Punjab Archives Lahore
The record in the Punjab Archives is dated back to year 1804 and provides deep study
in the socio-cultural, political and administrative history of the Province. As
such, the Punjab Archives enjoys the position and status of a center of excellence
as it contains one of the biggest collections of great archival importance along
with a sizeable secretariat library with over 80 thousand collection of books. These
records consist of the Delhi residency and agencies’ records transferred to Lahore
after the war of independence in 1857. The NWFP was the part of Punjab and all the
records related to Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan Division and the tribal areas before
the creation of a separate province for these regions were also preserved at Lahore.
All old papers relating to the province of Sindh, until it became a part of the
Bombay Presidency also constituted a part of the Punjab Archives. Besides, the Punjab
Archives has the privilege of preserving all papers relating to the occupation of
tribal areas in Balochistan. All records relating to political relations of the
Jummu and Kashmir State, Afghan and Persia especially commercial and certain Middle
Eastern are also preserved. The archives of all administrative departments from
the time the province of Punjab was annexed in 1849 are also stored (Aquil, 1984,
In fact, the place was used only for storing the government records without any
organization and this mess continued till1923. It was around this time that Professor
Garrot, an eminent scholar of history in Government College, Lahore and a member
of Indian Education Service was allowed to consult these records by Sir Edward Maclagan,
then the Governor of the Punjab. The Governor took keen interest in the proposal
of improvement submitted by Prof. Garrot, who was entrusted with the historic task
of organizing archival record on proper lines (Ali, 1993, p. 50).
The building of Punjab Archives, known as tomb of Anarkali is located in the Punjab
Secretariat Lahore. The monument was built during the Mughal period in 1615 A.D.
The design and construction of the building is a symbol of Mughal architecture.
This is an eight cornered building with bays and small side-rooms. It has a central
chamber with bays or alcoves leading off it. The building has a double dome which
keeps the temperature low in the summer. In the Punjab, on the final disintegration
of Muslim Empire in India, the Sikhs took over and like many other buildings this
building, too, was used by Kharak Singh as his residence or Dera (Tahir, 1991, pp.
The Punjab was annexed by the British in 1849 and this building was used as residence
by the clerical staff of the board of administration of the Punjab. In March 1851,
on vacation by the board, it was used by Christians for divine service on Sundays
as there was no other Church in Lahore. In January, 1857, the chief commissioner
of the Punjab consented to the consecration of the tomb as a place of Christian
worship and some alterations and modifications were made in the building. It continued
to be used as Church till a new cathedral was opened in Lahore in 1886. From 1886
to 1890, the building remained vacant. Then, the government of the Punjab took it
over for storing old record which continued to be stocked in the building by the
secretariat department without any organization. Mr. S.M.A. Aquil former Director
said in 1994 that Punjab Archives had the plan of constructing building in all metropolis
of the Province, if not already initiated but the implementation on this plan has
not started yet (Aquil, 1994, pp. 63-64).
The Punjab Archives organization is headed by Director who is assisted by two Deputy
Directors, two Assistant Directors, two Research Officers and one Microfilming Officer
and other six gazetted officers. The first Director of the Punjab Archives was Lt.
Col. H.L.O. Garrett from March 27, 1923 to March 26, 1936 and the present Director
is Maqbool Ahmed Khan since July 28, 2007. There are two renowned names in the history
of the Punjab Archives
- Prof. Garrot who was the founder of Punjab Archives, and
- Nazir Ahmed Chaudhry who joined this institution four times periodically, First
time on September13, 1972 and last time on January 04, 2001. He also got training
in this profession from abroad. The Punjab Archives was under the keeper of record
in the beginning but in 1972, the designation was changed to Director of the Punjab
Archives (M. Arfeen Awan, personal communication, January 09, 2008).
The archives wing of S&GAD organizational structure is
Staff strength of the archives is shown in Appendix 2-D.
- Deputy Director (admin)
- Deputy Director (research)
- Assistant Director (records)
- Assistant Director
- Microfilming officer, and
Mission and Responsibilities
- Conducting research on projects of the archives directorate.
- Preservation/conservation and restoration of historical record kept in Punjab Archives
which date back to 1804.
- Research and reference facilities to provincial and federal departments as well
as to students and scholars from native and foreigners.
- Collection of records from departments for storage, listing and vetting of draft
lists by weeding officers, their maintenance and preservation.
