The MEC Archive is open to current members of Oxford University and also to external readers.
We appreciate that many researchers may not be able to visit, due to the difficulties of international travel during the continuing pandemic. We will therefore continue to devote more labour resources to supporting remote access, by providing an at cost scanning service. Scanning costs are £10.65 per hour plus VAT. For more details, please see our webpage on Remote Access
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 (pdf file).
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 700 individuals or organisations covering the period 1800 to the present day with strong holdings for the Palestine Mandate and for Oman in the 1970s.
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).
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:
Morning session: 10.00-12.30
Afternoon session: 13.40-16.00 and 16.20-17.20
At 16.00 the reading room will close and there will be a 20 minute tea break.
If the Archivist is ill the reading room will be closed.
Please note that the reading room is not running on Fridays. In addition the Archive will be closed on the following dates:
29 August - 6th Sept 2022
19 - 20 Sept 2022
26 Sept - 3 Oct 2022
To help reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19:
Please postpone a visit if you have any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 (high temperature, continuous cough, loss of smell or taste). In these circumstances, please stay at home and seek a Covid-19 test.
Face coverings are optional in the Archive reading room.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.