Digitizing the Raja of Mahmudabad Palace Library Manuscript Collection

At the invitation of the Mahmudabad family, Persian Manuscript Initiative (PMI) co-PI Matthew Thomas Miller traveled to India in January of this year to do a preliminary assessment of the Raja of Mahmudabad Palace Library manuscript collection. We are pleased report that this week work officially began on the Raja of Mahmudabad Manuscript Digitization Project, under the leadership of the Raja, Dr. Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan, and his eldest son, Dr. M.A.A. Khan.

Dr. Miller’s trip was part of a larger multi-institutional effort involving experts and funding from the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, and PMI (itself a project of Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University) that is aimed at preserving and expanding access to the Mahmudabad collection. The project is currently in the initial stages, but the digital images of the Mahmudabad manuscripts will eventually be made freely available via the vHMML Reading Room—the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library’s new, state-of-the-art manuscript portal.

Raja of Mahmudabad Palace Library Project leader, Dr. Ali Khan Mahmudabad (center, in white), with project advisors Dr. Ignatius Payyappilly (Hill Museum and Manuscript Library) (background right) and Dr. Kevin Greenbank (Cambridge University) (left) on the first day

The Raja of Mahmudabad Palace Library collection contains approximately 2,000 Persian and Arabic manuscripts and it is considered to be one of the most important privately held manuscript collections in India. It is a well-rounded collection with manuscripts from all major genres of premodern Islamic thought and sciences.

While in India, Dr. Miller also met with a series of important manuscript scholars and curators in Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai, which have yielded some exciting new potential projects and collaborations. More information on these will be released in the coming year.

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