Stories To Tell: South Asian Heritage Month

From 18 July to 17 August it is South Asian Heritage Month, a chance to celebrate and raise the profile of British South Asian history, arts, culture and heritage. This year’s theme is #StoriesToTell, celebrating the stories that make up the diverse and vibrant South Asian community.

Sometimes, to understand your own story or those of others, you have to look back and in this blog post we are highlighting just a small number of digital archives you can access through the Library that allow you to learn more about South Asian history and the stories that have shaped our present and future.

South Asia Commons (formerly South Asia Archive)

This resource is a specialist digital platform providing global electronic access to culturally and historically significant literary material produced from within, and about, the South Asian region. It’s a collection of 4.5 million pages of documents from across the Indian subcontinent from 1700 to 1953, originally collected by the South Asian Research Foundation (SARF). 

The largest online collection of books, journals and documents from the region, covering India, Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, it contains journal and serial publications, rare books, reports, legislation, acts and regulations, Indian film booklets, ephemera, maps and manuals.

The Times of India (1838 – 2010)

The online archive of the world’s largest circulation English daily newspaper. Founded in 1838 to serve the British residents of West India, The Times of India now circulates more than 4 million copies, covering almost 8 million readers.

The archive provides you with online, easily-searchable first-hand accounts and unparalleled coverage of the politics, society and events of the time. And it’s particularly valuable for its coverage of key historical events in India, including the rise of Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience movement, the 1947 Independence and Partition through to the landmark date of 1998 when Pakistan became a nuclear power.

Foreign Office Files for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, 1947-1980

This resource covers the political and social history of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan from 1947 to 1980, featuring essential content on Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Kashmir, as well as other frontier regions. Files look at the impact on UK, US and European trade, industrial policy, education and the media through a vast array of material including diplomatic dispatches, inward and outward telegrams, newspaper cuttings and transcripts, maps, photographs, political and economic reports, accounts of visits and tours, minutes of meetings, conference proceedings, letters, leaflets and more.

This collection of files are taken from the Foreign Office (later the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and Dominions Office and sourced from The National Archives, UK.

South Asian Newspapers (1864-1922)

This one-of-a-kind collection provides online access to a select group of South Asian newspapers from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Featuring English-, Gujarati- and Bengali-language papers published in India, in the regions of the Subcontinent that now comprise Pakistan, and in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). South Asian Newspapers offers extensive coverage of the people, issues and events that shaped the Indian Subcontinent between 1864 and 1922.

You can use our South Asian Studies guide to find more relevant resources and material available via our library.

If you are looking in general for more digital archives then take a look at our Digital Primary Source and Archive Collections guide and our Newspapers, Magazines and Other News Sources guide.

To find out more about South Asian Heritage Month take a look at their website:

Note that all online resources mentioned in this blog post are only available to current students and staff at the University of Edinburgh.

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