18th Century Mss at Penn: MS Coll 624

In this video, Schoenberg Institute Scholar in Residence Mitch Fraas discusses several manuscript petitions from Penn Manuscript Collection 624. The finding aid for the collection is available online at  http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/ead/detail.html?id=EAD_upenn_rbml_MsColl624PUSpMsColl624, however the collection has not been digitized.

This collection consists of papers relating to the governorship of George Macartney (1737-1806) at Madras on the southeastern coast of what is now India (modern-day Chennai). The documents discussed in the video come from box 22 of the collection which houses a number of petitions and other ephemeral correspondence with Macartney. The petitions in the video include ones from a guild of local barbers, a group of European officers, and a mixed assortment of Madras residents. Documents like these petitions help give us a glimpse of how everyday residents of colonial cities like Madras interacted with governmental bodies like the East India Company administration led by Macartney. The material form of petitions also provides clues about their production – whether copied and composed by a professional scribe, scrawled by a petitioner herself, or filled out in templated fashion.

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