Friday, 21 April 2017

Major donations to the Centre of South Asian Studies Book Archive

Probably the largest donation to the Archives is the Ian Stephens bequest which has not yet been fully catalogued on-line but will have a blog post later on. He was Deputy Director, Bureau of Public Information, Government of India 1930-32; Director, 1932-37; Assistant Editor, Statesman of Calcutta 1937; Editor 1942-51; Fellow, King's College, Cambridge 1952-58; Historian, Pakistan Government 1957-60. The Stephens collection includes the memoirs of General the Lord Ismay (Archive IS 339) and a general history: Eating the Indian air : memories and present-day impressions by John Morris. (Archive IS 80)
"He rushed out of his hiding-place and killed the serpent."Illustrator: Warwick Goble (Folk-tales of Bengal) Archive E 96,
Chatterjee donation

The largest donations which have had on-line catalogue entries created have come from Lady Alan Lloyd, (Archive A 1-108), book plates recording that that the collection was given to the Archive by Mrs R.S. Drake, Mrs J.W. Harman and Mrs C.A. McDowall from a bequest of the the late Lady (Alan) Lloyd in July 1969, and Lady Chatterjee (Archive E 1-136).

Lloyd donation
Lady Violet Mary Lloyd nee Orrock was the wife of Sir Alan Hubert Lloyd (1883-1948), who joined the Indian Civil Service in Burma, 1907; served in Customs Department, 1910–23; Member Central Board of Revenue, India, 1923–38; Secretary, Commerce Department, Government of India, 1939–42; and finally retired, after temporary re-employment in 1947. He died 9 May 1948, “on his way home“, The Times, Wednesday, May 12, 1948.  Violet Mary Lloyd died 27 Aug 1967 in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, where both she and her husband are buried.

Many of the donated books have Lady Mary’s notes on the fly leaf, and the collection includes many travel and guidebooks:

Delhi : its stories and buildings by H. Sharp.  London : Oxford University Press, 1921. Archive A88

Handbook for travellers in India, Burma and Ceylon London : John Murray, 1924.  Archive A21
Guide to the Qutb, Delhi by J.A. Page.  Calcutta : Government of India, 1927. Archive A15
Visitors' handbook of Galle. Galle : Albion Press, [1930]  Archive A8
Guide to Ajanta frescoes 5th ed. Hyderabad-Deccan [India] : Archaeological Department H.E.H. The Nizam's Government, 1935. Archive A18
Guide to the ruins of Bassein by Braz A. Fernandes. Bombay : Bombay Historical Society, 1941. Archive A7

There is also a significant collection of books listing memorials which extend the information gathered by BACSA British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia and shelved in Archive MISC:

List of pre-mutiny inscriptions in Christian burial grounds in the Patna district. Patna 1935. Archive A102
A record of the inscriptions at the Catholic Church at Patna, Bihar and Orissa. Archive A101
List of inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in Ceylon of historical or local interest. Colombo 1913. Archive A106
Inscriptions on Christian tombs or monuments in the Punjab. Lahore 1912. Archive A103
List of burials at Madras (in St. Mary's Cemetery) from 1851 to 1900. Archive A107
List of inscriptions on tombs or monuments in Bengal possessing historical or archaeological interest. Archive A98
List of Christian tombs and monuments of archaeological or historical interest and their inscriptions in the North-West Provinces and Oudh. Allahbad 1896. Archive A105

Chatterjee donation 
"The lady, king, and hiraman all reached the king's capital safe and sound"
Illustrator: Warwick Goble (Folk-tales of Bengal) Archive E 96,
Chatterjee donation

Sir Atul Chandra Chatterjee GCIE KCSI (24 November 1874 - 8 September 1955) was an Indian diplomat and government official who served as the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1925 to 1931 and was member of the governing body of the League of Nations Assembly in 1925 and 1946. In 1924 he married Dr Gladys Mary Broughton, OBE, sometime labour adviser to the Government of India, who was a barrister and served with the Indian Educational Service. Sir Atul Chatterjee died in London aged 80 in September 1955. His obituary in the Times stated that he was the inspirer and guide of many important reforms in factory and mining legislation. The Times obituary of May 1969 entitled Lady Chatterjee, Barrister and hostess noted that she gained a D.Sc for her thesis on “Women and Children in Indian Industry”

