Caring for historic manuscript collections in one of the world’s most volatile locations.
Sheima Budeiry, a descendant of one of the great families of Jerusalem, has patiently photographed thousands of Islamic manuscripts kept in and near the Old City. Conflicting religious claims in the area have made this an extremely volatile location where cultural heritage is constantly under threat. Sheima’s work serves scholars around the world, but most poignantly helps local Palestinian researchers in the West Bank no longer able to visit Jerusalem to consult the manuscripts.
The projects at the Budeiry, Khalidi, Dar Issaf Nashashibi, and Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Bukhari Libraries exemplify HMML’s two-fold mission of preservation and access. At risk from sudden outbreaks of violence and vulnerable to restrictions on access, these collections were prime candidates for digitization and a natural complement to HMML’s work with Christian manuscripts in the Old City. Thanks to Sheima, to the families who have opened their libraries to the world, and to HMML’s field director in Jerusalem David Dahdal, their contents are safe.