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College of Fort st.George
College of Fort st.George

Dr.Jennifer Howes former curator at British Library and a renowned British-India historian helps me to trace the location where British civil servants learnt Tamil...

It all started in a meeting which our Honorable Secretary chaired.When asked about its history someone answered it was a crèche.

After the meeting was over I went on a hunt for history of the "Red Building" which we use as EMIS office.

First I went for Madras Literary Society,the oldest library in india for records,but with only failure.But the librarian showed an article in Madras Musings which is quite surprising.

In that article madras historian Mr.V.Sriram relates the Red Building to the college of Fort st.George.but he also says that original building might be pulled down for the present buildings structure resemblance to MLS which was built in 1907. Even S.Muthaiah author of Madras Rediscovered, also seems to endorse this view.

But after studying F.W.Ellis former collector of Madras's work on oriental languages,I decided firmly to go deep further.

I got digitized copies of records showing the Headmaster and teachers of the college,the students of the college,their performance reports,its publications catalogue but it's history unknown still.

Even the CMDA which keeps records of the heritage buildings don't have the history of the structure.

As Mr.Sriram must have searched the TamilNadu State Archives, I went for British Library Archives,but all i got was college of Fort william's records.

But accidentally i downloaded an old catalogue of revenue survey maps of Madras Province,and got a reference to a "Revenue Survey Map of Noongumbaukam division by W.H.Walker". but google didn't gave the map.

After searching days and nights I got connected to Dr.Jennifer Howes through her website.I immediately mailed her about the Map and requested her to share details about the college.

She after going through India Office Records maintained at Asia African studies, British Library found it and with permission from Mr.John O'Brien the present curator of IOR, took photos of the map and sent me them.

The map shows the Nungambakkam area in 1856.

Astonishingly the map shows the Red Building as the "College Hall" and also shows the fort wall like structures of Coovum Entrance once used by the British Officials to visit the college.and in the map the Map MLS is missing rightly as it came here only after 1907.

Many thanks to Dr.Jennifer Howes for her tremendous effort put for a common man's email.

Atlast I am very proud that I work in a place where the British learnt oriental languages,Chamiers stood first in his Tamil exams, Thirukkural translated to English by F.W.Ellis,Tamil manuscripts preserved and printed as books.

Now I am going for the college press.......


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