About the Southern Asia Collection


The University of Chicago Library has held a substantial collection of South Asia materials since the earliest years of the University. The Berlin Collection purchased in 1892 included a significant body of philological works in the classical languages of South Asia, most notably Sanskrit and Pali. In addition to philology, the early South Asia collection was also strong in missiological and comparative religions materials, reflecting early Divinity School interests in the region.

In the 1950s, there was a marked expansion in the range of the Library's South Asia holdings. There were two catalysts for this expansion: first, it was at this time that the Library of Congress established its South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program. From this time the Library has systematically acquired a large proportion of new titles published in South Asia in English and in the modern regional languages with the aid of the Library of Congress offices in the subcontinent. The Library's collection of South Asia materials published from about 1960 therefore is noteworthy.

Second, the growth of the discipline of Area Studies in academia brought new support for Library acquisitions in South Asia. It was possible for the Library to make many antiquarian and other retrospective purchases to supplement its holdings of historical materials. The growing excellence of the South Asia collection made the Library a magnet for important South Asia gift collections from this time. Invaluable additions to the collection have been made in the form of gifts.