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Volume :4 Issue : 14 1978      Add To Cart                                                                    Download


Auther : By Penelope Tuson


         This article is based on a paper prepared by the author for the Centre for Documentation and Research, Abu Dhabi in February 1977.  It deals with archival sources relating to the Middle East presently held by the India office Records in London, the scope and nature of those sources, the ways in which they were accumulated and how they are now arranged.

The India Office Records comprises the archives of the East India Company, from the granting of its Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, of the Board of Control or Commissioners for the Affairs of India established in 1784 to supervise the Company’s administration, and of the India Office which in 1858 assumed the responsibilities formerly held be the Company and the Board and continued to exercise them until Indian Independence in 1974.

During the three hundred and fifty years of British India Administration, the India Office and its predecessors maintained a complicated network of Agencies and Residencies in the Middle East, extending over an area bordered by the East Coast of Africa in the west and Afghanistan in the east.  The article describes the ways in which these Agencies were administered and the categories of archives produced by the various authorities concerned.

There are three main groups of records:

First there are the records of the administration in all its various departments in London, comprising mainly copies of its own correspondence with its representatives abroad and with other British government departments, together with departmental meeting and memoranda.

Secondly, there are the copies of the correspondence which the Governments of India, Bengal and Bombay conducted with their agencies in the Middle East, and minutes of their own Council meeting, decisions and resolutions, all of which were dispatched to London at regular intervals for the Home Government’s information.

Thirdly, there are the records of the Residencies and Agencies themselves, which accumulated at the posts and were sent to London at a later date as separate archival collections.

The author describes these records in some detail and also includes a note on finding aids and forthcoming publications.

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