Ottoman Digital Archive

The purpose of the project is to establish a digital library of Ottoman texts in the form of scholarly editions. Despite the recent upsurge of research and publications in Ottoman studies, it is still one of the least explored fields in modern historiography, especially when compared to the vast resources preserved from the Ottoman period. Reasonable estimates show that about half a million manuscripts and 150 million documents were preserved in Ottoman libraries and archives alone, excluding the voluminous collections held in outside institutions. Only a fraction of these texts and documents have been published in modern editions, of which the majority are simple transliterations into Latin script without critical editing and textual analysis. This poverty of authoritative editions of Ottoman texts has been the single most important factor that dissuades scholars from engaging in comprehensive studies to tackle significant historical questions. Even the edited material in published form is often very difficult to access for an average scholar, as because these texts are published in limited numbers, they are expensive to afford, circulate very little, and in most cases are only housed in major research libraries. In response to this need, this project will start an initiative to form a digital library of texts and documents, with critical editions. While these individual texts will be published online in standard book form, collectively they will form a fully searchable database endowed with tools to perform diverse inquiries. It also aims to establish a universal standard to editing Ottoman texts for there have been a variety of methods used for transliteration by individual scholars and institutions.