Brief History and Background of the Department of Archives 

The original nucleus of the present Department of Archives, Archives Office at Lisbon in Portugal namely Torre do Tombo de Lisboa, do Tombo do Estado da India established after the name of the principal Archives Office at Lisbon in Portugal namely Torre do Tombo de Lisboa. The Archives came into existence by a strange coincidence. Diogo do Couto landed in Goa with a strong desire to chronicle the history of the Portuguese conquests in the East. He had no source material with him to proceed with his ambitious project. Naturally, he wrote to the Viceroy Matias de Albuquerque seeking permission to refer to the relevant papers in the possession of the Viceregal Secretariat. The Viceroy, in turn, wrote to King D. Philippe who was excited by the news. All this time he had been receiving the reports of the historical background of his settlements in the East from his subordinates. He thought that the impartial observation of a historian would serve his purposes better than reading biased accounts from his officers. A new idea struck his mind that just as he had Torre do Tombo de Lisboa, he could establish a similar archive of the East in Goa. He felt that a historian like Diogo do Couto would be an appropriate choice who could be entrusted with this very significant task. Therefore, without sparing any time he issued a royal provision on 25th February 1595 ordering the installation of the archives in Viceregal Palace itself in Goa nominating Diogo do Couto as its Chief Record Keeper ( Guarda Mor ) at the annual pay of 300 Pardus.

Nevertheless, it took a long time for the Viceroy's Secretariat to set things right. On 23rd December 1596, Viceroy Mathias de Albuquerque communicated to the King that the house of Torre do Tombo do Estado da India was ready and he had already entrusted the keys of the same to Diogo do Couto along with the papers of the Secretariat...

However, all the record books had not been requisitioned by the Viceroy from various agencies to be deposited in the newly formed archives. Diogo do Couto lamented over this. King D. Filippi II, therefore, issued another Royal Provision to the Viceroy on 13th February 1602 making it explicitly clear that all the record books, including the village registers of Ilhas, Bardez, and Salcete should be retrieved from the respective vicars for their better safety in the newly created archival repository at Old Goa. Diogo do Couto served the office for about 19 years till September 1616 with great zeal and initiative. For this distinguished service of his, the King ordered to pay the Chronicler a yearly amount of 500 xerafins for life. Unfortunately, he passed away in the same year on 10th December 1616, and this august office was occupied for a short while by Domingos de Castilho who was neither competent nor talented to carry forward the historic work of the Chronicler Diogo do Couto. Within 15 years, several individuals like Gaspar Aires, Joao Vasco Casco, Gaspar Souza de Lacerda, Alvaro Pinto Coutinho, Domingos de Barros, Bartolomeu Galvao, and Francisco Moniz de Carvalho held the post in quick succession showing no interest in the care of the record books. Only Antonio Bocarro, a talented personality, happened to be the true successor to Diogo do Couto. He was nominated the Chronicler as well as Chief Record Keeper by the Royal Order of 9th May 1631. Surprisingly, Antonio Bocarro who had come to India in 1615 had shown his mettle as a soldier in the army and various forts, fighting against the anti-Portuguese armies, with no literary merit whatsoever when he was selected as the Chief Record Keeper. He proved to be such a literary personality of great height that this name is permanently linked with the Historical Archives of Goa. This talented Chronicler had written the monumental works Livro das plants de Todas as Fortaleza, Cidades, potatoes do Estado da India Oriental. He authored Decadas da Historia da India (1612-1617), Reformacao do Estado da India, dos Feitos que Sancho de Vasconcelhos e outros Fidalgos obrarao no Sul and Livro dos feitos de Goncalo Pereira. He functioned as the Chief Record Keeper for twelve years till he was replaced by Francisco Moniz de Carvalho in 1643, who continued to be in the post for a term of twelve years till 1655. We come across the names of Antonio de Matos Soeiro, Joao de Morais, Antonio Alvares, and Inacio Sebastiao da Silva who happened to be the last one to hold the post of Guarda-Mor da Torre do Tombo da India till his death in 1840 after whom the post itself was abolished.

