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

Stanley Cinchona Plantation

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

While browsing through a volume of India Office Public Works Department correspondence for 1866, I came across this lovely colour sketch of the Stanley Cinchona Plantation in the Kundah Hills in India. Intrigued, I read through the correspondence to find...

Gunner George Fish of the Bombay Artillery Part 2

Thursday, October 7, 2021

We're continuing our story about George Fish. Two complementary sets of private and official letters spanning 30 years provide a glimpse into the life of one family separated between two continents. On 5 April 1841 Gunner George Fish married Eliza...

Gunner George Fish of the Bombay Artillery Part 1

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

We were delighted recently to receive a donation of papers belonging to George Fish, a British private soldier serving in the Bombay Army. These documents complement official East India Company records held at the British Library and give us a...

An examination guide for Bombay Army officers

Thursday, September 30, 2021

In 1868, Captain Newman Burfoot Thoyts of the Bombay Staff Corps published A guide to candidates for admission into the Staff Corps (Native Infantry Branch), being a series of questions and answers in nearly every subject on which they are...

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