Odisha State Archives is the Central repository meant for housing the non-current records of enduring value for administrative use as well as for historical research. The origin of the State Archives as an independent institution goes back to the year 1960. A separate building was constructed and made available to the State Archives in the year 1971. This building has a large stack area in five floors each measuring 100’ X 50’ and is insulated from the administrative block. It consists of spacious halls used as Library and research room, committee room and for housing photo Duplication Unit and Repair and Rehabilitation Unit. Besides there is a room for receiption of records. The head of the State Archives is designated as the Superintendent of Archives and entrusted with the following duties and responsibilities :
The main functions of the State Archives are the collection, the preservation and the management of records. These functions are performed to serve the creators or records as well as to serve the bona fide users of records.
Archives contain the original and basic information in many important fields of study in humanities and social sciences. Though Archives are nothing more than mere instruments of administration and they are preserved primarily to enable the administrative bodies which created them to function efficiently, as time passes, archives come to acquire values other than purely administrative values – values for historians, economists, sociologists and genealogists; in short, for any enquirer into his country’s past. The special value of archives to research has been realized from the gray down of written history, i.e. from the very moment when archives keeping was started. But it is from the latter half of the 19th century, that the archives have been used as source materials fro history.
Collection & Preservation
As we have stated earlier, collection and preservation are the two main functions to serve the creators of records as well as the users of records. The Archivists not only collect the original materials by making intensive survey but preserve them scientifically and later on prepare various type of finding aids to help the administrative bodies which created them and to help the historians to write true history of the state Most of the records are ill-kept and ill-cared for by the crating agencies. Some times they are tied in bundles and wrapped in cloth. It is often found that many important series of records are either missing or misplaced at different public offices. Records are found in a damaged condition due to the havoc wrought by white ants and other insects. In some cases the records are so hopelessly stored that much injury is inflicted on them by direct effect of sun rays, some times humidity promotes the growth of mildew and various types of fungus. The alternate absorption of moisture during the cold weather and the drying up during intense heat of summer causes brittleness and deterioration of papers. The role of Odisha State Archives is to recue the records from such deplorable condition of preservation and treat them in a scientific manner/for the benefit of the genuine users. With limited resources attempts are being made to preserve the records in our custody in a scientific manner. Besides the manual techniques, sophisticated equipments are used in reinforcing fragile records. Record repositories and libraries all over the State avail themselves of these services. For better preservation it is necessary that records are made dust free. Dust consists largely of small angular particles of silicon materials which get embedded between the fibers of paper. Subsequent flexing of the materials causes these hard particles to cut the fibers. The dust particles also act as nuclei for the condensation of acidic moisture in a polluted atmosphere, so dust particles are to be regularly removed from the records by the use of vacuum cleaners.
An optimum storage environment is provided in the stack area by regular removal of dust and exclusion of direct sun light. Equipments for fire fighting have been provided in the stack area and safety measures in electric wiring have been ensured. To guard against insect attack naphthalene in the form of bricks are provided for use on open shelves and admirals containing the collection.
Acidity in paper or the environment is one of the chief causes of deterioration of paper. It brings about discoloration, loss of flexibility and embrittlement in documents. The documents are therefore invariably de-acidified before they are repaired. The de-acidification is done by immersion of documents in an aqueous alkaline solution or by a spray of gaseous process.
Since insect and fungus infestation is a serious problem in any Archives, fumigation of records at regular interval is essential. Among the methods most frequently used for fumigation in the Odisha State Archives are paradichlorobenzene fumigation and Thymol fumigation.
Restoration of fragile, brittle and insect eaten documents is a delicate job and involves diverse processes. Considerations which govern the choice of a repair method in the Odisha State Archives are its durability, ease of application, economy, reversibility and minimum change in the bulk or legibility of original materials. The antiquarian value of the document is always preserved. Thus we may conclude that Odisha State Archives has developed expertise in restoration and conservation of all types of archival materials.
Preparation of Finding Aids
The object of preparation of finding aids is to make records in the custody of archival institutions accessible for use. So for making the records known to the potential users we have taken up a project of printing a series of guides to records in the Odisha State Archives. So-far seven such volumes have been printed and the eighth of the series is now under preparation.
Survey of Records in Private Possession
When we talk of private records as distinguished from public records many of us hardly realize the wide variety of materials the expression covers. They include the records of business concerns, banking houses, industrial organizations, religious institutions, philanthropic societies, etc. Besides these, there are the personal papers of eminent men in all walks of life, not merely politicians. Apart from correspondence and other business papers, they include travelogues, diaries, correspondence of personal nature with friends and relatives, and notes and memoranda kept for personal use. In respect of their location and surveys, appraisal and acquisition, each class of these records present problems of its own and the role of an Archives Office is very important in this connection.
In order to compile date about these records and with the limited funds made available the National Register Scheme was launched in 1957. It has made some progress and a few cyclostyled Registers have been issued but so far the fringe of the problem only has been tackled.
In Odisha some important private records of Ex-Rajas of Parikud, Talcher, Dhenkanal and Athmllik, Khariar and Kanika have been listed and collected. Besides, some important papers from Muslim and Hindu religious institutions have also been collected. What is required is a systematic survey of all private papers, specially pre-1900 papers. It is happy to note that at our request the purpose. The cell was functioning well with close collaboration it Odisha State Archives and eminent historians of our State the outstanding achievement of this cell was the survey records pertaining to temple of Jagannath.
The importance of preserving the re-collections of the men and women who have played important part in recent history as well as the reaction of those who have seen history made has been recently felt. We have now reached a stage in the history of our Country where two-third of the Indians are those who were too young to remember anything of the freedom struggle. It is our duty to act at once to locate and obtain personal accounts of the freedom struggle from people lest we lose it for ever. Besides, the personal accounts of eminent educationists, administrators, social and religious thinkers as well as reaction of those who have played some important part in the socio-cultural history of the region, should also be collected on tape and later on be transcribed for historical research. We have just made a beginning in this direction but we need the co-operation of the intellectual mass in locating and indentifying such persons.
Now throughout India the general trend is to give more emphasis on local or regional research rather than research on an All-India level. The trend seems to be a healthy sign for such research brings forward new events, not known before and provides materials for the national history. So all our efforts are concentrated in centralizing the archival source materials relating to the region only. But in a democratic set up like ours any new programme of collection and preservation without a sense of awareness among the people is not possible. The historians have a valuable role to play in creating archival consciousness and a consciousness of our true cultural heritage among the masses. The best way of research to the notice of the common people so that they can very well appreciate the value of archives and be aware of our cultural heritage. The historians should play their rightful role in this direction. It is happy to note that Archival Cells in the Universities of Odisha are going to be re-organized soon. Though the primary function of these re-organized Cells will be to preserve their own records of possessions and creating archival consciousness these cells will have to plat a still more important function in close collaboration with State Archives of Odisha.