1. ABOUT US
The MGI Indian Immigration Archives consist of the largest repository of documentation on the international migration of Indian workers in the 19th century. It holds nearly 2055 registers of original records that contain information for around 454,000 Indian Indentured Immigrants who came to Mauritius, from 1842-1910. The records represent a milestone in the history of migration in the 19th century and are of tremendous historical value.
Following a cultural agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Mauritius, the Indian Immigration records were transferred from the National Archives Department to the MGI in 1978. The MGI has been the custodian of the Indian Immigration records since 1978. The Institute has restored and continues to preserve these precious and unique records for posterity. The Indian Immigration Archives, falls under the jurisdiction of the National Archives Act 1999, subject to Section 13 of the Act and Government Notice 28 of 2002.
In view of the physical fragility of the documents and sensitive/personal information contained therein, the MGI has devised an access policy to manage the use and handling of the documents and prevent them from being damaged. Members of the general public do not have direct access to the archival materials and the records are only accessed by authorized staff of the Indian Immigration Archives.
2. Access Policy Document
3. UNESCO Inscription
Upon the recommendation of the International Advisory Committee of the Memory of the World Programme, the Indian Immigration Archives were inscribed on the Memory of the World Register of UNESCO in 2015. This reflects due recognition of the exceptional value of the records. 2. DOCUMENTS OF THE INDIAN IMMIGRATION ARCHIVES The Indian Immigration Archives hold nearly 2055 registers of original records and contain information for around 454,000 Indian Indentured Immigrants who came to Mauritius, from 1842-1910. The documents are identified as the P series, and consist of 15 subseries, 2 of them are found at the National Archives of Mauritius (PA & PB subseries).
The remaining 13, as listed below, are in the custody of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute.
PC - Emigration Agency Certificates: Calcutta, Bombay & Madras.
PD - Marriage Certificates: Calcutta, Bombay & Madras.
PE - Arrival Lists: Calcutta, Bombay& Madras
PF - Re-engagement Registers: Liberated Africans /Indian Indentured Labourers
PG - Photographs of the Indentured Labourers.
PH - Vagrants: Photographs and Data
PI - Ticket registers
PJ - List of return Identification
PK - Vagrant Identifications
PL - Departmental records and miscellaneous letters.
PM - List of return Identification/Conveyance: Register related to the series
PN - Indices: Despatches & Correspondances
PO - Warrants
The Indian Immigration Archives contain records pertaining to the Immigration of indentured labourers. Records related to the arrival of the Indian free passengers are available at the National Archives of Mauritius.
The Indian Immigration Archive provide services:
I. To members of the public who are in search of their roots, and who wish to proceed with further genealogical search;
II. For legal purposes: some descendants have to provide evidence in Court on their lineage to the immigrant to reclaim family property;
III. To applicants who wish to acquire the OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) Card, from the Government of India through the High Commission of India in Mauritius, have to acquire a document from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute to prove their Indian ancestral lineage.
IV. To local and foreign research scholars, authors, students who wish to conduct research leading to publications, dissertations/thesis, etc.
V. Researchers/Scholars are admitted to consult records as per our Access Policy, after submission of an official letter from their respective institution or after completion of the Researcher’s Request Form, which should contain detailed description of their research (title, purpose and duration).
Request should be addressed to the Head, Library & Archives and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance.
5. Tracing Your Roots
The MGI requires the immigrant name and immigrant number to process an applicant’s request for information on his/her immigrant ancestor. These details figure on the birth certificate of the first generation ancestor born in Mauritius. Applicants should apply to the Civil Status Office for birth certificates of parent, grand-parent and/or great grand-parent, until they obtain the birth certificate of the first ancestor born in Mauritius.
Example: If the immigrant was the great grand-parent of the applicant, the name and number will be found on the birth certificate of the applicant’s grand-parent.
Other documents used to obtain the immigrant name and number:
- Notary deeds for property acquired by the late immigrants, or their children (where applicable).
- Marriage certificates or death certificates of the late immigrants.
- Requests for all birth, death and marriage certificates of all Mauritian-born citizens should be made at the Civil Status Office.
