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Research Archives - Library

The Research Archives of the Oriental Institute is a non-circulating collection of books and other publications relating to the ancient Near East for the reference and research of Oriental Institute faculty, staff, students and members. Its materials span the history of the ancient Near East from prehistoric times through the Late Antique period and reflect the interests and work of its users and benefactors.

In 1970 the library of the Oriental Institute was moved to the Joseph Regenstein Library and integrated with the newly consolidated collections of the University of Chicago Libraries. The faculty and staff of the Oriental Institute, feeling the need for a reference collection both more extensive than that provided by even the best of private collections maintained by members of the faculty and staff of the Oriental Institute, and more accessible than the university library system, decided to consolidate the various bibliographical resources available in the Oriental Institute.

The Research Archives, as this collection was called, opened in the Autumn of 1972. At that time the collections included the Director's Library (being primarily the private library of James Henry Breasted [Egyptology and general Near Eastern studies]); the Seele library [Egyptology, Archaeology]; the Edgerton library [Egyptology, Demotic and Greek Papyrology]; and remnants of the Megiddo field library [Syro-Palestinian Archaeology]. Since its founding, the Research Archives has benefited from the donation of important collections including the libraries of John Hadley [Assyriology]; Richard T. Hallock [Assyriology, Elamology]; Michael B. Rowton [Assyriology, Syro-Mesopotamian Studies]; Charles F. Nims [Egyptology], and Linda Ricketts [Demotic and Greek Papyrology]. In addition, many other individuals have made important contributions of individual titles or small collections, notably the Anna Bruce Mackenzie Memorial Collection [general Near East; Travel; Exploration].

The Elizabeth Morse Genius Reading Room

The Research Archives is housed in the former quarters of the old Oriental Institute Library. The Reading Room, which was described by James Henry Breasted as "the most beautiful room in the building," retains most of the original decorative elements and furnishings from when the Oriental Institute was completed in 1931. Of particular note are the "Lotus" Window in the south wall, with its Egyptian-style design, the wood carvings on the north wall, and the elaborately painted ceiling. Overlooking the Reading Room is the Minstrel's Gallery, which now houses the periodicals collection. In recognition of generous support for the Oriental Institute Legacy Campaign, the Research Archives Reading Room is named THE ELIZABETH MORSE GENIUS READING ROOM.

The Oriental Institute has made a substantial commitment to complete the holdings of the Research Archives in the fields represented by the scholarship of its faculty and staff. To this end, individual volumes and complete runs have been (and continue to be) purchased to complete our holdings in serial and periodical publications. With holdings of over 45,000 volumes, the Research Archives is a unique resource for the study of the Ancient Near East.

Opening Hours / Access / Contact

The Research Archives is open to faculty, staff and members of the Oriental Institute; and to students in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. All others desiring to use the Research Archives are expected to enroll as members of the Oriental Institute. Information on membership is available in the lobby of the Research Archives, at the Suq in the Museum lobby, or from the Membership office (Room 233).

Hours of operation during the academic year are:
Monday-Tuesday: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Thursday-Friday: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Hours during interim periods and holidays are changeable. Those who plan on using the Archives during interim periods and holidays, and those who are coming from out of town to use the Archives at any time throughout the year, should call ahead to confirm that the Archives will be open. The phone number is (773) 702-9537. The Research Archives staff may also be contacted by Fax at (773) 702-9853.

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Revised: July 29, 2013

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