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South Asia Resources

UC Berkeley's South Asia Collections

History | Languages | Special Collections


Berkeley's research and collecting interest in South Asia is a long-standing one, dating back at least to 1906, when Sanskrit was first taught here. At that time, the Library's acquisitions included Indic religion, history, philosophy and literature, in Sanskrit and Western languages. Later collecting added most of the social sciences and humanities, in South Asian and Western languages. The South/Southeast Library Service has an extensive collection of specialized reference material for South Asia and a collection of unbound current periodicals and newspapers. Most circulating items for language and literature, history, political science, economics, sociology, government documents, philosophy and religion, South Asian art and art history, women's studies, and the South Asian diaspora are shelved in the Main Stack or NRLF. Some branches and affiliated libraries have collections of South Asian material including Anthropology, Education/Psychology, Bioscience, Environmental Design, and Music.


The number of monographs in all languages, including English, is approximately 450,000. Current collecting in South Asian languages focuses on literature, history, social sciences and religion, with special strengths in Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, and Nepali. A breakdown of monograph holdings in South Asian languages shows this distribution: Assamese 100; Bengali 23,000; Gujarati 2,400; Hindi 60,000; Kannada 2,500; Kashmiri 600; Malayalam 3,500; Marathi 7,500; Nepali 5,700; Oriya 2,000; Punjabi 7,500; Pushto 700; Sanskrit 20,500; Sindhi 950; Sinhalese 3,650; Tamil 14,800; Urdu 32,000 The Library subscribes to around 500 serial and newspaper titles in South Asian languages and about 3,300 titles in English and Western languages.

Special Collections

The library has many specialized South Asia collections, a few of which are mentioned here.

Court Fee and Revenue Stamps of the Princely States of India. The court fee and revenue stamps were designed by the British as a means to collect taxes from residents of some of the Princely States as starting as early as 1797. The designs include the name of the state as well as the type and amount of tax imposed. This rich collection, including stamps from over 15 princely states, is a gift from Kenneth Robbins. S/SE Asia   HJ5450.C68 (shelved at NRLF).

Henry Morse Stephens Collection. This is an early bequest in 1919 of an important collection relating to British India and Indian history. Cataloged individually.

South Asians in North America collection (formerly known as the Hindustan Gadar Party collection). This collection includes primary source materials, such as photographs, pamphlets, party literature, interviews, etc. in Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and English on this Indian nationalist party which was based in northern California during the first two decades of this century. Housed in the Bancroft Library.  BANC MSS 2002/78 cz,  BANC FILM 2950, BANC PIC 2002.183--AX. See the online finding aid.

Kipling Collection. This collection on Rudyard Kipling was begun in 1919 and expanded by a major purchase in 1963 of rare and scarce materials, first editions, manuscripts, typescripts, and ephemera. Individually cataloged.

Maps of South Asia. The Earth Sciences and Map Library holds 4,500 maps and nautical charts of South Asia, in addition to world maps and general maps of Asia and the Indian Ocean region. There are also 65 atlases and gazetteers of the area. Individually cataloged.

Leo E. Rose Himalayan Collection. This collection was begun with extensive purchases made in Nepal by Professor Leo Rose on politics, history, and law in the 1950s and continued with purchases under the Himalayan Border Countries Projects from 1960 to 1969, and is currently enhanced by acquisitions under the Library of Congress Acquisitions Program. This collection includes microfilm of portions of the holdings of the India Office Library, London and the Nation Archives in New Delhi on the Himalayan region, with a concentration on Nepal. It is especially strong on the 19th and early 20th century period and is a unique resource in the U.S. Individually cataloged.

Krishnabai Nimbkar Collection. This was a gift in 1955 from Dr. Krishnabai Nimbkar's collection on India's Congress Party, including correspondence, papers, pamphlets and policy statements.   BANC MSS 83/131 z


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