Arts & Culture

National Endowment for the Humanities supports preservation of Qajar dynasty

2 min read

The National Endowment for the Humanities has made a $346,733 grant to a team of Qajar historians. The purpose of this grant, which lasts from May 2009 to June 2011, is to develop a comprehensive digital archive and Web site at Harvard University that will preserve, link, and render accessible primary source materials related to the social and cultural history of women’s worlds during the reign of the Qajar dynasty (1785-1925) in Iran.

The Qajar dynasty is perhaps most notable for a series of intense interactions with Europe (Britain and Russia, in particular), many of which introduced cultural and political changes that still resonate in Iran today. The proposed archive will address a significant gap in the scholarship related to this important time in Iran’s history by making available personal documents, such as writings and photographs, created by and reflecting the lives of women during the Qajar era.

The team is composed of Afsaneh Najmabadi, the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and Professor of the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard; Nahid Mozaffari, New York University; Naghmeh Sohrabi, Brandeis University; and Dominic Parviz Brookshaw, University of Manchester, U.K.

Digitizing and archiving activities supported by this grant will focus primarily on materials from private family holdings and Iranian archival holdings. Harvard already houses other digital archives related to the history of modern Iran, such as the ‘Ali Khan Vali photograph album and the Iranian Oral History Project. The new project will make Harvard’s libraries a very rich depository of archival material for the study of modern Iranian history.

For more information on Harvard’s Iranian Oral History Project, visit