We have rich resources for the study of South Asia past and present. South Asia is taken to include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Collection guides

Readers at desks in the Asian and African Reading Room

Asian & African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk or contact the Asian & African Studies Reference Team.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

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Mon: 10.00 – 17.00
Tue – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

Landscape in law

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Archives on the environment appear in unexpected places. Under the Permanent Settlement of 1792, India’s British rulers fixed the taxes which land-holders in certain regions paid on their land. But land itself was not permanent. Across the Sub-continent, rivers and...

Indian soldiers protest about the loss of extra pay

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

In December 1841 Indian private soldiers of the Madras Army stationed at Asirgarh and Secunderabad refused to receive their monthly pay. The sepoys were protesting at the removal of their allowance, or batta, which had been paid to troops stationed...

Breakfast in British India

Thursday, September 16, 2021

In 1810 Captain Thomas Williamson, a retired Bengal Army officer, published The East India Vade-Mecum; or complete guide to gentlemen intended for the civil, military or, naval service of the East India Company. It is a fascinating book to dip...

Memorabilia of Captain James Cecil Thornton

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

One of the most pleasing aspects of private paper collections is the small items of ephemera they often contain. One example of this in the India Office Private Papers is a folder of memorabilia of Captain James Cecil Thornton (1888-1932),...

More blog posts

Staff profiles

Dr Malini Roy

Head of Visual Arts

Dr Antonia Moon

Lead Curator, post-1858 India Office Records

Dr Margaret Makepeace

Lead Curator, East India Company Records

More staff members

Case studies

More Case studies
…The BL Newspaper collections are vast and in many cases also rare and unique in their content and collection histories. …

Junaid-Ul-Hassan is a Chevening Fellow working at the British Library on a project titled ‘News and Media in South Asia: Past and Present’.

…The archival material provides fascinating insights…

Christian is evaluating the archival material of Dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Adriaan Bake.

Featured collection items

Projects

Sinhalese Manuscripts Pilot Digitisation Project

A pilot digitisation project that aims to make freely available four palm leaf manuscripts from the British Library’s Sinhalese manuscript collections

Two Centuries of Indian Print

An international collaboration to digitise South Asian printed books

Digital access to Persian Manuscripts

Our collection of Persian Manuscripts is one of the most important in the world

All projects

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Centre of South Asian Studies

University of Cambridge

Find my past

Records of baptisms, marriages, burials, wills, pensions, military and civil career information

The National Archives

Records relating to the East India Company, and the Family Records Centre