William Moorcroft Manuscript Transcripts


Moorcroft directed that his diaries, letters and reports be edited and published by the scholar H. H. Wilson, who by the time he got down to the task had a full-time job as Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford. Faced with this huge inchoate mass of documents—somewhere in the region of 10,000 manuscript pages—Wilson did what he could, but the published Travels are no more than a pale reflection of the original papers, and necessarily omit much of the illuminating detail that add so much value to Moorcroft’s narratives.

The papers that Wilson worked from ­­were deposited in the library of the India Office in London. They were later transferred, along with the rest of the IOL’s contents, to the British Library, where they can be accessed in the APAC (Asia, Pacific and African Collections) Reading Room.

These documents aren’t easy to work from. The binding and cataloguing are unsystematic, though the researcher is helped by the guide in vol. II of the former India Office Library’s Catalogue of Manuscripts in European Languages. Once accessed, many researchers may have difficulty with the handwriting, which often—as Moorcroft’s thoughts outrun his pen—degenerates into a semi-legible scrawl; and they may not be helped by the 19th-century-style orotundity of his diction.

The transcripts presented here are the first fruit of a project to type up as much of the Moorcroft archive as possible, beginning with his journals. The originals in digitized form (PDF or JPEG), copied with the permission of the British Library, are with the Editor MCADD, and in case a researcher wants access to any of the originals, they may contact him at MCADDeditor@gmail.com and he will be pleased to send a copy to them electronically.

MCADD, however, is of the opinion that Moorcroft’s remarkable writings deserve to be accessible to a wider readership than only those dedicated scholars who may be motivated to master the difficult handwriting, and hence has initiated the transcription project. The Editor will accordingly be happy to hear from anyone interested in joining the project. They will find the available documents listed under the menu-heading Guides to Documents in the British Library listed in the folder William Moorcroft Documents. As of February 2017, with only two Fasciculi of Moorcroft’s Journal transcribed and one in the works, they will have almost unlimited choice as to which items of the archive they are interested in working on.

1821 Moorcrofts Route from Belaspoor to Leh by Trebeck F12-4.jpg

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