Japanese theatrical prints

Library & Archives

The Royal Asiatic Society’s Collections

The Royal Asiatic Society’s Collections were established with the founding of the Society in 1823. Many early members were generous benefactors, and throughout the Society’s history additions have been made to the Collections.

Today, the collections provide an important resource for anyone wishing to study and gain further understanding of Asian cultures and history.

We have material, dating from the 12th century right up to the present, covering all of Asia and many allied countries, with Indian and Persian cultures being particularly well-represented. Our holdings include printed material, manuscripts, paintings, drawings, photographs, maps, and archives. Our archives incorporate the Society’s own records as well as the personal papers of some of the most prominent British scholars of Asian history, languages, and cultures.

All our collections can be consulted in our dedicated Reading Room in our premises in London during our advertised opening hours. We also have a Digital Library which provides free, worldwide online access to some of our most important and inspiring collections.

Librarian: Edward Weech
Contact: ew@royalasiaticsociety.org

Archivist: Nancy Charley
Contact: nc@royalasiaticsociety.org

Information about the RAS Digital Library is available here:

The RAS Digital Library

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The Catalogue for our books, pamphlets, manuscripts, artworks and photographs can be found here.

The Royal Asiatic Archives catalogue is here. Our archives are also on Archives Hub, which you can search here.

Please contact us if you cannot find the material you require for your research, as some is still uncatalogued.

Collection Highlights

Our collections contain only two reels of film but they have been digitised and are also viewable here. They are of excavations carried our by Reginald Campbell-Thompson in Iraq in the early 1930s.

Digitized versions of the Shahnama of Muhammad Juki, copied in Herat between 1440 and 1445 and considered to be one of the finest Timurid manuscripts of the 15th century; the Gulistan of the poet Sa’di completed in 1583 in Fatehpur Sikri; and an autograph copy of Kitab-i Mathnawiyyat-i Zafar Khan copied in Lahore in 1663 are also available online on the Cambridge Digital Library Website.

The Thomas Manning Archive was purchased in 2015 with funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and further support from the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund; the Friends of the National Libraries; and numerous private donations. We are grateful for their support in enabling the material to be kept together and made available for research. The archive has been digitized and is available on the Society’s Digital Library here, while the catalogue is now available on the Royal Asiatic Archives Society Catalogue and on Archives Hub.

RAS Reading Room

The RAS Reading Room is open Tuesday and Friday 10am-5pm and Thursday 2-5pm. Please contact the Librarian Edward Weech or the Archivist Nancy Charley to book an appointment (see above for emails).

Mosul Bridge
Mosul Bridge

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For more detailed information about our collections, please click on one of the following links: