Ottoman Turkish manuscripts constitute a small part of the Gotha Research Library’s collection, which comprises more than 3,500 oriental manuscripts in total. When Wilhelm Pertsch (1832–1899) catalogued the Ottoman Turkish manuscripts (the catalogue was printed in 1864), there were around 276 codices in the collection. As far as can be reconstructed, they became part of the holdings in the early days of the library, when the private scholarly book collection of the Jena theologian Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621–1668) was purchased by the library, and at a later stage, when Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767–1811) acquired manuscripts on his journey through the Middle East.
Some of the manuscripts Pertsch described as part of the “old collection” that had already reached the library in Gotha before Seetzen arrived in Thuringia after adventurous travels: For example, in the seventeenth century, the Dutch Captain Pieterson presumably relieved Muslim pirates off Madagascar of Ms. orient. T 9, a miscellaneous manuscript containing texts with magical and astrological contents, texts about territorial and feudal relations and hymns and poems.
The thematic spectrum of the Ottoman Turkish manuscripts is broad. The collection includes texts from the disciplines of Islamic and Christian theology, jurisprudence, astronomy and astrology, geography, medicine, chemistry, politics, and mantic. Poetry and literature are particularly important areas.
Some of the Turkish manuscripts preserved are remarkably elaborate, such as Ms. orient. T 184, which came from the Saray Library of Sultan Süleymān II. This can be deduced because it bears a stamp. Ms. orient. T 186, an Alexander novel illustrated with 13 miniatures in what is referred to as the Turkmen style is highly elegant. It was composed before 1689.