Alpha Mahamane Library is home to more than 8,400 manuscripts in a designated manuscript room. The library premises are also home to a reading room and a meeting room. 

 

Alpha Seydou Landoure Library

Located in the City of ​Djenné, the Alpha Seydou Landoure Library is home to 800 manuscripts. The library was created to salvage what remained of a large familial collection of manuscripts, dealing with topics of theology, Islamic law, grammar, literature, the translation of the Koran, philosophy, history, and astronomy. 

 

Al-Bukhary Library

The Al-Bukhary Library is located in the Banikane village in Niafounke circle, containing more than 1,100 manuscripts. 

 

Cheick Aguibou Sosso Library

The Chieck Aguibou Sosso Library is located in Segou City, and is home to 4,200 manuscripts. 

 

Cheick Hamma Hamma Library

The Cheick Hamma Hamma Library is located in the village of Dibla, 25 km from the circle of Goundam. It is home to more than 9,900 manuscripts.

 

Cheick Oumar Alkabir Djiré Library

The Cheick Oumar Alkabir Library is located in Segou city, and its premises include a manuscript room and a reading room for visiting scholars. 

 

Cheick Sidi al-Mukhtar al-Kunti al-Kabir Library

The Cheick Sidi al-Mukhtar al-Kunti al-Kabir library is located in Gao City, Mali, and his home to more than 3,000 manuscripts. Funded by SAVAMA-DCI and the Ford Foundation, the library premises include a manuscript room and a reading room for visiting scholars. 

 

Cheickna Boulker Library

Located in the Sankore district, the Cheickna Boulker Library is home to 3,000 manuscripts. 

 

Djenne Library

The Djenné library was created to house the manuscript collections of twenty-five families of Djenné. With funding from SAVAMA-DCI, PSIC, Orange-Mali, and the British Library's Endangered Archives Program, the library has begun efforts to digitize its holdings. At present, the premises include a manuscript room, a reading room, an exhibition hall, and a meeting room for visiting scholars to use. 

 

Fondo Ka'ti Library

Located in the Hamabangou quarter of Timbuktu, the Fondo Kati library is home to more than 12,600 manuscripts. Also known as La Biblioteca Andalusi de Tombouctou, the library has received generous support and funding from the Spanish government due to ties between the Ka'ti family and Spain. The collection has been gathered from various branches of the Ka'ti family, and the library's founder Ismaiel Diadie Haidara has devoted much of his focus to gathering works related to his Spanish ancestry. 

 

Al-Hadji Ino Library

The Al-Hadji Ino library is located in Ansongo Town, in the Gao Region of Mali. It is home to more than 1,700 manuscripts and more than 1,000 other print materials. 

 

Hassey Bocar Adjawiakoye Library

The Hassey Bocal Adjawiakoye Library is located in the Sareykeïna district, and is home to an estimated 650 manuscripts that can be viewed in its manuscript room. 

 

Al-Imam Essayouti Library

The Al-Imam Essayouti Library, under the care of Imam Abderrahmane Ben Essayouti, is located in the Djingarey Ber district of Timbuktu. It is home to an estimated 8,000 manuscripts, 1,500 of which have been catalogued and published. Also onsite are a manuscript room, a reading room, an exhibition hall, and a conservation room. 

 

Imam Sormoye Library

Located in the city of Djenné, the Imam Sormoye Library is home to 2,800 manuscripts. 

 

Mahamane Fondogoumo Library

Located in the Abaradjou distric, the Mahamane Fondogoumo Library is home to 2,000 manuscripts. With support from SAVAMA-DCI, the Ford Foundation, and the Mali-Luxembourg Cooperation, the library's facilities now include a manuscript room, a reading room, and a training room for women. 

 

Mamma Haidara Library

The Mamma Haidara Library is located in the Hamabangou district of Timbuktu, and is home to an estimated 42,000 Islamic manuscripts and more than 8,000 printed books. To date, 7,000 manuscripts have been cataloged and 6,000 have been published. The facilities consist of a paper conservation and manufacturing center, a research unit, and an administrative block - in addition ot reading rooms, computer rooms, an exhibition hall, and a digitization room. 

