The Collections of colonel Mackenzie(1754-1821), Dr. Leyden and Mr.C.P.Brown constitute the nucleus of the vast collection of manuscripts preserved in Government Oriental Manuscripts Library,Madras,which consists of manuscripts of works in literature, history, philosophy and science,written in South Indian and Oriental Languages, and of Kaifiyats and inscriptions found in many places belonging to different periods.


Colonel Colin Mackenzie who came to India in 1783 as a Cadet of Engineers on the Madras Establishment of the East India Company took a keen interest in the study of ancient mathematics and, of Logarithm in particular, and in Oriental languages. He collected a large number of manuscripts, coins, inscriptions, maps etc., bearing on the liberature, religion, history, manners and customs of the people not only from different parts of India but also from Ceylon and Java.

On his appointment as Surveyor-General of India in 1818, Colonel Mackenzie took his valuable collections with him to Calcutta and went on adding to them till his death in 1821.

This collection was bought from Mrs. Mackenzie for 10,000 pounds by the East India Company in 1821 and divided into three parts. While one part was retained in London, the other parts were sent to Calcutta and Madras.


In 1837, C.P.Brown noticed a collection of manuscripts in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada characters in the India Office Library, London. This invaluable collection belonged to Dr.Leyden, a remarkable linguist and traveller who was in India during 1803- 1811. After his death, the East India Company purchased it and lodged at the India House, London. Thanks to the efforts of C.P.Brown, who had joined Indian Civil Service, it was subsequently brought to India.


Brown (1798-1184) himself  presented to the East India Company his own valuable collections of paper manuscripts of Sanskrit and Telugu works. This collection was brought to India in 1855.


Full fledged library in the true sense was started in 1869. Three collections i.e. the Mackenzie Collection and Brown Collection were transferred to Presidency College, Madras in 1870 and Mr. Pickford who was Professor of Sanskrit in Presidency College, was directed to prepare a Catalogue for them.

He was then called upon to prepare a scheme for publication of important literary and historical manuscripts. In 1876 he was requested to explore for new manuscripts and to purchase or acquire them by transcription.

Accordingly, many manuscripts were acquired from time to time and added to the Library collection.


From such small beginnings, GOML, MADRAS, has grown to its present dimensions and it possesses 71180 manuscripts in the following languages:
        Telugu                   2150
        Sanskrit                48884
        Tamil                   16398
        Kannada                   250
        Marathi                   956
        Urdu                      184
        Arabic                    407
        Persian                  1390
        Other Oriental languages  127
        Local Records             434
Consequent on the formation of linguistic States in our country about 7,000 manluscripts in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam were transferred to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala respectively. Apart from this 22,887 printed books are available for reference in the Library.


The main functions of GOML are as follows:
  1. Acquisition and preservation of manuscripts.
  2. Classification and Cataloguing of manuscripts.
  3. Publication of rare manuscripts and Library Catalogues.
  4. Purchase of books and periodicalsl for reference, and
  5. Supply of information of manuscripts to the scholars.


The rare and valuable palm-leaf manuscripts are carefully preserved by adopting manual and chemical methods. The injured and damaged paper manuscripts are preserved by being mended with Chiffon cloth.


GOML has brought out so far 350 publications including Descriptive and Triennial Catalogues of its manuscripts in various languages. The publication have been broughtl under two series. GOVERNMENT ORIENTAL MANUSCRIPTS SERIES and GOVERNMENT ORIENTAL SERIES, those in the latter being edited by the Curator and the staffr of the Library.


Multilingual Bulletin published annually by GOML contains in-print, rare and unpublished manuscripts in various languages. Twenty one volumes have been published so far.


The rare and valuable manuscripts of GOML were displayed in the manuscript exhibitions on the following occasions:
  1. 1964 - The Twenty Sixth International Congress of Orientalists in New Delhi.
  2. 1964 - The Third All India Agama Silpa Bharata Forklore Conference in Kancheepuram.
  3. 1965 - The World Telugu Conference in Hyderabad
  4. 1968 - The Second World Tamil Conference in Madras.
  5. 1968 - The Lord Mahaveera's 25th Parinirvana Centenary Celebrations in Madras
  6. 1980 - The Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Sanskrit Department Vevekananda College in Madras
  7. 1980 - The Chitirai Festival in Madurai
  8. 1981 - The Fifth World Tamil Conference in Madurai
  9. 1982 - Seminar on Sanskrit Literature at Vivekananda College in Madras


GOML is a government institution headed by the Curator under the control ofl the Director of Archaeology, Government of Tamilnadu.


Manuscripts and books are issued to visitors for study or consultation on request. Permission is accorded to research scholars for studying, copying and comparing the manuscripts.


GOML is located in the Western Wing of the first floor of the Madras University Library
Working Hours: 10.00AM - 5.45PM on all working days. Closed on Fridays and Saturdays and government holidays.

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