Approaching Lebanese History

with Graham Pitts

hosted by Chris Gratien

Even when writing the history of a particular geographical space, historians often find themselves circling the globe in search of new source material for research. This may be especially true for historians of Lebanon, whose archival sources are spread throughout various libraries in Lebanon, the Middle East and the West. In this episode, Graham Pitts shares his own research experience and discusses some of the different sources and archives available to scholars working on the history of modern Lebanon.


Graham Pitts is a PhD candidate at Georgetown University focusing on Middle East environmental history
Chris Gratien is a PhD candidate studying the history of the modern Middle East at Georgetown University (see

Episode No. 99
Release date: 30 March 2013
Location: Simplon, Paris
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Music sampled from Fairouz - Al Bosta:

Citation: "Approaching Lebanese History: Archives and Sources for Modern Lebanese History," Graham Pitts and Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 99 (March, 30 2013)

Note for the listener: This podcast is based in part on primary source research. It also makes use of publicly available information and draws from the following works below, which are also mentioned during the course of the episode. For the purposes of academic citation, we encourage you to consult these resources. 

Archives Covered

Egyptian National Library and Archives (sites are currently down), Cairo (map)
Lebanese National Archives / Beirut (map)
American University / Beirut (map)
Maronite Catholic Patriarchate Archives / Bkerké, Lebanon
Başbakanlık Ottoman Archives / Istanbul (map) / Catalog
French Diplomatic Archives / Paris (map)
French Diplomatic Archives / Nantes (map)
British National Archives / Kew, UK (map)
US National Archives / College Park, MD (map)

Select Bibliography

Akarli, Engin. The Long Peace: Ottoman Lebanon, 1861-1920. University of California Press, 1993.

Faroqhi, Suraiya. Approaching Ottoman history: an introduction to the sources. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Firro, Kais. Inventing Lebanon: nationalism and the State under the Mandate. Vol. 6. IB Tauris, 2003.

Khater, Akram F. Inventing Home: Emigration, Gender, and the Middle Class in Lebanon, 1870-1920. University of California Press, 2001.

Labelle Jr, Maurice M. Traces of empire| Decolonization and the United States in Lebanon, 1941--1967. Diss. THE UNIVERSITY OF AKRON, 2012.

Méouchy, Nadine, and Peter Sluglett. The British and French Mandates in Comparative Perspectives (Les Mandats Francais Et Anglais Dans Une Perspective Comparative). Vol. 93. Brill Academic Pub, 2004.

Mikdashi, Maya. "Essential Readings: Lebanon," Jadaliyya.  []

Sbaiti, Nadya, and Sara Scalenghe. "Essays - Conducting Research in Lebanon: an Overview of Historical Sources Outside of Beirut (part Ii)." Middle East Studies Association Bulletin. 38.2 (2004): 187

Scalenghe, Sara, and Nadya Sbalti. "Essays and Mesa 2002 - Conducting Research in Lebanon: an Overview of Historical Sources in Beirut (part I)." Middle East Studies Association Bulletin. 37.1 (2003): 68

Slim, Souad Abou el-Rousse. Le métayage et l'impôt au Mont-Liban: XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. Dar el-Machreq, 1987.


AB said…
A recent convert to the podcast here, and I wanted to write to say a couple things. First, to thank you for putting this podcast together. I'm not a student of Ottoman history or much of anything closely related -- I'm currently working on a Masters in 20th-century French history in France and hoping to go on to a Ph.D. focused on US history -- but, in addition to learning about Ottoman history, I've found the practical/professional side of these podcasts really helpful. You'll often discuss things that I find useful as an aspiring academic historian. Keep up the good work!

Second, just a substantive point related to this podcast: you mention that the Bibliothèque nationale française's research library is only open to Ph.D. students, but as a Master 2 student (which I believe corresponds to a Masters degree in the US system) I've had the same access to the same materials at the BNF. So things are a even a little better than you described them.
Graham said…
Thanks AB. Your comment about the BNF is a helpful clarification. PhD students can gain access without any paperwork other than a student ID. It was my understanding that undergraduate (and masters?) students required a letter from their advisor. In any event, this process is inevitably a bit suprising for citizens of the United States. At our national institutions, they are legally barred from asking potential researchers if they have any association with an institution of higher education. Harvard's library is the only place I can think of in the United States where one requires letters, etc. to gain access to a library or collection of documents.
Chris Gratien said…
We should add the caveat that the staff at the BNF registration desk are very helpful in finding a way to try to allow you to enter rather than send you away in the event that your documentation seems less than adequate, so while there are some administrative barriers I can't say from personal experience that they are trying to keep people out.

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