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Collection Details

Archives held at Institute of Commonwealth Studies Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Papers created or collected by individuals or organisations. Most of the collections relate to aspects of colonial administration, or constitutional issues.

There are records of relevance to the study of the Indian diaspora in archive collections originating from the Caribbean and South Africa. In both cases, these mainly concern the political involvement of Indian peoples.

History and development

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies has been actively collecting archives since the 1960s. Archives have mainly been acquired through donation by individuals or organisations.

The Institute forms part of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. The Library and Archives form part of the University of London Research Library Services (ULRLS).


Papers of Alastair MacKenzie Ferguson and John Ferguson. These cover newspaper publishing, plantations, and railways in Ceylon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Administrative papers and autobiographical accounts of colonial administration in Ceylon. These include typescripts from interviews, sections of unpublished autobiographies, photographs, postcards and other mementoes. Records cover activities such as education, plantations, irrigation, law, the police and defence.

A collection of papers, photographs and slides relating to a visit made by Edward Mayow Hastings (Empire Marketing Board) to Malaya, Java and Ceylon.

Research notes and drafts of chapters on the history of South Asia by Professor Hugh Russell Tinker.

The papers of journalist Ellis Ashmead Bartlett includes diaries, photographs and other papers on the Dardanelles campaign during the First World War. There are also photographs of the Russo-Japanese war, and articles on unrest in northern Africa and Palestine in the first decades on the 20th century.

General arrangement and access regulations

The Archives are kept onsite in a secure store and, subject to specific access conditions, may be requested and accessed on the same day.

Collection-level records exist for nearly all the archives and are available through the ULRLS Archives catalogue, and through AIM25. File and item level descriptions for many of the collections can also be found on the ULRLS Archives catalogue. Typescript box-lists exist for some of the collections. For further information on specific collections, please contact the Library.

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies Library supports academic research internationally. Use of the Library and Archives is by registration, which is free to all staff and students of Higher Education Institutions. Readers are asked to sign an archives application form, which sets out the requirements for handling and other use of the collections.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, South East Asia.


Cyprus, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkey.

Languages of material



Agriculture, Communication and media, Education, Geography, History, International relations, Law, Politics and government, Sociology, Travel, Women.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Manuscripts, Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Total size of collection

c.20 collections

Size of collection - vernacular

less than 10%

Size of collection - western

more than 90%

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has risen.

Annual intake

1 collection

Content date range

1860 to present

Collection policy

See the Archives and Special Collections web pages for further details relating specifically to archives:

Retention policy

Retention policy is described in the Collection Policy.

Collection Catalogue Information


Collection-level descriptions for all of the collections exist on the AIM25 website, and on the ULRLS Archives Database. File and/ or item level descriptions are held for most of the larger collections on the ULRLS Archives database. Several collections have a typescript finding aid, which may be accessed from the Library Reading Room. Please contact the Library (email for questions regarding specific collections.

Links to other collections

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