Tracing ancestral roots in Puducherry

M. Murugesan, archivist, National Archives of India Record Centre, Puducherry. Photo: T.Singaravelou  

Here history serves as a gateway to the future and helps in tracing the family roots of descendants of people of Puducherry origin who are scattered across the world.

A case in point is that of Thorayako, a Vietnamese national who had been running from pillar to post to trace the roots of his Puducherry origin ancestors who had migrated to Ho Chi Minh formerly known as Saigon some 88 years ago.

Thorayako met with success after he stumbled upon the South Zonal Record Centre of the National Archives of India (NAI) here. The documents he stumbled upon were the electoral list and the visa details of his great-great grandfather who had migrated to Vietnam in 1926.

Like Thorayako several families settled in Reunion Island and Mauritius have zeroed in on their family roots with the help of documents made available to them at the NAI in Puducherry. On an average around 30 persons visit the South Zonal Headquarters here to trace their ancestral roots.

“The NAI established in 1979 has most of the French archives of pre-1954 period and has begun collecting non-current records from Central government offices of southern India. It has old records pertaining to land registration, births and deaths, marriages and legal history dating back to the French era,” M. Murugesan, Archivist, NAI, told The Hindu

The records include ‘Etat Civil’ which was the Civil Registry from 1676 to 1885. Missionaries introduced the registration of births in 1676 while marriages were registered from 1687.

The Civil Registry covered births, deaths and marriages of natives in Puducherry, Villianur, Bahour, Mahe and Yanam. The records of this period are of immense help to people who want to trace their ancestral roots, Mr. Murugesan said.

The South Zonal Record Centre of NAI also receives requests from people seeking details of land records registered in the name of their ancestors during the French period.

The Journal Officiel, French Indian gazette available at NIA, has details of land and survey records since 1928.

Residents sift through the indexes looking for information on payment of the requisite amount, he added.

The non-current records of various Central government offices in South India are collected and preserved in a scientific manner using Japanese tissue paper and cellulose acetate foil for posterity.

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Printable version | Jun 10, 2021 9:12:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/tracing-ancestral-roots-in-puducherry/article6700003.ece

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