Middle East Centre Archive

PA-1-625 Estelle Blyth Collection Camel Train, 1919

The Middle East Centre Archive was founded in 1961 by Elizabeth Monroe and Albert Hourani. The purpose of the Archive is to preserve and make available to research the papers and photographs of individuals who have lived or served in the Middle East. Collections include, for example, Government representatives, members of the armed forces, bankers, businessmen, missionaries and travellers. For further details please see our Collecting Policy and a History of the Middle East Centre Archive: 1961-2017.

The Archive has state of the art facilities in the spectacular Investcorp Building (designed by Zaha Hadid) and now contains over 3,000 boxes of papers and photographs of over 780 individuals or organisations covering the period 1800 to the present day with strong holdings for the Palestine Mandate and for Oman in the 1970s.

If you have papers or photographs that you would like to add to the Archive or if you would like to offer financial support please see our Donations webpage and our Financial gifts webpage.

How to use the Archive

To make an appointment to visit the Archive, please email the archivist, Debbie Usher, at mecarchive@sant.ox.ac.uk

On their first visit to the Archive, members of Oxford University should bring with them a valid Oxford University card. Other readers should bring with them a letter of introduction and some photo ID (for example a passport).

For directions to the Archive, please see our Finding the Archive webpage.

For readers who are not able to visit in person, we are supporting some remote access to the Archive through an at cost scanning service. Scanning costs are £14.00 per hour plus VAT. For more details, please see our webpage on Remote Access.

Opening Days and Hours

The Archive is open in a morning session and an afternoon session on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It is possible to book both sessions. The opening times are:

At 4.00 pm the reading room will close and there will be a 20-minute tea break.

Summer opening hours

Due to summer schools in College, from the 24th June 2024, the Archive reading room opening hours will change to:

If the Archivist is ill the reading room will be closed.

Closure Dates

Please note that the reading room is not running on Fridays.

The Archive will be closed on the following dates:

1st July – 12th July 2024

18th July 2024

19th August – 26th August 2024

9th September – 13th September 2024

Pre-ordering material

Pre-ordering material is recommended, as then boxes can be retrieved and put out ready for you when you arrive. To pre-order material, please browse through the Archive’s Online Guides and Handlists and once you have decided what you would like to look at, then email your list to the archivist, Debbie Usher, at mecarchive@sant.ox.ac.uk

Additional advice on preparing for your visit

Please note that the Archive reading room is air conditioned and kept at a cool 20 degrees C. Coats are not permitted in the reading room, so other warm clothing is recommended, especially during the summer, as the room will feel cold. Please note that the air conditioning has no recycled air, so this reduces the risk of Covid-19.

Please also read through the Archive’s reading room rules and conduct.

For information on the Archive’s extensive photographic collection please browse through our Photographic resources webpages.

Please browse through our Useful Links webpage for information on how to find other Archives in the UK, as well as online Middle East resources.

Useful information during and after your visit

Digital cameras are permitted in the Archive providing flash and sound are turned off and the standard copyright form filled in. For further details please see our Copying of Archives webpage which also notes some restrictions on copying.

Wireless internet is available in the Archive reading room. Researchers with access to Eduroam will automatically connect. Other researchers will need to get a password from the Porter’s lodge for the visitor’s network.

How to cite from the Middle East Centre Archive

Most University style guides have detailed instructions on how to cite from published works (books, journals etc) but often provide little guidance on how to cite Archives – such as correspondence, diaries, notebooks and draft reports. The main purpose of citation is to enable future researchers to find the material that you have cited from.

For our advice on enabling this please see our Citations Standard (pdf file)

Contact Details

Ms Debbie Usher, Archivist
Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford OX2 6JF
mecarchive@sant.ox.ac.uk
Telephone: 01865 284706

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