The India Office Private Papers of the Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections of the British Library comprise about 300 collections and over 3000 smaller deposits of papers relating primarily to the British experience in India. Though often including papers similar to or complementing the much more extensive official archives of the India Office Records, the Private Papers are distinguished from the Records by their provenance from private sources.
Lady Canning, the Viceroy's wife, goes out to sketch, 1861.[Mss Eur [D661]. Copyright © The British Library Board
They trace their origin to the decision in 1801 of the Directors of the East India Company to establish a Library for the safe custody of books and manuscripts placed in their care by their servants in India and others. Gifts of papers are still received and the Library occasionally purchases papers.