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Philippine studies

The British Library has important resources for the study of the Philippines. Relevant material can be found throughout the collections, in the form of printed books and serials, newspapers, manuscripts, archival resources, photographs, prints and drawings, sound recordings and moving images, electronic resources, theses and maps.

In addition to material in English, Spanish and other European languages, the Library holds, and continues to collect selectively, material in Tagalog and other languages of the Philippines, including Tausug and Maguindanao

Researching the Philippines at the British Library


The British Library’s manuscript collections in European languages include the writings of politicians, diplomats, academics, travellers, missionaries, artists and journalists. Most of the Library’s manuscripts in European languages are included in the Manuscripts catalogue.

There are also materials relevant to Philippine studies in the India Office Private Papers, for example the letters and papers of James Bean (d. 1772), assistant to Dawsonne Drake, Deputy Governor of Manila 1762-64 (MSS.Eur.E 336).

We hold two 18th century manuscript letters from Maguindanao in Arabic script, bearing two of the earliest Philippine Islamic seals known (Or.15510). The Library also has a Qur’an manuscript copied in the Philippines (Or.16058).

Manuscripts in Asian languages are not yet included in Explore the British Library.They are listed in published catalogues and unpublished handlists, by language. Details of the Arabic manuscript collections and catalogues are given here.

Printed books and periodicals

Almost all books and serials in English, Spanish and other European languages relating to the Philippines can be found through Explore the British Library. Books in Tagalog and other Philippine languages acquired since 1982 are included in Explore the British Library, whilst older books are listed in card catalogues available in the Asian and African Studies Reading Room at St Pancras. 

We hold a small collection of about 2,000 books in Philippine languages, mainly in Tagalog. The collection of early printed books in Philippine languages contains some rare items, including about thirty works printed in the 18th and 19th centuries, mostly of a Christian or linguistic nature. 

One such title published outside the Philippines is Compendio de historia universal desde la creacion del mundo hasta la venida de Jesucristo y un breve vocabulario en Castellano y en Moro Maguindanao por un padre missionero de la Compania de Jesus, published in Singapore in 1888, which includes Maguindanao excerpts printed in Arabic script (14639.b.2).

Archival resources

There are resources on the Philippines in the India Office Records, which are the documentary archives of the administration in London of the English East India Company and the pre-1947 government of India.

Among the resources for Philippine studies are:

  • papers relating to the British occupation of Manila from 1762 to 1764
  • documents in English, Malay and Tausug concerning the ‘Treaty of Friendship and Commerce’ signed between Alexander Dalrymple for the East India Company and the Sultan of Sulu in 1761 (BL IOR: H/629, pp.456-7)
  • a letter in Malay from the regent and crown prince of Mindanao to King George III in 1775 (BL IOR: H/128, p.496)

Visual materials

The Prints, Drawings and Photographs Section of the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections can be searched online and includes a small number of images of Philippine interest.

Recorded sound and audio-visual resources

The British Library Sound Archive holds one of the world’s largest collections of world and traditional music, with rich collections from Southeast Asia. There are other relevant resources in the oral history, drama and literature collections, and recording of wildlife from Southeast Asia. These resources are catalogued in the Sound Archive catalogue.

Electronic resources

A number of key electronic resources for the study of the Philippines are also available at the British Library. For licensing reasons, most of these may be accessed only from the Library’s reading rooms. The Library also subscribes to a growing number of electronic journals relevant to Philippine studies. 

Other resources

In addition to these resources the Library offers access to 


Annabel Gallop
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7661
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7641