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Directorate of Archives, Government of NWFP


Till 1901, the NWFP was a division of the Punjab, consisting of Peshawar, Hazara and Kohat. It was incharge of a separate superintendent and commissioner with his head-quarter at Peshawar. On its separation from the parent province in 1901, the records related to it were transferred to the custody of its newly constituted Government. In 1938, the records of the Civil Secretariat NWFP were weeded and not less then 1200 bundles of original manuscripts and printed records, folded and docketed in most cases, were set apart for destruction. But due to timely intercession of the Director of Archives to the Government of India, they would have been lost for good. Packed up in gunny bags, they were transported in 1940, without any list, to the Imperial Record Department, New Delhi, where a few of them were examined and found to contain invaluable information about the history of the province during the past fifty years. In the words of the Director of Archives, the Imperial Record Department has recently acquired a huge mass of miscellaneous record of great historical value which was lying with the government of the NWFP. Realizing the importance of these records as raw materials of history, the provincial representative of the Indian Historical Records Commission (IHRC) put up a proposal for the early establishment of a Central Record Office at Peshawar. The purpose was the concentration and preservation of official records and the encouragement and advancement of historical research in the NWFP. Supported by the IHRC, the principals and professors of local colleges and the director of public instruction, NWFP, this proposal was accepted by the provincial government, but was not implemented due to war (Jalali, 1984, p. 115).

It was in July 1947 that the Directorate of Archives NWFP Peshawar was established on the advice of IHRC in 1946 when they invited the attention of the Government of India to transfer back the records relating to the Government of NWFP, which was laying at the IRO, New Delhi. These files were brought by Prof. S. M. Jafar, who was the first Director of Archives, NWFP. He established this office only with a skeleton staff of one Director and one clerk but was not disappointed. From the very first day, it started collecting the material, which was lying through out the province on the advice of the PHRAC (Ali, 1993, p. 49).

The full name of the organization is the Directorate of Archives and Libraries NWFP Peshawar. The NWFP Government was the first Government of Pakistan which responded to the call of the commission and established a regional committee for the survey of historical records in NWFP and the adjacent tribal areas in 1948. The committee besides the Director of Archives comprises of three eminent professors of the university and two professors from government colleges. The government periodically undertook the survey of entire province, located the material of historical importance and tried whatever possible to get it donated or acquire through purchases (Jalali, 1984, p. 115).


In 1987, the Government of NWFP allotted a plot of 12 Kanals to the archives at Victoria Memorial Hall, opposite Peshawar Museum which is a central area of the Peshawar city. A construction project of two stories covering an area of 71300 sq. ft. worth Rs. 36.6 million was approved. The project consultant M/S Ghulam Habib & Company was appointed as the civil contractor for the construction of the new building. In 1993, the new building was completed and all the records shifted in the new building (Subhpoto, 2005, p. 161).

Mission and Responsibilities

The following are the objectives of NWFP Archives:

  1. Preservation and conservation of public records.
  2. Supplying information to government as and when required from the preserved record.
  3. Provision of research facilities to the research scholars.
  4. Inspection of district record offices.
  5. Coordination with the other archival repositories and libraries in the country.
  6. Weeding, indexing, categorization and microfilming of public records.
  7. Survey of private collections in the province.


This Archives is headed by the Director since its inception. The first Director of the Archives was Mr. S. M. Jaffar from 1947-1954, a professional who had obtained training in archives before partition of the subcontinent and the present Director is Mr. Zahirullah from 2001 to date. The strength of staff working in the Archives is ninety, of which ten are professional as shown in Appendix 2-N.


The NWFP Archives has various types of material, which have been arranged in a systematic way. The situation has been shown in the Appendix 2-O, regarding the arrangement system adopted by the NWFP Archives and the percentage of work accomplished so far.

The government records before and after partition arranged according to provenance and the rare, reference books are arranged according to DDC and the microfilm records are arranged by cartridge numbers. Like other archival offices, the NWFP record office has got four main sections, (a) Record and Research, (b) Preservation, (c) Survey, and (d) Establishment. The detail is given in Appendix 2-P. The newspapers in the collection of NWFP Archives are given in Appendix 2-Q.

Finding Aids and Publications

Publications of NWFP Archives are:

  • Jaffar, S.M. A guide to the archives of the central record office, NWFP, Peshawar: 1948.
  • Jaffar, S.M. Record keeping: numerical system, NWFP archives, 1951.
  • Central Record Office. Central record office North West Frontier Province (Historical research) Rules, 1948.
  • Jaffar, S.M. Archives: its meaning and scope, 1951.

    For finding aids, following tool have been prepared:

    Accession Registers. The NWFP Archives has prepared accession registers for pre partition and post partition public record. Catalogues. The NWFP Archives has prepared catalogue cards for library material (Subhpoto, 2005, p. 171).