An archive is a collection of historical records and documents, usually primary sources, that is, documents created as a necessary part of administrative, legal, social, or commercial activity. They are unique / original documents that have not been consciously created or created to convey information to future generations. An important part of the archives related to modern India are official records, that is, articles of government agencies at various levels.
The East India Company records detail the trade situation from 1600 to 1857. When the King of England took over, it also held a large variety of official records. These records help historians track all major developments step by step, tracking the decision-making process and the psychology of policy makers. Records from other European East India companies such as Portuguese, Dutch and French also help build the history of the 17th and 18th centuries. They are especially important from an economic history perspective, but you can also learn a lot about political constellations.
There are four categories in official records 1. Central Government Archives 2. State government Archives 3.records of intermediate and subordinate authorities 4. Judicial records
Apart from these there a private Archives and archival sources available abroad.
Central Government Archives
The National Archives of India located in New Delhi, contains most of the Archives of the Government of India. These provide authentic and reliable source materials on varied aspects of modern Indian history. The records of the National Archive of Japan are divided into different groups representing different branches of the Secretariat at different stages of their development.
State Government Archive
The State Archives source documentation contains the following files: (i) Former British state of India. (ii) The former feudal kingdom and the former feudal lords incorporated into the Indian Union after 1947 (iii) Foreign governments other than the United Kingdom.
In addition, records of parts of India that have been taken over by Britain, such as the archives of the Kingdom of Lahore, are important sources. Another important collection of India’s pre-British archives is Peshwa Daftar, housed in the Alienation Bureau of Pune. It is the single most valuable source of information for studying the history of Marathi for almost a century before the collapse of Peshwa in .
The mayor’s court archive of Fort St. George, housed in the Madras Records office in , is the earliest available court archive since 1689 AD. The records of the Mayor’s Court of Fort Williams before Placey have been lost, but the 177573 records are kept in the Bengal Supreme Court’s archive in the Calcutta High Court Archive Room . Similarly, records from the Mayor of Bombay, founded in 1728, are available at the Archives Office of the Maharashtra Secretariat, which also maintains the archives of the Bombay Records Court and the Supreme Court.