Whatever may be the achievements of the illustrious Chief Record Keepers, the fact remained that most of the papers were taken away by the Viceroys while retreating to Portugal either for their biographical references or on account of sheer curiosity. This has resulted in several gaps in various collections of papers. In 1774, some old records of the Estado da India were ordered to be dispatched to Portugal and in April 1777, about 62 books from the Moncoes do Reino series were transported to Lisbon, never to return. Of course, subsequently, most of them were published under the title Documentos Remedios da India. Earlier, in 1775 Archbishop D. Francisco de Assuncao e Brito dispatched from Goa, the religious papers belonging to various ecclesiastical units in Goa. The humidity and the saline climate too have taken a great toll on the documents. Subsequently, considering this aspect, as a drive for salvaging them, Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara who came to Goa as the Secretary of Governor-General in 1855 thought of printing the documents on a large scale in the form of Arquivo Portuguez Oriental series.

In 1930, Governor General Joao Carlos Craveiro Lopes gave a fresh lease of life to the deteriorating precious record holdings. The name of the archives was changed to Arquivo Geral e Historico da India Portuguesa with the initial collection of about 1500 volumes only of the Secretariat of the Government in 1937, it was renamed as Cartorio do Governor Geral do Estado da India. It was developed into a separate Directorate of Historical Archives in 1953 and was named as Arquivo Historico do Estado da India which continued till the liberation of Goa after which it was known more as Historical Archives of Goa. Presently, it is tied up with the Archaeology unit to form a Department of Archives.

The original nucleus of the Goa Archives during 1961 consisted of 20,000 volumes and included a series of records like Moncoes do Reino, Cartas Patents, Reis Vizinhos, etc., which comprised source material of the history of Goa and its relations with South East Asian and African countries under the Portuguese domination during the 16th to 18th centuries A. D. Given the historical significance of Goa Archives, after the liberation of Goa the Government of India Ministry of External Affairs, appointed in 1963 an Advisory Committee for the reorganization of the Goa Archives according to modern principles of archives-keeping and their scientific preservation, maintenance, and publication. The Committee recommended that all the records of the erstwhile Portuguese regime should be centralized in the central repository at Panaji. It also suggested that an adequate arrangement for storing those records on a scientific basis may be made by constructing an extension to the existing Archives building. It also proposed the set-up of three Units for archives processing namely Management of Records, Preservation of Records, and Publication of Reference Media.

Before Liberation of Goa, it was ably handled by the late Dr. Panduronga S. S. Pisurlencar who with his scholarly pursuits put the then 20,000-volume holding in proper shape. After Liberation, the late Dr. V.T. Gune strived to build up the combined set-up of Archives, Archaeology, and Museum. While the recommendations of the Advisory Committee were being implemented, the administrative control of the Goa Archives was taken over from 1st October 1964 by the National Archives of India, Ministry of Education, New Delhi.

However, it was decided in 1968 by the Goa Government to protect the archival and archaeological wealth in the Union Territory of Goa, Daman, and Diu to set up a combined Department of Archives, Archaeology, and Museum headed by a Director. The Government of India approved the proposal of the Goa Administration and the administrative control of the Goa Archives was retransferred to the administration of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman, and Diu on 1st April 1969. Subsequently, the Goa Archives was reorganized into three units, as recommended by the Archives Committee appointed in 1963 enabling the issue of certified photocopies of records to the public and microfilm copies of records to the scholars from India and abroad for their research. Further survey and centralization of the records preserved in various Government Departments were undertaken and during the last three decades over 3.25 lakh records forming a part of the erstwhile Portuguese regime were centralized in the Goa Archives. The acquisition of records is continuing under the Archival Policy Resolution which was passed by the Goa Administration in 1983. The preservation unit is set up on modern principles and it is responsible for the scientific preservation of records. It has a repair and rehabilitation section where scientific treatment of old documents by chemical and chiffon lamination is undertaken for the preservation of records, besides their regular dusting program, air cleaning, etc. The laboratory is equipped with apparatus, instruments, glassware, chemicals, etc. for deacidification and the treatment of acidic and fragile documents and leather preservation. The reprographic section is equipped with fully automatic microfilm cameras, and a processor and has an average output of nearly 8000 exposures of negative microfilms and more than 1500 photocopies per month. The expansion of Goa Archives has gone up on a large scale. It has a full-fledged rich Reference Library housed in a newly built modern complex. This growing organization which houses mainly over 3.5 lakhs of files and record books is looking forward to a great leap in the coming years with computerization in sight.