Some of the oldest books in the Archive collection come from the Chatterjee donation they include:

Translation of the Íshopanishad. Calcutta : Philip Pereira, 1816.   Archive E 107
Archive E 107

Translation of the Céna Upanishad : one of the chapters of the Sáma Véda, according to the gloss of the celebrated Shancaráchárya / by Rammohun Roy. Calcutta : Philip Pereira, 1816. Archive E 108
Koran : commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed, translated from the original Arabic. London : Printed for Geo. B. Whittaker, 1825.  Archive E 112
The New Testament in the Marathi Language. London : British and Foreign Bible Society, 1864 Archive E 111

The law books presented show signs of heavy use, with pencil annotations on the text and bookmarks and also the difficulties of balancing religious and civil obligations, titles include:

Hindu law as administered in British India. E..J.Trevelyan. 2nd ed. Calcutta : Thacker, Spink & Co., 1917. Archive E 114
Questions and answers on Hindu and Mahommedan law by J. Chinna Durai . London : Stevens & sons, Limited, 1935.  Archive E 116
Treatise on Hindu law and usage, by John D. Mayne. 9th ed. Madras : Higginbothams, 1922.  Archive E 122
Law of monopolies in British India by Prosanto Kumar Sen. Calcutta : Sircar, 1922. Archive E 124

There are publications reflecting the Chatterjees’ involvement in industrial, social and employment reforms including the published thesis Labour in Indian industries by G.M. Broughton. London : H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1924. Archive E 35
Women in modern India : fifteen papers by Indian women writers . Bombay : D.B. Taraporewala, 1929. Archive E 67
Child labour in India by Ranjani Kanta Das. Geneva : International Labour Office, 1934. Archive E 68
Woman labour in India by Ranjani Kanta Das. Geneva : International Labour Office, 1931.  Archive E 69
Famine Inquiry Commission : report on Bengal. New Delhi : Government of India Press, 1945.  Archive E 24

The donation also includes literature, including:
"Instead of sweetmeats about a score of demons" Illustrator: Warwick Goble (Folk-tales of Bengal) Archive E 96,
Chatterjee donation
Poems by Indian women. Calcutta : Association Press ; London : Oxford University Press, 1923. Archive E 91

One hundred poems of Kabir translated by Rabindranath Tagore.  London : Published by the India society, printed and sold at the Chiswick press, 1914. Archive E 93
Folk-tales of Bengal. by Lal Behari Day ; with 32 illustrations in colour by Warwick Goble.  London : Macmillan, 1912. Archive E 96. 
Various illustrations from this work are featured in this blog.

Suzan Griffiths


Searching by donor

There is a handlist of the Lloyd and Chatterjee books on the old site of of the Centre of South Asian Studies webpage.
It is also possible to search by donor via the Newton Catalogue until the end of the year when Voyager will be replace by Alma. Searches across all libraries are carried out on iDiscover.

To search the holdings note field via Newton enter hkey donor name within a Boolean search

To search on iDiscover select Advanced Search, then South Asian Studies from the drop down menu, then search Classmark contains Archive and the letter for the donor ie E for Chatterjee

These instructions will be updated when the new system goes live.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Foundation of the Centre of South Asian Studies and the Archive Book Collection

The Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, was established in May 1964. It is primarily responsible for promoting within the University the study of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Himalayan Kingdoms and Burma, but has also, over the last 25 years, extended its activities to include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
The first director from 1964 to 1983 was Bertram Hughes [Ben] Farmer who had previously been  Lecturer in Geography, Cambridge University 1952; Reader 1967-83 and Member, Land Commission, Ceylon 1955-58. He presented 11 volumes (FAR 1-11) to the Archives.
Sir Arthur Dash who served in various posts in Bengal between 1910 and 1942 and was Chairman, Bengal Public Service Commission 1942-47 and Eastern Pakistan Commission 1947-51 was appointed in February 1967 to take charge of Phase I of the Archive Project. He appealed for material in circulars sent to members of the Indian Civil Service Pensioners’ Association.  He also presented 18 volumes (DS 1-18), mainly relating to Bengal.
The archive was principally collected by Mary Thatcher between 1968 and 1981. She was tasked with creating an archive of the British in South Asia, and told not to collect the papers of ‘anyone famous’. As a result of her work, we currently have approximately 610 collections of papers, detailing the life and work of a wide range of people, including those of her father W.S. Thatcher who from 1912-1914 was a lecturer at the Agra College.
The papers, audio tapes films and photographs are listed on the Archive pages of the Centre. Books are mostly shelved according to donor, and have card catalogue entries. Over 900 of these books from 140 donors may now be searched via the online catalogue. This and future blog posts will highlight major donations or themes within the collection. The personal libraries provide additional information relating to the interests and occupations of the donors and what they regarded as worthwhile to ship home and then present to the Centre. There are guidebooks to historic sites, language primers, surveys, novels, history books (often heavily annotated), legal text books and specialized publications.
The largest donations which have been catalogued have come from Lady Alan Lloyd (Archive A 1-108) and Lady Chatterjee (Archive E 1-136). Eighty people or institutions gave 1 book each, often their own work, and publication dates range from 1800 to the late twentieth century.
One nineteenth century publication:
"Curry & rice", on forty plates, or, The ingredients of social life at "our station" in India by George Francklin Atkinson. 3rd ed.  London : Day & Son, [1860], (Archive Misc 159), was given by Mrs Margaret Stavridi, wife of Alexander Gregory Stavridi, an engineer with the East Indian Railway between 1921 and 1948. She was a writer and designer and was much involved in welfare work, especially during the 1939-45 war. It is not as might first appear a housekeeping manual for newly married couples settling down in India (although the Archives have several examples of these such as Carne, Lucy, Simple menus and recipes for camp, home and nursery. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co., 1902. (Archive ALP 8 ))
Archive ALP 8
George Francklin Atkinson, Curry & Rice.

but “a satirical work that critiqued the lives and behaviors of British colonialists in India. Atkinson served with the Bengal Engineers between 1840 and 1859. Written immediately following the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, the work describes a fictional Indian village called Kabob. Included in the narrative are forty full-page tinted lithographs of daily life around the village, which he illustrated himself. Atkinson caricatured colonial officials in a humorous way, presenting brief vignettes of different fictional British characters residing in the village”. 
Source UCSB LIBRARY website viewed 29 March 2017.
Photograph found in Archive FOS 8

A later blog post will look at the forensic and legal manuals presented by members of the Police Service but, Charles William Foster 1885-, Portait parle system of description for police purposes, Lahore : Civil and Military Gazette, 1913. (Archive FOS 8),  is a good example of a publication not available in other libraries but donated by the author.  It is a modification, for local police officers, of the identification system based on physical measurements of facial features devised by the Frenchman Alphonse  Bertillon, with some of Foster’s manuscript notes tucked into the back and a photograph of serving officers in the front.

Suzan Griffiths, Cataloguer.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

UCL's India Voices: History through Artwork with Subodh Kerkar

The Institute of Advanced Studies and the Centre for the Study of South Asia are delighted to welcome SUBODH KERKAR, contemporary artist and founder-director of the Museum of Goa. Trained as a doctor, Kerkar has been producing installations for over 20 years, which he has exhibited in India and around the world. Dr Kerkar will speak about how he tells history through artwork, with a response from Dr Sujit Sivasundaram (University of Cambridge), and chaired by Dr Jagjeet Lally (UCL). 
Date: Thu 27 April 2017 16.00 - 18.00
Venue: UCL Art Museum, South Cloisters, University College London, Gower St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6BT 

The presentation and discussion will be followed by a reception. All welcome to attend. Please register here:  

This event is part of UCL’s India Voices programme for 2017-18.  Please do forward details of this event and of the India Voices programme to those it may interest.

Jagjeet Lally and Tariq Jazeel

Co-Directors, Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World

UCL Institute of Advanced Studies

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

SAALG Visit to Royal Asiatic Society, Thursday 16 February 2017

SAALG Visit to Royal Asiatic Society, Thursday 16 February 2017

SAALG members are invited to the Royal Asiatic Society (14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD) for an introduction to its collections and a talk on its most recent major acquisition, the Thomas Manning Archive. The afternoon will consist of a presentation in the Society’s lecture theatre, followed by an exhibition of highlights from the Manning Archive, as well as selected treasures from the Society’s South Asian Collections.

