Some Recent CRL Acquisitions Related to Colonial India
Researchers often use CRL's Acquisition Programs to gain access to material that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Spencer Leonard, a student pursuing a joint-degree Ph.D. in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and History at the University of Chicago, used this program to obtain access to copies of manuscripts from the Asian and African Studies room of the British Library. The British Library holds the massive East India Company and India Office papers, the archival legacy of three and a half centuries of British commercial and colonial activity in South Asia and the East Indies more generally, as well as substantial manuscript collections, in both Asian and European languages.
Specifically, Leonard requested CRL acquire microfilms of two of the large European manuscripts collections. These under-studied materials illuminate internal dynamics of the East India Company both in Britain and in Bengal in the 1760s, the period during which the Company consolidated its control over what is today Bangladesh and the Indian provinces of West Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. CRL acquisition of a very substantial part of the Verelst and Sutton Court collections allows for patient investigation here in America, and Leonard reports that this has contributed substantially to his research. He also plans to request that CRL acquire the remainder of these collections, as he knows their presence in the U.S. will "undoubtedly contribute to the growing body of scholarship emanating from the country's research universities on the long and varied course of British imperial rule on the South Asian subcontinent."
Recent CRL acquisitions of material in this field follow.
- Church Missionary Society Archive, Section VI—Missions to India.
The Church Missionary Society Archives on Missions to India are important for scholarship on the subcontinent, on missions themselves, and on empire. Missionary reports are among the earliest European reports for many parts of India, including geographic descriptions, notes on local flora, and on the languages, customs, and religions of the inhabitants themselves. Including both manuscript and printed materials, the Archive enables investigation into mission and empire, a complex—in some respects paradigmatic—interplay of power and knowledge in full colonial sway.
- Curzon India and Empire Part 1: the papers of Lord Curzon 1859–1925 from the Oriental and India Office Collections at the British Library London.
The Papers of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, 1898–1905, and British Foreign Secretary, 1919–1924, from the British Library (MS.EUR F111 & F112) document all aspects of his involvement with the Middle East and South Asia and provide a rich source for historians of Empire.
- Empire and Commonwealth. Part 1: The Colour Question in Imperial Policy, c. 1830–1939.
- Empire and Commonwealth. Part 2: Imperial and Commonwealth Conferences, 1887–1955.
The archives of the Royal Commonwealth Society are the most extensive record in existence of the British Empire and its evolution into the modern Commonwealth of Nations.
- Nightingale, Public Health and Victorian Society from the British Library, London Part 1: Correspondence relating to the Crimea, India and Public Health Reform.
This set contains communications between Florence Nightingale and successive Viceroys of India, Secretaries of State, and other prominent figures in the colonial government of India.
- Dacca Factory records
These are the East India Company’s records for their Dacca “factory” or trading post for 1595–1858.
- East India Company, general correspondence, 1602–1859
This includes general correspondence records from the period when the East India Company governed many parts of India.
- Letters from Major James Rennell
Rennell was the surveyor-general of East India Company dominions in Bengal from 1764–1777.
- Minutes of the Court of Directors
The East India Company was led by one governor and 24 directors who made up the ‘Court of Directors’.
- Poona Observer and Civil & Military Journal, February 1876–December 1906.
The journal covers a critical period in India’s history. It is post-Sepoy Mutiny and covers developments and British colonial thought leading up to World War I and the recruitment of Indians for the Military.
- Sutton Court Collection
- Verelst collection (British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections)
The above two collections illuminate the politics and dynamics within the East India Company both in Britain and in Bengal in the 1760s.
- Times of India (1874–1915, 1936–1940)
The Times of India has been the newspaper of record for over a century of Indian history. Acquisition of these time periods fill gaps in CRL’s holdings.
The Newcastle Papers from the British Library, London
The Papers of the Duke of Newcastle document in detail a period for which few other substantial series of records exist aside from the Hanoverian State Papers Domestic. Included in this set are Newcastle’s correspondence through the time period Britain competed with France for superiority over colonies in North America and India.
More information about CRL and South Asia Microform Project (SAMP) collections and activities is available in the Spring 2005 Focus issue.