Cataloguing the Institutional Archive

Whilst many of the Society’s collections of personal papers have now been catalogued, there is still a great deal of work to be done to make accessible items from the Society’s institutional archive. This encompasses material which has been collected and created by the Society that documents its history and corporate memory. This material has been divided into several sections based on the various operations which are carried out by the Society, including: Awards and Memberships, Collections and Library, Finance, Governance, Human Resources, Lectures and Events, Memberships, Journal, and Property and Publications.


A Society banquet from the Lectures and Events Archive.


Over the last few months, I have started cataloguing one of the largest sections of the archive: the lectures and events material. This has been a complex task due to the abundance of material which is housed in different locations across the Society. One of the first tasks has been to pull it all together while also trying to establish an appropriate method of arrangement. This has culminated in dividing the collection into three sections: event planning, material from events and publicity material.

Event Planning & Administration:

The items placed in this section illustrate the decision-making processes which have gone into arranging events that reflect the interests of the Society and its Fellows throughout its history. This covers correspondence around proposed events and lectures, as well as policy documentation and minutes from the Events and House Committee .


Events and House Committee Minute Book: 1997-2003

Event Material:

This section contains material that has been created from events that have taken place either on the Society’s premises or externally. This is the largest of the three sections and contains some colourful memorabilia such as menus, seating plans, and admissions tickets, as well as lecture papers, correspondence, programmes, photographs and lecture recordings.


Before the move to an online ticketing system, admission tickets used to be given out to lecture attendees. This is from a lecture by Professor R.C. Zaehner on ‘Yudhishthira: a crisis of conscience’.


Handwritten translation of a Chinese Inscription found on a Rock at Kulangsu in China. This was read in a general meeting on the 15th November 1845.


Publicity Material:

The last section to be completed is material that the Society created to help promote and advertise events, ranging from posters and events calendars to press coverage and publicity photographs.


RAS Lecture Series Poster from 2016 entitled ‘A History of Yoga and Yoga Scholarship’ by Dr Sir Jim Mallinson.


Event Cards from 1987-1988. Most of the Society’s events are now advertised on our website and social media accounts.

Once these sections are completed, we hope they will provide a valuable resource that preserves the Society’s institutional memory whilst reflecting the Society’s interests over time. We also look forward to more new events material being created once we resume onsite events in the future.

Dr Elizabeth Lambourn Lecture:

Whilst the Society is still holding lectures virtually, yesterday evening (23rd June) we welcomed Dr. Elizabeth Lambourn (De Montfort University) who presented a lecture on ‘Islam’s Forgotten Frontier – the Indian Ocean world 600-1000 CE’.

Dr Lambourn spoke about a project that she is currently working on which aims to integrate several forgotten (or at best neglected) frontiers of the early Islamic world into mainstream Islamic history.

More events will be announced within the coming weeks.