In the early 1970s, Ehsan Yarshater, then Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University initiated the Encyclopædia Iranica project as a comprehensive Iranian Studies reference work. Professor Yarshater’s objective was to provide specialists on Iran with a platform for the publication of research outside highly specialized journals, while giving scholars in related fields, as well as the general public, access to knowledge about the Iranian civilization.

In 1982, the first fascicle of the Encyclopædia Iranica was published. As of January 2019, 15 volumes and fascicles XVI/1, XVI/2, XVI/3, and XVI/4 of Volume 16 have appeared in print, with entries ranging from “Āb” to “Khavaran-nameh. In 1996, the Encyclopædia Iranica launched its first website, iranica.com, to provide free access to pdf files of previously published fascicles. In 2009, Encyclopædia Iranica began developing its current website. Since 2010, this website has provided readers with easy access to all entries through full-text searches.  As of September 2018, the online version comprised about 7300 entries, of which more than 850 entries are available only on the Internet.  The Yarshater Center is committed to the on-going development of the print and digital versions of the Encyclopædia Iranica as well as, contingent upon adequate funding, open access to the Iranica website. The print edition, however, is currently being prioritized since the long-term preservation of digitally born contents remains a challenge.

Since its inception, the Encyclopædia Iranica project has received funding from independent grant-making agencies, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). In 1990, the non-for-profit Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation was established to guarantee the project’s intellectual independence and secure its long-term viability.  In 2018, the Persian Heritage Foundation provided $10 million grant to Columbia University to endow the Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies and enable it to continue its work on the Encyclopædia Iranica.

Revised March 2019