6 Main sources for the History of Modern India

6 Main sources for the History of modern India image

There is a range of historical material available for understanding India from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The following are crucial in reconstructing Modern Indian history.

List of main sources for the History of modern India

  1. Archive Materials
  2. Biographies, Memoirs, and travel accounts
  3. Newspapers and Journals
  4. Oral evidence
  5. Creative literature
  6. Painting

Archive Materials

A compilation of historical records and documents, typically primary source documents, is referred to as an archive. The Official records are classified into the following types:

  1. Archives of Central government
  2. State government Archives
  3. Archives of Presidencies– Bengal, Bombay, and Madras Presidency are some of the examples.
  4. Archives of Other European Powers
  5. Published Archives
    • Reports of various royal commissions and parliamentary select committees.
    • Parliamentary debates on the Indian empire.
    • Weekly gazettes
    • Collection of laws and regulations.
  6. Judicial Archives
    • The Maharashtra Secretariat Record Office houses the records of the Mayor’s Court in Bombay, which was founded in 1728.

Fact: James Rennell was the first Surveyor-General of Bengal in 1767.

Biographies, Memoirs, and travel accounts

The following are some prominent British travellers who wrote travel accounts:

  • Narrative of a Visit to the Court of Sinde by James Burnes
  • Diary of the Travels and Adventures in Upper India by J.C. Davidson
  • Travels Into Bokhara by Alexander Burnes
  • Travels and Adventures in the Province of Assam by John Butler

The following are some prominent non-British travellers who wrote about India:

  • Letters from India describing a journey in the British Dominions of India, Tibet, Lahore and Cashmere during the years 1828-1829—1831 by Victor Jacquemont.
  • Travels in Kashmir and Punjab by Baron Charles.

Newspapers and Journals

  • James Augustus Hickey in 1780 released The Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser, India’s first newspaper.
  • The Hindu and Swadesamitran was the publication of G. Subramaniya Iyer.
  • Kesari and Mahratta was published by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

For more: List of important Newspapers and Journals and their Founders and Authors

Creative Literature

  1. Anand Math by Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838-94)
  2. Rajasimha by Bankim Chandra Chatterji.
  3. Icharam Suryaram Desai’s (1853-1912) first novel was Hind ane Britanica.
  4. Mohanra Rajani (1931) was written by Girija Devi.
  5. Dasikalin Mosa Valai (1936) was written by Ramatirtha Thammal.
  6. Tottiyude Makan (Son of a Scavenger, 1948) and Chemmin (Shrimps, 1956) were the major work of Thakazhi Siva Sankara.
  7. Kilubommalu (The Puppets, 1956) of G.V. Krishna Rao related to rural people.


  • Company Paintings, also known as ‘Patna Kalam’ appeared under the leadership of the East India Company. These works depicted festivals, dances, commerce, and people’s clothing.
  • Thomas Jones Barker’s Relief of Lucknow, painted in 1859, commemorates British heroes.
  • Joseph Noel Paton’s ‘In Memorian painting narrated the two years of the 1857 rebellion.
  • E.B. Havell and Ananda K. Coomaraswamy were instrumental in the growth of the Bengal School of Painting, led by Abanindranath Tagore.

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