By Karen MajewiczIndia was subjected to colonization by England between 1612-1947, first under private trading companies, and later the British government. A major turning point occurred in 1857, when Indian soldiers (known as Sepoys) serving the British East India Company revolted. Violent clashes broke out across northern India, and, although historians disagree on casualty numbers, at least hundreds of thousands of people were killed. This series of uprisings, known as the Indian Rebellion of 1957, prompted the British government to dissolve the Company and to assert their own direct control over India. Within the next few years, cartographers provided the government with many new or updated maps illustrating British encampments, transportation routes, and the locations and dates of the major Rebellion conflicts.
Many of these 19th century Indian maps can be found via our geoportal and came from the Ames Library of South Asia, housed at the University of Minnesota. This collection was started by an individual from Minnesota, who was inspired to seek out South Asian art and resources after reading about the Rebellion:
Charles Lesley Ames took W. H. Fitchett's The Tale of the Great Mutiny on a trip to England in 1907 as reading material. The book impressed Ames, and he spent the rest of his life building a library on the British-Indian interaction.
In 1961, after more than 50 years of dedicated collecting, Ames gave his library to the University of Minnesota.
The gift held over 25,000 titles, including manuscripts, photographs, maps, prints and drawings. It immediately established the University as having one of the pre-eminent libraries for the study of South Asia in the western world.
Here are just a few of the maps in our geoportal that reference the Indian Rebellion of 1857:
|Military map of India shewing the disposition of the armies of the Bengal, Madras, and Bombay presidencies and the present condition of the army of Bengal. Published 1857.|
|Map of the routes in India: with tables of distances between the principal military towns & military stations. New edition published 1857.|
|Oudh and adjacent districts: compiled from materials in the Office of the Surveyor-General of India. Original 1848 - reproduced 1857.|
|Map of India to illustrate the progress of the British Dominion: from 1791 to 1857. Published 1858.|
|Plan illustrating the Report of Engineering Operations in the Siege ... of Lucknow: by the British forces under General Sir Colin Campbell in March 1858. Published 1859.|