History and Eminent Alumni

Since its foundation in 1817, the Hindoo College had offered a hospitable environment for academic scholarship, and History was taught from the very beginning as an important subject. In the 1820s, the noted Eurasian intellectual Henry Louis Vivian Derozio taught both English and History at Presidency, exposing the students to powerful ideas about social radicalism and subversion. Among other outstanding History teachers of the nineteenth century at Hindoo College, which later became Presidency College in 1855, were E.B. Cowell, D.F. Richardson, C.H. Tawney and Pearycharan Sarkar. Among outstanding students of the colonial era were Jadunath Sarkar, who later became a founding figure of Mughal studies, and Benoy Kumar Sarkar, who pioneered interdisciplinary approaches to the study of South Asian history, economics and sociology. In 1907-08 a separate History Department was formally set up by E. F. Oaten during the tenure of the celebrated Principal Henry Rosher James. History Seminar was one of the oldest seminars of this institution, and the first student who submitted a paper at the seminar was Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, who subsequently became one of the most renowned scholars and thinkers about Indian and South-East Asian antiquity. Till 1917, History was taught at Presidency both at the undergraduate and post graduate levels. But in 1917 the postgraduate course was shifted to the University of Calcutta. However, the History Department at Presidency retained its distinctive identity and emerged as one of the best undergraduate departments for historical studies in India. Brilliant teachers and students marked their presence in this Department throughout its career. Among its excellent teachers, mention may be made of Kuruvila Zachariah, Susobhan Chandra Sarkar, Amales Tripathi and Ashin Das Gupta. The expertise of members of faculty of the department thus ranged from the study of the early modern Indian Ocean world to the nineteenth and early twentieth century ‘Bengal Renaissance’. Ranajit Guha, founding icon of the Subaltern Studies Collective -- the historiographic school which has been enormously influential in carving out people-oriented and postcolonial approaches to history -- was also a student of this department. Female students were first admitted to this Department in 1946. Uma Sen (Mukherjee) and Shipra Sarkar were the early female students who topped both at the B.A. and M.A. Examinations in 1948 and 1950, and in 1950 and 1952 respectively.

How to Find Us

Presidency University
(Main Campus)

86/1 College Street
Kolkata 700073

Presidency University
(2nd Campus)

Plot No. DG/02/02,
Premises No. 14-0358, Action Area-ID
New Town
(Near Biswa Bangla Convention Centre)
Contact details Presidency University Students Corner