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Egyptology library comes to Stanford Libraries

Stanford Libraries and Special Collections has just acquired a "world class" Egyptology collection.

The collection of Wolja Erichsen (1890-1966), now at Stanford's Green Library, documents more than 1,500 years of Egyptian history, ranging from about 650 B.C. to about A.D. 1000. It includes Egypt's important transition from paganism to Christianity.

The story behind Stanford's acquisition of Erichsen's library is an appealing one: Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, the same year that young Edna Kumpe (later Upton) graduated from college. Carter's discovery inaugurated her lifelong interest in Egypt and the Bible, rooted in early Coptic translations of biblical texts.

Upton's granddaughter, Stanford alumna Chele Chiavacci, made a donation in the name of her late grandmother. Chiavacci is managing director of Mistral Capital International and also on the advisory board of the Stanford Archaeology Center.

The donation, augmented with a contribution from the Classics Department and matching funds from the Provost's Office, was used to purchase the Erichsen collection.

The Edna Kumpe Upton Memorial Erichsen Library will be housed and available for study partly in the Department of Special Collections and partly in the Green Library general collection stacks.

Q&A: Egypt, Britain and Egyptian artifacts

I'm investigating both the historical background and current conditions of how Egypt's attempts to reclaim ancient artifacts from Britain may affect their relations. Where should I look?


There are a considerable number of databases for British and Commonwealth history. They will give you both scholarly articles and many original sources.

You should perhaps begin by looking at the old House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, on our Databases.

This covers from 1800 to 2004, and will give a lot of original documentation on historical relations between Britain and Egypt. You should also look at the House of Commons current web site. This site has constant updates for both debates and Parliamentary reports. Note that the Brits call their floor debates "Hansard" -- a typically British thing, this being because the early publisher of the debates was a guy named Hansard, and the British love such obscure, traditional names for things. Note also from that site that the Commons are putting more and more of their archives online directly.

The British government, like most Western governments, puts lots of materials on their official web sites, so general Google searches for Egypt and Britain and art should point to considerable official materials and positions. Doing an Advanced Google search for Britain and art and Egypt, and limiting the Domain to .uk, you get some interesting stories. You can do the same sort of search with domains like .gov and .eg for Egypt.

For a detailed research topic such as this, you should also contact the curator for Middle Eastern Studies. You can find the email address and web site links on the list of Subject Specialists, under Middle Eastern Studies. He can help you in searching Egyptian and Arabic sites.

You should also look at the official site for the British Foreign Secretary. Note that the Foreign Secretary's staff have a number of blogs, where you might get some interactive feedback.

The official site for the British Archives is growing by leaps and bounds. It used to be called the Public Record Office [PRO], and many people still give it that traditional name. This is the official depository for all original documentation of British history, as seen through official government activities and records.

There are also lots of European and Middle Eastern newspapers and wires on LexisNexis, on our Databases. LexisNexis recently redesigned their search interface. Now, the best approach for such a question as this is to click on the News tab at the top, then click on the Sources tab. You must go through all the steps, from, for example, picking News, to picking, say, Middle Eastern News, to marking particular sources, then clicking OK, and doing a search. It doesn't let you do a search until you do all the steps. It's an irritant, but at least you know quite specifically what you are searching in terms of sources. You could also use LexisNexis for law reviews, by clicking on the Legal tab at the top. Note that you can search United States, Canadian and British law journals. This might give some intellectual context on the international law process for art reclamation by various countries such as Egypt.

Academic journal articles on foreign relations between nations are covered pretty well by the PAIS database.

Last but not least, make sure that you have looked at all the book materials available in Stanford Libraries on the topic of reclaiming national treasures and works of art. This has become a very large topic in museum administrative circles. One of the most useful subject headings in the Socrates catalog is Cultural Property--Protection--Law and legislation.

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