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Research in India


Map of IndiaThe National Archives of India was set up in 1891 at Calcutta as the Imperial Record Department to act as the Central Record Office of the Government of India. At the time of its establishment, it was felt that a Central Library may also be set up as an adjunct of the Imperial Record Department and also act as the apex body to different Departmental Libraries. The proposal was accepted and a large number of books, periodicals and other government publications were transferred to the Central Library from various offices However in 1903, an Imperial Library (later redesignated National Library) was set up and most of the holdings of the Central Library were transferred to it, leaving behind duplicate copies. The Central Library which hereafter functioned as a "Spare Copy Room", became the Library of the Imperial Record Department.

Following the decision to transfer the Imperial Record Department to Delhi, the books and publications in the Central Library were sorted out and classified into three groups viz:

  1. those to be transferred to the Imperial Record Department in New Delhi
  2. those to be transferred to the Imperial Secretariat Library (later Central Secretariat Library)
  3. those which were to be disposed of.

Accordingly, transfer of the material to the Imperial Record Department was completed in 1937 and the Library settled down in its new home. 

Map of IndiaOver the years, the Library has developed into a rich research oriented Library providing a wide range of services to scholars, trainees, government agencies, and other interested users. It presently has a collection comprising Rare books, Reports, Parliamentary Papers and Debates, Monographs, Gazettes, Gazetteers, Travelogues, Native Newspapers, Journals etc which constitute a most valuable supplementary source of information to the material contained among official records. These publications cover a variety of subjects like modern history and politics, culture, demography, archives, economics, social science, gender studies, tribal studies etc.


Networking of Five Major Libraries:


The Ministry of Culture has initiated action for networking of five major Libraries i.e.


  • Central Secretariat Library (CSL), New Delhi,
  • National Museum Library (NML), New Delhi,
  • National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) Library, New Delhi,
  • National Archives of India (NAI) Library, and
  • Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Library, New Delhi.


Holdings & Collections of The National Archives of India:


Sovereign Ancestry Lincolnshire - India image main pageThe record holdings in the National Archives date predominantly from around the year 1748 onwards though there are stray records of the earlier period as well. These are in English, Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit, Modi, Urdu etc., Apart from records on paper they also have records on palm leaf and birch bark.


These records throw light on the activities of the later Mughals, the East India Company and British Rule and the emergence and growth of independent India. They shed valuable light on the social, political, economic and cultural life. 


As well as the usual public record documentation relating to the governance of the Country The National Archives of India has in its custody, a rich collection of private archives which have been acquired mainly through donations and gifts from a variety of sources. These papers constitute a valuable supplement to the information contained amongst public records. 


Major collections include Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dadabhai Naoroji, M R Jayakar, Maulana Azad, G.K. Gokhale, Sardar Patel, P.D. Tandon, Minoo Masani, etc.  It also houses the files of the Indian National Army.


Besides the above records, the office has a special library supplementing the information available in Public records. The library holdings comprise of collection of Government reports and publications, gazetteers, native newspaper reports and books on various disciplines.

NAI’s Regional office at Bhopal and Records Centres at Bhubaneswar, Jaipur and Puduchery have also a huge collection of records with research facilities to the scholars visiting these offices.


Oriental Records:


A rich collection of Oriental Records comprising mss, parwanas, hukums, kharitas, farmans, etc., in Persian, Arabic, Urdu etc., Among the rare and valuable collections of documents are the Fort William College Collection, Inayat Jang Collection, Mathura Documents, Gujarat documents, Haldiya Papers etc., All these papers are available for consultation subject to the Public Records Rules [1997]. 


Inayat Jung Collection:


The collection is the Official Mughal Documents. It consists of reports, day to day accounts and revenue figures which were sent regularly to the Diwan of the Deccan bythe individual Diwans of the six provinces of the Decan.

The reign wise position is given as under:-


Sl. No.

Name of the emperor

Period covered





Azam Shah



Shah Alam Bahadur Shah I

1707- 12


Jahandar Shah

1712- 13


Farrukh Seyar

1713- 19


Rafiud Darajat



Rafiud Daulah



Muhammad Shah



Ahmad Sha



Shah Alam II



Haldia Collection:

A collection of documents in Persian and Urdu. These documents throw light on the political role of the Haldia family in Rajasthan.

