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School of Oriental and African Studies

Furnivall, John Sydenham


Reference code(s): GB 0102 PP MS 23

Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies

Title: Furnivall, John Sydenham

Date(s): Created 1917-1961

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 13 boxes

Name of creator(s): Furnivall | John Sydenham | 1878-1960 | colonial administrator


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Sydenham Furnivall was born on 14 February 1878 in Great Bentley, Essex. His early education was at the Royal Medical Benevolent College, Epsom. He won a scholarship to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1896, and in 1899 obtained a second class degree in the Natural Science Tripos. In 1901 he joined the India Civil Service. He arrived in Burma on 16 December 1902 and took up the appointment of Assistant Commissioner and Settlement Officer. He was made Deputy Commissioner in 1915 and Commissioner of Land Settlement and Records in 1920. He retired in 1925.

In 1910 he worked with Professor Duroiselle and U May Aung in the Burma Research Society. In 1924 he founded the Burma Book Club and in 1928 the Burma Education Extension Association.

Following his retirement to Britain, John Sydenham Furnivall became Lecturer in Burmese Language, History and Law at Cambridge University (1936-1941). In 1940, together with C W Dunn, Furnivall published a Burmese-English Dictionary. In 1942 he wrote Reconstruction in Burma for the Government of Burma. He was awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau in 1948; Thado Thiri Thudhamma from the Burma Government in 1949; and Degree of D. Litt by Rangoon University in 1957. He died in 1960.

Other published works by J S Furnivall include: Political Economy of Burma (1931); Wealth in Burma (1937); Netherlands India (1939); Progress and Welfare in South East Asia (1941); Educational Progress in South East Asia (1943); Experiment in Independence (1947); Colonial Policy and Practice (1948); The Government of Modern Burma (1958); The Fashioning of Leviathan (edited by Gehan Wijewardene) (1991).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers, 1917-1961, of John Sydenham Furnivall, comprising correspondence (1948-1956), mostly with C W Dunn (co-editor of the Burmese-English Dictionary); draft annotated chapters of Reconstruction in Burma; statistics and other research material gathered for the above work; Furnivall's lecture notes, scripts of his talks, articles and manuscript research notes.


Language/scripts of material: English and Burmese

System of arrangement:

The collection is arranged into four sections: correspondence; draft chapters for Reconstruction in Burma, A Study of the Social and Economic History of (British) Burma; lectures, articles (published/unpublished) and various papers of J S Furnivall; research material/manuscript notes.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright held by SOAS. No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Unpublished handlist.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Bequeathed to SOAS in December 1997.


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Publication note:



Date(s) of descriptions: 15 May 2000

Academic teaching personnel | Teachers | Educational personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Asian cultures | National cultures
Asian history | National history
Burmese | South and Southeast Asian languages | Asian languages
Civil servants | Civil service | Central government | Public administration | Government
Colonial administration | Colonial countries | Political systems
Dictionaries | Reference materials | Books | Publications | Communications media | Information sciences
Economic history | Economics
Historians | Social scientists
Social history | History
Statistical data | Statistics
Writers | Authors
Economic and social development

Personal names
Dunn | Charles William | 1877-1966 | colonial administrator
Furnivall | John Sydenham | 1878-1960 | colonial administrator

Corporate names

Myanmar | South East Asia