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Aḥmad Zakī Abū Shādī Family Papers

Call Number



1876 - 2013, inclusive
; bulk 1910-1960, bulk


Garnett, Joy, 1965-
Abū Shādī, Aḥmad Zakī, 1892-1955
Abushady, Safeya, 1923-2013


20.2 Linear Feet in 21 document cases, 6 flat boxes, and dozens of loose books, framed photographs, and objects.

Language of Materials

Arabic , English .


Papers, manuscripts, photographs, art works, ephemera, and realia of the Egyptian poet, publisher, physician and bee scientist, Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi (1892-1955), as well as related material from his immediate family, including his daughter, Safeya Abushady (1923-2013), as collected and assembled by his granddaughter, Joy Amina Garnett.

Biographical note

Ahmad Zaki Abu Shadi (1892-1955) was born in Cairo, Egypt, on February 9, 1892, the son of Muhammad Abu Shadi, a leading lawyer and supporter of the Wafdist political movement, and Amina Naguib, the daughter of a family of Turkish origin. Abu Shadi's parents were active in the cultural life of Cairo, regularly holding literary salons, and counting among their friends the well known poets Ahmed Shawqi and Khalil Mutran, a development that may have stimulated Abu Shadi's own literary interests, and led him to publish his first volume of poetry, Andā' al-fajr ("Dewdrops of Dawn"), in 1910.

After finishing secondary school, he studied medicine for one year in Cairo, prior to moving to England in 1912, where he completed his studies in medicine and bacteriology at the University of London, graduating with distinction in 1917, and setting up a medical practice and laboratory in Ealing. During this time, he met and subsequently married Annie Bamford. In addition to medicine, Abu Shadi developed an avid interest in bees and beekeeping that led he and Annie to move to Benson, Oxfordshire in 1919, where they helped establish the Apis Club, and where he founded and edited the club's journal, Bee World. This was the beginning of his active interest in bee science that he continued to pursue in subsequent decades, as evidenced by the patents he developed for an aluminum honeycomb and other improvements for beehives, and his founding of a similar bee husbandry organization in Egypt in 1930, the Bee Kingdom League, and its journal, Bee Kingdom.

Due in part to his father's failing health, Abu Shadi reluctantly returned to Egypt with his English wife in 1922, settling initially in Cairo, but subsequently working at a hospital in Port Said. The first of the Abu Shadi's three children, their daughter Safeya (1923-2013) was born the following year, followed by their son, Amin Ramzy (1926-2011), and their youngest daughter, Hoda (1927-2011). By 1928, the family had moved to the Cairo suburb of Matarieh, as Abu Shadi worked as a bacteriologist for a government-run laboratory. In addition to his work promoting bee husbandry through the Bee Kingdom League, and organizing an international conference on beekeeping in Cairo in 1931, he soon founded the literary magazine he is best known for, Apollo, which brought together many well-known poets such as Shawqi and Mutran, as well as Ibrahim Nagi, and the Tunisian poet, Abu al-Qassim al-Shabbi, both as editors and contributors. Abu Shadi continued his own poetic output during this time, publishing such collections as "Shafaq al-bākī" ("The Weeping Dawn," 1927), "Ashi'a wa ẓilāl" ("Rays and Shadows," 1931) and "Aṭyaf al-rabī'" ("Spring Phantoms," 1933), among other works, which included operettas ("al-Ālihah" / "The Goddesses," and "Akhnātūn Firʻawn Miṣr" / "Akhenaton, Pharaoh of Egypt," both from 1927) and translations, including works of Shakespeare and the Rubāʻīyāt of ʻUmar al-Khayyām. Although both financial difficulties and government pressure led to the shutdown of "Apollo" after 1934, Abu Shadi continued work as a publisher and editor with the establishment of Maṭbaʻat al-Taʻāwun, or Cooperation Press, initially in Cairo but relocated to Alexandria when the Abu Shadi family moved there in 1935. The press published not only his own works, including his elegy on the death of King Fu'ad in 1936, but poetry and essays by a range of authors, including works on religion, law, or social reform.

