A wealth of archival resources can be found in the India Office Records for the study of the modern history of Afghanistan. They document the Anglo-Afghan relationship from the contacts made by the agency of the East India Company in the early 17th century, to the administration of the British Legation in Kabul in the mid-20th century. This Guide outlines a general framework of the India Office Records, India Office Private Papers, and the publications of primary sources corresponding to major historical events.
A Ko-i-Staun chief, with armed retainers. By J. Rattray, 2nd Grenadiers, Bengal Army, 1847. ©The British Library Board [P2082]
Sources in the India Office Records
- The first contacts: from the establishment of the East India Company to the election of Ahmad Shah Durrani as King of the Afghans, 1600-1747.
- The emergence of the Afghan Kingdom to the mission of Mountstuart Elphinstone, 1747-1809.
- The overthrow of Shah Shuja to the eve of the First Anglo-Afghan War, 1809-38.
- The first Anglo-Afghan War, 1838-42.
- The restoration of Amir Dost Muhammad to the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1843-78.
- The second Anglo-Afghan War, 1878-80.
- The reigns of Abdur Rahman Khan and Habibullah, 1881-1919.
- The assassination of Habibullah to the abdication of Amanullah, 1919-28.
- The civil war to the reign of Zahir Shah, 1929-50.
Finding aid published by IDC:
Apart from the archival material described above, collections of Afghan literary and artistic materials are held in the Persian Section and Prints & Drawings Section of the British Library. Other relevant material in the British Library may be found in: Manuscripts Collections, Official Publications & Social Sciences Services, Science Technology & Business Collections. Rare stamps may be found in Philatelic Collections. Some of the western-language newspapers from Asia may be consulted at British Library Newspapers, although most titles from South Asia are available on microfilm in the Asian & African Studies Reading Room.
Archival sources on Afghanistan beyond the administration of the India Office may be found in other institutions in the United Kingdom, e.g.
- The National Archives
- The Royal Asiatic Society
- School of Oriental and African Studies
- Imperial War Museum
- National Army Museum
Other online resources:
Asian and African Studies enquiries
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