History is the unending story of man which extends itself through the present into the future. The future in a sense lies embedded in the past. Thus the understanding of the past is essential on our onward journey.
Till 1936 the Deptt. had no building of its own. Rai Bahadur Radhakanta Handiqui of Jorhat donated Rs. 10,000/- (ten thousand) in 1933 for the construction of a permanent office building & library for the Deptt. in memory of his beloved wife Narayani Handiqui. As such the building has been named as
“Narayani Handiqui Historical Institute.” The building was opened on 4th April, 1936 by His Excellency Sir Michael Keane, the then Governor of Assam.
Dr. S.K. Bhuyan Prof. Cotton College was appointed as the Hon’ry Asstt. Director for Brahmaputra Valley in 1928. After a couple of years Dr. Bhuyan became the Director. This eminent scholar gave a new shape and position of distinction to this Deptt. by his dynamic leadership & commendable research work on history, literature and culture. His versatile and dynamic personality and strenuous work habit still inspire us.
BASIC AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The Directorate of Historical and Antiquarian studies, Assam, Guwahati is a premier cultural and historical organization. Established in 1928, the basic objectives of this organization is to collect historical source materials and preserve them for future research as also for writing and compiling a systematic comprehensive history of Assam.
The main work of this Directorate is collection of rare and old manuscripts. The Directorate has not only collected manuscripts and some other books but also some copper plates, coins and other historically important materials. At present the Directorate has a collection of 21,006 books, old volume of journals 400 Nos., 2819 manuscripts, 200 transcripts, 16 Copper-Plates. The Directorate has also 49 publications in English, Assamese and Sanskrit, Ahom & other Tai besides an exhibition room where some important historical materials are exhibited and a library to cater to the need of research scholars. The Auditorium of this Directorate used by various Organisations which earn Government revenue.
The department of Historical & Antiquarian Studies library is equipped with a rich collection comprising of diverse reading materials. Such as rare books, Manuscripts, Old News papers, Periodicals and copper-plates. Readers are the Research Scholars, Students and teachers of different academic institutions. For providing better & efficient service to the readers the DHAS library has been computerized with SOUL 2.0 software, Barcode Technology is utilizing with a Barcode printer and the data entry of book is going on.
PRESERVATION & CONSERVATION
The Deptt. has been engaged since its inception in the collection of manuscripts and transcripts of historical & archaeological importance. As a result about 200 transcription different subject has been preserved.
The Deptt. had signed a MOU with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi to digitize selected manuscripts through computerized scanning & preserved in DVD format on out sourcing basis and all the rare manuscripts including “Sachipat” had been successfully digitalized.
Preservation of old News Papers
The publication of this Deptt. have created a land mark in the field of Historical research in Assam. The Deptt. has altogether published 49 books 25 in English, 16 in Assamese 5 in Sanskrit 3 in Ahom & other Tai language. Each Assamese chronicle is furnished with preface & introduction in English and Assamese.
The Ahom Section of this Department was temporarily started in 1931 and permanently in 1953 with one Spl. Officer and an Ahom Pandit for doing research on Tai-Ahom language and literature and for collection and preservation of Tai manuscripts of North East India. The total number of Ahom & Other Tai manuscripts in this Department are 240. The Ahom lexicon was first published by this Department 1964. Some other manuscripts also translated to Assamese in this section. These are-
The following projects would be undertaken as part of the departmental schemes.
Besides, publication of rare books & descriptive catalogue, organisation of Seminar / Work-Shop/ Exhibition at national and International level have been proposed.
Setting up of a data processing unit has been proposed for creation and designing of a Website.
Schemes related to Epigraphy,archaeological studies, socio-economic studies, cultural & language studies, Traditional and customs studies, ethnohistorical studies with reference to North East in general and Assam in particular has been proposed to encourage research scholars of this region.
The present Assam type building i.e Narayani Handiqui Historical institute a heritage building situated in the heart of the Guwahati city. But due to lack of proper maintenance the building is loosing its past glory and attraction. This heritage building need to be renovated with proper electrification & sanitation.
The present conference hall having a sitting capacity of 80 people need to be upgraded for holding symposium, seminars workshop etc.
Preservation and conservation laboratory : For systematics & scientific preservation & conservation the deptt. need a well equipped laboratory for chemical as well as physical treatment of old records including coins & copper plates.
Visitors lounge : Eminent scholars, intellectuals & academicians including foreigners from France, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Thailand & Signapore visited this deptt. in connection with various research oriented works, as such a visitors lounge's for their comfortable stay is needed.
At present this deptt. receive a meagre amount for developmental & research work. Major portion of Govt. fund spent on salaries alone.