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The Department of History is as old as the College itself. In the year of its inception in 1844, the College offered the following courses: History, English, French, Latin, Greek and Philosophy. After its transfer to Tiruchirappalli, the College took special interest in strengthening the Department of History. B.A. course in History was introduced when the College was affiliated to the University of Madras. In 1911, when the College became an Arts and Science College an Honours course in History was introduced under branch V-I. It was in this year, the library stack room in the History section was flooded with primary sources such as Dispatches from the East India Company, Annual Reports of the Archaeological Survey of India, Inscription Manuals, Gazetteers, etc. But slowly the number of students opting to do this subject began to dwindle, and so the Department was closed down, but the B.A. Honours course in History continued upto 1960. B.A. History was revived in 1977 and M.A. History is now taught Shift - II.
At Present the department offers B.A., M.A., M. Phil., and Ph.D. programmes. Its strong research orientation is very clear as it has produced 42 Ph. D. and 320 M. Phil. Scholars since 1977. And the faculty members have so far authored 16 books both in English and Tamil and have published 70 research papers on history and related areas. The Department faculty regularly involve themselves in research, resulting in the completion of one Major Research Project, three Minor Research Projects and one Faculty Improvement Programme - all supported by both UGC and ICHR. The department had an MOU with the Southern Railways which sponsored a research project on "The History of Evolution of Rolling Stock in Indian Railways." And it was successfully completed.
A biannual research journal titled "Indian Historical Studies" (ISSN 0973-2713) is being published from the Department from October 2004. It is a recognized journal by the Registration of Newspapers of India, New Delhi, (TN/ENG/04144/13/08/2003) and is financially supported by Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), New Delhi. In order to encourage research interest among the students and scholars, the department organizes endowment lectures regularly. Four endowments were instituted in honour of the distinguished retired professors.
The Department provides a better learning atmosphere with spacious class rooms, Audio Visual Hall, Computer Laboratory with internet connectivity, a well stocked library and several advanced learning equipments etc, ICT Lab for Historical Research and the AV Hall were established with the financial aid of UGC. A memorandum of understanding has been signed with Railways for tour operations which help arranging tours with great care. With the view to enhance students" learning process the department has established a well equipped Dr. T. Sundararaj ICT Lab and Library for Historical Research which has uninterrupted net connectivity. Individual Project Work for the third year UG students and final year PG students is mandatory. The department has its own library with good number of standard books (about 850 books). With the financial support of the UGC, the Department conducts an Add on Course on "Tourism and Hotel Management" and a Certificate Course on "Human Rights." The Department either hosts or organizes national or state level seminars and workshops sponsored by UGC, ICHR and CICT regularly. XXIII Annual Session of South Indian History Congress for three days; Ecological Movements and Sustainable Development for three days; Workshop on Research Methodology in History for three days; Trends in Higher Education; The Formation of Ideology, Identity and Collective Consciousness in India (1832-1986) for three days; Right to Sustainable Development - Subaltern Perspective for two days; A three day seminar on " Contribution of the Sangam and Post Sangam Classics to Ancient Indian History"; A two day ICHR sponsored seminar on "Historians and Historiography of Tamil Nadu" are a few to mention.
The Department takes keen interest in providing students hands on experience by arranging field visits and study tours regularly. The study tours cover historical places in Tamil Nadu and also all over India. These visits provide academic exposure to students by visits to libraries, Museums, Book fairs etc.