Access to Records

These Records are classified, in different manner, into four main categories as follows:
  • Pre 1820 records which are mostly copies of original records of the East India Company’s Government of Mumbai maintained in the form of Diaries. The total number of these records is about 7,000 volumes.
  • Post - 1820 records which are the proceeding of Government in each Department in compilations arranged in alphabetical order bound on volumes up to 1912 and in loose files up to 1920. The total number of these records is about 2, 00,000 volumes.
  • Records after 1920 maintained on the form of files, one file for each subject according to the Maxwell system. The total number of these records is about 4,00,000 files.
  • Printed Records, Maps, Newspapers, Private Records, etc.

Besides Diaries, Compilation, Volumes and Files, the other forms of records in Mumbai Archives are as follows:-

  1. Inward Letter Book
    A manuscript book, containing copies of letter received in the Secretariat (Factories, & c), is called Inward letter books. They are for the years 1646 to 1786. In the case of letters copied in full in Diaries, they do not appear in Inward Letter Books. From 1786 letters are copied in full in Diaries.
  2. Outward Letter Book or Order Book
    A manuscript Book, containing copies of letters, memorandum and orders issued from the Secretariat Factories, Residencies, &c, is Outward Letter Book or Order Book.
  3. Minute Book
    A manuscript Book, containing notes of proceedings at the Council Meetings of the Government of Mumbai and of the Chief and Factors in the Factories and Residencies and Members of Committees, is called Minute Book. These notices with change in the language are copied at full Diaries.
  4. Dispatches from and to the Honorable Court of Director
    The Dispatches from the Honorable Court of Directors to the Government of Mumbai and from the Government of Mumbai of the Court are compiled separately. The former series of letters are called Honorable Court‘s Inward and the latter series Honorable Court’s Outwards. There are also duplicate of these letters. Major Candy while on special duty of classifying Government Records sorted and arranged these letters according to Department.
  5. Inward Registers
    Manuscript Book in which letters, memorandum, etc. received in the Secretariat are registered is called Inward Register.
  6. Outward Register
    Manuscript Book in which letters, memoranda, etc. issued from the Secretariat are registered is called Outward Register.
  7. Indices
    In the case of Diaries, the last Diary Volume of a year contains indices. For Compilation or Volume series of Records, there are separate index volumes.
  8. Selections or Selected Compilations
    These records consist of copies of proceedings on record made for the previous history of questions under consideration of Government. Of these Selections, those relating to Foreign Government have been classified as “Foreign Power”.
  9. Surveys
    There are 20 volumes under the head Surveys. They relate to the Revenue, Statistical and Topographical Surveys of the Island of Mumbai and Salsette, Dharward, Gujarat etc.
  10. Records in Portuguese
    There are 6 volumes containing documents in the Portuguese language. They comprise the period from 1714 to 1819. But, there are gaps of records for many years. They contain translations in Portuguese of letters received and issued by the Government of Mumbai to Native Princes and other individuals in Malabar and to the Portuguese Governments at Goaud, Daman, Volumes No. 4 of 1714 to 1717 and No. 6 of 1819, contain Judicial proceedings. Volume No.5 of 1722 contains a register of lands and taxes on the island of Mumbai.
  11. Printed Records
    These consist of Government Publications, Selections from Government Records, Government Gazettes,Old Newspaper, Files, Civil Lists, Abstracts of proceedings, Annual Reports of various Government Offices, Reports of different Committees appointed by Government, etc.
  12. Maps
    There are about 20,000 old maps in Mumbai Archives. Survey operations started vigorously in this province from 1820. Copies of the maps prepared from that period to date, of the districts of Mumbai Presidency and surrounding areas and of the Bombay Island are found in this Collection.
  13. Private Records
    Maharashtra State is rich in archival material many old families in Maharashtra have in their possession a good collection of their family records, which throws light on the history of Maharashtra. The Directorate of Archives has acquired numerous private records from the historical families like the Patwardhans of Sangli, Manes of Mhaswad, Mohites of Raigaon, Patankars of Patan, etc. Most of these records are in modiscript and a few of them in Persian.
Reference Media
The Archives would remain a closed book if there were no suitable aids to make researches in them. Such aids have been provided in the form of key books, volume lists, indices, press Lists, descriptive catalogues, etc.

