Digital Resources for the Study of Persian Manuscripts

The following resources are some of the main institutions and libraries for the purpose, but this post can be updated with further suggestions from the readers. Feel free offer suggestions in the (moderated) comments section.


The development of online resources and digital libraries has encouraged scholars, researchers and educators to utilise primary sources such as manuscripts more than ever before. The field of Iranian Studies is no exception. Study of first-hand material has always led to incredible results which had otherwise remained obscure. This post intends to provide a list of digital resources that facilitate access to Perso-Islamic manuscripts and historical documents for scholarly and educational use, both within Iran and internationally. The resources compiled below are chiefly those which provide image resources, rather than just the catalogue, or the text. In order to narrow it down to manuscripts and documents, the list below does not include museum databases.

Digital Resources in Iran

Tehran University accepts orders of manuscripts through their Telegram channel @Manuscripts_lib.

Malek Library and Museum database is searchable according to the special collections, media, style, and date of creation.

Melli Library offers digital images of the manuscripts at the Tehran National Library, but it requires an IP address within Iran (trying from outside of Iran, might require a VPN); however the section for historical documents is accessible outside of Iran too.

Majles Digital Library is temporarily out of service. It used to provide information on all manuscripts in their repository and a pdf file of the manuscript.

The Library of Imam Reza’s Shrine in Mashhad provides access to a limited number of digitised codices in the Astan-i Qods Library.

Digital Resources Elsewhere

The Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME) has made it easy for researchers to get access to digital resources offering free access to many manuscripts from the Middle East and North Africa. Their Persian manuscripts can be reached here. They are also categorised based on their script.

Cambridge Digital Library provides access to over 5000 Islamic manuscripts.

The Persian Collection at the British Library in London provides a list of Essential websites and online resources that is worth visiting.

The Austrian National Library in Vienna holds a good number of Persian manuscripts, with their digital access through Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.

Persian Manuscript Association (PMA) has an enormous archive of Persian manuscripts (often those with little-to-no access) from collections in Iran, Turkey, and elsewhere in the world. The Association is committed to help researchers and scholars with resources they require (via email); however, the libraries and collections should be contacted directly for copyrights and permissions.

Catalogue of manuscripts in Turkey

Catalogue of manuscripts in Germany.

Manuscripts of Persian origin with Arabic text at the Bologna University in Italy are digitised and searchable among their 450 Arabic manuscripts.

Berlin State Library‘s rich digital resources provide access to a plethora of Persian manuscripts.

The Digital library at the University of Pennsylvania has provided a large collection of digital manuscripts from the Muslim world which is easily searchable with titles of Persian texts. It includes digital images of resources from the American Philosophical Society, Bryn Mawr College, Columbia University, Free Library of Philadelphia, Haverford College, Temple University Libraries, and University of Pennsylvania Libraries and Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, all in one place.

A large number of splendid Persian manuscripts have been digitised and shared from the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin among their other oriental manuscripts.

As one of the most frequently illustrated texts in Persian literature, the Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdausi is one of the best resources for teaching the history of art in Persianate lands.  The Cambridge University Library presents myriad decorated copies of the text from around the world at Shahnama Project.

The well-known catalogue of manuscripts from the Islamicate world in the UK, Fihrist, is a good place to start looking for a text or locating a manuscript

The Edinburgh University Library has digitised the Al-Biruni’s Chronology of Ancient Nations (Or. MS. 161) and a few other Persian manuscripts.

Manuscripts of Persian origins in the National Library of France are accessible through Gallica. They are catalogued as both Persan and Arabe depending on the language.

The Qatar Digital Library (in the National Library of Qatar) holds digitised Persian manuscripts, all neatly organised and easily searchable.

The Michigan University Library preserves some 191 manuscripts of Persian origins, which can be accessed via the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York possesses a collection of Persian manuscripts and fragments, most of which are digitised and shared on their website.

Persian manuscripts at the Library of Congress are found in Persian Language Rare Materials and calligraphy specimens in Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy.

MGIMO University in Russia has shared a limited number of digitised Persian manuscripts.

The resources are virtually endless and continually growing in this age of digital humanities. The preceding list will be periodically updated and new resources will be added here in the hopes of helping researchers who consult Persian manuscripts.

The featured image is from the Kitab al-Diryaq at the BNF.

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