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Mark J. Dresden papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Mark Jan Dresden, a Dutch-American Iranist, was born in Amsterdam on April 26, 1911. He studied classics and Indology at the University of Amsterdam, where he earned his master's degree in 1937, and Vedic ritual texts at the University of Utrecht, completing his dissertation, Mānavagṛhyasūtra, in 1941. He then studied at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris as an exchange fellow supported by the French government from 1937 to 1939. He taught Greek and Latin at a secondary school in Amsterdam from 1945 to 1949. During this period, his own interests shifted from Indology to Iranian studies.

From 1947 to 1949, Dresden worked as a Dutch government-supported scholar in Cambridge, where he met W. Norman Brown who was considering introducing Iranian studies to the University of Pennsylvania curriculum. Brown invited Dresden to teach Persian as well as Old and Middle Iranian Languages at the University of Pennsylvania and Dresden served in that capacity from 1949 until his retirement in 1977. Dresden's work on Khotanese, Persian and Iranian languages and texts is widely published.

Sources: "Dresden, Mark Jan." Encyclopaedia Iranica (accessed 2016 April 27).

This collection is divided into seven series: I. Correspondence, II. Events and lectures, III. Personal financial documents, IV. Funding and grants, V. Personal documents, VI. Projects, and VII. Research and writing. The correspondence is dated from 1930 to 1994 and includes professional and personal correspondence. The bulk of the letters are professional in nature, however, there are several postcards concerning holidays and travel, wedding and engagement announcements, personal letters between Dresden and his friends and son. The professional letters generally concern meetings, reviews and publications, research, and letters from students to Dresden inquiring about a variety of topics. Some of the more frequent correspondents include Dr. P.K. Anklesaria, H.W. Bailey, J.H. Bannier, W. Norman Brown, Joseph B. Casagrande, D. Cohen, George W. Corner, A.H. Doerr, A. Dresden, Jacob Dresden, Dr. R.E. Emmerick, Bernhard Geiger, Badu Gharib, Ilya Gershevitch, Vartan Gregorian, William N. Hanaway, Jr., Gaylord P. Harnwell, Richard S. Harrell, W.B. Henning, John C. Hetherston, M.F. Kanga, Koji Kamioka, Hiroshi Kumamoto, S. Moos, Yutaka Ojihara, Dr. Helmut Petzolt, Dr. Mogens Pihl, G. Redard, Dr. P.A. Roelofsen, Shojaeddin Shafa, Dr. U.P. Shah, Denis Sinor, E.A. Speiser, B.L. Turner, David A. Utz, Ehsan Yarshater, and T. Cuyler Young, Jr. There is a folder containing letters addressed mostly to Dresden's wife following his death.

Series II. Events and lectures includes documents from the Conference at Villa Serbelloni in 1964, the World Conference of Iranologists in 1966, the Columbia University Summer Program of 1970, and other general events invitations. Many of the documents in this series are programs and fliers but there is also correspondence directly concerning the events and notes on lectures Dresden gave at these events.

The financial documents contained in the third series date from 1960 to 1990 and are exclusively personal documents for Mark and Jacqueline Dresden. Researchers will find correspondence, receipts, and arrangements for international travel; banking records including statements and cancelled checks; insurance records; receipts for household and personal expenses; and receipts and payments for books.

Series IV. Funding and grants include the documents from Dresden's 1970 Fulbright research scholarship grant to Iran for which he proposed research in Iranian studies at the University of Tehran, as well as his work on the review committee for the National Endowment for the Humanities project proposals for translations in 1978 and 1979.

Series V. Personal documents includes Dresden's resume and biographical information, as well as ephemera such as several diplomas and certificates, an address book, a photograph of Hiroshi Kumamoto's wife and child, several miscellaneous documents, and a photo album from the Imperial Embassy of Iran in Washington D.C.

Series VI. Projects includes the creation of the "Atlas Linguistique et Ethnographique de l'Iran;" the Development project for Pahlavi University; the creation of a biographical dictionary of linguists and a biographical dictionary of orientalists; the catalogue of Dresden's private library; and his work on "Persian miniatures."

