The Odisha State Archives being the central repository meant for housing the non-current records of State Government is required to centralize the records which are 30 years old. The archival collection of the State repository comprises mainly the records of the collectorates, Heads of departments and Odisha Secretariat.
The records transferred from the Board of Revenue, Odisha mainly comprise the records of the defunct office of the Commissioner of Odisha Division at Cuttack. The English correspondence of this collection is kept in the following systems.
Bound volumes contain letters received and copies of letters issued. The yearly Bundles are of small size and contain only ‘A’ class letters arranged year by year.
From 1857 the collection and file system was introduced and the index Register was opened. The files were kept in yearly bundles of big size. In 1903 the system of keeping the files in flat size was introduced and continued since then. The records of the collection pertain to the subjects like Revenue, Judicial, Manufacture of Salt, Management of Tributary estates, Superintendence of the Beach establishment on the Cuttack Coast and administration of Jagannath Temple.
The records of the Balasore Collectorate are in Bound volumes and in loose sheets. The correspondence of the collector and Magistrate contains original letters received and is marked secret being authograph letters written by Lt. Col. G. Harcourt to Captain Morgan, officer commanding at Balasore, counseling the adoption of a policy of conciliation towards the Hill Chiefs. The other subjects of the correspondence are port duties, price of salt, construction and repairs to bunds or embankments, purchase of rice to meet scarcity at Cuttack, Revenue settlement, and kinds of tenants, Government duties on imports and exports; plan for collection of customs, confiscation of illicit opium, plan and construction of boats, annual survey statement of vessels, and manufacture of salt etc.
The records of the Cuttack Collectorate pertain to various subjects and are in bound volumes as well as in loose sheets. The records of the salt and Revenue Departments are very important for scholarly investigation.
The records of the Sambalpur Collectorate are mostly in files. The files pertaining to the activities of Surendra Sai and his followers are important.
The nature of remaining public records centralized in the Odisha State Archives are the source of primary information about the economic, political and social development of Odisha and as such constitute a priceless part of its cultural heritage. Among the public documents there are some interesting records which throw light on some little known subject. Though the records are of common interest, for a specialized study they would be of great help to scholars. Some of these interesting records are indicated below.
There is an interesting memorandum on Cuttack Jail by F. Mount, l.-G., Jails in Lower Provinces, who inspected the Jail on the 22nd January 1859 (Ms. Vol. 330 of O.S.A). the memorandum contains many interesting facts and gives some idea about the Jail almost more than a century back.
There are a few records in the Odisha State Archives which throw some light on the fort of Barabati. From the records it appears that irregular excavations were being made inside the fort for pieces of stones to be utilized for constructing buildings, roads and repairing the Kathajori river by the Magistrate of Cuttack, Embankment Department and Building Department. Each of the above Departments was securing materials for its own requirements. The excavation and dismantting of the walls had almost ruined the ancient monument. Mr. Shore, the then Magistrate of Cuttack was struck with the amount of vandalism done and moved the Commissioner to stop excavation in the fort (vide his letter No. 159, dated the 16th April 1850 – Ms Vol. 330 – p. 55). The Government in their letter No. 701, dated the 31st May 1859 directed that “the work of demolition of the fort of Barabati should be stopped in consequence of remonstrance made by the Commissioner of the District on the subject”. There upon Lt. Harris the Surveyer, Cuttack river wrote a strong letter to Captain Badly, the Superintendent, Embankments urging him to move the Government to sanction systematic excavation. Captain Badly in his letter No. 1627, dated the 19th November 1856 moved Mr. H. Godwyan, the then Chief Engineer, Lower Provinces for taking necessary steps for implementing the suggestion of Lt. Harris, Mr. Godwyan in his letter No. 3796, dated the 13th December, 1856 referred the matter to the Commissioner, Mr. G. F. Cockburn who in consultation with the Magistrate, Cuttack, wrote in reply in his letter No. 274, dated the 10th April 1857 that “Systematic excavation of Barabati proposed by Lt. Harris may be adopted”, where upon the Chief Engineer urged the Government in his letter No. 5929, dated the 2nd April 1857 to issue orders for systematic excavation of the fort Government in their letter No. 2252, dated the 13th March 1857 to the Chief Engineer conveyed their approval to the proposal subject to the condition that all excavation should be properly filled up and that the stone revetment and the gateway and mosque are not to be injured in any way. Then started the systematic Vandalism in the name of systematic excavation and in consequence one of the most important monuments of Odisha was reduced to a mass of ruins. Additional information on the subject is available in the records of the Board of Revenue which are now available in the Odisha State Archives.
