Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Volunteer with the Royal Society for Asian Affairs (RSAA)

The Royal Society for Asian Affairs (RSAA) based in Euston, is looking for a volunteer to work over the summer with the Society’s large collection of lantern slides.  The slides have been catalogued, though a number remain unidentified.  The volunteer will transfer the slides from drawers into archive boxes, numbering each envelope according to the catalogue. 

The Hejaz Railway (broken bridge) north of Madina - from an image by H. St. John Philby, 1933

A bit of background: The RSAA was formed in 1901 and was known then as the Central Asian Society.   It attracted diplomats, politicians, explorers, geographers and military men, most of whom had worked or travelled in the Indian subcontinent, the Ottoman Empire, Persia, Tibet, China and Central Asia.  It was granted a Royal Charter in 1931 and became the Royal Society for Asian Affairs in 1973.  Its journal, Asian Affairs, has been published continuously since 1914.  Lectures  by  the Society’s members and other prominent figures have always played an important part and many, though not all, were printed in the journal.  Lantern slides were used to illustrate lectures and some of these were subsequently donated to the Society.  Further donations of slides were received from members and among the earliest are images of Bokhara and Samarkand in 1895 from Sir Michael O’Dwyer.  Subjects illustrated include the motor road to India, travels in Armenia, Mecca and Madina, and rural Siam in the 1920s.

Please contact Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, the RSAA archivist:

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Japanese and INA Propaganda in India: Anti-British Pamphlets and Leaflets of World War II

Our latest blog post is contributed by the British Library’s Chevening Fellow, Partha Bhaumik

An intriguing story of strategy and counter-strategy, innovation and counter-innovation…

During the Second World War, the British and Japanese governments fought a fierce propaganda war in South Asia to influence mass opinion in their favour. They exploited all available media -- wireless, film, print, and live-performances -- to propagate and publicise their own cause. The aim was to discredit the opponent, and to project their own side as the true friend of South Asian people.

Japanese propaganda in Burma and India found a convenient impetus when the Indian National Army (INA) or Azad Hind Fauj was formed in 1942. Made up of Indian prisoners-of-war and led by Indian nationalists like Subhash Chandra Bose, INA allied with Japan and joined the war to free India from colonial rule. Japanese propaganda started to highlight the Indian National Army and its popular leader Bose, probably on the common maxim that any propaganda becomes more effective when it comes from one’s own people. Japan harped on the idea of kinship to incite South Asian people against the British and Americans. The religious ties between Japan and India through Buddhism, for instance, became a way to convince the Indians of Japanese friendship. A British intelligence report, dated 24-31 December 1942, discussed how religion became ‘an adjunct to propaganda’, and the speech of an Indian speaker on Bangkok focussed on the theme ‘Siam, Japan and India have the same religion’.


Anti-British pamphlets and leaflets were often dropped from aeroplanes, and they were circulated secretly by the nationalists. To help circulation, propaganda materials were of short dimensions allowing them to be hidden conveniently. J. A. Biggs Davison, Assistant Magistrate and Collector at Chittagong, collected a small 14-page pamphlet measuring 10.5 X 8mm, featuring simple illustrations and a caption for each in Hindi and Urdu (written in Roman script).

1. What is Britain? Isn’t it a land of good and respectable people?
Mss Eur D844/4
2. Britain is eating India

3. Britain is wearing clothes taken from India

Mss Eur D844/4

14. Japan has made Asia a land of happiness, much against the wishes of Britain and America

15. Afterwards, Subhash Chandra Bose has come to Rangoon, and made Indian National Army for free India.

Mss Eur D844/4

Some posters were colourful; many of them featured John Bull, the national personification of Britain. 
Entire Asia is moving towards victory. Come, let us break our shackles, and fight for freedom.
Mss Eur C808 (180 X 120mm)

The following note was scribbled on the back of the above poster: ‘Japanese propaganda leaflet to the Indians found at Telenipa (near Bhadreswar Ghat Section) after air raid 34th. [sic] 25th. December 1942. Probably distributed by the Indian Nationalists.’
The Japanese army also distributed leaflets to assure Indian people that their air raids were aimed against the British and not against them. They declared no-bombing for 26 January, the day commemorated as ‘Independence Day’ by the Indian National Congress.
Mss Eur D844/4

The victory at Singapore was variously publicised, and a number of leaflets issued in the name of the Indian Independence League showed photographs of the British surrender. A few were addressed to the Indian soldiers in the British army, urging them not to take up arms against their own brothers.