While in Alexandria, Abu Shadi taught at Farouk University (later the University of Alexandria) in the bacteriology department, being appointed chair to that department in 1942. Eventually the family began to consider emigration, finding the cultural environment in Egypt becoming increasingly repressive, but before they could do so, Annie died of throat cancer in 1946. Not long after that, however, Abu Shadi and his three children boarded the S.S. Vulcania bound for the United States, resettling in New York, where he eventually found work as a translator at the newly-formed United Nations, and actively published in the Arabic-language press based there. He also began writing and broadcasting, in Arabic and English, in the U.S. government funded radio broadcaster, Voice of America (VOA). In the latter programs, as in much of his writing, Abu Shadi sought to build bridges and promote understanding between cultures, especially seen in series such as "The Spirit of Islam" or "American Democracy in Light of Islam."

Abu Shadi remarried an American woman, Constance Wellman, and moved to Washington, D.C. around 1951, continuing to write, publish, and work for VOA. He died at his home there on April 12, 1955.

Following immigration to the United States, Abu Shadi's three children continued their education and pursued various careers. Hoda and Safeya worked as translators at the United Nations initially, but Hoda subsequently joined the U.S. Navy as a WAVE, working as a photographer, and it was during her Navy service that she met the scientist Merrill Garnett, who she later married, and settled in Long Island, New York, where they raised a family. Amin Ramzy enlisted in the U.S. Army, but spent much of his subsequent career working for the United Nations in a variety of capacities, including serving as an interpreter with U.N. Peacekeeping forces in Lebanon in 1958, and serving on missions from the Secretary-General's office to the Middle East in later years.

Safeya Abushady followed closely in her father's footsteps, writing poetry and publishing a book of her verse, "al-Ughnīyah al-khālidah" (1954), but also continuing to work as a translator and assistant to Saudi delegates to the U.N., including Prince (later King) Faisal, and eventually working for a decade at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C. Following that, Safeya worked at the Voice of America and the U.S. Information Agency, in various capacities involving Arabic broadcasts and other materials for Arabic-speaking countries, from 1959 until her retirement in 1985. She died in Alexandria, Virginia in 2013.


--Ostle, Robin. "Modern Egyptian Renaissance Man," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 57, No. 1 (1994), pp. 184-192. --Catalog: "The papers of the Egyptian-American poet and humanist, Ahmed Zaki Abushady," (New York: Arthur Fournier Rare and Fine Books, 2019)


The collection is arranged in the following series: (1.) Biographical; (2.) Correspondence; (3.) Writings; (4.) Photographs, (5.) Printed material; (6.) Artwork, ephemera, realia and sound recordings. The series are often subdivided by family member, and are usually arranged in either alphabetic or chronological order. This order is subject to change, especially as further work is anticipated on some of the contents (especially artwork, ephemera, and realia).

Content Description

The Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi family papers consists of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, art works, ephemera, and realia of the Egyptian poet, publisher, physician and bee scientist, Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi (1892-1955), as well as related material from his immediate family, in particular his daughter, Safeya Abushady (1923-2013), as collected and assembled by his granddaughter, Joy Amina Garnett. The collection provides a broad overview of the intellectual and social life of an Egyptian literary figure and his British-born wife, their children, and their experiences living in England, Egypt, and the United States in the first half of the 20th century. The collection contains material divided into several series, by function or format:

Biographical: This series contains birth, death, and marriage records, travel and immigration documents, educational records, diaries and autograph books, and news clippings, not only about Abu Shadi but his family as well, including genealogical information about the family of Annie Bamford. Extensive news clippings depict the reception that Abu Shadi and his work received not only in Egypt, but also the United States. Of particular note are coverage that the family received after immigration to the United States, showcasing the roles of each child as Arab immigrants in U.S. society at that time. Abu Shadi's journal records the family's experiences while immigrating to the U.S., as do photographs located elsewhere in the collection. In addition, medical notebooks kept by Abu Shadi document his experiences as a student and young doctor in England in the 1910s. Additional material in this series includes news clippings about the Egyptian author Wadie Philistin, a friend of the family, as well as clippings that Philistin sent to Safeya Abu Shadi from Egyptian newspapers in the 1990s and 2000s, chiefly about literature, including the legacy of Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi. One further file contains documents about Constance Wellman, Abu Shadi's second wife, and her son.

