Publications about Rare Holdings in Arabic Script in the Columbia Libraries

NB – The publications are given in chronological order.

Wynne, James. “Alexander I. Cotheal’s Library,” in Private Libraries of New York, by J. Wynne: 162-172.  New York: E. French, 1860.

Gottheil, Richard. “Semitic Languages at Columbia.” Columbia University Bulletin, no. 19, March 1898: 89-102, esp. 100-101.  The essay has a section about the department’s library resources in Semitic languages which provides some details about manuscripts and printed books as well as their acquisition.

Yohannan, Abraham. “A Manuscript of Gul ū Naurūz: A Seventeenth Century Persian Romance, in the Library of Columbia University.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 23 (1902): 102-108.  Description of MS pers. X892.8 R86.

Gottheil, Richard. “Two Forged Antiquities.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 33 (1913): 306-312, esp. pp. 308-312 for MS arab. Smith or. 388.  In 1908, when Gottheil identified this codex as one of the manuscript forgeries of Giuseppe Vella (1740-1814), Smith and Gottheil were not yet friends, and Gottheil does not disclose the name of the manuscript’s owner.  Moreover, it is not known from whom Smith acquired the manuscript.

Smith, David Eugene. “In the Surnamed Chosen Chest: II – Orientalia.” American Mathematical Monthly 32 (1925): 393-397.

Brasch, Frederick E. “Honor Bestowed on Dr. David Eugene Smith by the Shah of Persia.” Science  N.S. 78, no. 2026 (27 October 1933): 384.

Frick, Bertha Margaret. “The David Eugene Smith Mathematical Library of Columbia University.” Osiris 1 (1936): 79-84.

Ünver, A. Süheyl. “Islamic Manuscripts in the Columbia Libraries.” Columbia Library Columns 8, no. 3 (May 1959): 31-35.

McAleer, Helen E. “A Family Portrait of ‘U.D.’.” Columbia Library Columns 10, no. 3 (May 1961): 18-35.  The memoir provides important information about the provenance of the Islamic manuscript collection of David E. Smith.

Orosius, Paulus. Taʾrīkh al-ʿālam. Anon. Arabic tr., ed. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Badawī. Beirut: Al-Muʾassasah al-ʿarabiyyah li’l-dirāsāt wa’l-nashr, 1982.  Edition of MS arab. X893.712 H.

Bulliet, Richard W. “Medieval Arabic Ṭarsh: A Forgotten Chapter in the History of Printing.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 107 (1987): 427-438.  Study of P. Col. Inv. 705b.

Bulliet, Richard W. “Printing in the Medieval Islamic Underworld.” Columbia Library Columns 36, no. 3 (May 1987): 13-20.  Study of P. Col. Inv. 705b.

Schmitz, Barbara. “Lives of the Prophets: An Illustrated Islamic Manuscript.” Columbia Library Columns 41, no. 2 (February 1992): 20-31.  Description of MS pers. X892.8 Q1 Q Folio.

Khayyām, ʿUmar. Al-Khayyām mathématicien. Eds. and trs. Roshdi Rashed and Bijan Vahabzadeh. Paris: Albert Blanchard, 1999.  For an edition with French tr. of the famous “Maqālah fī al-jabr wa’l-muqābalah,” which counts MSS arab. Smith or. 34 and 45 (9) among its 10 Leithandschriften, see pp. 116-236.

Orosius, Paulus. Historiarum adversus paganos libri VII. Anon. Arabic tr., ed. Mayte Penelas. Madrid: CSIC, 2001.  Edition of MS arab. X893.712 H.

Schaefer, Karl R. Enigmatic Charms: Medieval Arabic Block Printed Amulets in American and European Libraries and Collections. Leiden: Brill, 2006.  For a transcription with English tr. of P. Col. Inv. 705b, see pp. 169-176 and pls. 40a-c.

Riedel, Dagmar A. The Quran in East and West: Manuscripts and Printed Books. Columbia University Libraries,  2013.  Online exhibition, available at:

Sahner, Christian C. “From Augustine to Islam: Translation and History in the Arabic Orosius.” Speculum 88 (2013): 905-931.  Study of MS arab. X893.712 H.

Riedel, Dagmar A. “Manuscripts, Printed Books, and Near Eastern Studies in North America: The Manuscripts in Arabic Script of Columbia Libraries.” Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 6 (2015): 280-310.  An earlier version without illustrations is available in the Academic Commons of Columbia University at:

Liebrenz, Boris. “An Arabic Letter (ca. AH 6th/12th CE c.) Concerning the Production of a Manuscript of Ibn Sīnā’s al-Šifā.”  Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 9 (2018): 32-38.  Study of P. Col. Inv. 823.

Riedel, Dagmar A. “The Book in Arabic Script,” in A Companion to the History of the Book, edited by Jonathan Rose and Simon Eliot: 315-333.  2d ed. 2 vols. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2019.  DOI:

Dagmar A. Riedel

Last updated, 12 January 2020

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