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.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

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

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

Isabella Keiskamma Frend - a challenging life

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Isabella Keiskamma Frend was born 5 July 1829 at Fort Wiltshire, Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). She was the daughter of Captain Albert Frend, HM 55th Regiment and his wife Ellen, née Last. Her unusual middle name was taken...

Richard Walpole and the East India Company at sea

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Writer Horace Walpole had a cousin Richard who served as an East India Company maritime officer from 1744-1757. Richard Walpole had at least two encounters with hostile French shipping whilst serving as a Company officer, exemplifying the dangers faced by...

Bibee Zuhoorun: Women’s Voices in the Indian Indenture Trade

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Bibee Zuhoorun was one of 1.3 million Indian labourers recruited in Caribbean and Indian Ocean sugar plantations after slave-labour was abolished in the British Empire. She migrated to Mauritius in the 1830s and on her return to India, testified in...

The hunt for Syed Mahamad Yusufuddin

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A dip into the records of the India Office Legal Adviser reveals an exciting tale of espionage behind a Privy Council appeal against wrongful imprisonment. The judgement of Privy Council appeal No. 19 of 1902, brought by Syed Mahamad Yusufuddin...

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

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