It has a full-fledged Publication section with several publications to its credit. A small cyclostyled periodical namely NEWSLETTER was started in June 1977 for the information of other Archives offices research scholars and learned institutions. This was done in keeping with the resolution passed at the 29th meeting of the National Committee of Archivists held at Mysore in February 1977. In all 10 issues of the NEWSLETTER were brought out and subsequently, it was converted into a printed six-monthly research journal of the Directorate namely PURABHILEKH-PURATATVA in December 1983. So far 22 issues of the same have been brought out. The journal which aims at promoting research in archives, archaeology, museums, history, numismatics, art architecture, and allied subjects with special reference to Goa and the erstwhile Portuguese colonies has made a great impact on the scholarly world. Academic and research activities of the Directorate including the regular joint seminars with the collaboration of Goa University, and annual Archives Week celebrations aim at creating an atmosphere of research consciousness in Goa and it is yielding good results. It has brought out six volumes of history seminar papers. The Goa Archives was recognized as a Post-Graduate Research Institution by the University of Bombay for the study of a doctoral degree and subsequently by the Goa University.

The collection of records in the Goa Archives is too numerous to be mentioned here. But mention must be made of some of the important series such as Moncoes do Reino, Correspondencia para o Reino, Cartas Patentes e Alvarez, Reis Vizinhos, Ordens Regias, Assentos do Conselho do Estado, Assentos do Conselho da Fazenda, Cartas e Ordens, Cartas Patents, Provisoes e Alvarez, Regiments e Instrucoes, Regimentos, Acordaos e Assentos da Camara de Goa, Senado de Goa, Feitorias, Fortaleza, Milicia, Missoes, Mocambique, Damao, Dio, Japan, China, Macau, etc, Besides these, there are thousands of records about village communities. In recent times, a good collection of files about the freedom struggle of Goa, Notarial deeds, Birth, Deaths, Marriage registers, etc. have been centralized. Goa Archives is one of the oldest archives in the entire country and its earliest record book is of the year 1498. The records date back to 1530. Most of the records (98%) are in Portuguese and it forms a very important repository in the region extending from Egypt to Australia. It is one of the most vital repositories of Portuguese records not only of the colonial history of the Portuguese but also of the Dutch, French, and English. Its record holdings contain various aspects of life and they are very useful for military, administrative, economic, social, scientific, fiscal, navigation, trade, and revenue matters which can be of great use for the reconstruction of the history of the world of the last 450 years. The documentation on Africa, Brazil, South Asian countries, Ceylon, Japan, China, etc., is very valuable. Its ecclesiastical collection is very important for the missionary activities and hence they are of utmost importance to the reconstruction of the church history in the East. The huge collection of Communidade records is another fond of knowledge for the history of village administration in this region. Based on the records of Marathas, Tipu, and Hyder Ali from Goa Archives, Maratha's history had to be updated in the past. What is available in this archive is not available in any archives of Portugal and hence its importance is unquestionable even for European history, especially of the Iberian Peninsula. Hence, it is looked upon as an important treasure-house of records in the entire world.