The holdings of around 2,000 Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts can be traced back to two collections: on the
one hand to the holdings of Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig (ULB), and on the other hand to those of the Leipziger
Stadtbibliothek, which are now on deposit at the UBL.
In 1962, 376 Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts from the Leipziger Stadtbibliothek were deposited at the UBL.
They can be traced back in large part to three scholarly libraries: the collections of Andreas Acoluth
(1654−1704), Christoph von Johann Christoph Wagenseil (1633−1705), and August Pfeiffer (1640−1698). All three
collections entered the Leipziger Ratsbibliothek around 1700.
The manuscripts in the UBL's holdings have different provenances: around 400 manuscripts came to the UBL mostly as
gifts in the 19th and 20th centuries. 301 manuscripts were acquired between 1925 and 1931 by the Orientalist Oskar
Rescher (1883−1972), who lived in Istanbul. In 1965, the UBL purchased 51 manuscripts from the collections of the
Leipzig Sinologist and linguist Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz (1840−1893). 17 manuscripts from the estate of
the Iranist and Orientalist Wilhelm Eilers (1906−1989) came to the UBL in 2003. The most important part of the
collection consists of 488 manuscripts from the Damascene family library Refaiya, which were acquired by the Saxon
state for the UBL in 1853.
The manuscripts are described in the following printed catalogues:
- Heinrich Leberecht Fleischer und Franz Delitzsch, Codices orientalium linguarum, in: Robert Naumann, Catalogus
librorum manuscriptorum qui in Bibliotheca Senatoria Civitatis Lipsiensis asservantur, Grimma 1838, 271-562.
- Karl Vollers, Katalog der islamischen, christlich-orientalischen, jüdischen und samaritanischen Handschriften
der Universitätsbibliothek zu Leipzig, Leipzig 1906.
- Beate Wiesmüller unter Mitarbeit von Sebastian Hanstein, Die Rifāʿīya (Refaiya), Katalog einer Privatbibliothek
aus dem osmanischen Damaskus in der Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig, , Wiesbaden 2016.