Our India Papers collection contains published documents relating to British administration in India.
It dates from the post-Mutiny reorganisation of the Indian government, to Indian independence in 1947. The collection includes publications of the central (Imperial) government and of many Indian states, most but not all of which came under British rule.
Comprised of over 4,000 volumes on a huge variety of subjects, subjects covered include:
The collection is unique in Scotland, and there is only one similar to it in the UK, at the British Library. The India Papers collection is part of the most significant South Asian collection north of Cambridge.
Medical volumes online
You can access full-text medical volumes from the India Papers collection in the Medical History of British India web feature. These are rare official documents relating to India in the 19th and 20th centuries.
How the papers were acquired
Most of the collection was deposited in the Library under a scheme administered by the India Office, or published in the UK on behalf of Indian governments and acquired by the Library under the terms of the Copyright Act. Some items were donated, and others purchased.
In particular, there are composite volumes assembled by George Smith and Joseph Owen, and also some books acquired as part of the Minto Papers (the first Earl having been Governor-General of India, 1807-1813, and the 4th Earl was Viceroy from 1905-1910).
India Papers enquiries
If you have any questions about the collection, please email the India Papers collection Curator.
Highlight from the collection: Indian Hemp Drugs Commission report
Controversy about cannabis use is not a modern phenomenon: in 1893 the British government charged the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission with examining the extent of the use and cultivation of 'ganja' in colonial India. The resulting eight-volume report is one of many fascinating items in the India Papers collection.
James Mills, a prominent historian based at Strathclyde University, used the Library's collection in researching his book 'Cannabis Britannica: Empire, trade and prohibition' (Oxford University Press, 2003). He also wrote specifically about the photographs contained in the commission's report in an article which appeared in the spring 2004 edition of Folio.
- South Asia Archive and Library Group (SAALG): Representatives of libraries, archives and other UK institutions with a degree of specialisation in South Asia studies. The group is concerned with the acquisition and use of books, manuscripts and archival materials, co-operative projects and developing knowledge of South Asia.
- Mutiny at the Margins: Edinburgh University's 'Mutiny at the Margins' project has a special list of Library resources relating to the Indian Uprising of 1857. Visit the library and museum holdings page for details.