Correspondence: The largest portion of correspondence deals with the period when Abu Shadi was in England, including extensive correspondence with his father, with family and associates in Alexandria, and with the planning of his and his wife Annie's move to Egypt in 1922. Scattered correspondence following that period usually is with professional associates, including those he worked with in the area of bee science, in particular the Apis Club in England, and related activities in Egypt. Correspondence with friends includes a variety of associates, not all identified, both from his activities in Egypt and after moving to the United States, including correspondence from Sheikh Faisal ibn ʻAbd al-ʻAzīz, the future king of Saudi Arabia, and from writer and friend Wadie Philistin. Most of the literary correspondence was transferred by Safeya Abushady during her lifetime to the University of Utah. The collection also includes extensive correspondece between other members of the Abu Shadi family, including correspondence between Ahmed and Annie, or from the parents to their children, when they were separated by travels or other circumstances. Notable files include correspondence received by Safeya from her brother, Ramzy, while the latter was stationed with U.N. peacekeeping forces in Lebanon in 1958, as well as correspondence related to Safeya's activities while working for the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, which included a file of correspondence from Prince (later King) Faisal ibn ʻAbd al-ʻAzīz, as well as with Egyptian artist (and cousin of A.Z. Abu Shadi), Adham Wanly, and the writer Wadie Philistin.

Writings: Most of this series consists of manuscript drafts of later works by Abu Shadi, from the 1940s and 1950s, dating from the period following immigration to the United States, including anthologies of his work, such as "Min anāshīd al-hīyah" (From the canticles of life), and individual works such as "By the Statue of Sa'ad Zaghlul," "Cleopatra: Heroine of Egypt" and "Chat with a Sacred Bee" and numerous fragments of poems and memoirs. In addition, speeches and scripts from the early 1950s are included, such as essays broadcast over Voice of America, including those from series titled "American Democracy in Light of Islam" or "The Spirit of Islam." A few earlier works are included, such as "'Anda al-fajr" from 1909. In addition to Abu Shadi's own writings, this series contains many manuscript texts of poetry from Safeya Abu Shadi, in English and in Arabic, dating from her school years in Alexandria through the late 1950s in Washington, and also includes some examples of her published work in Arabic-language periodicals.

Photographs: The majority of photographs were organized into rough groups at the time of archival processing, based on groups or of individual family members, with some of the identifications being tentative. Photographs of Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi show him with his father in Egypt, with Annie Bamford in England, with medical colleagues in both England and Egypt, as well as with bee scientists and enthusiasts in England, Egypt, and the U.S. The collection is strong on photos from his period in the U.S., including his activities as a translator with the United Nations, and his work with Voice of America. Family photographs include family portraits and candid shots showing Annie and Ahmed at the beginning of their relationship in England, the growth of their three children, images of family outings in Giza and Port Said and life around their homes in Cairo (Matarieh) and Alexandria, and photos from their journey to the U.S. in 1946 and the subsequent lives of the children there. Of the three children, the most extensive group of photos are those of Safeya, including images from her work with the Saudi delegation to the United Nations and at the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC in the 1940s and 1950s, her social circles during those times, and a few images from her later work with Voice of America. Noteworthy photos of the others include images of Hoda in her U.S. Navy uniform, and a group of snapshots from Ramzy's service with U.N. peacekeeping forces in Lebanon in 1958. Outside of the photographs of immediate family, other images show relatives of the Abu Shabi family, including the artists Adham and Seif Wanly, who were distant cousins of Abu Shadi. .