Series VII. Research and writing includes book reviews written by Dresden, Hiroshi Kumamoto education records, Dresden and his colleagues' published works, research documents, and newspaper clippings. Book reviews by Dresden include typescript copies of reviews of scholarly works. It appears that most of these reviews were published in journals. Over the years, Dresden appears to have developed a long-standing and close personal relationship with his student Hiroshi Kumamoto and his family. Following his graduation from the University of Tokyo in 1976, Kumamoto studied at the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Oriental Studies, earning his Ph.D. in 1982. He went on to teach at the International Buddhist University and the University of Tokyo. His education records include exams, papers, and correspondence regarding his dissertation proposal. Writings by Dresden and others includes writings by Dresden, Hiroshi Kumamoto, and Ernst Waldschmidt. Researchers will find Dresden's dissertation, "Note on 'B' Manuscript of the Denkart," "Indo-Iranian Notes," "On a 'Working' Dictionary of the Khotanese Language," "Survey of the History of Iranian Studies," "Pahlavi Manuscripts," and "Iranica," all of which were published in international scholarly journals. The newspaper clippings in this series include an article about Dresden, several articles containing local Media, Pennsylvania news, obituaries for Elizabeth Furber and Arnold Dresden, and a few articles about Classical studies.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge
Finding Aid Date
2016 April 28
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Box 1 Folder 3
Box 1 Folder 4
Box 1 Folder 5
Box 1 Folder 6
Box 1 Folder 7
Box 1 Folder 8
Box 1 Folder 9
Box 1 Folder 10
Box 1 Folder 11
Box 1 Folder 12
circa 1930-1994.
Box 1 Folder 2

Columbia University Summer Program, programs and announcements, 1970.
Box 1 Folder 13
Conference at Villa Serbelloni, program, clipping, and reports, 1964.
Box 1 Folder 14
Other events and lectures, programs, clipping, and invitations, circa 1930-1994.
Box 1 Folder 15
World Congress of Iranologists, correspondence, clippings, and attendee lists, 1966.
Box 1 Folder 16

Undated, circa 1930-1944.
Box 1 Folder 17
Box 1 Folder 18
Box 1 Folder 19
Box 1 Folder 20
Box 1 Folder 21
Box 1 Folder 22
Box 2 Folder 1-2
Box 2 Folder 3-4
Box 2 Folder 5

Fulbright Research Scholarship to Iran, correspondence, travel documents, and tips for Americans in Iran, 1970.
Box 2 Folder 6
National Endowment for the Humanities, Translations Program of the Division of Research Grants, Translations Panel for Near Eastern Languages, correspondence, reviewer rating sheets, program announcements, summaries of programs, newsletters, and guidelines and instructions, 1978-1979.
Box 2 Folder 7-8

Address book, information regarding family and friends, and information about serving as visiting professor at Columbia University, circa 1960s.
Box 3 Folder 1
Biography, resume/curriculum vitae, and list of publications, 1976.
Box 2 Folder 18
250th Anniversary of the Founding of the Persian Empire, photograph album from the Imperial Embassy of Iran in Washington, DC, 1972 January.
Drawer 55 Folder 1
Diploma from the University of Utrecht, 1941.
Drawer 55 Folder 2
University of Pennsylvania certificates designating honorary degree and Professor Emeritus, 1971, 1977.
Box 3 Folder 3

Atlas Linguistique et Ethnographique de l'Iran, correspondence regarding the creation of the project and official project documentation, 1957-1959.
Box 2 Folder 12
Art reproductions, correspondence regarding (includes a photograph of a Persian miniature from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as slides of paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo), 1972.
Box 2 Folder 16
Biographical Dictionaries, correspondence and directions for contributors, 1973-1974.
Box 2 Folder 13
"Library of the Late Professor Mark J. Dresden on Indo-Iranian Linguistics and Languages," catalog, correspondence, lists, and preface, 1989.
Box 2 Folder 15
Pahlavi University Curriculum and Field Program for National Development, correspondence, lists of "Needs and Suggestions," lecture announcement, and articles regarding the University of Pennsylvania's involvement in Pahlavi University development, 1965-1966.
Box 2 Folder 14

Book reviews (written by Dresden), 1983-1984.
Box 1 Folder 1
Hiroshi Kumamoto education records, 1977-1980.
Box 2 Folder 9
Newspaper clippings, circa 1930-1994.
Box 2 Folder 10
Research documents, including notebook with clippings from journals and notes on coins, notes, clippings, and typescripts (one on Alexander the Great) , circa 1930-1994.
Box 2 Folder 17
Unidentified project notes, circa 1960s.
Box 3 Folder 2
Writings by Dresden and others, 1942-1980.
Box 2, 3 Folder 11, 4
Denkart, a Pahlavi Text, edited by M.J. Dresden, 1966.
Box 3 Folder 4

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