Mills, James Philip

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises the correspondence, diaries, reports, lecture notes and articles of James Philip Mills relating to his experiences in North East India, and his later teaching and research on the area.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Philip Mills was born in 1890 and educated at Winchester School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1913 he joined the Indian Civil Service and served in North-East India until 1947. He was Sub-divisional officer at Mokokchung in the Naga Hills of Assam from 1917-1924 and Deputy Commissioner, based at Kohima during the 1930s. In 1930 he married Pamela Vesey- Fitzgerald.

In 1930 he was appointed the Honorary Director of Ethnography for Assam. His first monograph, The Lhota Nagas was published by the Government of Assam in 1922, followed by The Ao Nagas in 1926 and The Rengma Nagas in 1937. In 1942 he was awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute for anthropological fieldwork among the Nagas. In 1943 he was appointed as Advisor to the Governor for Tribal Areas and States, with overall responsibility for tribal matters in North-East India. This appointment enabled him to travel among and study for the first time tribal people living north of the Brahmaputra towards the Tibetan frontier, and to give permission to his good friend Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf, and also Ursula Graham-Bower to enter this closed area and carry out their pioneering studies.

Mills was elected to the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1948 and served as its President from 1951-1953. In 1948 he became Reader in Language and Culture with special reference to South-East Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Here he worked with Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf from the inception of the Department of Cultural Anthropology in 1950 until ill health forced his retirement in 1954.


The materials are arranged chronologically

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1960 with a further accrual in 1990.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Separated Material

Associated material held elsewhere: Pitt-Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford Royal Anthropological Institute, London Faculty of Social Anthropology, Cambridge

Conditions Governing Use

No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance

Related Material

Related Collections at SOAS: 24 albums of ethnographic photographs are held in the Art and Archaeology section of SOAS Library (catalogue ref. FG.L.716915)