Author Archives: Special Collections, SOAS Library

About Special Collections, SOAS Library

Broadly speaking, our collections reflect the British interaction with Africa, Asia and the Middle East over the last 250 years, and include archives of missionary societies, NGOs and campaign groups, and business organisations, as well as papers of individuals, including diplomats, campaigners, and academics. If you have any questions, or comments, please get in touch! email: special.collections@soas.ac.uk tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4180

J P Mills

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|11th September 2020|Collections & Research|

James Philip Mills (PP MS 58) was a pioneering anthropologist in the study of tribal communities in north-east India and the borders of Burma. Born in Stockport, Cheshire,in 1890, Mills was educated at Winchester School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1913 he joined the Indian Civil Service and served in North-East India until 1947. He was Sub-divisional officer at Mokokchung in the Naga Hills of Assam from 1917-1924 and

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Kaishien gaden, or The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|1st June 2020|Collections & Research, Teaching & Learning|0 comments

What hides behind this poetic title? One of the most popular Chinese painting manuals from the Edo period in Japan, of course! Did you know that SOAS Special Collections held a very rare complete set of the first Japanese edition of this manual? Kaishien gaden 芥子園画伝 is the Japanese rendering of the famous Chinese printed manual for painters Jie zi yuan hua zhuan 芥子園畫傳  (Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting)

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Robert Hart, Inspector General of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|22nd May 2020|Collections & Research|

In celebration of Maritime Day, this latest blog post examines one of the central figures in the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs Service, Sir Robert Hart. Hart became a key figure in the history of China in the 19th century and its foreign relations with the West. Witness to four foreign invasions of China during a time when the country was struggling with the need for modernisation, Hart played a major

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Women’s History Month 2020: Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|23rd March 2020|Collections & Research|0 comments

To end our series of blogs to mark Women’s History Month 2020, we focus on Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati (1858-1922), Indian scholar, feminist, educator and social reformer. Published works by Ramabai, accounts of her life and photographs can be found in our collections at SOAS Library. Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati was born Ramabai Dongre, a high-caste Brahmin. Her father was a Sanskrit scholar and taught her Sanskrit at home. Orphaned at the

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Women’s History Month 2020: Semane Setlhoko Khama

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|16th March 2020|Collections & Research|0 comments

To celebrate Women’s History Month 2020, we are looking  at the lives of some of the influential women documented in the archives and special collections held by SOAS. This week we focus on Semane Setlhoko Khama (1881-1937), mohumagadi (queen or queen mother) of the BaNgwato of the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now Botswana, and Christian leader and teacher.  In 1900, Semane became the fourth wife of Khama III (c.1837-1923), kgosi (chief) of

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Women’s History Month 2020 : Sikandar Begum, Nawab of Bhopal

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|8th March 2020|Collections & Research|0 comments

Women, Power and Religion in Bhopal, India تاریخ سفر مکّہ   Tārīkh-i safar-i Makkah (A Journey to Mecca) by Sikandar Begum, Nawab of Bhopal   The discovery in SOAS Special Collections of a manuscript thought lost for the last 150 years allows us to re-introduce an extraordinary figure of 19th century India: Sikandar Begum, Regent and Nawab of Bhopal (1816-1868).                      

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Special Collections Open Day

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|8th November 2019|Behind the scenes, Collections & Research|0 comments

We recently held our annual Open Day which was a great success. A lot of time, planning and effort goes into selecting the items for display and making captions for these, so we were delighted to smash last year’s record for visitors and welcome over 110 SOAS staff, students and alumni.   As always, when selecting items for display, we try to give a taste of the breadth of our

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Black History Month 2019: Thomas Birch Freeman

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|4th October 2019|Collections & Research|0 comments

As SOAS marks Black History Month we continue to hi-light historical materials held by Special Collections, which reveal the long-standing Black presence in the UK, as well as the contributions and achievements of Black peoples in local, national and international arenas. This week we look at papers relating to Thomas Birch Freeman (1809-1890), an Anglo-African Wesleyan Methodist minister, missionary, botanist and colonial official in West Africa. Freeman was born in Twyford, Hampshire, England, on 6th

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Erub Arts Research Visit

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|30th July 2019|Collections & Research|0 comments

This week’s blog comes to us from Diann Lui, Art Centre Manager at Erub Arts, following a recent research visit to SOAS Special Collections, to use material held in the London Missionary Society Archive. Erub Arts works with the local community to maintain a strong Erubian identity, by promoting their culture through contemporary art. You may not know where Erub is or why we visited SOAS. Erub, an island in the Torres

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The First Printed Works of Bengal

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|28th June 2019|Collections & Research|0 comments

This week’s blog looks at a fascinating piece from our collections, likely the world’s earliest surviving text printed in Bengal and Northern India, a copy of the ‘Calendar for the year of our Lord MDCCLXXVIII. Calculated to the Meridian of Calcutta‘ (part of MS 12235, held by SOAS Special Collections). This guest blog is written by Andrew Otis, a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, Philip Merrill College of

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