The event will run from 2pm – 4pm on Thursday 16 February. If you would like to attend, please email RAS Librarian Ed Weech at to confirm your place. Lunch is not provided but tea and coffee will be available on arrival. Attendees are invited to make a contribution of £3 on the day to help cover the costs of the event.

Thomas Manning (1772-1840) was one of Britain’s first scholars of China, and in 1810 became the first British person to visit Lhasa, capital of Tibet, where he met the Dalai Lama. Originally a mathematician, as a young man Thomas Manning conceived a desire to study China and learn what Chinese literature and philosophy could teach European societies, a project to which he dedicated most of his adult life.

Until recently, relatively little was known about the content of Manning’s studies, due both to his aversion to publishing and an absence of primary sources. However, a few years ago his archive was re-discovered, and in 2015 it was acquired by the RAS, with support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, Friends of the National Libraries, and private donations. Cataloguing of the archive was recently completed and the collection is available to scholars.

Founded in 1823, the Royal Asiatic Society provides a forum for those who are interested in the languages, cultures and history of Asia to meet and exchange ideas. Its charitable mission is to promote both scholarly study and general interest in Asian histories and cultures, a goal it achieves through public lectures, publications, and through providing free access to its historic collections.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Naval Kishore Press Bibliography

The Naval Kishore Press was founded in Lakhnau in 1858 by Munshi Naval Kishore (1836-1895) and grew in the following decades to one of India's most important publishing houses. During Naval Kishore's lifetime the press published c. 5,000 titles covering literature in Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit on subjects as diverse as religion, education, medicine, school-books, translations of English classics and much more. On November 1858, he launched the Urdu newspaper Avadh Akhbar with a registered circulation of about 700 copies. The Avadh Akhbar was a great success with the Urdu reading public and remained in circulation until 1950.

The Library of the South Asia Institute at Heidelberg University holds with its 1,316 titles - 742 on microfilm -  issued by the Naval Kishore Press a representative cross section of the Press' publications.

The newly set up Naval Kishore Press Bibliography serves as a bibliographic database for records of books and journals published by the Naval Kishore Press and aims to provide access to bibliographic records of titles that are distributed in libraries worldwide. The bibliography is still under construction and contains currently c. 1,360 entries.

If you know of titles that should be included please contact Nicole Merkel-Hilf.

To make these publications online available to researchers worldwide, the South Asia Institute and Heidelberg University Library are digitising selected titles from their collection and present them on their online platform Literature on South Asia - digitized. The easiest way to access this material is via the Naval Kishore Press Bibliography by selecting "Browse by Format - Online Ressource".

Mohana Lāla: Lāl čīn: nāval (1925)

Jayadeva; Rāyacanda Nāgara [Editor]: Gītagovindādarśa: arthāt Rāyacanda Nāgara-kṛta Gītagovinda saṃskṛta kā bhāṣā-pratibiṃba (1926)


Friday, 2 September 2016

Archives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseille Provence: sources for modern Indian History

A post by Arundhati Virmani, Ehess, Centre Norbert Elias, Marseilles.

This is an expanded version of the paper Arundhati presented at our Paris conference in July 2015. 