Mss Eur D844/4
‘Compatriots in India! Very soon, the British and the Americans will be forced out of India; and the Government of Azad Hind will be established on Indian soil.’ Leaflet signed by Subhas Chandra Bose.

Mss Eur D844/4

This propaganda aimed to rally every Indian to the war cause and to create mass support for the Indian National Army. Despite the fact that the Japanese and INA lost the war, their propaganda left an impression among the common people. The nationwide outrage against the trials of captured INA soldiers (Red Fort Trials), who were then perceived as true patriots, can be cited as a case in point.

Parthasarathi Bhaumik

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
British Library- Chevening Fellow

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Mountain surveys and exploring

In November 2017 The Royal Commonwealth Society posted in a blog a stunning picture of The snow range from Simla (RCMS 20/2/18) taken by Sir Frederick Tymms (1889-1987), link to post

Striking panoramas are found in :
Tours in Sikhim and the Darjeeling district / by Percy Brown ; revised and edited with additions by Joan Townend ; with frontispiece, contours and map.  Calcutta : W. Newman & Co., 1944. (Archive GB 61) given by Brigadier F.R.L. Goadby.

Archive GB 61 p 73

Archive GB 61 p 88

Archive GB 61  p 131

This book is held in the Archive collection of the Cambridge Centre of South Asian Studies which also has donations including logistics surveys and histories of mountaineering and the developments of climbing techniques.

One of the earliest mountaineering books held is: Notes of wanderings in the Himmala : containing descriptions of some of the grandest scenery of the snowy range, among others of Nainee Tal / by Pilgrim [T.J. Saunders], Agra, 1844. (Archive (235.24):910)  a scanned copy of which is also available from the Hathi Trust.

One of J.H. Hutton's donations : Notes on walking around Shillong, by W.A. Allsup, 1934, (Archive Hut 4) was republished and launched at the Shillong Club in 2017. The Shillong Times in an article dated 23rd July 2017 notes :

Allsup’s book represented the first effort to mark out a series of walks around Shillong and to recommend these walks to residents and visitors.
Horse riding was then the main conveyance for work or pleasure and these tracks, no doubt, provided convenient paths for walkers. While it is not known as to how successful Allsup’s efforts to promote walking were, the well-worn horse trails were often the starting points of his hiking trips.

The Ian M. Stephens collection has an early survey : Routes in the Western Himālaya, Kashmīr, &c. v. 1, Pūnch, Kashmīr & Ladākh / by Kenneth Mason. 2nd ed. Calcutta : Govt. of India Press, 1929. (Archive IS 86) which details all the major western trans-Himalayan routes, in Kashmir, Punch and Ladakh, detailing distances, Dak Bungalows and Rest Houses, bridges, and where to obtain fodder.

From the same collection at Archive IS 231 is a history of early exploration : When men and mountains meet : the explorers of the Western Himalayas 1820-75 by John Keay. London : John Murray, 1977,  Road to Rakaposhi by George Band. London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1955, (Archive IS 152)  which was dedicated to the Cambridge University Mountaineering Club and a report from some members of that Club : Cambridge Hindu-Kush Expedition 1966 (Archive IS 406).

The collection also includes publications by Eric Shipton who in 1957 was awarded the CBE for contribution to the conquest of Everest. (Archive IS 102) That untravelled world : an autobiography. London : Hodder, 1969. (Archive IS 55) Annapurna, conquest of the first 8000-metre peak (26,493 feet), by Maurice Herzog; translated from the French by Nea Morin, and Janet Adam Smith; with an introduction by Eric Shipton. London : Jonathan Cape, 1952 and (Archive IS 97) Mountains of Tartary : photographs by the author. London : Hodder, 1951. An article by Jonathan Westaway (2014) That undisclosed world: Eric Shipton's Mountains of Tartary (1950), Studies in Travel Writing, 18:4, 357-373, "recounts Eric Shipton's mountaineering and travels in Xinjiang during  his  two  postings  as  British  Consul-General  in  Kashgar  in  the  1940s." but goes on to argue that Shipton would have been prevented by his role as a British diplomat in China from publishing anything that revealed details of his role in Great Game politics or the full extent to which he was an agent of the state involved in diplomacy, intelligence gathering and imperial surveillance.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Hutton Donation to the University of Cambridge Centre of South Asian Studies

