East India Company

India Office Records from the British Library, 1599-1947

Discover the astonishing history of the East India Company, which at its peak controlled over a quarter of the world’s trade and millions of the global populace.

From 16th century origins as a trading venture to the East Indies, through to its rise as the world’s most powerful company and de facto ruler of India, to its demise amid allegations of greed and corruption – the East India Company was an extraordinary force in global history.

From the Company’s charter in 1600 to Indian independence in 1947, East India Company tells the story of trade with the East; politics; and the rise and fall of the British Empire. It records the challenges of a globalising world and sheds light on many contrasting narratives – from records of powerful political figures, through to the lives of native populations and the individual traders who lived and worked at the edge of Empire. 

This is simply an essential resource for scholarship of British imperial history; maritime trade; global commerce, and the history of the first great multinational corporation.


East India Company offers transformative research possibilities with fully searchable handwritten manuscript documents using Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR).

HTR is a groundbreaking search technology utilising artificial intelligence to deliver document-level full-text search results in manuscript material. The HTR application uses complex algorithms and artificial intelligence to determine possible combinations of characters in handwritten documents. This enables relevant handwritten text to be identified at document level, allowing users to easily navigate between highlighted search results. Read more or watch the demonstration video.



Key Data


  • Module I: Trade, Governance and Empire, 1600-1947
  • Module II: Factory Records for South Asia and South East Asia
  • Module III: Factory Records for China, Japan and the Middle East [New for 2019]

Period Covered

  • 1599-1947

Source Archive

  • British Library

Material Types

  • Minutes of council meetings (Court of Directors, Court of Proprietors and Council of India)
  • Memoranda and papers laid before councils
  • Council resolutions
  • Proceedings of revenue boards
  • Charters
  • Texts of legislation
  • Printed books
  • Correspondence
  • Lists of administrative, military and ecclesiastical personnel 

Editorial Board

  • Crispin Bates, University of Edinburgh
  • Kate Boehme, University of Sussex
  • Huw Bowen, Swansea University
  • Jagjeet Lally, University College London
  • Andrea Major, University of Leeds
  • Margaret Makepeace, British Library
  • Philip Stern, Duke University


  • Administrative and ecclesiastical appointments
  • Agriculture
  • Charters and the Company’s relationship to the English/British Crown
  • Courts and legal affairs, including legislation
  • Diplomacy, treaties and ambassadorial expeditions
  • Finance and debt
  • The machinery of government
  • Pay and pensions for Company servants and their families
  • Railways
  • Trade
  • Warfare and military matters

Key Features

  • Handwritten Text Recognition enables full text searching across handwritten manuscript documents, view demo.
  • Split-screen image viewer.
  • Interactive chronology of events in India and the Asian trading world spanning the dates of the material, allows users to browse these largely manuscript documents based on their dates of interest.
  • Data visualisation, with interactive maps and graphs, of the EIC’s trade statistics.


Highly recommended. Undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers.

Visited Mar'17 - An interactive time line-a particularly helpful feature for novice users-not only provides rich historical context but also links to pertinent documents. Under the Documents tab, ......