Other important Collections of Documents:

There are approximately 14,000 other documents in different oriental languages especially in Persian and Urdu. These documents are related to different regions and deal with different aspects of polity, society and culture.

For example:-


    • A collection of 149 documents which throw light on Emperor Akbar’s policy of religious tolerance as he gave hundreds of Bighas of land grants to 35 temples in Mathura.
    • Another collection of 125 documents furnishes details of the qanungoi and other offices held by a zamindar family of Sonepat during 18th - 20th century.
    • Another collection of 150 documents throw light on the revenue grants in Bihar under the Mughals.
    • A large collection of documents belong to Sandila and Jais region. These documents deal with the revenue free grants to the individuals, religious heads etc. These documents might bring to light the agrarian structure and the role of various classes in the agrarian economy under the Mughals.
    • A collection of 63 documents deal with the urban structures particularly in Gujurat.
    • A collection of 70 documents gives information about the spread of slavery with special reference to Allahabad region.
    • A collection of 133 documents is related to a math in Gujurat (Pakistan).
    • Another collection deals with the Deccan States about the revenue grants, jagir administration etc.
    • Another 25 Photostat documents deal with the establishment of Mughal administration in the Cooch Behar region.
    • A collection of 125 documents gives information on the rising fortunes of a zamindar family in Malwa region.
    • Another collection of 150 shed light on the local administration in Tonk and interference of the East India Company in its day to day working.
    • A collection of 31 documents reflect the British policy towards the lakhiraj revenue free grants in Orissa.


Fort William College:

An important collection of books and manuscripts. This important collection has been inherited from the British East India Company through its prestigious College of Fort William at Calcutta. A major part of the collection was taken back to the India Office Library, London [now held at TNA, Kew] and remaining manuscripts and books were transferred to the then Imperial Record Office (subsequently National Archives of India). The collection comprises about 200 mssand 1000 books and has very important works.


This valuable collection in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit and Bengali cover subjects like, religion, lexicon, epistolography, literature, history, animal husbandry, astrology, medical sciences etc. The chronological range of this collection is 10th century to 19th century.

Other Collections:



  • India Gazette (1864 onwards)
  • Calcutta Gazette (1792-1863)
  • London Gazette (1810-1954)
  • Provincial Gazettes. 




The Census Reports (1871 onwards) are a valuable and basic source on demographic studies and contain data about the population, castes, tribes, occupation etc for the use of scholars and other users.




Gazetteers are another valuable reference tool providing information about the people, their culture, customs, geographical, linguistic, ethnic data, etc. The Gazetteers in the Department are of three categories viz:


  • Imperial Gazetteer of India (India Series)
  • Imperial Gazetteer of India (Provincial Series)
  • District Gazetteers




This Collection consists of recorded proceedings of the British Parliament, which includes Questions, Proceedings relating to India as well as White Papers,Reports of Parliamentary Committees,Reports of Commisioners,Trade and Tariff relating to India etc. Some of the important Volumes in the Collection are:


  • Cobett’s Parliamentary History of England (1688-1785)
  • The Mirror of Parliament (1829-39)
  • Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates (1841-91)
  • Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates relating to Indian Affairs (1886-1925)
  • Parliamentary Debates (House of Commons) (1934-1948)
  • Parliamentary Debates (House of Lords) (1909-1935)
  • Sessional Papers (1899-1912)
  • Parliamentary Debates (1892-1935)
  • Indian Parliamentary Debates (1892-1898)
  • Indian Debates (1898-1908)
  • Debates on Indian Affairs (1909-35).




