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University’s Persian collection boosted by recent donations


Efforts to expand Middle Eastern studies have been boosted by recent donations from Iranian émigrés to Stanford University Libraries' Persian collection, said John Eilts, curator for Middle East collections.

"Until recently, the library hasn't collected anything in Persian," he said. "Now it's necessary to do so." Last fall, the university received $9 million to endow a new program and professorship in Islamic studies.

Amin Banani, a professor emeritus of Persian and history at the University of California-Los Angeles, donated Stanford's newest acquisition, which arrived on campus last week, Eilts said. Banani, who earned a doctorate from Stanford in 1959, donated his professional library of more than 2,000 items, including Persian literature published in Iran and abroad, contemporary Iranian history, literary journals and manuscripts. Banani said the collection is being donated to honor his Stanford experience, but particularly to recognize Wayne S. Vucinich, the Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor of East European History, Emeritus, who will be named on a bookplate. "I owe so much to so many people who opened my mind and expanded my intellectual horizons at Stanford that there is no room to name them all," Banani said. "Professor Vucinich, my principal doctoral advisor, combined professional mentoring with a personal warmth and caring that has left a lasting, loving bond. In honoring him I mean to honor my whole Stanford experience."

The Banani collection adds to more than 7,000 items donated last summer by the heirs of Ali Djalali, former editor of Kayhan, a Tehran newspaper, who left Iran around the time of the Islamic Revolution. That collection includes a manuscript of the 16th-century Shahnamah, or epic of kings, and contemporary ephemera such as posters and handbills from anti-Shah rallies in this country, Eilts said.