Untold lives blog

11 September 2014

Introducing the India Office Medical Archives Project

Are you interested in the history of medicine? Fancy getting your teeth into treatments for snake bites?  Ever wondered how the perceived relationship between climate and disease influenced the practice of medicine in British India?

The India Office Medical Archives (IOMA) project has been funded by the Wellcome Trust to increase the visibility and accessibility of sources for medical history within the India Office Records.

Doolie for carrying patients
IOR/F/4/2398/129162 Regarding a Doolie of very ingenious construction invented by Surgeon J S Login 25 Oct 1850


The project builds upon the work of a previous AHRC-funded project – Sources for Science and the Environment in the India Office Records – and its resulting publication Science and the Changing Environment in India 1780-1920, (London: British Library, 2010).

Over a 15 month period the IOMA project will:

• Add over 2000 electronic catalogue records to the online Search Our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts

• Expand entries that are particularly rich in detail or illustration

• Create authority files for key individuals, institutions, subjects and places within the collections

• Identify additional material on infectious disease across the India Office Records and India Office Private Papers


Hakeem and Coolie with medicine basket
 Add Or 1586 Hakeem and Coolie with medicine basket


The records illuminate a diverse range of subjects, including:

• Medical topography

• Diseases, including smallpox, bubonic plague and cholera

• Drugs and cures

• Medical education

• Institutions, including asylums, lock hospitals and laboratories

• Public health and sanitation

Keep an eye out on the Untold Lives blog and Twitter account @UntoldLives for project updates and interesting links.

If you have any questions about the project or the India Office Records in general, please leave a comment below or contact us at the British Library.

Alex Hailey
Cataloguer, India Office Medical Archives Project



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