Thursday, 17 May 2018

97th SAALG Conference, the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Friday 6th July 2018

** NB Booking for this event has now closed **

The 2018 South Asia Archive and Library Group conference, will take place at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, on Friday 6th July, from 1pm to 7pm. 

The Queen’s Gallery upcoming summer exhibitions both relate to South Asia (Splendours of the subcontinent: four centuries of South Asian paintings and manuscripts and Splendours of the subcontinent: a prince's tour of India, 1875-6) and we are very pleased to be able to hold our conference at the gallery to coincide with them. Naturally, there will be a chance to see the exhibitions and the talks will all focus on South Asian material in the Royal Collection.

The detailed programme is as follows:

13.00-14.00   Arrival and lunch

14.00-14.45   Emily Hannam (Royal Collection)
                        The South Asian collections of the Royal Library, Windsor Castle

14.45-15.30   Rachael Smith (Royal Collection)
                        Conserving South Asian art on paper at the Royal Collection

15.30-15.50   Tea/coffee

15.50-16.30   Saqib Baburi (British Library)
                        Distant friends: correspondence of the Nawabs of Arcot with George III

16.30-17.15   Kajal Meghani (Royal Collection)
                        Revisiting the 1875-76 royal tour of India

17.15-18.00   SAALG business meeting or visit to the exhibition Splendours of the subcontinent: a prince’s tour of India, 1875-76

18.00-19.00   Private view of the exhibition Splendours of the subcontinent: four centuries of South Asian paintings and manuscripts

The conference fee, due on the day, will be £25.

Please confirm your attendance by emailing Emma Mathieson (emma.mathieson AT Please advise us of any dietary requirements in your message.

The closing date for booking will be Thursday 14th June

Unfortunately, any cancellations after that date will incur a catering charge, for which we will have to invoice you.

We look forward to seeing many of you in July!

Friday, 11 May 2018

A Burmese collection

Christopher Lorimer was employed with Steel Brothers at their rice-mills in Rangoon from 1926 to 1942. He left Burma during the evacuation in 1942, using the Tamu route into India.
The papers Christopher Lorimer donated to the Archives of the Centre of South Asian Studies consist of eight boxes covering the period 1695-1944.  They include letters to his mother (1929-30) and his diaries which cover the whole of his service in Burma (1925-42) and give an insight into the social and business life of contemporary Burma ;  historical documents - the nine army commissions of the East India CO., conferred on Colonel John Crow (1779-1813 and a distant relative) which cover his career from Ensign to Colonel ; and, relating to the Mutiny period in India, the papers of Major Laughton, Chief Engineer at the siege of Delhi until 22 June 1857. He also gave 57 photographs relating to Burma.
He gave twenty seven books to the Archives, the earliest is An account of an embassy to the kingdom of Ava : sent by the Governor General of India in the year 1795 by Michael Symes. London : Printed by W. Bulmer and Co.; and sold by Messrs G.&W. Nicol and J. Wright, 1800 (Archive LOR 22)

Plant descriptions in appendix to
Embassy to Ava. Archive LOR 22

and, printed in 1828, Charles D'Oyly, Tom Raw, the griffin : a burlesque poem, in twelve cantos illustrated by twenty-five engravings. London : R. Ackermann. (Archive LOR 24).

In addition to books on the history of Burma and Steel Brothers and the Bombay Burmah trading company he also gave a book by B.E. Smythies, Birds of Burma containing 31 coloured plates from paintings by A.M. Hughes. Rangoon : American Baptist Mission, 1940 (Archive LOR 19) with a note on the fly leaf that it has been kept safe for him during the occupation of Burma and his name erased.

