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Sir William Jones Manuscripts

Call Number



circa 1100-1794, inclusive


Jones, William, Sir, 1746-1794 (Role: Annotator)


2.5 Linear Feet
in 3 flat boxes

Language of Materials

Materials are in Bengali; English; Persian, and Sanskrit in Devanagari and Bengali characters.

Biographical Note

William Jones (1746-1794) was a British lawyer in India and pioneer of comparative linguistic studies. Born in London in 1746, Jones later enrolled at University College, Oxford in 1764 and began studying linguistics and Oriental culture and literature. Jones studied Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit, becoming an expert in the field of comparative and historic linguistics. He spent several years after graduating working on translations of texts from these languages. After receiving his degree, he studied law at Middle Temple in London from 1770-1773. In 1772, William Jones became a fellow of the Royal Society as well as a practicing lawyer.

In 1783 he was knighted, becoming Sir William Jones, and was appointed to a position as a judge in British-controlled India. Jones continuted his studies of Oriental languages and literature in India, and during this time produced additional translations as well as original works. In addition to language and literature, Jones produced works on botony, astrology, zoology and law. In 1784 Sir William Jones founded the Asiatic Society with the purpose of promoting the study of Asiatic cultures and languages. Jones continued his studies and his work as a judge until his death in Calcutta in 1794.

Sources: Cannon, Garland. The Collected Works of Sir William Jones, Vol., New York: NYU Press, 2003.

Jones, Sir William.The Poetical Works of Sir William Jones with the life of the author, Vol.1 London: Cadell and Davies, 1807.

Scope and Contents

The Sir William Jones Manuscripts consist of various types of documents related to his lingustic studies, many in their original language with translations or notation by Jones. Included are documents in Sanskrit and Persian relating to astrology, botany and law.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection, which were created 1100-1794, are in the public domain. Permission to publish or reproduce is not required.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Sir William Jones Manuscripts; MSS 301; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.


Fales purchased the materials from Jones scholar Garland Cannon with a generous donation from artist, writer and philanthropist Kevin Brine, an active supporter of the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library.

Collection processed by

Cassandra Brewer and Ashley Todd

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-04-09 19:20:14 -0400.
Language: Description is in English

Processing Information

In August 2022, prior to digitization, the Conservation Lab rehoused the collection and flattened several items. Box and folder numbers therefore shifted from the original finding aid.

In March 2024, Umrat Khan and Hijaz Mehdi provided a translation and transcription of one document, a letter concerning a manuscript by Amin Sahab.

Revisions to this Guide

August 2022: Revised by Weatherly Stephan to update box and folder numbers after rehousing
April 2024: Updated by Weatherly Stephan to include description and translation of Amin Sahab letter by Umrat Khan and Hijaz Mehdi


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012