Very few people know that a part of the St. Xavier's
College building on Park Street, adjacent to the College
building proper, above the main Chapel, houses a
treasure which has been practically unknown. The
treasure was inherited by the Jesuit Fathers of St.
Xavier's in 1908 from the then Archbishop of Calcutta,
Paul Goethals, S.J. Archbishop Goethals, a Belgian who
was Archbishop of Calcutta from 1886 to 1901, donated to
the Jesuit Fathers his precious collection of books with
the expectation that they be preserved as a separate
That this collection deserved to be protected as a
special Library even during the Archbishop's lifetime,
can be felt if one scans the catalogue published by him
in 1898. In 160 foolscap length pages plus a three page
addenda, are listed titles and authors which testify
both to the range of the owner's interest and his keen
sense of collection which is scientific to a great
A sampling of the catalogue's classification reveals the
range and special interests of the collector: Ancient
India; the Portuguese in India; the Dutch; the French;
the Muhamedddan period; the British period; Gazetteers;
the States; the Tribes; Archaeology; the Arts;
Religions; Philosophy; Ideology; Natural History;
The travels and travelers section dating from the 17th
century and in several languages has been described by
specialists as unique. Another noteworthy treasure is
the six large volumes of oriental scenery each
containing 24 views, colour engravings by Thomas and
William Daniell, from March 1, 1795 to June 1, 1803.
There are also a number of curios, marble Buddha statues
and an exquisite dagger collection.
A catalogue marked 1931, shows an interest extended to
India's Asian neighbours : Tibet, Mongolia, South Asia,
China, Japan and East Asia down to the Malay.
Archipelago and the Philippine Islands, Central Asia ,
Persia and Egypt. The Sanskrit section merits a separate
catalogue, and noteworthy additions are Economics,
Education, the Census, Government and Administration.
The library contains a collection of 17,663 volumes of
books and periodicals.
Among outstanding assets of the present library is a
rich collection of hard bound Eastern periodicals
reaching back to their founding days. The list includes
Bengal Past and Present (commencing July 1907) , the
Calcutta Review (158 volumes); Modern Review
(1907-1978); Light of the East (complete series, October
1922 - December 1946) and journal of the Asiatic society
of Bengal (from Volume 1, 1832). In the case of some
newspapers and periodicals the series in this library
are more complete than in the publications' offices!
About 50 manuscripts of the Bengal Mission historian,
Fr. H. Hosten, are stored, besides a few of Fr. W.
Wallace and the pioneering educationist, Brahmabandhav
Upadhyay. A former Deputy Librarian of the National
Library, Calcutta, Mr. Avinash Lal, has listed in this
collection the titles published before 1799. They total
1,000, an extraordinary number when a collection of the
size and status of the National Library is about 1,700.
The Library has been completely renovated. And we have
made this treasure now more easily accessible to
research scholars, who are most worthy of its
inheritance. To help the users, the Goethals library has
been modernized in its facilities: A scientific
cataloguing of the books, periodicals and plates has
been done. Computerization process is going on. It has
now been designated as a Research and Reference Centre.
There is a spacious, airy and well-lit research section
with an oval table at the centre for a group of persons
doing common research. Xeroxing facility is available in
the library it self. A Quarterly Newsletter is being
published. The library is ready to meet the needs of all
scholars and researchers.
We want to continue the great and rich tradition of
scholarly Jesuits like Frs. Johannes and Dandoy
(Hinduism), Courtois (Islam), Lievens (Tribal rights),
P. Fallon and Robert Antoine (Indology). We welcome
research students and scholars to make use of the
library. We are at their service to encourage and
support their scholarly work.
A Directory has been published to provide an overview of
the library to its users and the Directory is in the
web-site. A list of some selected books, plates,
periodicals and documents in the collection of the
library is provided for the benefit of researchers and
the serious reader.
We hope the library serves its purpose of disseminating
knowledge and providing the information for your needs.
This alone makes our every effort worthwhile.
BY : FR. FELIX RAJ, SJ, DIRECTOR