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Memory of Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is known as one of the most important waterways connecting the East and West without circumnavigation of Africa. Inaugurated in November 1869 after 10 years of construction, the Canal has affected the history and economy of the globe, especially the Middle East, over the past two centuries.

Memory of the World
The Memory of the Suez Canal project is part of the UNESCO program: “Memory of the World”. The program was launched in 1992 with the aim of encouraging the preservation of documentary heritage which has global, national, and regional significance.

Scope of the project
This project attempts to create a digital archive of a huge number of documents, manuscripts, lithographs, paintings, images, as well as audio and visual material concerning the history of the Suez Canal held by the Association of the Friends of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the Company of Suez, and the Suez Canal Authority. The collection documents the history of the Canal, its developments, and the nationalization and its consequences. This digital archive offers Egyptians the opportunity to explain and even correct many of the misconceptions of modern Egyptian history.

The first phase was concerned with digitized material donated to the Library by the Association of the Friends of Ferdinand de Lesseps. Following phases of the project will include material that will be donated by the Suez Canal Authority, with complimentary material from the BA’s own collection.

Now online..
The end result is available online at with multilingual interfaces, covering Arabic, English and French. The site divides the digital components by genres, such as maps, videos, books, photo galleries, among others. The site includes advanced navigation and browsing tools associated with a timeline. Material on the website has been subjected to OCRing when the case of the original material allowed for so, and this has aided in the search facilities of the site. Advanced search tools are also present, allowing for search criteria’s to be determined and limited by choosing to search by keywords, titles of documents, dates, location...etc

The current collection
The BA owns a number of documents about the Suez Canal. One of the most important items at the Manuscripts museum is ‘Suez Isthmus and Canal’ a two-volume collection two volumes written by Charles Roux, and published by the Hachette Publishing House, Paris, in 1319 H (1901 CE). Other books that were digitized from the BA collection are ‘Voyage de Souverains’; a book about the inauguration of the Canal by G. Nicole, with illustrations by Riou, and ‘L’Isthme de Suez’ by Marius Fontane also with illustrations by Riou.

On 10 November 2006, the BA celebrated the donation of the digitized archives of the Suez Canal Company by the Association of the Friends of Ferdinand de Lesseps and Suez Canal Association and a cooperation agreement was signed. The donation included:

  • Documents on 2,332 CD ROMs.
  • Two films on the construction and inauguration of Port Fouad.

The collection of the Suez Canal is composed of:

  • 21917 documents about transit services including port papers, registers, receipts, statistics and reports of ships’ transition
  • 17808 reports of consultative comission of work including registers of commands, meeting minutes and reports about excavation status
  • 9500 copies of letters
  • 12444 decadal Bulletin boards
  • 65 photos of the canal and the port
  • 13 documentary films

Have a look at the video on YouTube!

Watch a short movie describing the project



Last updated on 03 Oct 2013