Private records of the leading business families of Early Colonial Bengal (EAP1104)

Aims and objectives

The  project has been designed to digitise the private records remained under the custody of the descendants of thirteen leading Business families of Bengal identified as an outcome of a previous pilot project (EAP906). The main objectives of the  project is to preserve the endangered records kept under private possession and open up those records through digital media to the scholars working on the socio-economic and cultural history of  pre-industrial Bengal. These private records have not yet been published and thus beyond the reach of the scholars. The digital images of these records will help the scholars to understand the progressive marginalization of the Bengali business families and their survival strategies during the early colonial era.

The material is important for understanding the inner world of the Bengali business community and their strategies in dealing with the English East India Company and afterwards under the British Raj.  The material will expose the myth of sudden decline of the Bengali business enterprise with the fall of the Union Bank in the middle of the nineteenth century. It is clear from the outcome of the EAP906 that they did not give up or withdrew them from business activities altogether even after the crucial economic crisis of mid-nineteenth century.

The material will help researchers to understand the diverse strategies adopted by the Bengali business families in dealing with the challenges they faced during the early colonial period and the mind set associated with that time.