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Collection Overview

Austin, Granville (1927-2014)
Granville Austin Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
40 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-40


Granville Austin (1927-2014) was an independent scholar and political historian known for his work on India's constitution. The collection is composed of Granville Austin's research files on India, mostly in the form of published articles or book excerpts that Austin collected and often annotated. The majority of the research files, notes and drafts relate to Austin's second book, Working a Democratic Constitution, but some files relate to his first book, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation. Topics documented in the collection include the Indian constitution, center-state relations in India, Indian politicians and political parties, U.S. foreign relations with India, cases tried before the Indian Supreme Court, and various other subjects related to India's political and legal systems. Research material on the Middle East, material relating to Austin's other writings, professional and personal correspondence, including State Department files, as well as U. S. Information Service photographs and negatives compose additional parts of the collection.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed primarily of Granville Austin's research files on India following the republic's independence from British rule. The bulk of the collection comprises research material for Austin's second major work of political history, Working a Democratic Constitution, much of which was compiled between 1988 and 1999. The collection also includes some research material for Austin's first book, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation (1966).

Most of the research files are published articles or book excerpts that Austin collected and often annotated. Some of Austin's notes on his interviews and records of meetings, travel plans, names and addresses of sources, and drafts of his writings are included. Research material on India also includes original booklets and pamphlets from the Indian government and political parties, speech transcripts, news clippings from Indian newspapers, copies of correspondence and memoranda between leaders in India's government, and copies of oral history transcripts housed at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

Topics covered by these sources include the Indian constitution, center-state relations in India, Indian politicians and political parties, U.S. foreign relations with India, cases tried before the Indian Supreme Court, and various other subjects related to India's political and legal systems. The research primarily covers the period in India's political history from 1946 to 1985.

The collection also documents Austin's work in between and following his two major books—his writing on the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process; his work at the State Department and other government agencies; his work in Beirut as press attaché with the U.S. Information Service; his writing on public policy in education; and his involvement with the organization ICWA and with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

The collection also contains both professional correspondence (including that related to his work with the U.S. State Department), personal correspondence, and appointment books, documenting some of Austin's job searches as well as his work, travel, and social life. Travel notebooks, datebooks, and account books, as well as published travel guides, maps and ephemera reflect some of Austin's research trips, including those to India. The collection contains some of Austin's early photographs and negatives, mostly from Vietnam, when he worked as a photographer and reporter for the U.S. Information Service.


The order in which these materials came to Princeton has been maintained, which means that each box (particularly boxes 1-15) may contain a mix of material from different series. Not every folder is listed, but folder lists and box descriptions should illuminate the main contents of each box.

The collection has been organized into four series:

Collection Creator Biography:


Granville Seward Austin (1927-2014) was the author of two seminal works on the political history of the Indian Constitution: The Indian Constitution, Cornerstone of a Nation (1966), and Working a Democratic Constitution: A History of the Indian Experience (1999, 2003).

Known familiarly as "Red," Austin at times called himself an "independent scholar" and "journalist historian." Born in Boston in 1927 and raised in Vermont, he was a longtime resident of the Washington, D.C. area, working for various government agencies during the thirty-some years between the publications of his two books. His primary research subjects were both India and the Middle East, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process.

Austin was a private in the U.S. Army 1945-1946, and was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1950 with a degree in American literature. After college, he worked as a reporter and photographer for a Vermont-New Hampshire newspaper. He and Nancy McConnell were married in 1954, and the couple's four children were born between the years 1955 and 1962. Austin worked for the U.S. Information Service as a photographer and reporter in Vietnam from 1954 to 1956, as well as heading the U.S.I.S. office in Haiphong. He moved on to Beirut, Lebanon, serving the U.S.I.S. as reporter, political analyst, and press attaché at the American Embassy (1957-58). Austin noted that in Beirut he was introduced to Israeli-Palestinian issues, which remained a lifelong interest.

Austin studied Modern Indian History at St. Antony's College at Oxford University, earning his DPhil in 1964. At the same time, from 1960 to 1966, he was a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA), living at times in India as well as in Oxford, and writing the requisite newsletters for ICWA under then-Executive Director Richard Nolte. Through his pursuit of contacts in India, Austin gained access to personal papers in private collections and conducted interviews with framers of the Indian Constitution. His original research for his Oxford thesis was the basis for his first book, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation, published with Oxford University Press in 1966. The book became essential reading for Constitutional scholars within the republic of India as well as other parts of the world.

From 1966 to 1970, Austin worked for the U.S. State Department as Director in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Office for the Near East and South Asia, 1966-1970, with a focus on Near Eastern and South Asian issues. In 1970, he worked for part of the year as Executive Assistant to U.S. Senator Clifford P. Case. From 1971 to 1974, he worked for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as Special Assistant for International Affairs to the Secretary of DHEW. He then returned to the State Department as a member of the Policy Planning Staff, focusing on the Middle East, from 1974 to 1977. Some of Austin's State Department memoranda are represented in the collection. Austin also taught Modern Indian History at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), 1975-1976. His occasional paper "Public Policy in Education" was published in 1977.

He moved on to the Department of Energy, where he was Acting Deputy Inspector General from 1977 to 1978. He spent 1978-1979 as a contract consultant before becoming the Director of Communications for the Council on Foundations (1979-1982). Austin was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Current World Affairs from 1981 to 1983.

During the mid-1980s, Austin wrote primarily about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He published "Palestinian Nationalism" with Johns Hopkins' SAIS in 1984. During the mid-1980s, he worked on building a Committee for Arab-Israeli Peace among American Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Files in his papers reflect that between 1985 and 1987, Austin worked on an intended book about Israeli-Arab relations (called the "Two Societies" book in his notes), to be co-authored with David Schoenbaum—this book did not come out as planned, though David Schoenbaum did publish The United States and the State of Israel with Oxford University Press in 1993.

Austin took up research on India again by the late 1980s. Working independently and as the recipient of grants from the Fulbright Program, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and St. Antony's College Oxford, Austin traveled to India from 1990 to 1991 and completed research for a book to follow up on the workings of the Indian Constitution. Once again Austin used his network to gain access to private papers in India, and to conduct hundreds of personal interviews with politicians and judges, as well as undertaking archival research at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, among others.

The resulting book, Working a Democratic Constitution: A History of the Indian Experience was published by Oxford University Press in 1999, with a second edition in 2003. Like Austin's first book, the work became an indispensable resource for those studying India's Constitutional history.

A memoir, Retrieving Times, about Austin's childhood and hometown of Norwich, Vermont, was published by White River Press in 2008. In 2011, the Republic of India presented Austin with the Padma Shri Award, the republic's fourth highest civilian award, in recognition of distinguished contribution in Literature and Education. Austin continued to collect material on and correspond about India and the Middle East until his death in 2014.

Collection History


This collection was donated by Hilary Mac Austin, Granville Austin's daughter, in August 2016. The accession number associated with this donation is ML.2016.020. A second accession, ML.2017.021, donated by Hilary Mac Austin in July 2017, was added in June 2018.


Approximately four linear feet of maps were separated to Princeton University Library's Maps and Geospatial Information Center.

Four boxes containing household address books, material relating to Austin's 2008 memoir Retrieving Times, and clippings from American newspapers (most relating to the Middle East) and photocopies of books were returned to the donor.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Phoebe Nobles in February 2017 and June 2018.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Granville Austin Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-40