Monthly Archives: July 2015

Some Survey Memoirs of South India

The East India Company (EIC) sponsored topographical and revenue surveys of many South Indian regions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Each project typically yielded large scale maps of its target region, as well as narrative ‘memoirs’ that describe the place, people, animals, and climate. These documents are of considerable research interest to the modern historian because they were based partly on direct observation and partly on pargana, district, taluk, and village records, including such diverse, and now quite rare, sources as khanasumari census returns, kaifiyats, kaditas, temple records, and local genealogies. Few of these invaluable surveys were ever published. Most reside as old manuscript drawings and narratives tucked away in Indian and British archives where few researchers, and even fewer modern residents of the surveyed regions, ever see them.

This post is a working list of of lesser known published memoirs. Please feel free to email me with bibliographical information about memoirs and journals not mentioned here, or add this information in a comment at the end of this post. Continue reading

San Felipe, Tabasco, Mexico – 1968

I spent the summer of 1968 in the Chontalpa, a low lying coastal region of Tabasco, southern Mexico. For a couple of weeks I was in a small village (18.153669°, -93.742321°) that sits in a bend of the Rio San Felipe some 13 km inland from the Laguna del Carmen. Today this village is called Ignacio Gutiérrez Gómez, a name that honors a native son who became an early 20th century revolutionary hero. In 1968 most villagers still called it by an older name, San Felipe, and so it remains for me.

I recently turned to Google Earth to see how this village fared over the half century since my visit. I’m impressed by what I found.  San Felipe today is a modern, prosperous looking town with a population of more than 2,000 people. However, the contrast between the village as it was in 1968 and the modern town is so dramatic that I decided to revisit the place in a blog post. Continue reading