Organized agitation against payment of tax through observing hertal became popular during the national struggle for freedom in the 20th century but there have been cases, though isolated, of similar agitation by the people of different parts of India even during the early British rule. The earliest instance of hortal was one that took place in Banaras in August 1970 (proceedings, I. H. R. C. Vol. XXXIII Part II, p. 56). In Odisha two such instances were seen in the second decade of the 19th century; once on the occasion of the imposition of the House tax in 1810 and again when the Choukidari tax imposed in 1814. The details of the agitation of the people of Cuttack against the imposition of tax are not available in the records but fortunately accounts of all the agitations against the Choukidari tax are among the records preserved in the Odisha State Archives. The Choukidari tax was levied on the inhabitants of Cuttack town by Regulation XIII and Regulation III, 1814 relating to the subsidiary police establishment. The people of Cuttack were agitated over the imposition of tax and for this mode of collection. On the 20th September, 1814 all the shops were closed in the main bazaar. This probably was the first Hartal in Odisha. The tax was ultimately abolished in 1818.
The custom of Suttee was abolished by Lord Bentick. Before it was abolished, the custom was discouraged by Government. There are quite a good number of correspondences on this subject in the Odisha State Archives. The returns of the Suttee cases and their review by the Sudder Nizamat Adalat are available in the Judicial correspondences of the Cuttack Collectorate as well as in the correspondences of the Board of Revenue. In the year 1819 there were 13 cases in Cuttack Province. In 1820 eighteen cases of Suttee were reported from the Province of Cuttack. In 1824 a Suttee case was reported from Kujang. In 1825 three and in 1826 ten cases of Suttee were reported. In 1827 a woman of the yogi caste burned herself alive with the dead body of her husband. In the year 1827 the number of Suttee cases increased from nine to twelve. There are reposts about the occurance of Suttee in the Princely families of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Bamra and Khandapara, etc.
For the study of the society and culture in the 19th Century, the correspondences on Suttee are important source materials.
There are quite a good number of old and contemporary news papers like Utkal Dipika, Sambalpur Hiteisine, Satya Samachar, Nabina, etc. which throw some light on society and culture, spread of education, religious movement and literary activities of this region during 19th and the early part of 20th Century. The missionary newsletters like Gnaneuna and Probodha Chandrika started in 1855-56, are considered to be the earliest newsletters of odisha. But prior to these there was another newsletter known as “kujibar Patra” which was not printed but engraved on palm leaves and circulated by a saint named Sadhu Sundar Das. Sadhu Sundar Das’s date of birth has been tentatively fixed at 1775 A. D. on the basis of observation Rev. A, Satton in his book “Odisha and its Evangelisation” Sadhu Sundar Das died perhaps in the year 1838 and after that Kujibar Patra became defunct. We have not been able to locate even one le if of “Kujibar Patra”. The missionaries had collected and sent those to London at that time as recorded in contemporary volumes of reports on the activities of the Baptist Missionary Society (1872-1892) edited by John Brown Meyers. Intensive search may bring to light at least a few folio of this newsletters in and around Kujibar Math for which we are sincerely trying. The next important newspaper of Odisha was “Utkal Dipika” which was started from the year 1866. Fortunately one set of this newspaper is now available in the Odisha State Archives. Besides, the following newspapers are available in the Odisha State Archives along with the current newspapers.