He continued to collect books in his retirement including India and British portraiture, 1770-1825 by  Mildred Archer. London ; Karachi : Philip Wilson for Sotheby Parke Bernet : Oxford University Press, 1979, (Archive LOR 1)

Annotations in his books give additional background to his work and family history :
I bought this book when I was on leave from the army ..
a "refugee" from Burma staying in Calcutta.
At the Officers' dance one night at the club
I had the good fortune to catch the Princes
 of  Berar in a "Paul Jones"

Archive LOR 11
Paul Chater, Assemblage of Indian army soldiers and uniforms. London : Perpetua Press, 1973 with a note "Christopher Lorimer, grand nephew of William Wyld, 4th Bengal Light Cavalry (Lancers). Their uniform was pale blue with yellow facings.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Meston - the formation of a Civil Servant

In the 1980's James Meston (QC 1996), the 3rd Baron Meston, gave to the Archives of the Centre of South Asian Studies over 40 books belonging to his grandfather, James Scorgie Meston (12 June 1865 – 7 October 1943)
Sir James S. Meston (1st Baron Meston) was a Member of the I.C.S., posted to N.W. Provinces and Oudh, 1885; Financial Secretary, 1899-1903; Financial Secretary to Government of India 1906-12; Lieutenant-Governor, United Provinces 1912-18; Finance Member 1918-19; Chairman, Committee on Financial Adjustments between Provinces and Centre 1920.  November 1919 he became the Baron Meston of Agra and of Dunnottar, Kincardineshire and published Nationhood for India, 1931 held at Archive MES 22.

Tucked into the Indian Civil Service List for 1885 (Archive MES 38), with Meston’s pencil annotations,
Archive MES 38

is a pamphlet with the syllabus for the Civil Service of India examination held July 1885 for candidates selected in 1883,
Archive MES 38a
including Languages according to posting, Law, History and Geography of India, Political economy and Natural Science. There is also a note under the heading Riding : “Candidates who have failed at the First and Second Examinations to satisfy the Commissioners of their ability to ride will be allowed a third trial at the time of their Final Examination”.
In this final examination James Scorgie Meston came 8th out of 28 candidates having taken papers in Hindi, Hindustani, Sanskrit and Zoology and some of the set texts he studied form part of the donation, including The Sakuntala in Hindi edited by Frederic Pincott, London : Wm. Allen, 1876 (Archive MES 42), Hindi Reader edited by Fitzedward Hall, Hertford : Stephen Austin, 1870 ; for the Persian paper, John T. Platts' translation of The Gulistan or Rose Garden of Sa'di, London : Wm. H. Allen, 1876 (Archive MES 46); for the Hindustani (as a second vernacular Paper) Bagh o Bahar edited by Duncan Forbes, London : Wm H. Allen, 1873 (Archive MES 47) and for Paper 2 on Indian Law, the penal code printed in H.A.D. Phillips Manual of Indian criminal law. Calcutta : Thacker, Spink, 1883. (Archive MES 39).

In the course of his career, James, 1st Baron Meston received various presentation volumes including The History of the Taj by Md. Moin-Ud-Din, Agra : Moon Press, 1905 (Archive MES 30)

The growth of currency organisations in India by Alakh Dhari, Bombay Chronicle Press, 1915 (Archive MES 13)

Inscription reads
To The Hon'ble Sir James Meston
from the author
Feby 1915
and the autobiographies of Nawab Shah Jahan Begam and Nawab Sultan Janan Begam of Bhopal
Archive MES 11 and 25) 
Shah-Jahan Begum, ruler of Bhopal (1838-1901)
Raja Deen Dayal & Sons, photographer

A listing of the Meston donation can be found by going to iDiscover selecting Advanced Search, then South Asian Studies from the drop down Library menu, Classmark from the Field drop down menu, then entering Archive MES next to Contains.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Volunteer with the Royal Society for Asian Affairs (RSAA)

The Royal Society for Asian Affairs (RSAA) based in Euston, is looking for a volunteer to work over the summer with the Society’s large collection of lantern slides.  The slides have been catalogued, though a number remain unidentified.  The volunteer will transfer the slides from drawers into archive boxes, numbering each envelope according to the catalogue. 

