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The Archives at NCBS is a public collecting centre for the history of science in contemporary India. The Archives is free and open to the public. It is located in a 2000 square feet space in the Eastern Lab Complex (ELC) basement in NCBS, a space that was formerly occupied by Obaid Siddiqi, the co-founder of NCBS, and his laboratory. It includes space for research, processing, exhibitions, recording, and a leading-edge storage facility with monitors for temperature, light, humidity, air quality, water, fire, pests, and noise. The publicly accessible catalogue of 150,000 objects spans 25 collections and in various forms, ranging from paper-based manuscripts to negatives to photographs, books, fine art, audio recordings, scientific equipment, letters, and field and lab notes. The reading rooms are open to the public and researchers without prior appointment. However, you may need an appointment to review the archival holdings


Most collections at the Archives at NCBS are described at the level of file/folder. All folder-level descriptions at the Archives at NCBS follow a standard naming convention, and this is indicated in the field titled Identifier in the catalogue. For instance, refer to the identifier, MS-007-2-2-10-7 for the file on correspondence between MS Swaminathan and BM Pal on 23 December 1957 and 31 December 1957. Here is the naming convention breakdown:

MS : Manuscripts
007 : 7th manuscript collection at Archives at NCBS
2 : Series number (Correspondence)
2 : Sub-series number (1954-1972)
10 : Box or container number or location
7 : Folder or sub-container number

The Archives at NCBS is only providing this information to help researchers understand the naming convention across the collections. Researchers using the archives only need to submit the full identifier in the Researcher Application Form or the Material Use Form outlined in the Resources section.


Researcher Application Form 🖎
Material Use Form 🖎

Search Boosting

The Archives at NCBS search function supports enhancing your search results by employing certain modifiers.

Standard search

A search term is broken up into terms and operators. There are two types of terms - single terms and phrases. A single term is a single word such as "letters" or "photo" A phrase is a group of words surrounded by double quotes such as "Mysore Sericulture Department"

Term Modifiers

Wildcard search
The search function supports single and multiple character wildcard searches within single terms. Wildcard characters can be applied to single terms, but not to search phrases. The special character ? matches a single character. For example - the search string art?fact would match both artifact and artefact. Another special character * matches zero or more sequential characters. For example - the search string artifact* would match artifact, artifacts and artifactual

To boost a term use the caret symbol ^ with a boost factor (a number) at the end of the term you are searching. The higher the boost factor, the more relevant the term will be. Boosting allows you to control the relevance of a document by boosting its term. For example, if you are searching for "Bengal floricans" and you want the term "Bengal" to be more relevant, you can boost it by adding the ^ symbol along with the boost factor immediately after the term. For example, you could type -
Bengal^4 floricans
By default, the boost factor is 1. Although the boost factor must be positive, it can be less than 1 (for example, it could be 0.2).
Fuzzy Searches
Fuzzy searches discover terms that are similar to a specified term without necessarily being an exact match. To perform a fuzzy search, use the tilde ~ symbol at the end of a single-word term. For example, to search for a term similar in spelling to "roam," use the fuzzy search -
This search will match terms like roams, foam, & foams. It will also match the word "roam" itself. An optional distance parameter specifies the maximum number of edits allowed, between 0 and 2, defaulting to 2. For example -
This will match terms like roams & foam - but not foams since it has an edit distance of "2"

To learn more about queries, check out our search function documentation.