Book-plate of John Henry Hutton
In 1980 Patrick Hutton son of John Henry Hutton, 1885-1968, I.C.S. Assistant Magistrate and Collector, East Bengal and Assam 1909 and Census Commissioner, Government of India 1929, gave 13 books to the Centre of South Asian Studies archives, many of which have his father’s bookplate. They range from well-used dictionaries of Hindustani, Bengali, Urdu and Sanskrit, to guides to birds and wildlife, to Notes on walking round Shillong. This small 87 page publication (Archive HUT 4) by W. Allsup, published 1934, records where safe drinking water may be found for hikes which could take up to 8 hours. Another publication (Archive HUT 11) : Hobson-Jobson : a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive  by Henry Yule and A. C. Burnell was reprinted by Oxford University Press in 2013 as Hobson- Jobson : the definitive glossary of British India.

The South Asian Studies Library holds various publications by John Henry Hutton including volumes of the 1931 Census of India G(54):31, his study of the Angami Nagas : with some notes on neighbouring tribes. Bombay : Indian Branch, Oxford University Press, 1969. (541.1):397, with the 1921 edition held at Archive JE 16 and Archive ST 1, and at Archive JE 17 The Sema Nagas, London : Macmillan, 1921

The St Catharine’s College Society Magazine of 1968 has a lengthy obituary of Professor John Henry Hutton C.I.E., D.SC. who died 23rd May 1968. Excerpts follow : 
John Henry Hutton joined the Indian Civil Service in 1909, at the time of the disturbances which followed the partition of Bengal and of the Morley-Minto reforms. He served until 1936, through a period of intense activity, of fundamental change and of constant unrest; and he was created C.I.E. for his active service in the Kuki Operations.
When he retired he took with him to Radnorshire a knowledge and understanding, and a scholarly status, which was unusual even in the Indian Civil Service at a time when much notable work on the historical and sociological problems of their districts was coming from the gifted men whom India attracted to that service.
Hutton's period of service on the Burmese border had given him an opportunity to study the Naga tribes in depth and to write his two pioneering anthropological studies,
The Angami Nagas and The Serna Nagas.
His subsequent compilation of the Report on the Census of India, in 1933, confirmed his status as an anthropologist of the first quality, who combined an imaginative understanding of the realities of eastern social life with a shrewd scepticism of generalizations and a mastery of the techniques of social survey. He had been awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal and had been elected president of the Royal Anthopological Institute in 1929, and his work had been acknowledged by awards from the Royal Society of Arts, the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and the Anthropologische Gesellschaft of Vienna. He was awarded the Degree of D.Sc. at Oxford (a distinction about which he was always typically and modestly silent in Cambridge) and in 1938 he was appointed to give the Frazer Lectures in that university [and] became a Fellow of St Catharine’s College Cambridge...When the war intervened. Hutton moved into college as a resident Fellow (with his adoring retriever!) and immediately became a mainstay of the wartime college. He secured permission from the University to act as Bursar of the College, and became a devoted and invaluable college officer. Always enthusiastic, well-informed and curious, he shared the duties, the hardships and the amenities of Cambridge with the architects, the medicos and the service men who were drafted into residence, and, lacking pupils, he not only managed his land in Radnorshire with the same care as he gave to his bursarial duties and accepted office as Sheriff of that county, but laid the foundations of two scholarly books which he published when peace brought an end to restrictions :  Caste in India [which] confirmed his mastery of the complexities of his chosen subject [and] Pictures of St Catharine's College. [In] 1950 he retired again to Radnorshire.
Full obituary pages 24-26 of the Society Magazine including a tribute reprinted from the Times

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Funding opportunity for Research Fellow / Cataloguer to work with the John Rylands Persian Collections

Announcement from the John Rylands Research Institute regarding the Soudavar Memorial Foundation Fellowship:

"The John Rylands Research Institute welcomes applications for a fixed-term Research Fellow / Cataloguer to work on the Persian Collections.

The deadline for applications is 5pm (GMT), Friday 23 February 2018.

The John Rylands Research Institute is pleased to welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake a short-term research fellowship, generously funded by the Soudavar Memorial Foundation

One 7-week research fellowship is available to conduct research on and catalogue the Library’s outstanding Persian language manuscripts.