The Hejaz Railway (broken bridge) north of Madina - from an image by H. St. John Philby, 1933

A bit of background: The RSAA was formed in 1901 and was known then as the Central Asian Society.   It attracted diplomats, politicians, explorers, geographers and military men, most of whom had worked or travelled in the Indian subcontinent, the Ottoman Empire, Persia, Tibet, China and Central Asia.  It was granted a Royal Charter in 1931 and became the Royal Society for Asian Affairs in 1973.  Its journal, Asian Affairs, has been published continuously since 1914.  Lectures  by  the Society’s members and other prominent figures have always played an important part and many, though not all, were printed in the journal.  Lantern slides were used to illustrate lectures and some of these were subsequently donated to the Society.  Further donations of slides were received from members and among the earliest are images of Bokhara and Samarkand in 1895 from Sir Michael O’Dwyer.  Subjects illustrated include the motor road to India, travels in Armenia, Mecca and Madina, and rural Siam in the 1920s.

Please contact Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, the RSAA archivist:

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Japanese and INA Propaganda in India: Anti-British Pamphlets and Leaflets of World War II

Our latest blog post is contributed by the British Library’s Chevening Fellow, Partha Bhaumik

An intriguing story of strategy and counter-strategy, innovation and counter-innovation…

During the Second World War, the British and Japanese governments fought a fierce propaganda war in South Asia to influence mass opinion in their favour. They exploited all available media -- wireless, film, print, and live-performances -- to propagate and publicise their own cause. The aim was to discredit the opponent, and to project their own side as the true friend of South Asian people.

Japanese propaganda in Burma and India found a convenient impetus when the Indian National Army (INA) or Azad Hind Fauj was formed in 1942. Made up of Indian prisoners-of-war and led by Indian nationalists like Subhash Chandra Bose, INA allied with Japan and joined the war to free India from colonial rule. Japanese propaganda started to highlight the Indian National Army and its popular leader Bose, probably on the common maxim that any propaganda becomes more effective when it comes from one’s own people. Japan harped on the idea of kinship to incite South Asian people against the British and Americans. The religious ties between Japan and India through Buddhism, for instance, became a way to convince the Indians of Japanese friendship. A British intelligence report, dated 24-31 December 1942, discussed how religion became ‘an adjunct to propaganda’, and the speech of an Indian speaker on Bangkok focussed on the theme ‘Siam, Japan and India have the same religion’.


Anti-British pamphlets and leaflets were often dropped from aeroplanes, and they were circulated secretly by the nationalists. To help circulation, propaganda materials were of short dimensions allowing them to be hidden conveniently. J. A. Biggs Davison, Assistant Magistrate and Collector at Chittagong, collected a small 14-page pamphlet measuring 10.5 X 8mm, featuring simple illustrations and a caption for each in Hindi and Urdu (written in Roman script).

1. What is Britain? Isn’t it a land of good and respectable people?
Mss Eur D844/4
2. Britain is eating India

3. Britain is wearing clothes taken from India

Mss Eur D844/4

14. Japan has made Asia a land of happiness, much against the wishes of Britain and America

15. Afterwards, Subhash Chandra Bose has come to Rangoon, and made Indian National Army for free India.

Mss Eur D844/4

Some posters were colourful; many of them featured John Bull, the national personification of Britain. 
Entire Asia is moving towards victory. Come, let us break our shackles, and fight for freedom.
Mss Eur C808 (180 X 120mm)

The following note was scribbled on the back of the above poster: ‘Japanese propaganda leaflet to the Indians found at Telenipa (near Bhadreswar Ghat Section) after air raid 34th. [sic] 25th. December 1942. Probably distributed by the Indian Nationalists.’
The Japanese army also distributed leaflets to assure Indian people that their air raids were aimed against the British and not against them. They declared no-bombing for 26 January, the day commemorated as ‘Independence Day’ by the Indian National Congress.
Mss Eur D844/4

The victory at Singapore was variously publicised, and a number of leaflets issued in the name of the Indian Independence League showed photographs of the British surrender. A few were addressed to the Indian soldiers in the British army, urging them not to take up arms against their own brothers.

