December 13, 2005 Islamic Manuscripts Collection Now Available Online

Manuscripts from Mali Document Life and Culture of West Africa

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

“Islamic Manuscripts from Mali” is the newest collection to be made available on the Global Gateway Web site of international materials. The presentation can be accessed at

This collection of 22 Islamic manuscripts provides important insights into the life and culture of West Africans during the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Era. The Library of Congress, through a collaborative effort with the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library of Timbuktu, Mali, is making available online these rare and important documents. The manuscripts are the work of a number of authors and cover a variety of topics, including astrology, commerce, Islamic law, health care, mysticism, slavery and agriculture. All the manuscripts are written in various forms of the Arabic script.

The 22 manuscripts published in this Web site are primary sources for the study of the traditional Islamic states and culture of West Africa. These documents have been previously unavailable to scholars outside of Mali and have not been used in any research projects concerning the area. Their use as research resources will provide a means to a much fuller and more accurate understanding of life in Mali and West Africa during the past 500 years.

Alongside the manuscript collection are selections of Timbuktu maps and photographs by Phillip Harrington that were taken for Look magazine. An exhibit site featuring these manuscripts is also available online at

Digital images of the manuscripts were donated by Abdel Kader Haidara, owner and director of the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library. The Library of Congress will include additional manuscripts in the future as new digital images are received.

This online presentation of “International Manuscripts from Mali” joins other world history collections available on the Library of Congress’ Global Gateway Web site at This Web site features the extraordinary international collections of the Library of Congress as well as those of its partners from libraries in Brazil, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Russia. This site also makes available such rare items as “The Kraus Collection of Sir Francis Drake,” “The Lewis Carroll Scrapbook” and “Selections from the Naxi Manuscript Collection,” which documents ceremonial writings of the Naxi people of China, who write using the only living pictographic language in the world.


PR 05-257
ISSN 0731-3527