The Cleveland Public Library is home to a unique source of original documents from the East India Company. First chartered by Elizabeth I in 1600, the company became the de facto rulers of India until the Sepoy rebellion of 1858, when the British government took control of the country.
The collection has over 250 manuscripts, which total over 30,000 pages. The majority of the documents relate to the years 1741-1859. Its contents cover the historical, geographic, administrative, political and military activities of both the British and Indian populations. The collection includes a letter signed by George III, as well as a narrative account of a company official's life in India. Other notable people who inform the collection are Wellesley, future Duke of Wellington, Lord Cornwallis, Henry Dundas (1742-1811), the 1st Viscount Melville of the Scottish Melville Clan.
Through the accounts of the British, the manuscripts offer a glimpse of the lives of the Indian people. They write about Indian customs and laws, along with descriptions of geographical and botanical characteristics of the land. The British sent messages and updates back to England about the conflicts with Hyder Ali, Tippo (Tippu) Sultan, and Cheyt Singh. There are also accounts of the Sepoy Rebellion (Indian Rebellion or First War of Indian Independence) of 1857. The collection is a rich resource for the study of this era. To learn more about this collection, contact the Special Collections Department and use the subject heading of "East India Company" in the online catalog.