The University Archives recently acquired the papers of Dr. Herbert L. Bodman, Jr., a UNC professor of Islamic studies who passed away in 2011. Dating from the early 1950s when Bodman was studying in Lebanon, the papers deal primarily with his dissertation research on community identities in the Syrian city of Aleppo during the eighteenth century. To this day, Aleppo is considered the largest city in Syria and has been the site of many historical conflicts, both ancient and modern, from the Crusades to the current civil war.
A multi-linguist, Bodman’s research spans English, French, and Arabic and sheds light on his exhaustive use and translation of a variety of sources. More abstractly, it offers a window into the research process before the time of computers when copious indexing was necessary. Below are some interesting notes from a meeting he had with Arab political leaders–one of whom appears to be Akram al-Hawrani (or Hourani), a leading member of the Baath Party–on March 5, 1953, in which they discuss the idea of Arab unity:
Faculty papers occupy an essential place in the university’s history and, as Herbert Bodman’s papers demonstrate, also offer insight on the world at large.