- Maintenance of Archival Museum of the Punjab Government housing in the Tomb of Anarkali.
- Issuance of NOC for record and books etc to retiring secretariat officers.
- The civil secretariat main library is responsible for updating of books, rules and
regulations, collections, cataloguing and preservation of books which are about
- Press listing, indexing of English records, cataloguing of Persian record, repair,
restoration of Persian documents etc.
- Microfilming of documents of historical nature, fumigation, repair, restoration
and lamination of documents etc.
Translation of rules and regulations, material sent by various departments and government
publications. Training of Urdu shorthand and typewriting to government officials.
Acquisition of Archival Record and Library Books
The Punjab Archive is purely a government archives having obligation to accumulate
the administration record of the province in the secretariat. When asked about the
acquisition of personal record, the Deputy Director told that it is not their policy
to purchase the personal collections and preserve them in Archives. If any renowned
scholar wants to preserve his archives for the posterity, he may donate with out
any terms and condition, the Punjab Archives will arrange that collection in the
archives related to the subject (Arfeen Awan, personal communication, January 09,
The acquisition of library books is done on the recommendation of the Assistant
Director Library through proper channel according to demand of researchers. He further
told that three or four researchers visit the library daily (Ejaz Hussain, personal
communication, January 09, 2008).
The political records contain various types of correspondence between the Board
of Administration, Secretary to Government of India and the Government General,
Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners and the Rules of the Native States (Zafar, 1990,
On the annexation of Punjab, the British introduced a regular system of keeping
proper records by the administration. The official language was English and most
of the records are in English. These records date back to 1849 when the records
of administration for the affairs of the Punjab were constituted by the British.
The English records had been kept department wise, year wise and head-wise in bundles
(Punjab, 1971, pp. 1-10).
Finding Aids and Publications
Historical Record Office (Anarkali Tomb)
The records dating back to 1804 are preserved in this section. There are two categories
of the record, i.e. Persian and English record. The Persian record mainly relates
to the Khalsa Darbar/Lahore Darbar, Ludhiana Agency, Nabha Jind, Patiala, Bahawalpur
and Jummu & Kashmir states. The bulk of Persian records are tied up in bundles of
cotton cloth. They were probably kept in this form in the office of Mir Munshi from
where they were transferred to the record office.
The English record covering the years, 1804-1947 pertains to the affairs in Afghanistan,
Delhi, Ludhiana and Karnal Agencies, Ambala Agency, North West Frontier Agency,
Lahore residency and on miscellaneous subjects. These records reflect the cultural,
socio-economic and political history of the region. It is the largest repository
in the country. Some of these papers of two categories which constitute the main
bulk of Punjab Archives relate to the following matters are given in Appendix 2-E.
Central Record Office
The significance of the central record office is of paramount nature because it
deals with maintenance/preservation of record older than 10 years pertaining to
various administrative departments of civil secretariat.
Old Record Office
The record pertaining to the period 1890 to 1947 is preserved in old record office.
This record is crucial for the development of political, social and economic history
of the early 20th century, a period in which the activities leading to the creation
of Pakistan took place. All the records have been divided into A, B files and all
are in English, Persian and Urdu. Some of the important topics covered by English
records are given in the Appendices 2-F & 2-G.
The Punjab Archives contain fragile record dating back to 1804. Their age and climatic
conditions are damaging the preserved record. The risk of war, worms and insects
also pose threat to the record. The microfilming unit is responsible for fumigation,
microfilming, lamination, repair and restoration for this type of documents.
Libraries of Archives
The secretariat library was established after 1858 and it contains valuable books,
district gazetteers and reports etc. The library caters to the reference needs of
provincial governments and research scholars. It is considered as one of the biggest
departmental library in the Punjab, having a unique collection of more than 80 thousands
volumes. At present, the following four libraries are working as part of the secretariat
- Civil Secretariat Library,
- Archives library,
- Board of Revenue Library, and
Chief Secretariat Library:
Civil Secretariat Library
The Civil Secretariat Library attached to the Punjab Archives holds about 50,000
books and other printed material. A major portion of the collection consists of
Law books, Rules, Regulations of both central provincial governments etc. The collection
is on various subjects, topics, statues and laws. It consists of annual administration
report, budget, typography, archaeology, medical and sanitary, agriculture, forestry,
census, revenue, survey and settlement industries, railways reports by various central
and provincial commission, committees and conferences etc. Apart from publications
there are several lists and history of services of gazetted officers etc. The unique
character and importance of these collections may, however, be attributed to the
rare and historically important documents preserved like extracts and budget reports
printed some 100 years ago.
