Recovering Yemen’s Cultural Heritage: The Stookey Microfilms

In: Shii Studies Review

Abstract

In 1973, recent PhD and newly-affiliated Research Associate at the University of Texas at Austin, Robert W. Stookey, made microfilm copies of a number of Arabic manuscripts in Yemen on a variety of subjects. Stookey was not himself a manuscripts expert, but was instead invested in preserving and making available for research the intellectual tradition of Yemen, a country in which he had spent considerable time as a researcher and member of the Foreign Service. Stookey’s microfilms were accessioned to the UT Libraries’ Middle East collection in 1980, and digitized starting in 2014. This article discusses the importance of the Stookey microfilms as an early post-custodial arrangement for preserving, making accessible, and ultimately recovering the intellectual heritage of Zaydism in Yemen. Through their inclusion in the Zaydi Manuscript Tradition portal, these microfilms will be made freely and openly available for anyone to discover and study on the Internet. While the destruction of life, property, and cultural memory continues in Yemen, this is an example of a way for North American library collections to help to recover Yemen’s precious heritage.

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