Oriental Translation Fund

Scope and Content

The collection features a range of material highlighting the activities of the Oriental Translation Fund both from its origins in 1828 and when it was revised in 1888 by Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot. This includes:

  • OTF/1 Committee minutes
  • OTF/2 Correspondence
  • OTF/3 Publications
  • OTF/4 Purchases and Stock books

Administrative / Biographical History

The Oriental Translation Fund was established in 1828 by a committee of the society under the Chairmanship of Sir Gore Ouseley. Its purpose was to translate and publish such "interesting and valuable works on eastern History, Science, and Belles-Lettres as are still in MS... The object proposed is, to publish, free of expense to the authors, translations of the whole or parts of such works...generally to be accompanied by the original texts printed separately." King George IV became patron of the fund. In its early years the fund was financed by subscriptions and the list of subscribers was impressive. This included: Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, the Prime Minister (Wellington), the Archbishop of Canterbury and one of the founders of the Royal Asiatic Society, Henry Colebrook.

The Oriental Translation Committee who controlled the fund was independent to the society and an annual subsidy of 100 guineas was received from the East India Company. Various works were published throughout this period and this formed series one of the publications (1828-1879). However, operations were suspended in 1860 due to a lack of funds and the committee had disposed of most of its stock.

The council considered reviving the fund in 1888 which was mainly under the efforts of the British Orientalist Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot. He led the management of the fund and funded a lot of it himself. He was also supported by the former Viceroy of India, Lord Northbrook and a prominent Sanskrit Scholar E.T. Sturdy. This led to series 2 publications to be published and the fund is still in operation today.

Arrangement

  • OTF/1 Committee minutes
  • OTF/2 Correspondence
  • OTF/3 Publications
  • OTF/4 Purchases and Stock books

Access Information

Open. Please contact the archivist ej@royalasiaticsociety.org if interested in viewing this material. The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Accruals

As the fund is still in operation accruals should be expected in the future.

Related Material

The full list of Oriental Translation publications are held within the collections.

Bibliography

Further contextual information about the Oriental Translation Fund can be found in: 'The Royal Asiatic Society, it's history and treasures' edited by Stuart Simmonds and Simon Digby. Copies of this are held within the Library.