Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Can you read Mughal Persian?

I wrote recently about how archives contain unique documents that can hold important information for family history research.  A recent article in the Globe and Mail discusses some historical documents that remain from the Mughal Empire, which controlled the Indian subcontinent from the 16th to 19th centuries.  The 137,000 documents in the Inayat Jang Collection are from 1658 to 1774 and were retrieved from a fort in Andhra Pradesh.

The team of archivists cataloguing the collection was originally about 15 people when the task started in 1961.  Now only four archivists are left who can read the old Persian writing.  The documents includes information such as lists of castes in villages, land allotments to loyal subjects, the hiring of civil servants, and tax collection (some things never change).  The collection is considered to be extraordinarily complete for the time period it covers.

Unfortunately, as is common with many archives, the National Archives of India is underfunded and understaffed.  The documents are in an old building under less than ideal conditions.  One positive note is that the Inayat Jang Collection is slated to be digitized and made available online.  Perhaps individuals outside India will be able to read the old Persian script and will contribute to translating the material.


  1. which fort can you give details please damodharraom@gmail.com

  2. Unfortunately, I don't know which fort, because the article didn't specify it. But you can try contacting Dr. Irfann through the National Archives of India at archives@nic.in. I'm sure he would be able to tell you. - Janice


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