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Omar ibn Said Materials at Wilson Special Collections Library: Wilson Library Holdings


Ambrotype of Omar ibn Said, circa 1855, held in the Ambrotype Collection (P0007), North Carolina Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library. Reproduced on Documenting the American South.

Ambrotype of Omar ibn Said

Albumen print of Omar ibn Said held in the DeRosset Family Papers (00214), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library. The reverse of this photograph has a short biography about Omar ibn Said by Alfred Moore Waddell, written in 1905. Waddell and the DeRosset family were associates of the Owen family. Reproduced and transcribed on Documenting the American South.

Omar ibn Said albumen printAlbumen print of Omar ibn Said, verso

Carte-de-visite or cabinet card of Omar ibn Said, undated, in the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Papers, 1833-1975 (bulk 1833-1942), Southern Historical Collection. Same source photograph as for the albumen print, above. Handwritten, in pencil, beside image "Christian - the highest style of man," which can be assumed to quote Edward Young's Night-Thoughts. Back shows logo of photography studio C.W. Yates, Market St., Wilmington, N.C.

portrait of a manback of photograph


23rd Psalm written in Arabic by Omar ibn Said and laid into the scrapbook of John Frederick Foard, 1856. Held in the North Carolina Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library.

The 23rd Psalm manuscript was received by John Frederick Foard, associate of the Owen family, as a gift. Foard dedicates a chapter of his book North America and Africa: Their Past, Present and Future, and Key to the Negro Problem to the story of how he received the piece.

Omar ibn Said manuscript in Foard scrapbook

The Lord's Prayer and Psalm 51 in Arabic, 1856. Held in the North Carolina Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library.

West African style script; verses separated by traditional three dots. Manuscript bifolium written by Omar ibn Said and containing Psalm 51 on leaf 1b (described by Said as Psalm 50) and the Lord's Prayer on leaf 2a, with vocabulary variations different from standard translations. Accompanying note traces the provenance from the Rev. Thomas Charles Billheimer (1842-1923) to his son, the Rev. Stanley Billheimer (1872-1964).On leaf 1a: "This paper was given to me in the summer of 1857 by Gen. blank space of N.C., whom I met at the Red Sulphur Springs, Va. He strikethrough It is the work of an aged servant man imported many years ago. E.M.P."At the head of the text on leaf 1b: Said begins with the traditional basmalah that prefaces a sūrah from the Qurʹān and invokes blessings on the Prophet Muḥammad. He then addresses his enslaver (From Omar to a gentleman = sayyid named Jim Owen) and states the date of composition. Said concludes by citing part of Qurʹān 61:13 (Naṣr min Allāh wa-fatḥ qarīb wa-bashshir al-muʹminīn = Help from Allah and a speedy victory, and give good news to the faithful).At the end of the text on leaf 2a, in box: Ismī ʻUmar Ibn Sayyid Ibn ...ād-m-r wa-ammā min jihat Umm Hānī Y-r-m-k barada Allāh ḍarīh.At the end of the text on leaf 2a in star: تمت عـ...د

photograph of manuscript

Sūrat al-Naṣr, سورة النصر, circa 1857. Held in the North Carolina Collection, Wilson Special Collections Library.

Sūrat al-Naṣr is understood to be Omar ibn Said's latest known extant writing. A note on the verso incorrectly states that it is the Lord's Prayer. Reproduced and transcribed at Documenting the American South.

Surat al-NasrSurat al-Nasr 2