Museum Security Network

Saving Nigeria's Islamic Manuscript Heritage

A lecture by Michaelle Biddle

September 17th, 2009, 6pm
at Columbia University, Butler Library, room 523
Sponsored by the New York Chapter of the Guild of Book Workers and the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library

In March 2008, conservator, librarian and archivist, Michaelle Biddle went on a five-week sabbatical under a U.S. Ambassador’s Cultural Preservation Fund Grant to survey Northern Nigerian private and public collections of Islamic Manuscripts. These manuscripts are similar to those in Timbuktu, a World Heritage Site. Her survey resulted in recommendations for the preservation and conservation of the manuscripts. She then returned to Nigeria in August 2008 training two local conservation teams: one in Sokoto, the home of the Sultan to West African Muslims, and the other in Kaduna at the Nigerian National Archives, under a U.S. State Department Speaker’s Grant. In March 2009 she returned to head up a team conserving a large, multi-generational family collection in Yola. Please join us to hear the story of this fascinating and ongoing project.

Michaelle Biddle has been a student of Islamic civilization since she wrote a school essay on Muhammad at age twelve. She has studied Islamic manuscripts in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, France, Spain, the U.S., Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Uzbekistan and Nigeria, and is currently working on a watermark topology for West African Islamic MS.  She is Collections Conservator and Head of Preservation Services at Wesleyan University Library.

The lecture will be held in Butler Library, room 523 at Columbia University. Columbia University is located at 2960 Broadway at 116th Street in Manhattan. Butler Library is located on the south side of the Quad.

The lecture is free, but please RSVP to Clare Manias at or call (646) 623-2853.  Refreshments will be served.

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