Applicants are required to propose a research and cataloguing project focussing on a subset of the collection relevant to their experience and expertise. We particularly welcome proposals which focus on Persian tales and fables, science and medicine, or Persian poetry.

Fellows will receive an allowance of up to £2,500 per month for a maximum of 7 weeks; a dedicated workspace in the John Rylands Library, and access to curatorial and grant-writing support."

Application guide and form can be found here:

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Center for Research Libraries (CRL) 2017 Annual Report

Please find the below link to the recently published Center for Research Libraries (CRL) 2017 Annual Report. We would like to draw your attention to pages 8, 9 and 26 that relate to South Asia Open Archives:

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Job Alert: Assistant Librarian (South Asian and Development Studies) at SOAS

SOAS Library are currently recruiting for a South Asian Studies Librarian (maternity cover). Please see the following link:

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Metadata Specialist job opening with South Asia language expertise

University of Virginia Library - Metadata Specialist
The University of Virginia Library seeks a Metadata Specialist for its Metadata Creation & Organization unit. We are looking for creative individuals who are excited by the prospect of working at a forward-looking organization during times of great change. Known for the strength and variety of its collections and leadership in digital initiatives, the Library embraces respect, integrity, inclusion, innovation and collaboration in our work within the University, with peer institutions, and with the worldwide community. A staff of 220 manage 7 libraries that serve a vibrant and diverse scholarly community of 15,000 undergraduates, 6,000 graduate students, and 2,000 teaching and research faculty, and visitors from the public and other institutions.
Within Collections Access & Discovery, Metadata Creation & Organization facilitates access to library-owned content that is undescribed or under described, participates in partnerships to share expertise and provide innovation in data management, and engages fully in the mission of the University of Virginia. Reporting to the Manager of Metadata Creation & Organization, the Metadata Specialist supports that mission by collaborating with colleagues within and outside of the department and Library to ensure appropriate and timely access to published materials in all formats and languages.
This position performs original and complex cataloging for materials in a variety of formats and languages, and across all subject areas. Particular language needs at this time are Tibetan, Arabic, Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, and Urdu, among others. Creates, enhances, and maintains bibliographic records, providing accurate physical description, determining appropriate access points, and assigning Library of Congress subject headings and classification numbers, or accession numbers as appropriate. Creates and edits records in local databases as well as OCLC database in accordance with cooperative cataloging principles. Makes decisions regarding choice of records for inclusion in our local database, appropriate access points, level of cataloging required, etc., working with the user and database quality in mind. Works with a high degree of independence in prioritizing and organizing work and in decision-making.
Required: Bachelor's degree. 4-7 years' demonstrated experience with creation of metadata in a library setting. Demonstrated experience with MARC, RDA, and other library standards. Willingness to describe and classify materials in a variety of foreign languages, with or without reading knowledge. Demonstrated ability to create metadata according to established rules and standards. Demonstrated ability to work independently and collaboratively across groups to achieve objectives, and to communicate effectively orally and in writing. Excellent interpersonal skills.
Preferred: MLS or equivalent degree. Reading knowledge of at least one language in addition to English. Particular language needs at this time are Tibetan, Arabic, Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, and Urdu, among others.
To Apply: Complete a Candidate Profile, attach a cover letter, CV, and contact information for three professional references through Jobs@UVA (Posting #0622304). For assistance with this process contact Jennifer S. Harmon, Director, Library Human Resources at (434) 924-4695.
The University of Virginia is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer committed to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.
Jean L. Cooper
Metadata Creation and Organization / Content Access and Discovery
University of Virginia Library /

Friday, 15 December 2017

Duplicate copies of Census reports

Dear all,

Jan Usher at the National Library of Scotland has duplicates that she would like to offer and have rehoused - list is below.

If you are at all interested then please email Jan on:

Thank you.

Duplicate Census volumes

Travancore 1975 Census report

Mysore General Census report 1871

Mysore General Census report 1871 supplement

Native Cochin 1875

Ceylon 1901 Vols II and IV

Ceylon 1911 Occupation statistics

Ceylon 1911 Town & village stats. (2 vols.)

Ceylon 1911 Tables (2 vols.)

Ceylon 1911 Estate population

Ceylon 1921 report Vol. I (2 vols.)

Ceylon 1963 – Population (4 vols.)

Ceylon – the review of the results of the Census of 1911 (3 vols.)

