In India, Tamil Nadu occupies a unique place in Archives administration. By 1801, the whole of the area which later became the Madras Presidency had come into the hands of the East India Company, and the second half of the 18th Century itself witnessed a manifold increase in Government Records.
The spurt in the accumulation of records compelled the Government to evolve orderly measures for their custody and preservation.
In 1805 Lord William Bentinck, the then Governor of Madras Presidency ordered the Centralization of all Secretariat records which were scattered in the various Departments of the Secretariat and appointed a Record Keeper and supporting staff to arrange, look after and to issue records promptly on requisition from various departments for reference.
The records were kept in different places in the Secretariat owing to lack of accommodation until they were finally transferred to the Government Record Office “The Madras Record Office” in 1909, which later became the Tamil Nadu Archives.
The administrative blocks and six record stacks were constructed in 1909. The seventh stack was added in 1929 and the eighth and ninth were added in 1938. Further additions to the building such as the present Stationery section and Preservation Section were made in 1978 and 1994 respectively. In 1999 a new building for housing the Archival Library was constructed.
The head of the Madras Record Office was designated as the curator. The curators who served Madras Record Office had been eminent scholars and historians. After Independence, it became a separate Department and the head of the Department has been designated as Commissioner/Special Commissioner/Principal Commissioner.
The head of the Department is assisted by the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners and other officials. The Tamil Nadu Archives has District Record Centers at Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Salem, Coimbatore, Madurai and Cuddalore headed by Research Officers.
The primary function of the Tamil Nadu Archives is to centralize and hold all permanent records, to arrange them chronologically; preserve them on scientific lines, throw them open for historical research, and to make them available promptly and readily for official reference.
The following are the activities and functions relating to general public and research scholars apart from the preservation of records and furnishing them to the Departments of Secretariat.
1. Issue of certified copies/extracts of Tamil Nadu Government Gazette to public on requisition.
2. Supply of information to private individuals (foreign as well as inland) about family details, such as death, birth, marriages, employment, service particulars, etc., if available from the archival records on application.
3. Imparting training on Record Management and Conservation of Records for officials of private institutions besides those of Government Departments.
4. Grant of permission to bonafide Scholars for doing research work. (M.Phil., Ph.D.)
5. Issue of photo copies of archival records to enrolled Research Scholars on payment.
6. Collection of private records of archival value from the public as per Central and State Rules/Acts.
7. Mending of old records and books of private institutions and persons besides those of Government Departments.
8. Sale of Archival Publications.
9. Sale of District Gazetteers.
10. Conduct of Endowment Lectures.
11. Award of Research Fellowships through Tamil Nadu Council of Historical Research.
12. Admission of scholars for Ph.D., in Modern History.
- Tamil Nadu Council of Historical Research
- Record Management Training
- District Records Centre
- Preservation and Reprography Division
- Research Hall
COUNCIL OF HISTORICAL RESEARCH:
The Tamil Nadu Archives houses the records of the Government which are more than three centuries old and it is a mine of information for writing the history of South India. The Government in order to encourage research on various aspects of the life of the people in South India created the Tamil Nadu Council of Historical Research in the year 1973.
The Council is headed by the Honorable Minister for Higher Education. It comprises two Official and three Non-Official Members. The Higher Education Secretary to Government and the Commissioner of Archives and Historical Research are two Official Members. The Commissioner of Archives is also its Member Secretary.
The Non-Official Members will be nominated by the Government for a period of two years from the date of their nominations in part time and the full time fellowship are offered by the Council besides conduct of Endowment Lectures for the benefit of Research Scholars.
The Council offers 6 part time Fellowships and one full time Fellowship every year. Full time Fellowship be restricted to full time research scholar who are not employed either in Government or any other sector.
The period of the part time Fellowship will be two years and that of full time be one year. Of the six part time Fellowships, two shall be selected from among the holders Post Graduate Degree three from among Lecturers, Professors and Ph.D. Scholars or Research Scholars from the Universities and Colleges and one from Tamil Nadu Archives Staff.
The part time Fellowship carries a monthly stipend of Rs.2000/- and that of full time Rs.5000/- p.m. Besides an annual contingent expenditure of Rs.3000/- can be given subject to production of vouchers etc. All Indian Nationals are eligible to apply for a Fellowship. The minimum qualification is a P.G. Degree No age limit is prescribed.
Record Management Training:
Since 1981, the Training Wing of Tamil Nadu Archives has been conducting a 30 day training program on Record Management for those who have been deputed from the various Government offices free of course fee and for the employees of the private sector on collecting a course fee of Rs.500/- The courses have been conducted in batches. So far (Aug. 2007) 3633 candidates have been trained and issued certificates.
The syllabus includes both theory and practical’s covering history and creation of records, appreciation of records, preservation methods and techniques etc.
District Record Centers:
With the objective of centralizing and preserving the records of historical and administrative value that are created in various Government Departments at the district levels, the District Record Centres have been set up.
The first District Record Centre was opened at Cuddalore(Chidambaram) in the year (1981) followed by Madurai (1981), Coimbatore (1981), Tirchy (1985), Salem (1986) and Thanjaur 1997. They are procuring important records of more than 30 years old that are transferred to them from all the Government offices and also from the local bodies in the District.
The District Record Centers are only the custodian of records of Government Offices and they will not be in a position to comply with the request from the public to issue the copy of the records directly.
The General public can apply to the Government Departments directly who created the records for getting the relevant copies of records available in the District Record Centers.