Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Foundation of the Centre of South Asian Studies and the Archive Book Collection

The Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, was established in May 1964. It is primarily responsible for promoting within the University the study of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Himalayan Kingdoms and Burma, but has also, over the last 25 years, extended its activities to include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
The first director from 1964 to 1983 was Bertram Hughes [Ben] Farmer who had previously been  Lecturer in Geography, Cambridge University 1952; Reader 1967-83 and Member, Land Commission, Ceylon 1955-58. He presented 11 volumes (FAR 1-11) to the Archives.
Sir Arthur Dash who served in various posts in Bengal between 1910 and 1942 and was Chairman, Bengal Public Service Commission 1942-47 and Eastern Pakistan Commission 1947-51 was appointed in February 1967 to take charge of Phase I of the Archive Project. He appealed for material in circulars sent to members of the Indian Civil Service Pensioners’ Association.  He also presented 18 volumes (DS 1-18), mainly relating to Bengal.
The archive was principally collected by Mary Thatcher between 1968 and 1981. She was tasked with creating an archive of the British in South Asia, and told not to collect the papers of ‘anyone famous’. As a result of her work, we currently have approximately 610 collections of papers, detailing the life and work of a wide range of people, including those of her father W.S. Thatcher who from 1912-1914 was a lecturer at the Agra College.
The papers, audio tapes films and photographs are listed on the Archive pages of the Centre. Books are mostly shelved according to donor, and have card catalogue entries. Over 900 of these books from 140 donors may now be searched via the online catalogue. This and future blog posts will highlight major donations or themes within the collection. The personal libraries provide additional information relating to the interests and occupations of the donors and what they regarded as worthwhile to ship home and then present to the Centre. There are guidebooks to historic sites, language primers, surveys, novels, history books (often heavily annotated), legal text books and specialized publications.
The largest donations which have been catalogued have come from Lady Alan Lloyd (Archive A 1-108) and Lady Chatterjee (Archive E 1-136). Eighty people or institutions gave 1 book each, often their own work, and publication dates range from 1800 to the late twentieth century.
One nineteenth century publication:
"Curry & rice", on forty plates, or, The ingredients of social life at "our station" in India by George Francklin Atkinson. 3rd ed.  London : Day & Son, [1860], (Archive Misc 159), was given by Mrs Margaret Stavridi, wife of Alexander Gregory Stavridi, an engineer with the East Indian Railway between 1921 and 1948. She was a writer and designer and was much involved in welfare work, especially during the 1939-45 war. It is not as might first appear a housekeeping manual for newly married couples settling down in India (although the Archives have several examples of these such as Carne, Lucy, Simple menus and recipes for camp, home and nursery. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co., 1902. (Archive ALP 8 )
Archive ALP 8
George Francklin Atkinson, Curry & Rice.

but “a satirical work that critiqued the lives and behaviors of British colonialists in India. Atkinson served with the Bengal Engineers between 1840 and 1859. Written immediately following the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, the work describes a fictional Indian village called Kabob. Included in the narrative are forty full-page tinted lithographs of daily life around the village, which he illustrated himself. Atkinson caricatured colonial officials in a humorous way, presenting brief vignettes of different fictional British characters residing in the village”. 
Source UCSB LIBRARY website viewed 29 March 2017.
Photograph found in Archive FOS 8

A later blog post will look at the forensic and legal manuals presented by members of the Police Service but, Charles William Foster 1885-, Portait parle system of description for police purposes, Lahore : Civil and Military Gazette, 1913. (Archive FOS 8),  is a good example of a publication not available in other libraries but donated by the author.  It is a modification, for local police officers, of the identification system based on physical measurements of facial features devised by the Frenchman Alphonse  Bertillon, with some of Foster’s manuscript notes tucked into the back and a photograph of serving officers in the front.

Suzan Griffiths, Cataloguer.

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