There is another small library known as Punjab Archives Library which has a collection
of more than 12286 books, many of which are rare and out of print books. These rare
books consist of biographies, travels etc. Research scholars have the facilities
to use these books for research and reference purposes.
Board of Revenue Library
Yet another library which stands next to Punjab Secretariat Library is the Punjab
Board of Revenue Library. Prior to 1955, this library was the Financial Commissioner’s
Office Library. It holds about 12000 books, is quite rich in the field of government
reports and settlement reports. Apart from such rare books, this library has got
complete files of Commissioners’ Office and almost all Punjab gazettes.
Chief Secretariat Library
There is another library having collection of 1000 books called Chief Secretariat
Library. The arrangement of all the libraries is according to Library Information
Management Science (LIMS) which provide the facility of easy access by author, title,
year or subject etc. Because of this software one can easily evaluate the validity
and rarity of collection. The total collection of all the libraries is 84286 and
the oldest book in these libraries is of 1655. The title of the book is Travel of
Sir, Thomas Roe General. This book is about the voyage to India and his observations
in that country, particularly at the court of Great Mughal. There he resided as
ambassador deputed by James, the first King of England. The detail of the preserved
books is given in the Appendices 2-H & 2-I (Ejaz Hussain, personal communication,
January 09, 2008).
Finding Aids and Publications
All the English records from 1849 to 1869 have been press listed. Each press list
contains alphabetical indices wherein the files have been indicated by serial numbers.
After consulting the index on a particular subject/s, one can check the contents
of the file in the volume wherein an abstract of the file is given. This facilitates
the tracing of file as the same can be picked up from the relevant bundles in the
shelf allocated to each Department. From the year 1869 up to 1952, alphabetical
indices with subject head of file have been given. These indices are available for
the entire record in half yearly and yearly volumes. In the Punjab Archives, a collection
of the printed proceedings is maintained wherein the files are abstracted according
to their classification. Besides, the Punjab Archives have conducted valuable research
and produced the following publications:
- The Grand Trunk Road in the Punjab from 1849-1886.
- History of the development of the judiciary in the Punjab (1884-1926).
- Brief history of the old police battalion in the Punjab.
- History of the development of the judiciary in the Punjab from 1846-1884.
- History of the growth and development of western education in the Punjab from 1846-1884.
- History of the development of the police to the Punjab from 1849-1900.
- Commerce by rivers in the Punjab or a survey of the activities of the Marine Department
of the Punjab (illustrated) from 1861-1871.
- A history of excise system in the Punjab from 1846-1884.
- Trial of Diwan Mul Raj (Governor of Multan).
- Trial of Muhammad Bahadur Shah (Ex-King of Delhi).
- Events of the court of Ranjit Singh.1810-1817.
- The Great Rising of 1857.
Development of Urdu as official language in the Punjab (1849-1947).
Official Language Committee
The official language committee was established in 1949 and later on, it was re-organized
in 1974.The main function of this committee is development and introduction of Urdu
as official language. The committee brings out a monthly magazine titled Urdu Nama.
The rules/regulations, etc.; summaries, drafts and assembly questions/answers of
administrative department are translated into Urdu on the request of concerned departments
(M. Arfeen Awan, July to September 2003).
Exhibitions of Archives
The tomb of Anarkali, on its ground floor, houses a small Archival Museum which
is maintained as a part of the Punjab Archives. Documents of historical value and
pertaining to historical celebrities connected with this part of the country have
been exhibited in the show cases. Among the documents on display, there are some
Faramin of the Great Mughals, important letters, the original mutiny telegrams,
rare paintings, photographs of Viceroys and Governors, prints of the War of Independence
of 1857 etc.
Facilities to the Users
Research and reference facilities are being offered to the students and scholars
from home and abroad. A form for this purpose has been prescribed to facilitate
researchers, readers and scholars at home and abroad. Rules, laws and procedure
regulating the access of the public to the archives of the Punjab government are
prepared. Scholars are provided all facilities to conduct their research including
the facilities of obtaining photo-stat and microfilm copies of the material required
by them on payment.