Tamil Nadu Archives building is to be renovated. TNA is one of the largest and oldest one in India

 Tamil Nadu Archives, Chennai dtnext.in

The Madras Record Office, presently called Tamil Nadu Archives (TNA), in Chennai is one of the oldest  and largest Government archives  facilities in this country.   Government documents - both post independence and the British era stored and archived in TNA are  of great help to the historians and researchers.  TNA also houses the early colonial period records - good collection  of  East India Company,  Dutch East India Company records, etc dating back to  late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and volumes related to various southern  Princely States.

Two old heritage buildings - TN Music School ( built in 1796; formerly called Brodie’s Castle)  on Greenways Road   and the building that houses the govt. records(archives) in Egmore are set for restoration by the TN government. 

The Tamil Nadu Achieves red-brick building (1909)  is not in good condition  The broken windows and pealing of plaster on the  exterior mar the look of this Indo-Saracenic structure.  Quite disturbing is the  addition of building that has impacted  on the heritage elements  and aesthetics. Experts say that special care will be take to  renovate the structure so that it will be a roll model for other heritage buildings of colonial period that require renovation.  Once renovated, the building can be maintained carefully as it has limited footfalls meaning  access to the building is very much restricted  to the limited staff and those who use it  for research, etc. In the case of public building, periodic maintenance is a necessity. 

The Tamil Nadu Archives, in Egmore, was built in 1909dreamofacity.com..

.Tamil Nadu Govt. Record office justdial.com

The growth of the office of the archives in  Chennai is an interesting one.  First initiated  in  1672 William Langhorne, the Governor of Madras, the govt. records - transactions,  treaties, revenue, etc.,  for future reference and record  were first housed  in council room at Fort St. George  (the present day Secretariat-Assembly complex). 

As the volume of records kept growing and  became unmanageable due to lack of space, in 1805 Lord William Bentinck, then Governor of Madras presidency  constituted a separate Record Office to keep them in  one location. The office functioned in a few rooms   in the  old ‘Fort Square’ of  Fort St. George with  three writers and supporting staff to index, to look after and to issue records promptly on requisition from various departments for reference.  Earlier  collecting information from the govt. record was a  cumbersome job. 

The Record office until 1909 functioned at different locations.  In 1826, the record office   moved into  building called the ‘Pillar go down’ (known as the ‘Old Banqueting Hall/ Rajaji hall) then the site of the present Council Chamber. Again in  1888, it was moved over the ground floor of the Secretariat buildings  upon shifting of  the Govt. press that found a place in the Mint building. Here,  the documents were kept in open  record rack.  Then called the “General Record Office”, it became an integral part of the  the Chief Secretariat.

It was S.C. Hill,  who headed the Records of the Government of India, (when Lord Curzon was the Viceroy), and the Government of Madras in 1907  gave final shape to  the proposal of centralizing the records. It  included   construction of a separate building for  the secretariat records, but also for  the Board of Revenue and the  Collectorate  One C.M. Schmidt, the Registrar of the Chief Secretariat inaugurated the office  and continued  his position for a period. 

In 1909, the Madras Record Office was constituted on an independent basis with a separate establishment; and in 1910, a full-time Curator was appointed,  Henry Dodwell, M.A., an officer of the Educational Department,  was in charge of the new office.  As to the building   decision was taken to rebuild  Grasmere (govt. Bungalow) for the archives and the building contractor was   P. Loganathan Mudaliar (later in the early 20th century Tarapore-Loganathan company became a major building construction contractor in Chennai).  The  cost of new archives building built in Indo-Saracenic style with red bricks was ₹2.25 lakh. An additional ₹1.25 lakh was spent on stacks and furniture.  The building had  enough  open spaces for future expansion and constructed to provide maximum protection to the records. In October 1909 the building was opened and in the same year    came up  the administrative block and six record stacks  The seventh stack  and later 8th and 9th stacks were added  in 1929 and in 1938 respectively. Further additions were made in the later years after 1974.  In 1999 a new building for housing the Archival Library was constructed.


Digitization of archives

 In the view of increasing  applications roughly 50 to 80 each day from people seeking information t the State Archives  already started the digitization of all the records including  those of East India Company data and other colonial era data. In the last few years they provided information to   65000  persons. The cost of the Tamil Nadu Innovation Initiative Schemes for digitization  would be around  Rs 12.68 crore.”  The Tamil Nadu Archives have vast collection of records from various departments of the erstwhile Board of Revenue, the Secretariat, records from Collect orates, district court dating from 1670. The digitization work had begun in 2020 in earnest  to provide online access of the data to students and others. The State Planning Commission had approved a sum of of Rs 2.46 crore for the online service. It will be a  boon to the college students and history teachers. 

Besides the library is a veritable storehouse of knowledge and has more than 230000 books periodicals research papers, etc.,  and  lots of students, researchers and academics make a beeline to this place for reference and research. No doubt, the huge and diverse collection of rare books dating as back as from  1633 and rare records  in Dutch, Danish and Persian language will benefit the enlightened the historians and researchers.