Chapter-1 Sources for the History of Modern India (Short Notes – Prelims Perspective)



Sources for the History of Modern India

Short Notes (Prelims Perspective)


Archive materials-

Central government

  • National Archives of India, located in New Delhi
  • James Rennell as the first Surveyor General of Bengal in 1767

State government-records comprise of

  • Former British Indian provinces
  • princely states which were incorporated in the Indian Union after 1947
  • the foreign administrations
  • Kingdom of Lahore popularly known as Khalsa Darbar
  • Pre-British public archives in India is the Peshwa Daftar-maratha kingdom housed in the Alienation Office, Pune.
  • Rajasthan State Archives at Bikaner-history of princely states
  • the history of Dogra rule from 1846 in Jammu and Kashmir-housed at jammu
  • Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal and Rewa, all archives in Madhya Pradesh,
  • Travancore and Cochin in Kerala, Mysore in Karnataka and Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

Three presidencies

  • Archives of Bombay Presidency, housed in the Maharashtra Secretariat Record Office,                Mumbai, are extremely useful in studying the history of Western India

Other European rulers-

  • Dutch records of Cochin and Malabar are in the Madras Record Office and those of Chinsura in the state archives of West Bengal
  • The French archives of Chandernagore and Pondicherry (now Puducherry)
  • were taken to Paris
  • The archives of the Danish possessions were also transferred to Copenhagen when the Dutch sold Tranquebar and Serampore to the English East India Company in 1845.
  • The remaining Danish records relating to Tranqueba housed in the Madras Record Office

Judicial records-

  • The records of the Mayor’s Court at Bombay established in 1728 are available in the Maharashtra Secretariat Record Office

Published records-

Private archives-

  • Indian National Congress ‘s records are housed in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi

Foreign repositories-

  • The Archives Nationale, Paris, and the Archives of the French Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Colonies and War, have records that throw light on the history of French possessions
  • The British Museum possesses collections of papers of British viceroys, secretaries of states and other high ranked civil and military officials who were posted in India
  • The records of the Dutch East India Company is available in Rijksarchief, The Hague, and that of the Danish and Portuguese are kept in Copenhagen and Lisbon, respectively.

Biographies,memoirs and travel accounts-

  •     Abbe Dubois-Hindu Manners and Customs

British travellers

  • James Burnes -Narrative of a Visit to the Court of Sinde
  • Alexander Burnes -Travels Into Bokhara
  • J.C. Davidson-Diary of the Travels and Adventures in Upper India
  • John Butler -Travels and Adventures in the Province of Assam

Non-British travellers

  • Victor Jacquemont-Letters from India describing a journey in the British Dominions of India, Tibet, Lahore and Cashmere during the years 1828-1829—1831
  • Baron Charles -Travels in Kashmir and the Punjab

Newspapers and journals-

  • first newspaper in India entitled The Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser Calcutta gazette-1784
  • Madras courier-1788
  • Bombay herald-1789
  • The Hindu and Swadesamitran -G. Subramaniya Iyer,
  • Kesari and Mahratta -Bal Gangadhar Tilak,
  • Bengalee -Surendranath Banerjea
  • Amrita Bazaar Patrika – Sisir Kumar Ghosh and Motilal Ghosh,
  • Sudharak -Gopal Krishna Gokhale,
  • Indian Mirror – N.N. Sen,
  • Voice of India – Dadabhai Naoroji,
  • Hindustan and Advocate – G.P. Varma.
  • The Tribune and Akhbar-i-Am in Punjab,
  • Indu Prakash, Dnyan Prakash, Kal and Gujarati in Bombay,
  • Som Prakash Banganivasi and Sadharani in Bengal
  • Indian nationalists and revolutionaries living abroad published newspapers and journals—
  • Indian Sociologist (London, Shyamji Krishnavarma),
    • Bande Matram (Paris, Madam Cama),
    • Talwar (Berlin, Virendranath Chattopadhyay)
    • Ghadar (San Francisco, Lala Hardayal)

Oral evidence-

Creative literature-

  • Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838-94)- Anand Math-sanyasi revolt of 1760 (1882),Rajasimha-his last work
  • Icharam Suryaram Desai-Hind ane Britanica-gujarati
  • Girija Devi and Ramatirtha Thammal, who wrote Mohanra Rajani (1931) and Dasikalin Mosa Valai (1936) respectively-tamil
  • V. Krishna Rao’s Kilubommalu (The Puppets, 1956)-telugu
  • Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (1910-1994) -Balyakala Sakhi (The Childhood Friends,1944)
  • Thakazhi Siva Sankara- Tottiyude Makan (Son of a Scavenger, 1948) and Chemmin (Shrimps, 1956)- malayalam


  • Company Paintings, also referred as ‘Patna Kalam’
  • Focused on street and bazar paintings shows british heroism and british sufferings in india.
  • Relief of Lucknow, painted by Thomas Jones Barker in 1859
  • In Memoriam by Joseph Noel Paton, recorded in painting two years of the revolt of 1857
  • Kalighat painting fore in Calcutta
  • Abaindranath tagore started Bengal school of painting




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