ARIT Istanbul (ARIT-I) Library and American Board Archives

Founded in 1964, the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) is a non-profit educational institution that promotes North American and Turkish research related to Turkey in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. Operating libraries at both its Istanbul (ARIT-I) and Ankara centers is a vital component of ARIT’s mission. The ARIT Istanbul Library contains almost 15,000 volumes covering the Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern Turkish periods; its holdings include approximately 11,500 monographs, 180 journal titles, and 2,500 offprints.

One floor of the library is devoted to the Dr. H. Kenneth Snipes Byzantine Collection, which comprises 4500 volumes donated in 1997 from the estate of Prof. Snipes, a textual scholar who had long been working on Michael Psellus. The collection is particularly strong in edited editions and facsimiles of classical and Byzantine period texts, in the reference tools necessary to work with those texts, and in catalogs of manuscript collections worldwide. This significant resource nearly quadrupled the size of the ARIT Istanbul Library’s Byzantine holdings, making it one of the best in Turkey for research into Byzantine literary and intellectual history.

The Snipes Collection includes a complete Migne Patrologia Graeca, Bonn Corpus and Loeb Classical Texts, a large number of the Teubner and Oxford Texts series, and complete or major runs of 45 journals related to Byzantine studies, as well as numerous monographs in the Byzantine period art and architectural history of Turkey.

The second floor of the library is devoted to Ottoman and Turkish studies, supplemented by works on Islam and the Middle East in general. This collection has been built up slowly since ARIT’s founding 47 years ago, with over a third of it coming from donations. The holdings comprise roughly 6,500 monographs and 130 journals. Approximately half are Turkish language works, which include many scarce pre-1970 titles. This collection is especially strong in Ottoman historical studies, edited texts, and general and regional studies. It also contains works on Republican Turkish history and Turkish art, architecture, and literature.

In January 2011, the ARIT Istanbul Library received the library of the Western Turkey Mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), one of the largest American missionary agencies in the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Roughly 3000 items comprise the collection, which includes a number of books, pamphlets, and periodicals produced by the American Board's publication department, as well as the Redhouse Press—the publication department's successor after c.1960. Besides English, the works are published in Ottoman and Modern Turkish, as well as Armenian and Greek.

The online catalogs of both the ARIT Istanbul Library’s main collection (Istanbul-Center library) and American Board collection (Istanbul-Center library-American Board) can be accessed through the “Catalog” link at the top of the page.

In 2011, ARIT also acquired the archives held by the Amerikan Bord Heyeti (ABH), the Turkish office of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), at its headquarters in Istanbul. Consisting mainly of administrative and accounting records, the collection includes correspondence and reports by local personnel and mission stations that document the activities of stations, schools, medical facilities, and publishing and evangelistic ventures in Anatolia and its surroundings. With this major acquisition, the ARIT has become one of the most important international holdings of source material related to American missionary undertakings in Turkey during the Ottoman and Republican eras. (The archives are presently housed at the SALT Research Center and Library in Istanbul, which is also scanning the collection.  Access to the physical archives is currently restricted, in accordance with a plan to make the materials fully accessible on the Internet.)

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