Wednesday, 20 January 2016

PhD placement with the India Office Private Papers at the British Library

The British Library is providing placement opportunities for PhD students from all disciplines to develop and apply transferable research skills outside the university sector. The placements support the professional development of researchers for future career paths both within and outside academia. The India Office Records section has proposed a placement which would enable a PhD student to be involved in a project to put the detailed catalogues of the India Office Private Papers (Mss Eur) foundation collections online.

The India Office Private Papers tell the story of trade with the east, politics, the development of empire and the road to Indian independence. They record the history of Britain as trade and empire permeated our society and the movement of people connected different worlds. They encompass a very broad sweep of subjects, and record many people whose lives were touched by the activities of the East India Company and the India Office.

The India Office Private Papers foundation collections have detailed printed lists but only summary information is available in the Library’s online catalogue, so the riches of these archival collections remain hidden.

Mahadaji Sindhia entertaining a British naval officer and military officer, c.1820
Add.Or.1  (Courtesy of the British Library Board)

These foundation collections include papers of key figures in the East India Company, India Office and Government of India such as Robert Orme (1728-1801) historiographer to the East India Company, and Colin Mackenzie (c1753-1821) Surveyor-General of Madras, then Surveyor-General of India. The foundation collections have particular strengths:

  • Orme collection: war, politics and government in South Asia
  • Mackenzie collections: discovery of South Asian history, geography, culture and antiquities
  • Kaye and Johnston collections: exceptional variety of subjects contained within smaller collections including papers of William Roxburgh, Francis Buchanan-Hamilton and Thomas Stamford Raffles.

Further details about this opportunity to be involved in making these remarkable archival collections more accessible are on the British Library’s website. The application deadline is 4pm on Friday 19 February.

From the Mackenzie Collection of watercolours, 1819, WD1068 (Courtesy of the British Library Board)

Please note that the placement is to work on the India Office Records and Private Papers archival catalogues, not the visual material shown in the images in this blog article.

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