|Rare Book & Manuscript Library|
At a Glance
Materials arranged geographically. by princely state, and then subdivided by denomination and language. Where there are significant variations in the seals, imprints and affixed stamps from a given state, these have been kept apart in separate folders.
These are manuscripts and typescript documents of 34 different princely states that existed as distinct political entities in pre-independence India. Although the majority of these states were tiny principalities in western India (primarily in what is now Rajasthan), some (e.g., Hyderabad) were located in other regions of India and represented major powers in the region at that time.
The documents date from the 19th century through World War II, and are in English, Hindi, Rajasthani dialects, Urdu, Persian, Gujarati, Malayalam and other languages. The scripts employed include Devanagari, Urdu (Perso-Arabic script), English, Gujarati and Malayalam. The documents themselves appear to cover many aspects of official life of these states: decrees by local government officials, requests and petitions to the court, commercial permits, trade documents, land dispute documents, court affidavits (sometimes bearing thumb-prints and/or signatures), etc. Almost all the documents are one or two pages in length and bear the colorful imprint of the seal of a given princely state government. (most of these imprinted papers were available in various denominations, sometimes referred to as "court fees", and someone submitting documents to the court had to purchase an appropriately-denominated imprinted sheet on which to write out the document. Many of them, in addition to having the denominated seal or imprint on the sheet, also bear one or more printed "court fee" stamps (affixed to the sheet like postage stamps) to make up the required amount. These court fee stamps are philatelically interesting to collectors, and like the imprinted sheets, were issued by individual princely state authorities, usually bearing colorful symbols or portraits of the local rulers.
Collection acquired and processed by David Magier, South Asia Librarian, Columbia University Libraries.
Key to the folder numbering system: Each folder gets a unique number consisting of 4 parts: a princely state code prefix, followed by a denomination or "face value" indication, followed by a decimal point, followed by a language/script code, followed by a sequential number. The Princely state code (see container list) identifies the state or entity that issued the documents in the folder. The denomination indicates the value imprinted on the documents and/or the value of the court fee stamps affixed to them. All denominations (except documents from Travancore State) are in numbers of rupees (R) and annas (A). (There were 16 annas to tbe rupee, but the codes reflect the values actually used on the documents: i.e. a document with "8 annas" imprinted and three 4-anna stamps affixed is listed as "20A", while a document with "1 rupee" imprinted and one 8-anna stamp affixed is listed as "1R8A", etc.). Documents from Travancore use a different currency, the chakram. (C). (Some of the Travancore documents use annas as well). Some documents have no denomination and so no denomination code is used. Documents from a given state (and even within a given denomination group) are separated into different folders by language or script. Most folders are in English (E), Devanagari Script (D) or Urdu Script (U). Some are in Gujarati Script (G). Documents from Travancore appear to be Malayalam Script. The Travancore folders are labelled as Malayalam script, but no language code was used in the folder numbers. Within each State/denomination/language grouping, each folder receives a sequential number, when more than one folder exists in the group. Documents are also grouped into separate folders when the stamp or crest or seal or printing color is different. Thus, J6R8A.U5 indicates the fifth consecutive folder of Urdu Script documents denominated at 6 rupees and 8 annas, from Jaipur.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located on-site.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Indian Princely State records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Legal documents Processed HR 04/08/1998.
Legal documents Processed HR 04/14/1998.
2009-06-26 File created.
2019-04-16 Box-level inventory and additional dscription added from printed 1-page finding aid. kws
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note