Introducing of National Archives of Bangladesh : Mizanur Rahman



Introducing of National Archives of Bangladesh

 Mizanur Rahman

All sorts of past records and documents of a nation are being preserved in the Archives. These evidences help us to explain and reconstruct the history of political, economical, social and cultural. Generally the archives is a repository of historically important public and private records, government documents, rare books, manuscripts, letters, diaries, maps, paintings, photographs, newspapers, government yearly reports etc. of by-gone days which have been selected for permanent preservation. Regarding the preserving system archives might be digital and conventional. The concept of digital archiving is very recent. We are generally familiar to conventional archiving. There are different types of archives such as,

1.      Municipalities Archives is constructed in city and town areas like Dhaka Municipality Archives.

2.      Thematic Archives basically based on a particular themes like Tea Archives, Film Archives, Radio Archives and Sports Archives.

3.      Autonomous org/institutional Archives might be seen in autonomous institutions like College Archives and University Archives.

4.      Non-Govt./Private Archives is established by the initiative of personal or society like Heritage Archives in Rajshahi District.

5.      Corporate Archives is erected in corporate business building. The corporate houses produce everyday different types of records. They preserve all in their own way. Such as Prothom Alo Archives, SK+F Archives and Daily Star Archives.

6.      Religious Archives is also an important repository. We could not reconstruct the history of middle age without the records of then church.

7.      Personal or Private collections might be called personal archives. The people collect photos, paintings for their personal interest and write letters, and diaries all might be archival documents if it has historical value.

8.      Museum is also a kind of archives. Because the museums also preserve and display the documents, records, paintings, photographs and so on.

9.      Government Archives is a big repository of a nation. Every country has a national archive which is run by the government. There might be many regional, provincial or branches archives under the central archives. It is said that National Archives is a repository of information and memories of a nation. National Archives of Bangladesh (NAB) is the highest and representative institution for preserving records in Bangladesh which was founded in 1973.

                  During the Muslim era, the government preserved centrally all documents in Mahafejkhana. But it was not in scientific and systematic way. After the establishment of British Rule in the Sub-continent the Secretariat administration with all its paraphernalia began to develop. New ministries started functioning resulting in the opening of new departments and offices. With the increase of Secretariat files and records it was keenly felt to sort them out by transferring the important ones to a central repository and destroying the useless one. Hence the Imperial Records Department was established in Calcutta in 1891 which was later on transferred to Delhi to be named as National Archives of Delhi in 1911.

After the partition of India in 1947 the National Archives of Pakistan was established in Karachi in 1951 under the Directorate of Archives and Libraries. It is a matter of great sorrow that the Pakistani govt. did not establish any branch archives in East Pakistan (present Bangladesh). After the Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh established National Archives of Bangladesh in 1973 in Dhaka under the Directorate of Archives and Libraries. But the National Archives had not any power to collect and preserve the documents. So the government has promulgated a National Archives Ordinance in 1983 in order to provide for the establishment of National Archives and for the collection, preservation, maintenance and administration of permanent records and archives of the Government. Now National Archives is under the Cultural Minister of Bangladesh’s government. 

If someone goes to National Archives they could not use the records of NAB immediately. They have to need some formalities. In this case, the foreigners and local people both should follow these rules. They have need a recommendation letter and to fill up the application form with two photographs. The foreigners should provide photocopy of passport. In addition, the strangers should fill up the requisition form. Of course, this requisition form should be filled up accurately to see the catalogue books. Otherwise, the records lifters could not found the records consequently the researchers will not get the records. There are many catalogue books in National Archives. I am mentioning few among them in the below:

1.      Dinajpur District Collection (1785-1881)

2.      Rajshahi District Collection (1783-1878)

3.      Rangpur District Collection (1777-1879)

4.      Rangpur District Collection (1778-1984)

5.      Mymensing District Collection (1787-1869)

6.      Sylhet District Collection (1778-1878)

7.      Chittagong District Collection (1760-1900)

8.      Comilla District Collection (1784-1867)

9.      Barisal District Collection (1790-1887)

10. Dhaka District Collection (1781-1938)

11.  Faridpur District Collection (1793-1979)

12.  Bangladesh Forms and Publication Department (1940-2007)

13.   Bangladesh National Parliamentary Debates (1973-2001)

14.  Bangladesh Secretariat Record Room (1949-85)

15.  Calcutta, Pakistan, Dhaka and Bangladesh Gazettes (1833-1990)

16.  Dhaka City Corporation Records (1826-1955)

17.  Different political party’s manifesto of election and poster (1973-2001)

18.  East Bengal and Assam Secretariat (1875-1948)

19.  Jessore Collection (1798-1988)

20. List of Maps (1854-1947)

21.  List of Press clippings (1971-1988)

22. Printed Proceedings/A proceedings (1859-1932)

23. Sylhet Proceedings (1874-1948)

24. Wooden Bundles (1858-1964)

25. List of Newspapers

a. The Dawn (1946-1971)

b. Daily and Weekly newspapers (1951-88)

c. Daily newspapers (1975-97)

[N.B. I did not mention all the names of catalogue books]Image


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