The Ghassem Ghani collection MS 235 in the Manuscripts and Archives of the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University is a rich collection of documents in Persian of the Qajar period (1785-1925). The collection consist of more than 1,000 documents including official correspondence of the Qajar rulers and statesmen, important daily notes –such as those addressed to Naser al-Din Shah (1848-1896) by his celebrated premier Amir Kabir as well as financial documents, diplomatic dispatches, intelligence reports, and private letters of such important figures as Mirza Hosein Khan Moshir al- Dowleh, the celebrated statesman of the 1870’s, and Mirza ‘Ali Asghar Khan Amin al-Soltan, premier in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. The private letters of the celebrated premier of the early 1950’s, Mohammad Mosaddeq, in his early career is also part of this collection. Moreover, there are documents about political dissidents and revolutionaries before and during the Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911), as well as correspondence regarding the Babi-Baha’i leadership in the Baghdad exile in the 1860’s, Persian merchant communities in Cairo and harassments by diplomatic representatives in the 1870’s and 1880’s, letters by Qajar elite women and reports on well-known dissidents such as Jamal al-Din Afghani and Mirza Malkom Khan. There are also random royal decrees, petitions to Qajar shahs and officials by the ordinary people and details of litigations brought before the state authorities. The collection also includes a substantial group of letters in grand style and appearance exchanged between Fath ‘Ali Shah (1798-1834) and his crown prince ‘Abbas Mirza and European courts in early nineteenth century including the British Prince Regent and Napoleon Bonaparte when Persian alliance was sought by both the British and the French and when Iranian provinces in the Caucasus were first exposed to Russian threat and eventual conquest.
Digitization of the Ghani Collection is the first project of the Yale Iranian History Internet Archive (YIHA) which in due course intends to make available other collections at Yale and elsewhere, including the less-accessible and unknown private collection. A guideline, both in English and Persian, makes the use of this collection more efficient to historians.
Any citation, direct and indirect, however, should include full reference to The Ghani Collection and Yale University Library as well as to the file and folder numbers.
Professor of History and International Studies
Director, Yale Program in Iranian Studies