Genealogic is on the British LIbrary's list of approved researchers
for the Asian and African Studies Reading Room.
Research can be done on British, European and Anglo-Indian family history in India, Burma, Pakistan or Bangladesh (mostly pre-1948).
We also research British Empire history generally in Asia or Africa.
Emma Jolly's essential guide to the British in India for family historians, Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors (2012), is published by Pen and Sword Books
The latest news on this area of research is added regularly to the Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors Facebook page. Please 'like' the page to receive regular updates.
Read on my blog about my client Evelyn Nelson's recent experiences in India, searching for the church registers of St Stephen's, Ootacamund (Ooty):
If you are interested in discovering more about ancestors in India, you may find the following websites useful:
In Summer 2013 many of the India Office Records currently held in the British Library should be available on www.findmypast.co.uk Read more on this in my article, 'Records of British India on Find My Past' in The Family and Local History Handbook 14 (2013)
For ancestors in Burma, see http://www.angloburmeselibrary.com/index.html
European genealogies for those who lived in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) can be found at the Dutch Burgher Reunion website:
A useful blog on India and Anglo-Indian family history is at
The Colonial Film Catalogue holds many films of Empire families and of events that took place in British India
Other colonial records, include Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), can be found in the Records of Former Colonial Administrations from The National Archives (TNA).
Other useful websites for tracing colonial ancestors include [see Stephen Thomas, 'Outposts and Enclaves' in
Who do You Think You Are? magazine, January 2013):
Malta Family History
Ionian Islands Index
East Africa records from TNA ref. RG36 www.thegenealogist.co.uk
East India Company (EIC)
The British Library holds records for the East India Company from 1600 to 1858, when it was dissolved. The records are very useful if your ancestor was a soldier with the EIC, an officer cadet, or a civil servant. Service records and entry papers provide a wealth of information on EIC employees.
New EIC project at Warwick University: www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/ghcc/research/eicah
The India Office (1858-1947)
The India Office records form the basis for much family history research. If your ancestor was baptised, married, or buried in India their records should be held here. However, not all records were sent to the India Office, and not all have survived.
Records of wills for those with property in India are held at the British Library. For those who held property in England and Wales (after 1858), probate should be held at the Principal Probate Registry in Holborn.
Army in India
Many British regiments served in India throughout the Raj. Their military records are held at The National Archives.
Records for The Indian Army, which included the Armies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay, are are held mainly in in the British Library. This Army succeeded the East India Company Armies in 1858. These records are also very very helpful for genealogists; for example, registers of recruits for NCOs usually give place of birth and age.
Copies of the East India Register & Army List (1844-1860) and the Indian Army List are available for
consultation at the British Library.
An index to HEIC [Honourable East India Company] Cadets can be searched at
Original Papers, Letters, Photographs, and Manuscripts
The British Library holds a number of original documents that may be relevant to your
family history, or to general Asian historical research. This collection can be searched
online at http://minos1.bl.uk/catalogues/indiaofficeselect/welcome.asp.
The reading room also holds a good collection of contemporary maps, which can help you to visualize where your ancestors lived.
A useful selection of historical maps of India can be seen online at http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~poyntz/India/maps.html
A selection of English-language Indian newspapers is also available for consultation (NB: at present, this is not indexed). These can be useful if further investigation is needed, for example, on notable events, ancestors involved with crime, or suspicious deaths.
NewspapersSG has a digital archives of historic newspapers from Singapore and Malaya published between 1831-2009. This resource can be searched at
Records on Other Occupations
Medical Services and Veterinary Surgeons
Martin Moir, A General Guide to the India Office Records. (London: The British Library, 1988)
Sarah Speedy,Mrs Livingstone, I Presume? Memoirs of Mrs S.M. Speedy, wife of Major James Speedy
1815-1859 (Allan Speedy, 1996) - see www,speedy.co.nz/recollections/
IA Baxter, India Office Library & Records: A Brief Guide to Bibliographical Sources.
(London: The British Library, 2004)
See Emma Jolly's article on 'Open Access Microfilms in the Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections of the British
Library in the September 2008 edition of The Genealogist's magazine - www.sog.org.uk/genmag/gm_sep08_contents.pdf