Mss Eur D844/4
‘Compatriots in India! Very soon, the British and the Americans will be forced out of India; and the Government of Azad Hind will be established on Indian soil.’ Leaflet signed by Subhas Chandra Bose.

Mss Eur D844/4

This propaganda aimed to rally every Indian to the war cause and to create mass support for the Indian National Army. Despite the fact that the Japanese and INA lost the war, their propaganda left an impression among the common people. The nationwide outrage against the trials of captured INA soldiers (Red Fort Trials), who were then perceived as true patriots, can be cited as a case in point.

Parthasarathi Bhaumik

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University
British Library- Chevening Fellow

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Mountain surveys and exploring

In November 2017 The Royal Commonwealth Society posted in a blog a stunning picture of The snow range from Simla (RCMS 20/2/18) taken by Sir Frederick Tymms (1889-1987), link to post

Striking panoramas are found in :
Tours in Sikhim and the Darjeeling district / by Percy Brown ; revised and edited with additions by Joan Townend ; with frontispiece, contours and map.  Calcutta : W. Newman & Co., 1944. (Archive GB 61) given by Brigadier F.R.L. Goadby.

Archive GB 61 p 73

Archive GB 61 p 88

Archive GB 61  p 131

This book is held in the Archive collection of the Cambridge Centre of South Asian Studies which also has donations including logistics surveys and histories of mountaineering and the developments of climbing techniques.

One of the earliest mountaineering books held is: Notes of wanderings in the Himmala : containing descriptions of some of the grandest scenery of the snowy range, among others of Nainee Tal / by Pilgrim [T.J. Saunders], Agra, 1844. (Archive (235.24):910)  a scanned copy of which is also available from the Hathi Trust.

One of J.H. Hutton's donations : Notes on walking around Shillong, by W.A. Allsup, 1934, (Archive Hut 4) was republished and launched at the Shillong Club in 2017. The Shillong Times in an article dated 23rd July 2017 notes :

Allsup’s book represented the first effort to mark out a series of walks around Shillong and to recommend these walks to residents and visitors.
Horse riding was then the main conveyance for work or pleasure and these tracks, no doubt, provided convenient paths for walkers. While it is not known as to how successful Allsup’s efforts to promote walking were, the well-worn horse trails were often the starting points of his hiking trips.

The Ian M. Stephens collection has an early survey : Routes in the Western Himālaya, Kashmīr, &c. v. 1, Pūnch, Kashmīr & Ladākh / by Kenneth Mason. 2nd ed. Calcutta : Govt. of India Press, 1929. (Archive IS 86) which details all the major western trans-Himalayan routes, in Kashmir, Punch and Ladakh, detailing distances, Dak Bungalows and Rest Houses, bridges, and where to obtain fodder.

From the same collection at Archive IS 231 is a history of early exploration : When men and mountains meet : the explorers of the Western Himalayas 1820-75 by John Keay. London : John Murray, 1977,  Road to Rakaposhi by George Band. London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1955, (Archive IS 152)  which was dedicated to the Cambridge University Mountaineering Club and a report from some members of that Club : Cambridge Hindu-Kush Expedition 1966 (Archive IS 406).

The collection also includes publications by Eric Shipton who in 1957 was awarded the CBE for contribution to the conquest of Everest. (Archive IS 102) That untravelled world : an autobiography. London : Hodder, 1969. (Archive IS 55) Annapurna, conquest of the first 8000-metre peak (26,493 feet), by Maurice Herzog; translated from the French by Nea Morin, and Janet Adam Smith; with an introduction by Eric Shipton. London : Jonathan Cape, 1952 and (Archive IS 97) Mountains of Tartary : photographs by the author. London : Hodder, 1951. An article by Jonathan Westaway (2014) That undisclosed world: Eric Shipton's Mountains of Tartary (1950), Studies in Travel Writing, 18:4, 357-373, "recounts Eric Shipton's mountaineering and travels in Xinjiang during  his  two  postings  as  British  Consul-General  in  Kashgar  in  the  1940s." but goes on to argue that Shipton would have been prevented by his role as a British diplomat in China from publishing anything that revealed details of his role in Great Game politics or the full extent to which he was an agent of the state involved in diplomacy, intelligence gathering and imperial surveillance.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Hutton Donation to the University of Cambridge Centre of South Asian Studies

