The Maratha History Museum-cum-Archives of the Deccan College contains important historical records of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, useful for a student of Maratha history. The Museum is the legacy of the late Rao Bahadur Parasnis of Satara, deeply interested in Maratha history, he collected varied historical materials from different parts of Maharashtra and other regions of India and some foreign countries. His personal museum at Satara was one of the early efforts towards the collection and systematic arrangement of original historical sources of Maratha history. The museum was opened at Satara in 1925. It was later purchased by the Government of Bombay and was named as Satara Historical Museum. The Deccan College was converted into a Post-graduate and Research Institute in August 1939. With a view to facilitating original research in Maratha history, all the old historical documents and antiquities from the Satara Historical Museum were transferred to the college. This was the foundation of the Maratha History Museum of Deccan College. Between 1939 and 2010 some new additions were made to the archival as well as antiquity section.
In 1958, ruler of Maratha princely state at Jamkhindi in modern Karnataka state donated his private historical collection at Jamkhindi to the Maratha History Museum.Thus the Museum has at present two main sections:
The Modi Marathi documents from the old Satara Museum Collection are mainly from the Menavali Daftar of Nana Phadnis, the Dhavadshi Record, the Gwalior State Daftar and Chhatrapatis record at Satara. They number about 40,000 and cover a period from 1750 A.D. to 1850 A.D. Of the total number of documents, 400 are about the chhatrapatis of Satara, 1800 about the Peshwas, 12000 about the Peshwas' co-adjutors and courtiers, 4000 about the Nizam of Hyderabad, 120 about Tipu Sultan, 450 about Janjira affairs, 750 about the first Anglo-Maratha War and the remaining documents about miscellaneous subjects like Brahmendra Swami of Dhavadshi, Ghashiram Kotwal, the Kotwali system of Pune, Shravan Mas Dakshina, Private accounts of Nana Phadnis, affairs of the British, the French and the Portuguese, affairs of Chhatrapati Pratapsinha and other rajas of Satara and so on.
More than 30,000 family papers and documents of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries were newly acquired and added to the Archival Section between 1939 and 2010. They are: 1) Sardar Bivalkar Daftar; 2) Nandurbar Desai Papers: 3) Nipani Desai Papers; 4) Newalkar-Rairikar Papers; 5) Sardar Patankar Daftar; 6) Shivapur Deshpande Daftar; 7) Nilanga Papers; 8) Jagtap Papers; and 9) Kanhere Manuscripts collection.
Besides original documents, the Museum has also a rich collection of more than 2000 microfilms and photo-copies of original modi Marathi and Persian documents of the 18th and 19th centuries. They include photocopies of some original Persian documents from Andhra Pradesh State Archives at Hyderabad.
There are more than 200 original manuscripts in Marathi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and English in the museum collection. These manuscripts include Marathi bakhars, Pothis, chronologies, Persian and Arabic translations of old Sanskrit works, astrological writings, diaries and poetic works.
The section of rare books has about 40 books of which 21 are in English, 5 each in Portuguese and French, 4 in Dutch, 2 each in Marathi and Persian and 1 in Latin. The earliest printed book is of 1588 A.D. These rare books contain travel accounts, geographical sketches, biographies, dictionaries and poetic works. They belong to the period from 16th to 19th centuries.
The coin-hoard of the Archival and Museum sections together contains about 4000 gold, silver and copper coins of ancient, medieval and modern periods of Indian history such as the Sultanate, Mughal, South Indian, Bahmani, Adil Shahi, Maratha and British together with some coins of foreign countries. Among these, twelve gold zodiacal coins of Emperor Jahangir deserve special mention.
There are about 50 original pictures and paintings of the 18th century Maratha Deshmukhs and British military officers with Indian sepoys and of different astrological rashis and grahas.
Mention must be made of 7 palm-leaf manuscripts and three copper plate grants. Of the 7 palm-leaf manuscripts, 2 are in Nandinagari script, 3 in Malyalam and 2 in Nagari. The copper-plate grants belong to Chalukya Vijayaditya (710 A.D.), Kadamb Ravivarman (6th century) and Rashtrakuta Dantidurga (1057 A.D.).The Jamkhindi Museum Section contains:
The Maratha History Museum came into existence to facilitate research in Maratha history. During the last 70 years the staff of the Museum has carried out commendable research on various aspects of Maratha history and medieval history and has published many books and a large number of articles. The various archival collections of the Museum are also made available to research scholars from other institutions.