The Private Papers of Sir Dinshaw Wacha

Below is a request by Dinyar Patel, a PhD candidate at Harvard University.

Dinyar Patel writes…

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Harvard University and the grand-nephew of Dasturji Hormazdyar Mirza. I have been studying the history of the Parsis and Zoroastrianism for the past three years and I am currently beginning my dissertation research, which will be on Dadabhai Naoroji, the “Grand Old Man of India.”

I am trying to locate an extremely important collection of personal papers which appear to have gone missing in the Parsi community: the papers of Sir Dinshaw Wacha. Wacha was a prominent early nationalist and a close ally of both Dadabhai Naoroji and Pherozeshah Mehta. During the first decades of the Indian National Congress he served as the Congress’ general secretary. Wacha had regular correspondence with both Mehta and Naoroji. Due to the paucity of surviving material that we have on both great Parsi leaders,
Wacha’s personal papers can provide extremely valuable material.

Wacha’s personal papers seem to have been last located in the 1970s, when they were researched by two scholars, Eckehard Kulke and John Hinnells. Last week, Professor Hinnells provided me with some details of what he remembers regarding their whereabouts. The papers were kept in the collection of the Western Indian National Liberal Federation, an organization which Wacha led after he left the Congress. Several other prominent Parsis, such as JRB Jeejeebhoy, Cowasjee Jehangir, Phiroze Sethna, and AD Shroff were members of the Federation.
The papers of the Federation, Professor Hinnells tells me, were kept in a cabinet in the office of a Parsi law firm located in Fort in Bombay.

Professor Hinnells learned about their whereabouts through the assistance of D.N. Marshall, then librarian of Bombay University. I would greatly appreciate any assistance in locating these papers. These papers are not only important for my dissertation — they constitute an
extremely important collection of historical material for the Parsi community as well as the Indian nation. I sincerely hope that these papers
have not been destroyed or misplaced, and thereby lost to us forever.

In addition, please do let me know if you or your family have any old letters, papers, or artifacts relating to Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah
Mehta, Dinshaw Wacha, or other early Parsi nationalists and political figures. With your permission, I would be extremely interested in seeing
this material for my research.

You may contact me by either email or letter:

dpatel@fas.harvard.edu

Department of History
Harvard University
Robinson Hall, Second Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
USA

Many thanks for your assistance,

Dinyar Patel

Dinyar Patel
Ph.D. Candidate, Modern South Asia
Department of History
Harvard University
+1 (650) 796-2486

  • Anonymous

    Far too late, not a political figure, and only a Parsi until his conversion to Christianity, but I do have something on one of Wacha’s classmates at Elphinstone.  A biography of Shapurji Edalji forms one ingredient of my book ‘Outrage: The Edalji Five and the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes’, Vanguard Press, 2010.  See http://www.outrage-rogeroldfield.co.uk  I would be very interested to hear of any more sources on that generation of Parsis at Elphinstone.

  • Edaljiman

    Far too late, not a political figure, and only a Parsi until his conversion to Christianity, but I do have something on one of Wacha’s classmates at Elphinstone.  A biography of Shapurji Edalji forms one ingredient of my book ‘Outrage: The Edalji Five and the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes’, Vanguard Press, 2010.  See http://www.outrage-rogeroldfield.co.uk  I would be very interested to hear of any more sources on that generation of Parsis at Elphinstone.