French naval and commercial strategies in the Indian Ocean and relations with India and South East Asia is hardly a neglected subject. A long list of impressive studies has given rise to some major publications among which Philippe Haudrère – La compagnie française des Indes au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, Les Indes savantes, 2005); Les Français dans l’Océan indien, XVIIe-XIXe siècle (Rennes, PUR, 2014.) – or Jacques Weber – Les établissements français en Inde au 19e siècle, 1816-1914 (Paris, Librairie de l’Inde, 1988, 5 vols.), or his Pondichéry et les comptoirs de l'Inde après Dupleix: la démocratie au pays des castes (Paris, Denoël, 1996).
Yet, the archives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseille, remain relatively little exploited by historians and researchers working on both maritime trade with India and on the Indian ocean. No doubt, the large collection of primary sources dealing with the French colonies in the “Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer” (ANOM) of Aix-en-Provence nearby have played a part in dwarfing the Marseilles Chamber of Commerce archives. In fact, the latter contains rich source material that includes correspondence and reports on trade links between Marseille and French colonies in India.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseille-Provence is one of the oldest institutions of its kind. It was founded in 1599 with the objective of keeping track of French maritime trade and eventually protecting its interests. It became an autonomous body under Louis XIV in 1650, breaking away from the control of municipal authorities and thus acquired larger powers covering matters related to the harbor and navigation, the protection of merchant ships, and the affairs of the local economy. The development of this institution can be followed in Octave Teissier, La Chambre de commerce de Marseille, osn origine, sa mission, création des premiers comptoirs français dans les échelles du Levant, développement du commerce général et de la richesse nationale, Marseille, Barlatier and Barthelet, 1892, XXII - 411p; Louis Bergaasse, Notice historique sur la chambre de commerce de Marseille (1599-1612), Marseille, Barlatier, 1913 [7] – 269 p ; La Chambre de commerce de Marseille, 1599-1949; le passé, le présent, l’avenir. Préface d’André Cordesse, Marseille, G. Lang, 1949, 110 p; Gaston Rambert (ed.), Histoire du commerce de Marseille [des origines à 1789], published by the Chamber of Commerce of Marseille, Paris, Plon, 6 vol., 1949-1959 (t. 1. L'antiquité, by R. Busquet. Le Moyen Age jusqu'en 1291, by R. Pernoud.--t. 2. De 1291 à 1423, by É. Baraticz. De 1423 à 1480, by F. Reynaud.--t. 3. De 1480 à 1515, by R. Collier. De 1515 à 1599, by J. Billioud.--t. 4. De 1599 à 1660, by L. Bergasse. De 1660 à 1789, by G. Rambert.--t. 5. De 1660 à 1789; le Levant, by R. Paris.--t. 6. De 1660 à 1789; les colonies, by G. Rambert)
It also acquired some authority in matters that touched diplomatic relations – the French consulates in the Mediteranean area–, and especially custom and trade questions related to the French colonies. In the 18th century, other such institutions developed in France before they were deemed unconstitutional. Thus, the CCM was suppressed in 1791 in a general movement but later revived by Bonaparte in 1803. In 1872, the Chamber created a specialized library open to the public. The German invasion of the non-occupied zone led to a transfer of the more ancient collections to Puyloubier, about 46 kilometres from Marseilles, with another more important part of the archives being deposited in the cellars of the Palais de la Bourse in Marseilles. But because of lack of space in the cellar, the rest of the historical archives remained in the third and fourth floors of the Palais. Despite a succession of disasters, such as an avalanche of obus shells during the battles in the city on 23-27 August 1944 and a fire that destroyed much of the collections, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseille still remains a centre of resources not only for the Mediterranean but for France’s larger maritime relations, recognized by the International Council of Archives and Unesco. It constitutes an important research tool for economic matters relating to Marseille, its harbor and the ship traffic that passed by this port. Above all, its archives, located in the centre of the city, are very easily accessible to researchers.

Main sources for India
 There is no major published guide to the sources relating to India or South Asia. Some printed works nonetheless are helpful indicators. A published numerical inventory of sources before 1801 can be found in Jean Reynaud’s Répertoire Numérique des Archives, vol. 1. Archives antérieures à 1801. Fonds particulier de la chambre, Marseilles, F. Robert et fils. 1947. This contains a list of the commercial activities between Marseilles and the French Indian empire from the 18th century onwards. A good secondary source to consult on this is Louis Dermigny, Cargaisons indiennes, Solier et Cie, 1701-1793, Paris, Sevpen, 1960, 2 vol. The Roux collection covers 1728-1843. A second inventory for the 19th and 20th century archives. Archives of shipping companies like Messagerie Maritimes also form part of the collections.

