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Resources for Researchers, Parents, and Kids: The Ottoman Empire

Istanbul 15th century map
Issue 18 Magnificent Reign

While making each issue of Honest History, we tend to rack up a lengthy list of references. Many, 
many hours are spent scouring libraries and online databases for texts we can trust. 

So, we thought, “why not share these findings with our readers?” Take a look at the list below as you and your kids explore Issue 18 | A Magnificent Reign.



Researchers and Aspiring Academics

If facts are what you’re after (like us), academic texts are essential. Here are just a few books we’ve used for our own research.

Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th CenturiesThis book has been an enormous help for Issue 18. Each chapter, written by a different specialist, explores the diversity of the Ottoman Empire. And, as a bonus, Living in the Ottoman Realm is edited by our two academic contributors: Dr. Christine Isom-Verhaaren and Dr. Kent F. Schull.

Süleymaniye Mosque
 Süleymaniye Mosque built by Sinan

The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire
In Issue 18, we just skimmed the surface of Sinan and his magnificent buildings. If you’re a current or aspiring academic searching for an in-depth analysis of this architect, look no further. Language and analysis can be a bit technical, but this book is also filled with images to help bring Sinan’s work to life.


mihrimah sultan
The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire: The women of the Ottoman Empire were a force to be reckoned with. This text, written by Leslie Pierce, has become an essential resource for anyone interested in women during the Ottoman Empire. And, while we’re here, we can direct you to her book covering Hurrem Sultan, also known as Roxelana. Historians often assumed women were hidden away in Ottoman society, but this out-dated perspective is changing. Dr. Kate Fleet and Ebru Boyar's book Ottoman Women in Public Space explores women’s visible roles outside the home. 


Parents and Educators  

Looking to add the Ottoman Empire to your curriculum? We’ve picked out some free resources to explore.

Learn about Islamic art: The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers excellent online resources as you discover the Ottoman Empire. You can check out their curriculum resource on Islamic Art. Jump to Chapter 2 for the Ottoman Empire. It pairs well with the MET’s learning activities exploring the geometric patterns of Islamic art.


Step inside the Hagia Sophia: Designed as a VR experience, this resource allows viewers to interact with the Hagia Sophia without hopping on a plane. Kids can view the layout, design, and even the way the light filters through its windows. It is a great resource for those of us who are visual learners.

Hagia Sophia interior
Interior of the Hagia Sophia

Primary source analysis
: Sticking with visuals, how about an illustrated history book from the 16th century? Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland has digitized the magnificent History of Sultan Suleyman (1579). These illustrations, bursting with color, show many different aspects of Ottoman life – including battles, gardens, funerals, and coffeehouses. As an activity, pick an image to analyze with your kids. Try some of these helpful questions to get the wheels turning.


Music to our ears: Music has the power to transport us to another time or place. We’d say, it’s the best time-machine we have (at the moment). This playlist features songs that would have been played inside European and Ottoman palaces. Early Music Seattle has also created a playlist featuring Ottoman or Turkish classical music

Ottoman Musicians NYPL
Image of Ottoman musicians from the 19th century, from the New York Public Library.


Young Historians

Want to learn more about Turkey and its historic capital city? Here are a few books for young historians to explore.

Song of the Old City: This picture book, illustrated by the Turkish illustrator Merve Atilgan, tells the story of a young girl as she explores the city of Istanbul. It is a heartwarming tale about kindness and generosity as the girl discovers the wondrous sights, smells, and people of the historic city. 

The Chronicles of Will Ryde and Awa Maryam Al-Jameela, Book One: A Tudor Turk: Set in the 1500s, this adventurous tale follows two teenagers as they travel through Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Written for ages 9 to 13, the fantasy novel will capture the imagination of young historians who want to imagine life during the time of the Janissaries.

Map of Istanbul 1537
 Map of Istanbul (1537) by Matrakçı Nasuh. Image credit: Wikimedia.


We hope you've found these resources helpful. Stay tuned as we continue to share our research tips for future issues. And, if you haven't already, we hope you'll explore the Ottoman Empire in our kids magazine Issue 18 | The Magnificent Reign.