Books. A key
A key - Book contains the headings and sub- headings of compilations, arranged in alphabetical order of the main heads. The numbers of volumes, in which the Compilations are bound, are added in due course.

The key – book is only intended as a provisional index pending the preparation of the Volume List.

Particulars of existing Key- books are given below


  1. General Department, 1843-92
  2. Revenue Department, 1857-1920
  3. Political Department 1832-1920
  4. Finance Department 1859-1912
  5. Education Department 1861-65
  6. Military Department 1844-79
  7. Judicial Department 1841-1920
No Key- books are available in respect of Public Works Department.


Volume Lists
A Volume List is a list of all the Compilations and Volumes of a Department for the years with their contents in alphabetical order of main heads. The sub- headings forming the immediate headings of Compilations are also entered in most Departments in alphabetical order. The Volume List of a year contains all the compilations in alphabetical order of their headings.


Indices
The indices state the subjects of Compilations in considerable detail, arranging them in alphabetical order of main heads and similarly in alphabetical order of sub heads under each main-head. A reference is given to the number of consultation but the 21 number of the Compilation and the Volume are not given. One has therefore to refer to Minute Books and Volume lists for locating the exact record.

Particulars of available Indices are given below:-

  1. Ecclesiastical Department. 1847-74.
  2. Financial Department. 1821-63.
  3. General Department. 1821-60.
  4. Judicial Department, 1821-60.
  5. Commercial Department, 1822-23.
  6. Indo- European Telegraph department, 1864-72.
  7. Marine Department, 1821-75.
  8. Military Department, 1821-60.
  9. Political Department, 1821-60.
  10. Revenue Department, 1821-63.
  11. Secret Department, 1821-61.
“Alphabetical Catalogue of the contents of the Mumbai Secretariat Records (1630-1780)”, by G.W. Forrest, 1887- This Catalogue, as stated by its editor, had been prepared after the model of the alphabetical arrangement of the public Records recommended by the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the state of the Public of the United Kingdom. The “Subject” items appear to have been chosen by Professor Forrest personally as a result of his own examination of the records.


Press Lists
The “Press Lists” of the oldest records in the Mumbai Records Office have been drawn up in pursuance of instructions received in 1891 from the Secretary of State. This was in conformity with the treatment of records in the English Record Office, which consisted in the preparation of a Press List giving a complete list of documents, with some indication of their dates and contents and a calendar giving a précis of nearly every document of important, or a reference to some publication where it might be found.

Four press Lists are in existence containing entries of selected documents of the following years:-

  1. 1646- 1700
  2. 1701- 1719
  3. 1720- 1740
  4. 1741- 1760
The preparation of Press Lists was discontinued under the order of the Government of India. Which observed that the progress made in India had not been satisfactory, and that the system of press- listing and calendaring had been characterized as defective by the Royal Commission on the Public Records of England 22 and Wales, press lists being considered too meager, and calendaring a process too slow and elaborate for application to modern state papers. The preparation of descriptive handbooks of all Record offices was at the same time decided upon.

File Indices
From 1920 onwards Secretariat Departments started preparing file indices printed indices are available in respect of Secretariat Departments up to 1952- 53. Since 1954, system of trilateral files has been introduced and a typed list of these files is itself one kind of index. It, therefore, appears that preparation and printing of separate index was discontinued by Departments.


Descriptive Catalogue
After formation of Directorate of Archives in1947 The Directorate has brought out a Descriptive Catalogue of Secret and Political Department Series (1755-1820). The Catalogue indicates subject- matter of each document and with the help of index at end one can pick out the material required. Such Descriptive Catalogues for other series are under preparation.

The Map Collection in Bombay Archives is also being catalogue. An index card for every map is being prepared in the first instance.


Typed copies of Records
The contents of such of the old records as showed special signs of decay have been copied typing. A list of such typed records is given in Appendix C. The student will probably find it saving of time to turn to the typewritten copies in preference to their originals.