While working through the private archive of French Orientalist Roger LeTourneau (d. 1971) at the Archives nationales d’outre mer (ANOM) in Aix-en-Provence last year, I came across an unexpected letter. 
The letter was in a folder containing materials used to prepare LeTourneau and H.R. Idris’ translation of the Ibadi text known as the Kitāb al-sīra, attributed to Abū Zakarīyāʾ al-Wārjalānī (d.11th c). The translation ultimately appeared in serialized fashion in Revue Africaine from 1960-2. 
|An Image of the letter from Van Berchem to LeTourneau|
Dated 1 January 1961, the letter is written in the (really dreadful) hand of archaeologist and art historian Marguerite Van Berchem, who studied the archaeological site of the medieval Ibadi city of Sedrata in Algeria from 1950-55.  At the time of writing, Berchem was preparing her study of Sedrata when she learned that LeTourneau was working on a new translation of the Kitāb al-sīra. Berchem looked forward to reading it because the text discusses the history of the medieval city. The language of the letter is a bit odd but here is a full transcription :
It would be fascinating to know if Van Berchem ever received a drafted copy of LeTourneau’s text, especially the Arabic transcription that never appeared in print. In any case, the letter serves as a reminder that the translation of the Kitāb al-sīra appeared at an important time in the history of Northern Africa. As Van Berchem herself indicates here, Algeria was moving rapidly toward independence from France, which it would achieve one year later in 1962.
I am now writing an article on the publication history of the Kitāb al-sīra so if you’re interested, stay tuned!
Notes | مصادر وملاحظات
 Centre des archives d’outre mer (CAOM) 7/APOM/12, letter from Van Bercham to LeTourneau, 1 Jan. 1961
 R. LeTourneau “La Chronique d’Abū Zakarrīyāʾ al-Wargalānī,” Revue Africaine, 462-3 (1960), 99-176 and 322-90; 465-5 (1961), 117-76; H.R. Idris, “La Chronique d’Abū Zakarrīyāʾ al-Wargalānī: Deuxième partie,” Revue Africaine 468-9 (1961), 323-74; 470-1 (1962), 119-62.
 On Sedrata, see V. Prevost, “Une tentative d’histoire de la ville ibadite de Sadrāta,” Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez, 38:2 (2008), 129-147. For more on Van Berchem and her excavations, see C. Aillet and S. Gilotte, “Sedrata: l’élaboration d’un lieu de mémoire,” Revue du monde musulman et de la Méditerranée, 132, (2012), 91-114. Available online here. One of the stuccos excavated from Sedrata is today housed at the Musée Nationale des Antiquités in Algiers. It can be seen here.
 I would never have finished deciphering the letter without the help of my wife, Sarra Rais. Many thanks to her!