Calcutta in the Nineteenth Century (An Archival Exploration)

Calcutta in the Nineteenth Century (An Archival Exploration)

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Book Specification

Item Code: UAJ845
Author: Bidisha Chakraborty, Sarmistha De
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9789381523810
Pages: 428 (Throughout B/W Illusterations)
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 520 gm

Book Description

About The Book

This collection examines Calcutta's rapid transformation from a cluster of three villages into the second city of the British Empire. Bidisha Chakraborty and Sarmistha De, two talented archivists, remind us that the ancient and crumbling British legacy scattered all around Calcutta was once a fledgling imperial dream of the most astounding scope. The English East India Company started out as a trading company but soon found itself saddled with administrative responsibilities. The British built Calcutta around Fort William, not just for the burgeoning European population but also as the nerve centre of their growing Indian empire. As word spread about how the British wanted to make Calcutta the 'London of the East', people from all over Bengal, India and the rest of the world flocked to Calcutta throughout the nineteenth century. This book delves into several archival sources and unearths not just the grandeur of such an ambitious undertaking but also the meticulous planning that went with it. Through rare photographs, plans, blueprints and other documentary evidence we get a glimpse of Calcutta as the British wanted the city to be. This book shows not just how much they achieved but also the inevitable resistance that they faced. One is also made aware of the complex coloniser-colonised dialectic that lay behind the growth of a city like Calcutta.

About the Author

BIDISHA CHAKRABORTY has been an archivist at the State Archives of West Bengal for the last twenty years. An alumni of Presidency College and of Calcutta University, her areas of interest are the socio-economic aspects of nineteenth-century Bengal, particularly sources of supply of prostitutes in colonial Bengal. SARMISTHA DE is an archivist at the State Archives of West Bengal. She did her PhD in History from Jadavpur University. Her research is mostly driven by archival sources and she is interested in the condition and treatment of the marginalised Europeans in colonial India.


INTRODUCTION RANABIR RAY CHOUDHURY This is a book by two enterprising Kolkata-based archivists who have got together fifty short write-ups—more in the nature of snapshots—on diverse aspects of life in Calcutta covering broad subjects like education and social reform, city administration, signs of urbanisation, safety and health, public affairs, and spatial expansion. An archivist's principal work is to help the research scholar to locate precisely what he or she wants, at times also helping to supplement the scholar's requirements by pointing out additional sources not known to the scholar concerned. This collection ofwrite-ups, however, should not be seen solely in this light because, in every piece, the two authors have attempted to place the events in proper perspective, even suggesting conclusions where necessary as well as trends. Emphatically, the present volume should not be seen as a definitive contribution to the history of Calcutta since the eighteenth century, focussing primarily on the nineteenth century. Instead, it should be treated as a stepping stone for budding research scholars who, it is expected, should be in a position to detect in the numerous strands of Calcutta life, chosen for comment by the authors, rich avenues for future research and study. Take, for example, the location of the Bengal Secretariat in the city, which is now situated at Writers' Buildings in central Calcutta. As the tentacles of administration—both city and imperial—spread through the decades, the problem of government departments being strewn all over the city became progressively severe. It was but natural that a time would come when the difficulty of controlling the diverse locations of government departments would begin to affect the quality of work and proposals would be made to consolidate the offices at one spot if possible, or at least in one locality of the town. From the earliest days—when the English were symbolically located in the old Fort William—the business of government was essentially performed from the fort itself, where the governor met his council and transacted the business of government. This situation continued till Shiraj-ud-Dowlah took the town in June 1756. After the destruction of the fort during its taking by the nawab and its retaking by the English in January 1757, there was no settled place from where the English government, headed by the governor, could assemble and prosecute the business of governance. It was during this time that the residence of the head of the settlement and the place where the council met became bifurcated, giving birth in the process to what came to be called the Council House (giving Council House Street its name). Whether the government of the day was physically concentrated in the Council House or not is not known; what is known is that Warren Hastings, at a certain point of time, began using the official Council House as his residence, more or less 'expelling' his council members to meet elsewhere.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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