Royal Asiatic Society launches Digital Library

The Royal Asiatic Society is pleased to launch an Online Collections platform, making more of its historic collections available to a worldwide audience, absolutely free. The site can be found here:

Several major resources are included in the RAS Digital Library, such as three exquisite Persian manuscripts: the Shahnamah of Muhammad Juki (RAS Persian 239), the Gulistan of Sa‘di (RAS Persian 258), and the Masnavi of Zafar Khan (RAS Persian 310). The site also includes the digitized archive of Sinologist and mathematician Thomas Manning (1772-1840), which was acquired by the Society in 2015. We are also delighted to make available a selection of Malay manuscripts; a film of archaeological excavations at Nineveh, Iraq, ca. 1930; as well as a number of important artworks from our collections. The site thus helps demonstrate the breadth and richness of the Society’s diverse holdings.

Design for Snakes and Ladders , c.1800 (RAS 051.001)

We hope that the accessibility of the digital library means the featured collections can support new scholarly research, but also that they can serve for the inspiration and enjoyment of wider audiences, in Great Britain and Ireland, Asia, and beyond. The service we provide to users in our physical premises in London remains as vital as ever, but it is also important for us to take advantage of new opportunities presented by digital technologies: particularly as we have a large audience around the world.

We look forward to adding more content to the site in due course. Please keep an eye on the site, and on our social media, if you would like to stay up-to-date with new content.

We are very grateful for the generous help of a number of supporters and partners who have made it possible to launch this site, and to provide free access to our digitized content.  In particular, we are grateful to the Friends of the National Libraries; Professor Charles Melville, the Cambridge Shahnama Project, and Dr Barbara Brend for supporting the digitization of our Persian manuscripts; the National Library Board of Singapore; and the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, who helped support the original acquisition of the Thomas Manning archive.

If you have any questions, comments, or observations, please contact us at library AT royalasiaticsociety DOT org.