Indian Independence

Photograph of Jawahar Lal Nehru and M A Jinnah taking a walk together in the grounds of the Viceregal Lodge, Simla in 1946
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru & Mr M A Jinnah, walking together in the grounds of Viceregal Lodge, Simla, 11 May 1946. Photo 134/2 (28)

Sources available in the India Office Records on the historical event of Independence, 1947.

About the collection

British colonisation of India began in the second half of the 18th century when the English East India Company  took control of Bengal and gradually expanded its territory to other parts of India. In 1858 the British Government replaced the role of the East India Company and became the 'Paramount' ruler of India. It was not until 1947 that India regained its independence - ending nearly 200 years of British rule. 

The following pages provide a series of documents produced mainly during the last 50 years of British rule and are divided into four themes:

What is available online?

There are a number of online resources freely available to access from our reading rooms, or via subscription elsewhere:

Maps showing India before PartitionPartition boundaries in Bengal and Assam, and Partition boundaries in the Punjab

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

The India Office Records and Private Papers can be viewed in the Asia & African Studies Reading Room, and the catalogues are searchable online using Explore Archives and Manuscripts. There are also printed catalogues, guides to the collections and open access reference books in the A&AS Reading Room. The reading room PCs give free access to a number of useful sites, such as Find My Past and Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

Reference staff in the Asian and African Studies reading room can provide advice on searching the records.

The India Office Records and Private Papers are the British Library's most extensive archives relating to the East India Company and the British Empire in India but there is also much complementary material in other British Library archival collections, such as the Modern Archives and Manuscript collectionsphotograph collections and oral history recordings.

What is available in other organisations?

Consult our guide to Sources for Indian Independence and Partition in UK Institutions.

Records of other British Government departments are held at the National Archives, and can be searched online using the Discovery catalogue.

The holdings of the National Archives of India can also be searched using their online portal.