Trial: The Baghdad Observer Digital Archive (1967-1996) (until 6 April 2024)

Researchers at Oxford are invited to use the Digital Archive of the Baghdad Observer as part of a trial ending on 6th April 2024.

The Baghdad Observer was a state-sponsored Iraqi newspaper founded in 1967, published in English until its closure in 2003. The Observer not only covers key events from the recent history of Iraq and the Middle East – such as the Gulf War and the presidency of Saddam Hussein – but also wider global news that happened concurrently, often clearly filtered through the Ba’athist perspective promoted by the Iraqi government at the time.


^An article published in the Observer in 1986. While framed as simple analysis of historical sources, it places the blame for the Iran-Iraq War entirely in the camp of the Iranians and their determination to “destroy and plunder the cultural centres of Mesopotamia”.


The Baghdad Observer provides a valuable insight into a narrative of events in the Middle East in the mid-late twentieth century, especially when used in conjunction with other newspapers from the same period available on the Global Press Archive. The biases of the government are more apparent in some articles than in others – but the wide variety of subjects covered in its forty years of publication make it a valuable resource for researchers in many areas.


^ An Observer article published in 1989 on the founding, layout, and artefacts of the Ashmolean Museum. The author is largely complimentary of the pieces in the collections, as well as the way they have been displayed, and laments the lack of funding given to public museums in the eighties.


The digital archive itself contains 7619 issues of the Observer – comprising 60563 pages in total. The database has very user-friendly search and filter functions which can be used to find articles by the date of publication as well as by their title and topic. There is also a text-search function to find keywords within an article or issue.

Please take a look by 6th April and send feedback to


Written by Iona Spark