Mode of request for information at the MGI Indian Immigration Archives
i. Proceed to the MGI Indian Immigration Archives counter with the birth certificates of the applicant’s forebears. Or provide documentary proof of authentic lineage of the applicant to the late immigrant.
ii. Applications are also accepted via email, fax or by post.
iii. National Identity Card and proof of address of the applicant are required by the officers to process the information sheets.
iv. Applicants will be notified by the officers of the Department of the exact date on which they may collect their information sheet. They may call in person or send an authorized representative (with a letter) to the counter of the MGI Archives.
v. For applicants from abroad, after presentation/submission of the relevant Birth and Marriage Certificates of ancestors, the appropriately filled- up transcription forms will be attested by the Head of Department – and the same will be sent to them by post.
6. Issuing of Information sheets
i. A transcription form containing the late immigrant’s bio-data is compiled and attested by the Head of Department.
ii. However, if an information sheet has been issued to another descendant before the current request, a duplicate transcribed copy of the information is issued.
iii. A testimonial is issued in case of discrepancies with regard to the immigrant name or number.
iv. The issuing of information to an applicant shall be effected within 3-5 days after application.
v. Applicants will be notified by the officers of the department the exact date for collection of information and they have to call personally send authorized representative bearing letter of authorization at the archives to collect the transcribed information sheet.
7. PRESERVATION AND CONSERVATION OF THE INDIAN IMMIGRATION RECORDS
One of the main pillars of Archives Management devotes itself to the proper conservation and preservation of records, implying the adoption of proper restorative and preventive measures to safeguard of data, and to preserve the authenticity of documents. In 1978 through the transfer process from the National Archives, the records were received in bulk, and the MGI had established a conservation program which involved the process of rebinding all registers in a uniformed and categorized manner.
The records are kept in an environment where temperature and humidity are controlled so as to slow down the deterioration process of the paper. Records are stored in an air-conditioned area 24/7 (18-21 degrees) and controlled humidity of 53-70%, with a periodic fumigation (every 4-6 years).
The office space is also equipped with professional fire hazard system. Restorative measures, have also been implemented to repair tears and brittle pages in the volumes. Computerization of Data More than 95% of the 450,000 Indian Immigration records have already been transcribed and inputted into the Indian Immigration Archives database.
The project is due to be completed by March 2019. Digitization of Original Manuscripts The whole photograph collection and all the original manuscripts housed at the Indian Immigration Archives are currently being digitized and as at February 2018, more than 15,000 pages have already been digitized.
8. OVERSEAS CITIZEN OF INDIA (OCI) CARD
With the introduction of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card service offered by the Indian Government, the MGI is playing a vital role by providing attested and certified copies of information on Indian immigrants to respective descendants as proof of lineage. The OCI Card is a document issued by Government of India to all Mauritian Nationals of Indian Origin to help them connect with their Indian roots and avail several other benefits.
i) Obtain birth certificates of all your ancestors born in Mauritius from Civil Status Office tracing your lineage through either parent to first immigrant from India.
ii) Get arrival certificate from the MGI or the National Archives to prove their Indian ancestral lineage.
iii) Fill in the online form and submit it to the High Commission of India Mauritius, Port-Louis
iv) Pay OCI fees after receiving email or call from High Commission of India
v) Collect OCI card from HCI, Port- Louis on being informed about completion of procedural formalities.
Some Benefits of OCI Card:
i) Multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India for any purpose.
ii) Exemption from registration with Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) for any length of stay in India
iii) Parity with Non-Resident Indian in financial, economic and educational fields, except in matters relating to the acquisition of agricultural or plantation properties.
iv) Parity with Non-Resident Indians(NRI) in respect of pursuing the following professions in India: doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, chartered accountants.
v) Running a business, opening bank account in India and purchasing residential or commercial property.
vi) Parity with Indian nationals in the matter of airfares in domestic sectors in India.
vii) Registered Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder shall be charged the same entry fee as domestic Indian visitors to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India. Kindly visit the website of the High Commission of India Mauritius (indiahighcom-mauritius.org or www.passport.gov.in/oci/) for more information.