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.
- To read more about the acquisition of Penn’s Macartney papers see noted Penn historian Holden Furber’s 1955 article: “A Preliminary Report on the Macartney Manuscripts” University of Pennsylvania Library Chronicle (1955) 21.2, 43-50: http://archive.org/stream/librarychronicle21univ#page/42/mode/2up
- For a list of the other repositories holding Macartney’s papers see the National Register of Archives: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=P18217
- The Kislak Special Collections Center holds a rich variety of sources on British India and the British Empire, including a large collection of the papers of Henry Dundas an imperial administrator and contemporary of Macartney. See Ms. Coll. 888: http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/ead/ead.html?q=dundas&id=EAD_upenn_rbml_MsColl888PUSpMsColl888&
- For more manuscript petitions in our collections see here: http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/franklin/search.html?q=Petitions&qt=dla-genre&filter.format_facet.val=Manuscript