Skip to Main Content

History of the British Empire (1815-1914)

This guide provides links to primary and secondary sources related to the History of the British Empire.

India & South Asia: Digitized Primary Sources

  • Afghanistan - books on what is now Afghanistan
  • Burma - books on what is now Burma/Myanmar and nearby areas
  • "Hindoos" - books on a variety of topics relating to "Hindoos"
  • Indian politics - opinion pieces, memoirs of colonial officials and more
  • Pakistan - books on what is now Pakistan
  • Slavery in South Asia - books from the 1810s-90s on slavery
  • Trade - books on industries such as railways, cotton, opium, etc.
  • Travel in India & South Asia - These are mostly travel accounts, rather than guidebooks. Many show how the British colonies were romanticized for white audiences. 
  • Women - books relating to women & girls in South Asia; many written by British women
  • Abhilekh Patal (National Archives of India's Digital Collections) 
    A database of unique archives digitized by the National Archives of India, many related to British colonial power. Most items are post-1900. Note: to view documents, you must be approved as a researcher -- which may be difficult. See the site for details.
  • British Indian Association Papers 
    "The most important holdings of the British Indian Association, Kolkata. The Association, set up in 1851, was one of the earliest and most important platforms from which Indians engaged with the British in India. Its own records, and its holdings of early newspapers and print material, are an invaluable source for the study of colonial relations in India from mid-19th to early 20th century, and the prehistory of the Indian freedom movement."
  • Imperial Gazetteer of India (1908-9)
    This massive reference set, published 1908-9, is a geographical encyclopedia of British territories in South Asia, including what are now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, and other countries. The first several volumes have topical information on subjects like railroads, telegraphs, education, religion, police, jails, and more; the rest of the series is organized alphabetically by location. Note: browsing here works well, but searching for keywords appears to be broken. Search within individual volumes in HathiTrust.
  • Indian Newspapers & Serials in the CrossAsia Repository
    This online repository includes hundreds of issues of newspapers (most in Bengali and/or English) from India in the 1800s-1900s. Note: most issues can only be browsed by date, not full-text searched, so you will need to have a date in mind before browsing.

India & South Asia: Non-digitized Primary Sources