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History

The Library of the Asiatic Society is its most important asset and its importance lies not only in numerical strength of its holdings but also in its rich and unique contents. The collection has been built up mainly with gift received from the members, dating back to 1784, when the Society received with thanks seven Persian manuscripts from Henri Richardson. The next gift came from William Marsden, F.R.S., his book, History of Island of Sumatra (1783) on 10 November, 1784. The Society moved into its own building in the early part of 1808 and the Library was thrown open to the members and the public in the same year. The books that had been received till then formed the nucleus of the collection. The first accession of importance was a gift from the Seringapatam Committee (3 February 1808) being a selection from the Palace Library of Tipoo Sultan. The Collection contains many old and rare works. Special mention may be made of an illuminated manuscript of the Quran and old text of Gulistan, and manuscripts of Padshanamah bearing an autograph of Emperor Shahjahan. On abolition of the college of Fort William whole of its Sanskrit, Arabian, Persian and Urdu works, mostly in manuscripts, collected at great expense and trouble under the superintendence of Gladwin, Carey and other distinguished oriental scholars were placed under the custody of Society. In addition to this, Society possesses a rare collection of Tibetan Xylographs.  Similarly, Surveyor-General Colonel Mackenzie’s collection of manuscripts and drawings were received in December 1822. In the Twentieth Century, valuable collection of books were received from Dr. B.C. Law, Dr. G.W. Gurner, Rama Prasad Chanda, Dr. Pratul Chandra Gupta, Dr. Nirmal Kumar Bose, Dr. Pratap Chandra Chunder and several individuals  The collection has been placed in –

  1. Library and Reading Room equipped with Printed Books and Periodicals
  2. Museum with Manuscripts, Archival documents and Artifacts.