Curating the Mutty Lall Seal Digital Archive
This project has been sponsored entirely and inspired by Mr Mohon Lall Seal, a direct descendant of Mutty Lall Seal. He has also provided some of the initial material for us to start our research and maintains a keen interest in his heritage and family history. The video below will give you a quick introduction to the website and the project.
When listing the contributions of key figures in nineteenth-century. often the massive influence of Mutty Lall Seal (Motilal Seal) is under-represented. The importance of Seal’s business acumen in shaping the commerce and industry of Bengal (and indeed, India at large) is all too evident from the wide range of his pioneering activities. From the Medical College to Assam Tea, much of what we have today were launched by Seal’s entrepreneurship. Not many know about his interest in promoting technology such as the railways and the telegraph and this is what emerges from an online archive such as this one. Gathering its content from ephemera, news reports, anecdotal and oral history, biographies and academic research, this Digital Humanities project aims to reconstruct for a present-day audience the impact of a Bengali merchant such as Mutty Lall Seal on the wider socio-economic landscape of the country.
Besides a biography of Mutty Lall Seal, visitors to this site will be able to view his wide range of activities over all parts of the globe as plotted on Google Maps with GIS technology. It is also possible to compare the map of Calcutta in Seal’s times with modern-day Kolkata. The site contains a detailed archive of sources and a bibliography to help later researchers and it also features a timeline that the casual visitor can browse. Also, key documents such as wills and the Seal Trust Deed have been transcribed by our team for future use. Finally, we feature videos of the current descendants of Mutty Lall Seal and how they view his legacy. The website is fully searchable and it also features a curated online exhibition of key artefacts and documents relating to Mutty Lall Seal.
For any queries or suggestions, please email us here.
We would like to acknowledge the help we received from the members of the Seal family and Trust. We have also been able to access some of the material here from libraries such as the National Library, the Joykrishna Library, the Goethal’s Memorial Library and the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. Besides these, we are very grateful to archive.org, Google Books and other free databases for sharing so many of the nineteenth-century documents in open-access platforms. We also acknowledge the South Asia Archive and FindMyPast for access to some of the resources.