The American Board pamphlet collection was incorporated into the ARIT Istanbul (ARIT-I) Library in January 2011. It contains roughly 1000 brochures, booklets, leaflets, flyers, and off-prints that date from the mid-1800s to the present, with close to one-third from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Approximately 85% of the materials focus on the operations, institutions, or affiliate organizations of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) that were located in Turkey and the Balkans.
The ABCFM was a Protestant mission agency founded in 1810 and chartered by the state of Massachusetts in 1812. It dispatched missionaries around the world for religious ends chiefly, but also to pursue general altruistic labor, including founding schools and medical facilities. Between 1820—when the American Board’s first personnel arrived in Izmir—and the second decade of the twentieth century, the organization established more than 20 mission stations, 50 boarding and high schools, and ten colleges in Anatolia and its surroundings. Unquestionably, the ABCFM was the most significant American presence in the region during this era.
Though ephemera, the items in the American Board pamphlet collection offer a rich and enduring source of information on this major historical enterprise. Some of the materials are available at research libraries in the United States, but the ARIT Istanbul Library now possesses one of the most extensive holdings, both in Turkey and internationally. The project to capture them digitally and provide public access to the scans via the ARIT Istanbul Digital Library is being implemented jointly by ARIT and the Digital Library for International Research (DLIR). It is supported by a grant from the US Department of Education’s Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) program to DLIR partners.
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