Colonial Law Journals

An astonishing number of law journals were produced in colonial India from the 1890s until independence. (For titles, see Published Primary Sources tab.)  Few historians have taken advantage of these sources for two reasons. The first is unavailability. Many volumes–as well as entire journals–have not survived. Those we do have are often in fragile condition. Secondly, there is no easy way to search the contents of the journals that have survived. Most do not exist in electronic form. With one or two exceptions, researchers have to skim the Table of Contents of each paper journal, volume by volume, to know what is inside.

My former research assistant Anita Arenson and I created lists of the articles published in seven leading law journals. I photographed their Tables of Contents at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and the University of Minnesota Law Library in Minneapolis. Anita then transcribed them.

You can identify relevant material by searching our lists, although you will still have to locate physical copies of these volumes to get the full text of an article.  We have aimed for geographic spread in our selection of journals. We have also featured titles that are most easily available in the US, UK and India.

Here are PDFs for each journal:

Here is a single master list:

By calling these journals “colonial,” I refer merely to the period during which they were produced. These journals were not created or overseen by the colonial state.

British law journals from the period also included articles on South Asia. See the Law Quarterly Review (1885-), the Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law (1896-), the Cambridge Law Journal (1921-), and the Modern Law Review (1937-).  These titles are available electronically on Heinonline (by subscription).

I am grateful to Anita Arenson for her dedication to this year-long project; to the University of Wisconsin Law School for providing me with the research funds that made Anita’s work possible; and to UW law librarians Lilly Li and Cheryl O’Connor for help obtaining a large number of supplementary journal scans.

[version updated on 3 March 2020]