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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture records

Identifier: AC-0245

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture document the activity of the program at MIT from its inception in 1979, primarily through administrative records and reports, newsletters, annual reports, and the records of its decision-making body, the Executive or Program Committees. Material in series 11 (Videodisc Project Records) relates to preparation of a videodisc. Series 12 (Photographs of religious Documents) contains material created for the videodisc by Catherine B. Asher, including 4700 5 1/2" x 8" black-and-white photographs taken by Asher and corresponding worksheets that document historic Islamic tombs and mosques in the Bihar and West Bengal regions of India and Bangladesh. In 1984 500 of these photographs were included on the Images of Islamic Architecture videodisc project. The collection also includes records about the computer program documentation and the database for the videodisc project.

Collectively the records document the unique relationship between the programs at MIT and Harvard and their larger governing bodies with a worldwide presence, including the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the Aga Khan Development Network, and His Highness the Aga Khan. The relationship with the Trust for Culture in particular is well-documented in reports, correspondence, budgets, and committees reporting to the Trust.

The evolution of the academic program is evident in the records through reports, course programs, and committee meeting minutes, but the records also reflect AKPIA's interest in outreach and activities beyond the academic program at MIT through the records of the Parallel Centers program, AKPIA publications, and conference and symposium records, including 10 audio reels of a 1987 symposium. The records and meeting minutes of the Executive and Program Committees document the day-to-day decision and policy-making in regard to the academic program and the Aga Khan Program as a whole.

Digital material in this collection include the Report to the MIT President, 1997-1998, style guide, and template all in various version of Microsoft Word. There is also one archived website capturing the programs main website.


  • Creation: 1979 - 2000
  • Creation: 2018 August 22 - Ongoing


Access note

All materials in this collection are restricted for 20 years from their date of creation. The contents of folders that are more than 20 years old are open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


18 Cubic Feet (11 record cartons, 22 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 1 folio)

1 item(s) (1 archived website)

.155 Megabytes (11 digital files)

Language of Materials



Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Digital files transferred from floppy disk found in collection using Kryoflux software in March 2022.

Related Materials

Digital resources can be found at Archnet, a unique set of resources related to the built environment of the Muslim world. These archives, images, drawings, publications, seminar proceedings, articles, serials and project documentation.

The collection of records of the Rotch Library (AC 242) in the MIT Distinctive Collections includes 1 carton of related files of the Rotch Librarian about the program.

Images of Islamic Architecture: The Aga Khan Collection videodisc is available through Rotch Visual Collections, MIT Libraries.

Collections at the Harvard University Archives that contain limited amounts of material on the Aga Khan Program include call number UAIII 5.95.10, Records of Associate Dean of FAS Robert Rotner; accession number 13677, Records of the Office of the President; and accession number 13984, Records of the Department of Fine Arts.

Processing Information

Digital files originally housed on one 3.5-inch floppy disk. Joe Carrano, digital archivist, imaged the disks using Kryoflux and migrated to Distinctive Collections storage. Once he extracted the files from the disk image, he deleted the disk image.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Guide to the Records of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, 1979-2000
Frances O'Donnell, Andrea Schuler
1992, 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022 March 16: Updated to reflect digital media transfer accession 2022-050

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US