The "General" sub-series of photographs focus on individuals and events of significance to Ahmed Zaki and to Safeya. Among the former are images related to Abu Shadi's intellectual circles in Egypt, including inscribed photos from poets Ibrāhīm Nājī and Abū al-Qāsim Shābbī, who were active in the Apollo Group, as well as group photos of the latter; images of prominent Egyptians from that period, ranging from King Farouk to pioneering feminist Nabawīyah Mūsá and businessman Talaat Harb, and an image of the Indian novelist Rabindranath Tagore during a visit to Egypt in 1926, with a group of people that included Abu Shadi. Photos that represent Safeya's circle of acquaintances include images from the Saudi ruling family, including several pictures of Prince (later King) Faisal ibn ʻAbd al-ʻAzīz, inscribed to Safeya, and pictures from receptions and other events held at the Saudi embassy in Washington, as well as images depicting meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Printed material: This series contains published items, including volumes of Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi's own work that were published during or shortly after his lifetime, publications that he edited in his position as founder and chief editor of various publications or publishing houses, whether individual issues of journals such as "Bee Kingdom" or "Apollo," or pamphlets and other materials produced by Matba'at al-Ta'awun (Cooperation Press); materials written about him, consisting largely of biographies or critical analyses of his work, but also volumes of his poetry published after his lifetime, and books about contemporary literary movements that included chapters about Abu Shadi; and selected books that had a biographical association with him or members of his family. From the latter category, most of the books have ownership marks either from Abu Shadi himself, or from his daughters Safeya or Hoda, or reflect some facet of their careers or circles of acquaintances, and are listed here in the finding aid pending full bibliographic cataloging. Included is the sole published volume of Safeya Abu Shadi's poetry, "al-Ughnīyah al-khālidah" (1954), a booklet of photos from Genoa most likely acquired by Hoda during the family's journey to the U.S. in 1946, a typescript text of poetry from the writer ʻĪsá Nāʻūrī, dated 1952, and exhibition catalogs from Adham and Seif Wanly from 1961, among other items. Within each of these sub-series or printed materials, titles are generally arranged in chronological order.

Artwork, ephemera, realia and sound recordings: Notable are original works of art by artists who were relatives or family friends, such as Adham and Seif Wanly, or who worked with Abu Shadi in his publishing ventures. Original caricatures by the Wanly Brothers can also be found in the autograph books owned by Hoda and Safeya Abu Shadi, in the Ephemera subseries. Other notable items of ephemera include scrapbooks assembled by Safeya Abu Shadi, while she worked at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, with news cuttings and photographs documenting the visits of Princes Faisal and Abdallah to the United States in the 1940s and early 1950s, original broadsides related to Muhammad Abu Shadi and Nabawiyah Musa, and a front page from the newspaper Al Ahram from 1876. Also included among the ephemera are two boxes of mementos collected by Safeya Abu Shadi, as a memorial to Mohammed Mounir Ramzy, a young poet in Alexandria with whom Safeya had a relationship, and who took his own life at a young age (a book about Mounir Ramzy's life and work is also included in the Printed Material series). Personal items of Ahmed Zaki Abu Shadi, included in the Realia subseries, include his hat (a tarbouche), his Arabic typewriter and the suitcase he used while immigrating to the United States. Sound recordings focus largely around broadcasts from Voice of America, as well as a recorded tribute to Abu Shadi on the first anniversary of his death (not all of the recordings have been reformatted).

Conditions governing access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions governing use

This collection is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use materials in the collection in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Aḥmad Zakī Abū Shādī family papers; MC.065; box number; folder number or item identifier; Archives and Special Collections, New York University Abu Dhabi Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from Joy Amina Garnett, with the assistance of Arthur Fournier, May 2019.

Custodial History

Most of the contents in this collection were in the custody of Safeya Abushady until her death in 2013, and were then transferred to her niece, Joy Amina Garnett. In addition, some materials, in particular photographs and albums, were collected or created by Garnett's mother, Hoda Abushady Garnett, and were incorporated into this collection by Joy Amina Garnett.

Related Materials

Another substantial collection of documents from Ahmad Zaki Abū Shādī is held by the Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. These were donated by Safeya Abushady in 1975. The finding aid for this collection can be found at: .

Collection processed by

Brad Bauer

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 18:12:48 +0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is written in: English, Latin script.

Processing Information

Processed by Brad Bauer, 2019-2022. The collection was processed by staff of NYU Abu Dhabi Library, based on the initial arrangement created by Joy Garnett, with additional arrangement by the archivist where needed. The transliteration of Arabic names was guided by the use of Library of Congress romanization tables where possible (, both for titles of Arabic published works, and on occasion, for Arabic proper names. It should be noted that the creators of this collection transliterated their names into English as "Abushady" rather than "Abu Shadi," but for the purposes of consistency with prevalent descriptive standards, Abū Shādī is used most frequently in this finding aid. In addition, books which were not housed in archival boxes, and which will eventually receive full bibliographic cataloging, are housed separately, and have placeholder location numbers (usually a volume number), pending further cataloging.


NYU Abu Dhabi, Archives and Special Collections
NYU Abu Dhabi
New York University Abu Dhabi, C-2
P.O. 129188
Abu Dhabi