The Oriental Collection at the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences holds several manuscript collections of
renowned scholars and researchers. Among the Collection’s diverse ‘Oriental’ material is the outstanding Turkish Collection, made up of
nearly 900 documents, most of which belong to the Istanbul material purchased and collected by
Dániel Szilágyi (1831-1885).
Szilágyi had originally studied to be a theologian, but after the defeat of the war of independence in 1848-1849 he was forced to emigrate. Together with Lajos Kossuth, Szilágyi fled to the territory of the Ottoman Empire, first to Shumen and later to Istanbul. Working as a victualler during the Crimean War, Szilágyi earned enough money to buy the Istanbul antique bookstore where he had previously worked as an assistant. With refined taste and expertise he passionately collected Turkish, and to a lesser degree Arabic and Persian manuscripts and books. His collection became an important source for the local Turkish readers, scholars and academics as well as European researchers.
Upon Szilágyi’s death in 1885, thanks to the efforts of his friend
Arminius Vámbéry (1832–1913), the manuscripts from Szilágyi’s precious collection were transferred from the inheritors,
Béla and Árpád Szilágyi, to the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.