 

Mohamad Mahmoud Imam of the Ber Mosque Library

The Mohamad Mahmoud Imam of the Ber Mosque Library is located in the Village of Ber, and is home to an estimated 5,000 manuscripts. Its facilities include a reading room and a manuscript room that may be used by visiting researchers. 

 

Mohamed Isaa al-Ansari Library
The Mohamed Isaa al-Ansari Library is located int he Abaradjou district, and is home to more than 1,000 manuscripts. 

 

Mohammad Yahya Ould Kouni Library
The Mohammad Yahya Ould Kouni Library is located in the Abaradjou district, and is home to 2,000 manuscripts. Six hundred of the manuscripts have been cataloged at present, and researchers may use the library's manuscript room and reading room. 

 

Moulaye Bouhaha Library

The Moulaye Bouhaha Library is located in the Djingarey Ber neighborhood, and is home to an estimated 320 manuscripts that may be viewed in the library's reading room. The library has recently undergone a rehabilitation and refurbishment due to funding from SAVAMA-DCI. 

 

Al-Moustapha Konate de Maigala Library

Located in the Badjinde district of Timbuktu, the Al-Moustapha Konate of Maigala Library is home to more than 1,400 manuscripts - 500 of which have been catalogued. On the premises are the manuscripts room, an exhibition hall, a reading room, and a Koranic school. The library has recently undergone a rehabilitation and refurbishment due to funding from SAVAMA-DCI. 

 

Sekou Tawati Library

The Sekou Tawati Library is located in the City of Djenne, and is home to 3,750 manuscripts.

 

Sidi Igoumo Library

The Sidi Igoumo Library is located in the Sankore district, and is home to more than 5,300 manuscripts. The library has recently undergone a rehabilitation and refurbishment due to funding from SAVAMA-DCI. 

 

Sidi Zeyane Haidara Library

The Sidi Zeyane Haidara Library is located in the Sareykeina district and is home to nearly 5,000 manuscripts. The library has recently undergone a rehabilitation and refurbishment due to funding from SAVAMA-DCI. 

 

Al-Qadi al-Aqib as-Sanhaji Library

The Al-Qadi al-Aqib as-Sanhaji Library is located in the Sankore district, and is home to 3,000 manuscripts. 

 

Al-Wangari Library

With funding from SAVAMA and the Ford Foundation, the Al-Wangari Library is located in the Badjinde district of Timbuktu. Its roots lie in the original library of Shaykh Muhammad Baghayogho, a prominent 16th century jurist and shaykh from Djenne. It is estimated that the library holds approximately 3,000 manuscripts - and on the premises they also have a room of manuscripts, a show room, a conservation room, and a reading room for the printed materials. 

 

Zawiyat al-Kunti LIbrary

The Zawiyat al-Kunti library is located in the Badjinde quarter, and is home to more than 9,800 manuscripts. The library has recently undergone a rehabilitation and refurbishment due to funding from SAVAMA-DCI. 

 

al-Zeiniya of Boujbeha Library

The Al-Zeiniya de Boujebeha Library is lcoated in the Village of Boudjebeha, 240 km from Timbuktu. It is home to 3,000 manuscripts, roughly 1,100 of which have been cataloged and published. The University of Illinois Library posesses a copy of this catalog, titled "Al- Maktabah al-Zayniyah: Bujbihah, Mali."

Institute Mauritanien de Recherche Scientifique

The Institute Mauritanien de Recherche Scientifique is a subsidiary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports headquartered in Nouakchott. It's mission is to preserve elements of Mauritanian heritage, and is home to a robust manuscripts department that is home to a large manuscript library. Some of the documents have been digitized, the copies of which are stored at the University of Freiburg in the Oriental Manuscript Resource

 

ISERI - Institut Scientifique d'Enseignement et de Recherches Islamiques

Located in Nouakchot, Mauritania - ISERI is an Islamic learning center that is also home to a collection of Islamic texts. Amongst the collection are more than 1,900 manuscripts, acquired from numerous personal collections. 

IRSH - Institute des Recherches en Sciences Humaines

IRSH is an institute of higher education attached to Abdou Moumouni University in Niger. It is home to the country's largest manuscript collection, which contains primarily Arabic works, but also many regional languages such as Hausa, Fulfulde, Zarma, and Kanuri written in Arabic script (Ajami).  

Arewa House Centre for Historical Documentation and Research

The Arewa House, located in Zaria, Nigeria, is home to a vast archive designed to safeguard its Arabic/Ajami Manuscript collection. 