The French entered the trade on the Coromandel coast in 1672 and seized Pondicherry two years later, becoming part of a complex commercial environment that included the Dutch and the British. French commercial investment in Pondicherry developed considerably in the 1720s and 1730s. The French Compagnie des Indes was headquartered in Pondicherry. From the 18th century onwards the export of goods, grains, cereals or cloth from India formed a significant part of the trade of the French empire. These geographical movements of commodities represented important shifts of capital. Their trajectories show the linkages between the different parts of the French empire and the broader trade rivalries.
Pondicherry was connected to the French port of Lorient, to Bordeaux and to Marseilles, where goods like indigo and dyes that formed part of the stock waiting transhipment to French colonies in Africa were received. In Senegal for example, these goods were exchanged for slaves to be sent on to the Caribbean. The P&O ships linked Marseille to Calcutta since 1852. The Chamber of Commerce sources shed light on these economic links and exchanges.
The Pondicherry Chamber of commerce was founded in 1848. Maritime trade between Pondicherry and France increased spectacularly under the Second Empire, exporting indigo, sesame, cottons; Pondicherry was also the point of departure of coolies. Exports would fall in the 1870s with the discovery of aniline dyes that impacted indigo trade, and the coolie trade was finally prohibited and suspended between 1876-1885. But Pondicherry was the centre and port for goods coming from the Bengal coast, Orissa and Coromandel. Its important population of weavers led to the establishment of a “filature mécanique” by MM. Blin and Delbruck. Free trade dealt a blow to this industry with Belgian, or English toiles proving to be cheaper than toiles coming from French India. The Chamber continued to fight for a modification of customs duties on goods coming from Senegal. But then Pondicherry was saved  by the sudden spurt in the export of peanuts. This was of particular interest to Marseillais industialists producing oils, soaps etc. With the opening of the Suez canal Marseilles suddenly moved closer to Pondicherry. A good part of the correspondence deals with these issues and the commercial competition between the Britsh East India Company and the French, or the traffic of goods between India and France, in particular Marseilles.
An important set of sources contain correspondance concerning trade relations with India, letters received by the Marseilles Chamber of Commerce from French colonies in India. File YC/27/01 contains letters and reports dealing with the beginnings of the French occupation of Pondicherry in the 17th century. YM/03602 deals with the displacement of local populations from south India to the French colonies; ZD.02258 contains reports from French representatives in India on Anglo-French rivalry in India and in the Indian ocean. ZD/06548 holds the correspondence of the Council of Chandernagor from 1745-1757. Finally, the file YM/07491 lists the principal merchants and businessmen of French India. Printed material includes a history of the French installations in India. This can be found in ZD/14194, whereas file YG/19/01 contains the demands of the Pondicherrry chamber of commerce and the different products sent by the Chamber of Commerce to the colonial exhibition of Marseilles in 1906.
The MQ series from 1801-1993 contains sources for the 19th century on goods being exported, on custom duties negotiations and French and Indian trading houses involved in exporting sesame, cotton, indigo.
MQ 54/15 1801-1964 contains correspondence on French trade with Bengal, relations with Surat in 1816 and reports on the potential of Bombay. Correspondence between the two Chambers of Commerce, Marseilles and Pondicherry, stress the potential of a huge Indian market for French industrialists and the advantages for France in developing her position in the Indian Ocean. They seek to mobilise the Marseilles trade institutions to win support and financial banking from the home government for favorable custom tariffs. They provide information both on the French trading companies dealing with India and Indian trading houses conducting commercial exchanges with France. This is an interesting source as well for more contemporary trade relations after 1957. It would be relevant for researchers studying trade links between Marseilles and India before and after the Second World War and contains information on French attempts to invest in India after 1947.
MQ/429 holds correspondence concerning French establishments from 1817 onwards. There are 78 documents in this file dealing with the movement of textiles, oil, rice, the peanut trade from the Coromandel, which was of particular interest to oil producers in Marseille. The file has detailed catalogues of goods from India, their quantity or prices. There is much that will interest the economic historian here about the financing of trade. Equally, for historians interested in studying the 18th, 19th centuries from the perspective of global connections, there is much on the traffic of coolies, and the displacement of Indians to other French colonies like Antilles or Guyanne.
Demands for Pondicherry to develop railway links between this colony and the South of India to promote the peanut trade and break the isolation of the French colonies can interest researchers keen on exploring regional and broader trade networks and how regional economies and markets were being fashioned.

