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

Asia and Africa

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 free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions 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

From Switzerland to Hackney via India - a patient at Pembroke House Asylum

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I recently came across the 1851 census return for Pembroke House Asylum in Hackney. This was a private mental health asylum in Mare Street where the East India Company placed patients from amongst its servants and their families. Hackney in...

Journey to India of Randolph Marriott, East India Company Servant

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A recent acquisition to the India Office Private Papers gives an interesting account of the voyage to India of a new employee of the East India Company. Randolph Marriott joined the Company as a writer, and his papers include his...

The 1918 influenza pandemic in India

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

‘Nearly every household was lamenting a death, and everywhere terror and confusion reigned.’ This year marks the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Of all countries, India was the worst afflicted. Perhaps as many as 17 millions died, in two...

Using Transkribus for automated text recognition of historical Bengali Books

Monday, October 29, 2018

In this post Tom Derrick, Digital Curator, Two Centuries of Indian Print, explains the Library's recent use of Transkribus for automated text recognition of Bengali printed books. Are you working with digitised printed collections that you want to 'unlock' for...

More blog posts

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