This Series comprises the following Volumes:


  • Proceedings of the Legislative Council of India (1857-1920)
  • Legislative Assembly Debates of Indian Legislatures (1921-49)
  • Constituent Assembly Debates (1947-50)
  • Parliamentary Debates (1950-53)
  • Rajya Sabha Debates (1952 onwards)
  • Lok Sabha Debates (1954 onwards)




These volumes cover the following States:


  • Bengal(1862-1932)
  • Bombay (1862-1936)
  • Burma (1923-35)
  • Central Provinces (1916- 32)
  • Madras (1922-36)
  • Punjab (1926-36)
  • United Provinces (1896-1936)



These are abstracts or summaries of Vernacular Newspapers compiled by the erstwhile Home Department to enable the Government to keep itself informed about activities in various provinces and are a very useful source material relating to public opinion in various States on issues of general interest. Prior to Independence, these Selections were classified as confidential documents and were not meant for public access. Some of the major Reports in the Series are:-


  • Report on Native Newspapers,Bengal Presidency (1863-1931)
  • Report on Native Newspapers,Bombay Presidency (1868-1932)
  • Report on Native Newspapers,Central Provinces, Central India etc (1896-1927)
  • Report on Native Newspapers,Eastern Bengal & Assam(1907-11)
  • Report on Native Newspapers Madras ( 1872-1911)
  • Report on Native Newspapers, N.W.Provinces and Oudh (1890-1937)



These volumes contain Selections from important activities and decisions of the British Government and were published for the information and use by the public. They provide useful information about the British administration in India. Notable volumes among the Selections are:


  • Government of India 1853-1900
  • Bengal Government, 1851-1890
  • Bombay Government, 1852-1907
  • Punjab Government, 1852-79
  • Madras Government, 1853-96



Another valuable collection are the almanacs containing information on statistical accounts, astronomical data, events, civil and military appointments, rules and regulations about the Govt. of India etc. The four volume series comprises the following:


  • Bengal Almanac 1803-54
  • Bombay Calendar and Almanac 1836-68
  • Madras Almanac 1817-58
  • Asylum Press Almanac 1862-1958



Published in 1933, it is a comprehensive Directory compiled from the Civil Lists of the Government of India and includes service records of officers who served in India and Burma. It also has information about military officers, recipents of medals and awards, rates of pay, pensions, etc



This is an exhaustive list containing information about the officers of the Indian Civil Service as well as the Indian Administrative Service from 1886.


This document provides the namesrank, postings and service details of Army officers who served in India. There are separate lists for Bombay Bengal and Madras, viz:


  • Bombay Army List 1826-1895
  • Bengal Army List 1825-1889
  • Madras Army List 1826-1894



These are useful documents containing information about the employees of the East India Company who served in the Civil, Military, Marine establishments, births, marriages and deaths in India, etc.



These volumes covering the period (1877-1988) deal with the history, politics, literature and chronological events in England and other British colonies.


These volumes deal with public activities, social, cultural, industrial, educational events concerning India during the period (1919-47).


Another useful reference aid, it contains information about India’s population, commerce, trade, commercial organizations as well as biographical data of important persons.


This is another valuable publication containing information about various items , persons and events specially related to Calcutta from 1885-1957.


This unique collection comprises publications in prose and verse as also pamphlets and posters in various languages including Hindi, English, Urdu, Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Bengali These were written during the freedom movement and reflected the strong passions among the freedom fighters which were aimed at arousing patriotic feelings among the public. Consequently, these were banned by the British Government, to prevent them from reaching the people. Some of the significant articles\poems in the Collection are:


  • Azadi ka Bigul (Hindi) ed. by K.C.Rastogi
  • Azadi Ka Bomb (Hindi), ed. by Jagannath Prasad Arora
  • Kanavu (Tamil), by Subramaniam Bharati
  • Yug Bani (Bengali), by Qazi Nazrul Islam
  • Bijli di Karak (Punjabi), by Darshan Singh Daljit
  • Azadi ki Garaj (Punjabi), by Sajjan Singh
  • Golibarachi (Marathi), by Shahiv Rao Kokate
  • Appeal to my countrymen (English), by S.N.Sanyal
  • Azadina Geet (Gujarati), by R.N.Parikh
  • Dard-e-Wattan (Urdu), by Om Prakash Sahni
  • Angrezon ki bolti band (Urdu), by Babu Ram Doneria
  • Bhagat Singh Keerthanamitram (Tamil), by V.R.Elumalai Pillai