About the India Papers collection at NLS
The India Papers collection at the National Library of Scotland includes publications of the British Indian state; most of the material dates from circa 1850 to ca 1920.
The material was received from four sources:
- Most was deposited under a scheme administered by the India Office.
- Some was published in the UK on behalf of Indian governments and therefore acquired under the terms of the Copyright Act.
- Some items were donated from various sources.
- Some material is purchased.
The NLS India Papers collection is rare – and the only one of its kind in Scotland. We have nearly 4,000 volumes of British India documents. You can read a general overview of our India Papers in the Official Publications section of the NLS website.
British India holdings elsewhere
In the UK, only the British Library holds a collection of similar size and content to ours. They have combined their original papers with collections from the India Office. Other copyright libraries had British India collections, though some have been disposed of and some are largely uncatalogued.
The National Library of Scotland’s India Papers collection is further complemented by large collections in India and the USA. In general, duplication among these collections is not high, as official publications, unlike monographs, did not have the same distribution and their acquisition was not widespread.
Preserved and digitised
Our India Papers collection underwent treatments in the NLS Conservation Unit which allowed the collection to be microfilmed safely and ensured its long-term preservation.
Some of the medical history volumes have been digitised for this web feature in order to provide digital copies of the full text and illustrations of the documents. This makes available fully searchable digital copies for the use of scholars and others free of charge.