“An Egyptian Sheikh’s Literary World” digitally reconstructs the large book collection of Sheikh Mustafa Salamah al-Najjari (d. 1286/1870), an important intellectual in late Ottoman Egypt. We use the 480 print and manuscript titles and valuations listed in his inheritance inventory as the foundation for our data set. From there, we attempt to identify and track down these works, which we then consult to enhance our data set via information that we gather by hand. Our goal is to visualize bibliographic, economic, geographic, and network data, in order to analyze what we know — and have yet to discover — about this world of texts.
This project is the first empirical history of the coexistence of manuscript and print culture in Cairo. In addition to making our work and discoveries publicly available, we will also blog about our process in order to inform and inspire other digital humanities projects, especially those concerning personal libraries from bygone eras.
Here, you can follow our progress until we create our full website!