The Asiatic Society was founded on this day by philologist William Jones for research in many aspects of “Oriental” civilisations and cultures. At Jones’s invitation, 30 British individuals met at Supreme Court (Fort William) on this day, where Jones articulated the aims of the society.
The memorandum said: “The bounds of investigations will be the geographical limits of Asia, and within these limits its enquiries will be extended to whatever is performed by man or produced by nature….”
The society moved from the Supreme Court premises to its current location at the crossing of Park Street and Chowringhee Road.
In 1829, Indians were elected to the society for the first time. Dwarakanath Tagore, Maharaja Bunwari Govind Roy, Raja Kalikrishna Bahadur, Ram Comul Sen and Prasanna Coomar Tagore were among them.
Through the centuries, Asiatic Society became one of the major centres of learning and research. It has a collection of more than one lakh books and thousands of journals in many languages of the world. Books in Urdu, Persian and Arabic form an important section. It has several rare volumes, including a manuscript of Padshah Nama with Shahjahan’s signature. The society also has an Asoka edict and several art masterpieces.