The Roux collection, L.IX-Fonds Roux 1728-1843 is part of the Annexe collections of the Chamber of Commerce. The archives of several merchant houses and many of their account books were destroyed before being collected by the Chambre de Commerce. It contains around 8271 letters about food products, raw products and manufactured goods. The trading house, Maison Roux, functioned till 1843 with a peak activity before the Revolution. François Roux was a merchant based in Marseilles. Four societies were successively formed and run by three generations of the family. Their activities covered a large range of goods: arms, insurance, banking. These sources are of particular interest for economic history of the 18th century. They shed light on the activities of businessmen in this period and specifically on Marseille’s trade. There is a rich collection of letters from ship captains and correspondents in different countries, London, Italy, Leghorn, Messina, Naples, Venice, Portugal…
Files 1.027-1.029 in this collection deal with prices of goods in Marseille, of wheat and grains, oils, soaps, rice, dyes, drugs, spices, cottons, silks. File 1.030 - 1.036 contains the exchange rates in Marseille from 1797-1819. There is an alphabetical filing of all its correspondents. It contains more than 5000 index cards and an inventory by county and city, with the list of its correspondents. French ships taking European goods to Asia returned with cowry shells and Indian textiles valued by West Africans. On the African coast, traders exchanged these Asian products for slaves who, in turn, were sent to France’s New World colonies. There are references to ships transporting Indian coolies to French colonies passing through Marseille. The Asian-European trading relationship was a fundamental link in the African slave trade.

Papers of important merchant houses engaged in trade, maritime insurance or import of goods and raw products form an important part of the Chamber of Commerce archives. They can offer further information about the Asian-European trade that was an essential element of the triangular slave trade, known as the “circuit trade” between Europe, Africa and America. The slave trade was as deeply entwined with Europe’s New World trade as it was in the Asia trade. When for example, the slave ship Diligent left France for the West African coast in 1731, over half its cargo consisted of cowry shells and various types of Indian textiles. Cowry shells served as the major currency along the West African coast, and came from the Maldive Islands near India. Ships belonging to the Company of the Indies returning from India and China would stop in the Maldive Islands and purchase cowry shells, which they used as packing material to cushion crates of porcelain and other goods. Cowries served as ballast to keep the ship steady as well. Because the porcelain, tea, spices and textiles of Asia were of higher value than the European trade goods that the ships brought from France, returning ships had a great deal of empty space in their holds that was filled with cowry shells. Once back in France, cowries were removed and repacked in barrels to be shipped to West Africa.
The Asian trade was of course vital to the slave trade. In 1706, when the French East India Company closed down, French slave traders were cut off from access to cowry shells and Indian textiles and found it impossible to remain competitive in the slave trade. A consortium of merchants raised over a million livres to start a company to replace the defunct French East India Company. They requested authorization from the French Council of Commerce, citing the difficulties they were having in obtaining products of Asia that were vital for the slave trade, mainly cowry shells and Indian textiles. Their request was denied and the government instead formed the Company of the Indies, which was given a monopoly over both the Asia trade and the slave trade. The trade with Lorient and Asia was a central part of this chain. The Fonds Roux contain files on auctions of goods by the Company of the Indies from 1729-1810. (L. IX. 1037) It features a list of goods coming from the Coromandel coast and Bengal and the details of public sales of indigo and cotton.

Historians interested in specific commodities like Indigo or Indiennes and painted textiles would do well to consult Series H that deals with questions of general trade. For instance, one such report is made by M. Guillaume Febvrier, commissioner of the ship Le Fleury in 1738. Files H 139 and H 203 deal with the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly the trade of indigo (1684-1739) and textiles (1686-1790). H/195 deals with the silks of India and China from 1686-1791.

A further set of sources dealing with private merchant houses in Marseilles trading with India includes the correspondence of the Rocca society (L/19/14/123) with merchant societies in India, more specifically Calcutta (Graf & Banziger, 1852-54; Oliva and Casella, 1851-1852; Robert & Charriol 1854-1857). Besides the fonds Roux mentioned above, this contains a list of the principal merchants and industrialists of French India, mainly Pondicherry: YM/07491 (Pondicherry 1936). listing the names, location, products (textiles, links, indigo, matches…)

Printed sources include reports of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce for 1864-65 (Bombay, Pearse and Sorabjee 1866), and for 1864-68. The Bengal Chamber of Commerce (Calcutta, Cones and Co. 1871) reports are available for the 19th century.

