Papers of Abraham Poliak

Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence between Abraham Poliak and the Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society (Diana Crawford), concerning the proposed reprint of Poliak's publication, Feudalism in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and the Lebanon 1250-1900. This was originally published in 1939 funded by the Society's Prize Publication Fund.

Due to Poliak's death in 1970, the proposed reprint never came to fruition, The collection also contains three notebooks of draft amendments made by Poliak.

Administrative / Biographical History

Professor Abraham Poliak (also known as Polak) was born on the 2nd September 1910 in Ochakiv, a small city in Southern Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. Little information is known about his early years except that he emigrated with his family in 1923 to Mandatory Palestine where they settled in the city of Haifa. Poliak moved to Jerusalem in 1930 where he studied at the Hebrew University and published numerous articles in the daily newspaper, Davar, about Israel's history and politics. In 1934 Poliak received his Master's qualification in Culture of Islam.

Poliak continued in academia and was awarded his PhD in 1936 for his thesis, History of Land relationships in Egypt, Syria and Israel during the late Middle Ages. During this period he continued to write a number of significant articles connected with his research (notably around the Khazars) which appeared in foreign publications.

In 1937 he became a member of The Royal Asiatic Society. His work, Feudalism in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and the Lebanon 1250-1900 was published under the Society's Prize Publication Fund in 1939. Copies of this publication are held within the Society's collections.

Following the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, Poliak was enlisted to the Israel Defense Forces and began giving talks at the University Institute for Israeli Culture. Between 1961-1966, Professor Poliak served as a Professor of History of the Middle Ages at Tel Aviv University and founded and directed the Department of Middle-Eastern Studies. During this period he was also invited to participate in professional conferences across the world and was also a member of the International African Institute in London.

Poliak never married and died in his home in Tel Aviv on the 5th March 1970, aged 59.


The collection has been arranged into following series:

AP/1: Correspondence
AP/2: Edited Manuscripts

Access Information

Open. Please contact the archivist. Details can be found here.

The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID.

Acquisition Information

This material became part of the Society's records.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Emma Jones: February 2021

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Custodial History

The papers were created by Abraham Poliak, the Royal Asiatic Society and Khalil Habib Sayegh in the course of their correspondence concerning Poliak's publication.

Related Material

Poliak's publication: 'Feudalism in Egypt, Syria, Palestine and the Lebanon, 1250-1900, London: The Royal Asiatic Society (1939) can be found in the Society's Library holdings.