Census of India 1971, part 1, chapters I and II (with additional title: Indian census through a hundred years by D. Natarajan] (Census centenary monograph no 2).

Census of India 1971 – Economic and socio-cultural dimensions of regionalisation – An Indo-USSR collaborative study (Census centenary monograph no 7).

Census of India 1971 – extracts from the All India census reports on literacy (Census centenary monograph no 9).

Census of India 1971 - Age and marital status (Census centenary monograph no 8).

Census of India 1971 – India Census in perspective (Census centenary monograph no 1) (2 vols.)

Census of India 1971 – India Census in perspective – (Census centenary monograph no 1) - 3rd edition

Census of India 1971 Civil registration system in India - a perspective (Census centenary monograph no 4).

Census of India 1971 – Bibliography of census publications in India (Census centenary monograph no 5)

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Update from South Asia Open Archives (SAOA)

Dear Colleagues,

We’re excited to share updates about the South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) (formerly SAMP Open Archives Initiative). This collective of nearly 25 libraries from the US and across the Subcontinent is dedicated to creating a freely accessible, curated collection of historical research materials on South Asia. We hope this brief update provides details into some of SAOA’s activities as we’ve taken significant steps toward building our foundation, with a goal of launching a digital archive in 2018.

SAOA is developing carefully curated thematic research collections in various South Asian languages (including English) by digitizing key print and microfilm holdings supplied by our cooperative network of Member Institutions. This content will include:

  • Colonial-era administrative and trade reports
  • Women’s periodicals
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Census materials and gazetteers
  • Important literary and other monographic sources

For example, SAOA has already begun digitizing a selection of early twentieth-century monographs listed in the National Bibliography of Indian Literature, including the Bengali titles Mandirera Kathā and Gāna: Sarala Svaralipisambalita.

SAOA has also recently collaborated with Roja Muthiah Research Library (RMRL) in Chennai, India to digitize Tamil Women’s Journals from the early 1900s such as Mātar Manōrañcini and Pen Kalvi.

We highly encourage the research community to suggest additional titles to be considered, through SAOA's online suggestion form.

Beyond creating free and open access to the range of content outlined above, we are also working to launch a modern, sophisticated, full-featured platform for discovery, hosting, and presentation of SAOA’s content that meets the needs of researchers, scholars, students, and the general public for material on South Asia. In the meantime, please have a look at a brief article on SAOA posted by Center for Research Libraries as well as a presentation from CRL’s Global Resources Collections Research Forum.

Hopefully this update inspires you to help us expand the SAOA network by referring your colleagues to our How to Become a Member of SAOA webpage. We will share more progress with you over the coming months. Please feel free to contact me or members of our Executive Board if you would like to discuss any aspects of SAOA.

Neel Agrawal
South Asia Digital Librarian, South Asia Open Archives (SAOA), Center for Research Libraries(CRL)

Friday, 15 September 2017

Symposium: Rethinking the Dutch East India Company?

Dear all,
The National Archives of the Netherlands finished the digitisation of its VOC collection earlier this year. To mark this special occasion, the National Archives and the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University are pleased to invite you to our symposium on the VOC archives on 23-24 November 2017 titled Rethinking the Dutch East India Company? Old genres new trends in research and analysis. Asides from this, an exhibition on the VOC is hosted by the National Archives this year, which is attracting much attention.
Content and subjects
The symposium will address a diverse number of subjects related to the VOC archives, with the following question as the central theme:
To what extent has research in the VOC archives changed compared to a few decades ago and where will it go – or does it need to go – in the future?
Special attention will be given to the possibilities digitisation offers to non-western researchers and the study of Asian/African history and to the study of the negative sides of colonialism as well as to questions concerning the decolonisation of archive management and research. The preliminary programme is attached to this message.
Registration and enquiries.
The symposium will be held at the National Archives in The Hague and admission is free. The language of the symposium is English. Participants can choose to attend one or two days of the symposium. Registration can be done by filling out the form at More information and updates can also be found on this page. We advise you to register in time since availability of places is limited and we are expecting these to fill up fast.
We would greatly appreciate it if you would share this message in your professional network. Questions on the symposium can be sent to the project secretary at We hope to welcome you in November.
In behalf of the National Archives and Leiden University,
Kind regards,
Thomas Dresscher
Project Secretary VOC symposium
Nationaal Archief/National Archives of the Netherlands