 

Center for Trans-Saharan Studies, University of Maiduguri

The Center for Trans-Saharan Studies at the University of Maiduguri has been established as a depository for the preservation of manuscripts related to Western Sudan and the Trans-Saharan area. 

 

Jos Museum and Lugard Hall Library, Kaduna

The Jos Museum and Lugard Hall are home to a number of Arabic-language manuscripts, a catalog for which was published in 1966.  The Jos Museum is home to more than 1,000 Islamic manuscripts, while the Lugard Hall Library is home to approximately 30 manuscripts. 

 

University Library Ibadan, Centre of Arabic Documentation

The Institute of African Studies at the University of Ibadan is home to more than 500 Islamic manuscripts, mostly in Arabic with some resources in Fulbe, Hausa, and Yoruba. Additionally, the University Library is home to more than 1,200 Arabic manuscripts. 

 

The Nigerian National Archives

The Nigerian National Archives of Kaduna are home to Arabic and Hausa documents and manuscripts, some of which date back to as early as the 12th century. 
 

Manuscripts held in private collections - See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts for additional details. 
Maktabat al-Shaykh al-Khadim

Founded in 1977, the library is devoted primarily to religious texts and is home to its own printing press. More than 40,000 korans have been calligraphed and published in the library. The library is also devoted to the preservation of manuscripts held in the collection. 

 

Manuscripts also held in private collections - See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts for additional details. 
Public Archives of Sierra Leone 

Thanks to support from the Endangered Archive Programme, more than 170 volumes from the Public Archives of Sierra Leone have been digitized, with over 32,000 images. Largely dealing with the identities, origins, and experiences of enslaved Africans relocated to the colony in the 19th century, documents also include letterbooks in Arabic that discuss political and commercial relations with the interior of West Africa in the latter half of the 19th century. 

Manuscripts held in private collections - See the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts for additional details. 
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Additional Archives by Country

The British Library

The British Library holds a small collection of manuscripts from West Africa. These include eight bound volumes of written materials and five Qur'ans, amounting to approximately 3,000 manuscript pages. Most of the items date from the mid-19th century. 

 

SOAS University of London - Borno and Old Kanembu Islamic Manuscripts Collection

The University of London has a collection of Old Kanembu Islamic manuscripts written in Arabic between the 17th - 19th centuries. The collection was digitized from the donated photographs of David Bivar, taken of manuscripts gathered by Dmitry Bondarev and Abba Isa Tijani in Nigeria, Niger, and Chad. 

 

Trinity College Library - Dublin

The Manuscripts and Archives Research Library at Trinity College is home to more than 20,000 manuscripts, dating from the 13th century BC to the present day. Many are in Arabic, including a small number of West African origin. 

Charles Stewart in the 180s developed his Arabic Manuscript Management System (AMMS) as a finding aid for a collection of Arabic manuscripts from Mauritania. The AMMS has other collections and it includes over 20,000 records from seven West African collections. see WAAMD/ West African manuscript database  http://www.westafricanmanuscripts.org/home

 
Northwestern University - Herskovits Library Collection

The Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies hosts more than 5,000 items donated to the library by several Northwestern professors, more than 60% of which are original, hand-written manuscripts. Most are in Arabic, though some are in African languages such as Hausa, Fulfulde, and Wolof written in the Arabic Scripts. Resources are available for use M-F 10am - 4pm at the Main Library on Northwestern University's Evanston Campus, and advance appointments are strongly encouraged. For more information or to schedule a visit, contact ISITA@northwestern.edu.  and you can search the Database that Charles established: WAAMD/ West African manuscript database  http://www.westafricanmanuscripts.org/home

 

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan's Islamic Manuscripts Collection consists of 1,103 volumes dating between the 8th and 20th century CE. Most of the manuscripts were produced in the Middle East and North Africa, though other production areas are represented. Manuscripts may be viewed in person in the Special Collections Library, with advanced registration and request of resources. 

 

Princeton University

The Manuscripts Division of the Princeton University Library holds nearly 10,000 volumes of Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other manuscripts of the Islamic world, written in Arabic Script. It is the largest collection in North America. Collection holdings may be viewed in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library upon registration and request prior to arrival. 

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