Book-plate of John Henry Hutton
In 1980 Patrick Hutton son of John Henry Hutton, 1885-1968, I.C.S. Assistant Magistrate and Collector, East Bengal and Assam 1909 and Census Commissioner, Government of India 1929, gave 13 books to the Centre of South Asian Studies archives, many of which have his father’s bookplate. They range from well-used dictionaries of Hindustani, Bengali, Urdu and Sanskrit, to guides to birds and wildlife, to Notes on walking round Shillong. This small 87 page publication (Archive HUT 4) by W. Allsup, published 1934, records where safe drinking water may be found for hikes which could take up to 8 hours. Another publication (Archive HUT 11) : Hobson-Jobson : a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive  by Henry Yule and A. C. Burnell was reprinted by Oxford University Press in 2013 as Hobson- Jobson : the definitive glossary of British India.

The South Asian Studies Library holds various publications by John Henry Hutton including volumes of the 1931 Census of India G(54):31, his study of the Angami Nagas : with some notes on neighbouring tribes. Bombay : Indian Branch, Oxford University Press, 1969. (541.1):397, with the 1921 edition held at Archive JE 16 and Archive ST 1, and at Archive JE 17 The Sema Nagas, London : Macmillan, 1921

The St Catharine’s College Society Magazine of 1968 has a lengthy obituary of Professor John Henry Hutton C.I.E., D.SC. who died 23rd May 1968. Excerpts follow : 
John Henry Hutton joined the Indian Civil Service in 1909, at the time of the disturbances which followed the partition of Bengal and of the Morley-Minto reforms. He served until 1936, through a period of intense activity, of fundamental change and of constant unrest; and he was created C.I.E. for his active service in the Kuki Operations.
When he retired he took with him to Radnorshire a knowledge and understanding, and a scholarly status, which was unusual even in the Indian Civil Service at a time when much notable work on the historical and sociological problems of their districts was coming from the gifted men whom India attracted to that service.
Hutton's period of service on the Burmese border had given him an opportunity to study the Naga tribes in depth and to write his two pioneering anthropological studies,
The Angami Nagas and The Serna Nagas.
His subsequent compilation of the Report on the Census of India, in 1933, confirmed his status as an anthropologist of the first quality, who combined an imaginative understanding of the realities of eastern social life with a shrewd scepticism of generalizations and a mastery of the techniques of social survey. He had been awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal and had been elected president of the Royal Anthopological Institute in 1929, and his work had been acknowledged by awards from the Royal Society of Arts, the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and the Anthropologische Gesellschaft of Vienna. He was awarded the Degree of D.Sc. at Oxford (a distinction about which he was always typically and modestly silent in Cambridge) and in 1938 he was appointed to give the Frazer Lectures in that university [and] became a Fellow of St Catharine’s College Cambridge...When the war intervened. Hutton moved into college as a resident Fellow (with his adoring retriever!) and immediately became a mainstay of the wartime college. He secured permission from the University to act as Bursar of the College, and became a devoted and invaluable college officer. Always enthusiastic, well-informed and curious, he shared the duties, the hardships and the amenities of Cambridge with the architects, the medicos and the service men who were drafted into residence, and, lacking pupils, he not only managed his land in Radnorshire with the same care as he gave to his bursarial duties and accepted office as Sheriff of that county, but laid the foundations of two scholarly books which he published when peace brought an end to restrictions :  Caste in India [which] confirmed his mastery of the complexities of his chosen subject [and] Pictures of St Catharine's College. [In] 1950 he retired again to Radnorshire.
Full obituary pages 24-26 of the Society Magazine including a tribute reprinted from the Times