What’s It Like to Work in the British Library?

My colleague Bernardo Michael spent ten days this summer at the British Library working in the map collections of the English East India Company. If you want to get a sense of what it was like, and what he was working on, check out the latest post on the Messiah College History Department blog. In the meantime, here is a taste:

The map collection I worked on belonged to the India Office Records—the archival holdings of the East India Company (1600-1858)—pertaining to the survey and mapmaking activities of the Company in the nineteenth century. In particular I examined British maps of the Anglo-Nepal frontier and the Revenue Surveys, both from the nineteenth century. I also examined a number of indigenous Nepali maps lying in the Hodgson Collection (Mss Eur K474, volumes 56 & 59) collected by Brian Hodgson Houghton, the British Assistant Resident and later Resident in Kathmandu (1820-1844). Finally, I unexpectedly came across some old 17th century Dutch and Portuguese maps of port cities and the western coastline of south India which formed the historical stage for the activities of some branches of my family (I am trying to write a family history as well!). It was a nostalgic moment for me as I wondered about the encounters between these European seafarers and my ancestors who traded along the coast.