A more heterogenous group of files contains reports on Indian traditional medicine: (ZC/02686; 02687), the hygiene of whites, the miscigenous and Indian population in Pondicherry (ZC/04383), the Civil law of Hindus (ZC/04048; ZC/04049). There is even a file on the French expedition to the Himalayas in 1935, and the Chambre de Commerce’s financial involvement in this adventure.
Whilst these sources are a rich field for the economic historian of the early 19th century, researchers working on contemporary business history will find material to study Indo-French relations, trade exchanges and technical cooperation from the 1950s onwards. Files on the industrialisation of India (REVUE/CCM/1945/02). REVUE/CCM/1949/5: Archives Historiques, deals with the development of the chemical industry, INDE A/C/000562 contains information on the visits of Indian delegations of the Franco-Indian Chamber of Commerce to the Marseilles Chamber of Commerce.
MQ54/17 contains reports on trade with India from 1979-1993. These relate to the correspondence on projects of possible collaboration between the Indian Chamber of Commerce and the National Council of French business leaders, between Indian business groups and the chamber of commerce Marseilles. In particular,  a report prospecting possibilities of doing business in India and Bangladesh in March and April 1979, addressed by A.L. Paul (Dept. of foreign trade, CCIMP, Marseilles) to President Bourdillon of the CCIMP Marseille, proves piquant reading. He notes that the Indian market presents various possibilities, but rarely suitable to PME’s. Indian firms are interested in big enterprises, and all cooperation, the realization of projects, administrative and fiscal hassels, delays of return on investments, constitute big risks. The Indians reproach the French for being too expensive and not too active, in comparison to the British, Germans, Japanese and South Koreans who are very effective actors in the field. Americans are not too well perceived. Russians are discrete and participate only in the public sector. He concludes by saying that the torrid heat, added to the electricity cuts that stop the air-conditioning and lifts and the short working day 10-4p.m. and often only 10-2 p.m for some banks and businesses interrupted by lunch, prove to be very trying.
Finally, there is a small collection of iconographic sources: some German, French and British maps of 18th, mid and late 19th century and views of Pondicherrry.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

@SouthAsia71: Bringing Oral Histories to a New Audience

Since my previous post, which explained how @SouthAsia71 tweets archival documents related to the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971,  I've been busy working with material from the oral history project at the archives of the Cambridge South Asian Studies Centre (CSAS). This post will showcase the tweets, discuss their success in reaching a new and wider audience, and lay out plans to incorporate them into analytical narratives within @SouthAsia71's twitter feed.

In terms of the material available at CSAS, I've first turned my attention to a series of interviews carried out by Professor Ian Stephens in 1973. The meetings brought together a number of different scholars to discuss their perspective on the events of 1971 from various geographical locations. In order to convert the material into tweets, I've applied the same principles that I have to the government documents that I'm used to- condense the material into an engage-able format, whilst maintaining proper context. Given the conversational nature of Ian Stephen's interviews, this can be easier said than done, but a challenge I've relished.

The inclusion of oral histories has added a new dimension to the twitter feed. The above tweet, quoting Dr Rashid Amjad, was the first time that @SouthAsia71 had considered the reaction of the West Pakistani people toward the crisis in East Pakistan. Previously focus had been almost entirely upon the actions of the military government and Zulfikur Ali Bhutto.

The Oral History-based tweets have been successful in reaching a new and wider audience. The tweet above, featuring Atta-ur-Rahman, was retweeted 16 times throughout the course of a day (each tweet is sent 3 times per day) and was seen by 2.913 people. Whereas the tweet below, a highlighted screenshot from a transcript of the interviews, attracted 27 retweets and reached 3,084 people. As @SouthAsia71 continues to gain followers, these numbers are certain to rise in future. Of the account's 2,800 followers, 65% reside in South Asia, and are interacting with this material for the first time.

The material from CSAS has also sparked debate and discussion about the events of 1971. In the above exchange I made the point that Dr Amjad is explicitly separating consideration of the West Pakistani leadership from the people themselves in West Pakistan.

In future, the material from CSAS will be incorporated into the wider analytical narratives that @SouthAsia71 creates. As in the example above, the integration of diplomatic and oral histories can provide a rich and more nuanced picture for @SouthAsia71's followers. There is also great potential to use the material on other mediums such as Storify and Buzzfeed, this will be the focus of my next post.