The Punjab Archives contain one of the biggest collections of historical documents in the subcontinent. This collection, housed partially in Anarkali’s Tomb in the Punjab Secretariat, is estimated to contain 80, 000 books and several million documents, alongside a fine collection of lithographs, miniature paintings, seals and coins. The Punjab Archives come under the administration of the Punjab Archives and Libraries Department of the Services and General Administration Department of the Punjab Government.
The archive was established in 1923 by Lt. Colonel H. L. O. Garret. The records stored in the archive begin officially from the establishment of the Ludhiana and Ambala Agencies in the early 19th century, however a large number of documents which predate this are also available, the oldest of which date back to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule in the 17th Century. Extensive records from the Sikh and British rule in Punjab, as well as from other parts of the subcontinent, are found in the archive. An exhaustive cataloging of the entire collection will be made available in due time, in the meanwhile the details provided below give a brief overview of the extent and nature of the collection.
The repository of the archives constitutes of four record offices and four libraries.
The record offices are classified as follows:
- Historical Record Office: this contains documents dating from 1804 to 1900, and is housed in Anarkali’s Tomb.
- Old Record Office: this record office contains all the documents from 1900 to 1947. It is located in a building which was built to serve as the Chief’s Court in Lahore in 1864.
- Central Records Office: this houses official documents from Punjab spanning the period from 1947 to 2000.
- New Records Office: All records from the year 2000 to present are stored here.
The four libraries include the following:
- The Archives Library
- The Civil Secretariat Library
- The Board of Revenue Library
- The Chief Secretariat Library
The Punjab Archives contain an enormous wealth of primary historical material, and represent great potential for ground-breaking research in many disciplines.
These have been divided and stored as 300 separate bundles of documents. They include documents which have been broadly classified as follows:
- Papers relating to trade with Central Asia, 1846-1875
- Papers relating to the Lahore Durbar, the North Western Frontier, Afghanistan etc., 1808-1877
- Viceregal and Provincial Durbars and Durbaries, 1846-1882
- Papers relating to Nepal, 1815-1846
- Schedules of Duties on Imports, etc, 1856-1862
- News and Cases relating to the Jammu and Kashmir State 1846-1888
- News of the Lahore Durbar and Papers Relating to Protected Territories, 1844-1861
- Military Contingent Papers, Bills, Receipts, etc, 1848-1883
- Revenue Files, 1853-1860
- Files relating to Pensions and Pensioners, 1849-1886
- Civil and Criminal files of the Punjab and North West Frontier, 1847-1880
- Ferozepore Agency Papers relating to the Lahore Durbar, 1839-1845
- Lahore Diaries, and Letters Received and Issued, 1839-1873
- Pay Accounts of the Sikh Regiments, Sambat 1896-1905 (A. D. 1839- 1848)
- Miscellaneous News from Chief Towns and States in the Punjab, 1841-1850
- Agha Khan Major Chamberlain Correspondence Relating to Horses 1851- 1852
- An Alphabetical List of the Punjab Villages Containing their Names, Lands, Wells and other Particulars, Government Gazettes and Newspapers, 1871-1875
- Agha Khan Major Chamberlain Correspondence Relating to Horses 1851- 1852
- Newspaper with Departmental Comments and Other Files Relating to Native States 1849-1862
- Miscellaneous Papers and Private Correspondence of High Officials with Prominent Non-Officials, 1849-1862
- Papers relating to the Jullundur Doab Agency, the Lahore Residency and Other Protected Territories, 1839-1877
- Papers relating to the Lahore Durbar, Jagirs, Pensions Mutiny Services and Rewards, etc. 1848-1880
- Vernacular Record of Correspondence with the Bahawalpur, Patiala, Phulkatan, Nabha and Jind agencies
- Ludhiana Agency papers, 1809-1840
- Lahore Durbar Agency papers, 1842-1849
- Papers relating to Mulraj and the Rising at Multan
- Papers Relating to the Second Sikh War, the Rising at Hazara under Sardar Chattar Singh and the Rebellion of Bhai Maharaj Singh
- Papers relating to Pensions, rewards, Jagirs and Other Cases disposed of by Sir John Login and Captain Transon in the Fort at Lahore, 1849-1851
- Papers relating to Receptions and Khillats for the Ruling and Other Chiefs of the Punjab and to the First Afghan War 1827-1842
- Papers relating to the Kabul war, the Lahore Durbar the Jammu and Kashmir State, the Hazara rebellion of 1846, and the Ambala Agency with the Protected Sutlej States
English Records (1809- 1947):
The English Records include a great bulk of documents from the government departments constituted under the Board of Administration which was established in Punjab after the province was annexed by the British in 1849. This collection also includes official documentation, gazetteers and correspondence not just from Punjab but also from other areas of the subcontinent. Records from the Delhi Residency and Agency, for example, were transferred to Punjab in 1857. Apart from this, records from Ludhiana, Ambala, Karnal and what was then the North-West Frontier, as well as all the records from the Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan Divisions, and the Tribal Agencies prior to the creation of a separate administrative unit for that region, are also found in this collection. Also included are records from Sindh after it was annexed by Charles Napier up to the time the province became a part of the Bombay Presidency, as well as records from the occupation of the tribal areas of Balochistan.
The collection includes reports on, among other topics, annual administration, budgets, typography, archaeology, medical and sanitary services, agriculture, forestry, census, revenue, surveys, settlement industries and railways, submitted by various central and provincial commissions, committees and conferences.
Some of the material which constitutes the English Records has been cataloged as follows:
- Punjab Political Department Papers- 1849- 1947
- Punjab Revenue Department Papers- 1849-1946
- Punjab Finance Department Papers- 1862-1946
- Punjab Public Health Department Papers- 1928-1945
- Punjab Commerce and Industry Department Papers- 1905-1921
- Punjab Local-Self Government Department Papers- 1921-1947
- Punjab Education Department Papers- 1849-1868
- Papers of Chief Commissioners on the Trans-Sutlej Territory- 1848-1849
- Punjab Forest Department Papers- 1860-1920
- Papers on Punjab Boards and Committees- 1878- 1921
- Punjab Home Department & Police Department Papers- 1849-1943
- Punjab Gazettes- 1888-1947
- Punjab Judicial Department Papers- 1882-1950
- Papers from Punjab Medical, Jail and Sanitary Departments- 1882-1942
- Military Records- 1849- 1866
- Marine Records- 1862-1872
- Police Records- 1861- 1865
- Mutiny Records- 1857- 1858
- Claims of Compensation for Losses Sustained During the Mutiny of 1857
- Record of Lahore Residency- 1848-1849
- Revenue Records of the Delhi Residency- 1807-1834
- Political and miscellaneous Records of the Delhi Residency and Agency- 1806-1857
- Correspondence relating to the 1st Afghan War- 1841-1842
- Ambala Agency Papers- 1809-1845
- Ludhiana Agency Papers- 1809-1845
- North-West Frontier Agency, letters received between 1840-1845
- Ludhiana Agency, letters received between 1831-1829
Indexes of some collections of the archive have been digitized and are available here.