Our Archives



Affiliated to the Prime Minister's Office, the General Directorate of State Archives boasts one of the world's leading and largest archives, embodying the combination of documents inherited from the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey dating back to nearly 700 years ago, and offering them for researchers.

The General Directorate of State Archives is home to the Ottoman Archive in Istanbul that features the documents from the Ottoman times, and the Republican Archive in Ankara that pertains to the documents of the Republican era. The Ottoman Archive houses 95 million documents and 400.000 records while the Republican Archive features 40 million documents and 95.000 records. These archival records are promptly sorted and restored as more and more records boast digital versions. The number of records that have gone digital thus far accounts for 30 million.

The State Archives, one of the trailblazing organizations in archiving, welcomes domestic and international researchers, operating in line with the principle of transparency and the international archiving standards. The archival and research services began to meet the global standards upon the launch of the Ottoman Archival Complex in 2013 by the Esteemed Turkish President. Situated over 125.000 square meters, the Archival Complex consists of 13 blocks that boast a variety of servide departments including a digital archival department, classification venues, a restoration hall, a 625-seated conference hall, a seminar hall, an archival gallery, a 400-seated research hall and a library.

The Ottoman Archive, which serves as the historical and up-to-date memory of Turkey, is a beaten track for international researchers as it is of critical importance for the history of many countries and the global history in general. A total of 62.000 researchers including 10.000 international ones have exploited the services of the State Archives.

Launched earlier this year, the service that allows researchers to get a certificate online is billed as a major progress in archiving. To this end, any researcher is now able to visit www.devletarsivleri.gov.tr to get such certificates with great convenience.

The State Archives also attaches importance to international archiving relations and collaborations. In this sense, an archival protocol has been signed by and between the State Archives and 43 countries. As a part of the protocols, the countries exchange documents, and hold joint exhibitions and events.

One of the top national policies adopted by the State Archives is the initiative carried out to make sure that the Ottoman archival documents, which are in other countries, can be returned to Turkey. To this end, the State Archives undertakes digitalization initiatives in Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia & Herzegovina, and incorporates the copies of such documents into the Ottoman Archive.

The General Directorate of State Archives releases various publications in subjects that interest the survival of the Republic of Turkey, and appeal to researchers and the society. The State Archives has released 236 books thus far.


In connection with the custom to hold in high esteem papers, the act of writing and documents during the Ottoman times, any type of record would be stored in various forms and the books and documents where such records were stored would be deemed to be treasures. Having appreciated the fact that a well-functioning administration can only be achieved through a well-functioning recollection that relies on the storage of written records, the Ottomans managed to carve out a diverse treasury of archive and make it to the present by means of its long-established customs.

Among one of the top archival heritages handed down by the Ottoman Empire is Kuyûd-ı Kadime (Ancient Registers) Archive situated within the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre.

Kuyûd-ı Kadime Archive is composed of archival documents inherited from Defterhâne (the Imperial Land Registry) where commercial, administrative, military, political and social details of the Ottoman Empire were registered and stored. Hence, Kuyûd-ı Kadime Archive is of capital importance for both Turkey and nearly 30 countries that gained independence from the Ottoman Empire.



The procedure of identifying and recording the property and disposition law for lands, obligations of the people and tax types and rates in accordance with certain rules and principles was called "tahrir (writing, composition)". The records that contained such registry procedures were called "Cadastral Records".

Having originated from financial and military purposes and based on the manorial system, the cadastral records loomed large to properly manage all the taxes of the state and run the administration, economics and military in order relying on such taxes, and keep them under control in line with strict rules. The records, which served as the master register of the state, made it possible to find out, among other things, the male population subject to taxes in any given location at any given time, the size of the land a man owned at the time as well as tax liabilities or exemptions by his name and his father's name. In addition, the records also provided insight into the types and outputs of agricultural production, the number of livestocks, and the sum of taxes the farmers were subject to. They also make you acquainted with the manorial owner or proprietor of each village, sources of income and details about the legal and administrative systems.

The Ottoman records had been kept and methodically maintained in line with almost the same procedures in each and every land of the Ottoman Empire that stretched over a massive territory. The records embody the tax sources of the state, financial structure, military capabilities in various aspects, and turn out to be systematic and far-reaching that cannot be matched by any other civilization from the perspective of diverse statistical materials.

The cadastral records not only serve as a reference that solely interests the science of history but also remains one of the top references for any scientific study in geographical, human, economic, legal and sociological disciplines thanks to the statistical data that they contain.

Of the cadastral records stored at Defterhâne (the Imperial Land Registry), the most important ones were "mufassal (elaborate)" records organized by sanjaks and even states in more depth. These records cover all tithes and duties in each sanjak (district) and town by quarter and village. They also incorporate the names of the people subject to and exempted from any tax in each town and village, the owner, proprietor or operator of any land, the sum of annual revenue, the produces they grew, how much tax they were charged with as well as all types of details such as customs, duties and transit charges.

Depending on the size of a state or sanjak, the records indicate the population of boroughs and villages or urban areas subject to tax, and the sum of tax they were charged with. They also show that each village had an owner, proprietor or operator and give insight into the collector of taxes. To list the non-exempt members of the population, the imam (religious leader) and the notables of the neighborhood would rank first while those of kinship would be registered hand in hand as the phrases, which point to their kinship, would be noted down next to their names. The grounds of exemption would also be indicated should anyone be exempt from taxation.

The elaborate records were issued in two copies, one stored at Defterhâne and the other in the state center. They were harnessed as top references when it came to procedures concerning lands and taxes. Even after the cadastral recording procedure had been abandoned, with additional documents named "derkenar (marginal notes)" and "visale (union)", these records remained in effect until the Empire fell.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 203 mufassal (elaborate) records.

Drawn up based on the elaborate ones, the summary records were called "defter-i icmâl (summary)” or “defter-i mücmel (concise)”. These records did not contain any comprehensive details about the names of the taxpayers in villages and towns but instead summarized how the revenues of a given location were shared among the sultans, governors, and district governors, feudal and manorial proprietors. The records indicate the name of the income earner followed by the breakdown of revenue-generating villages and tax items.

The summary records, just like the elaborate ones, were issued in two copies, one for the governor of the respective state.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 162 İcmâl (Summary) records.

While the properties and foundation lands in the states and sanjaks were registered in the final chapter of the elaborate records, some evkaf (foundations) records were kept for the towns with so many foundations that it would require keeping an individual record. Some locations housed so many records of foundations that entailed to keep the records of foundations in two volumes.

The records of foundations embody all the foundation-related and property registers of the state or sanjak they were affiliated to, and contain the titles of foundation, details concerning inns, public baths, stores, lands, gardens and so on endowed to the foundations as a revenue as well as the items for which a foundation's revenue would be spent, and the particulars of any foundation's trustees and officials. The records of properties were usually kept in the final chapter right following the records of foundations. The records of foundations individually boasted details about the centrums of states or sanjaks in particular as well as towns and affiliated villages by their order of administrative division. Just like it was the case for the elaborate records in terms of appropriation, feudal and manorial orders, the records of foundations contained details about the foundations of sultans and viziers if any in towns and villages.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 51 Evkaf (foundations) records.



Rûznâmçe stands for daily book or journal. The Daily Records were kept for the daily procedures of Defterhâne (the Imperial Land Registry). They served as the records where the copies of tezkire (collection of biographies) issued by Defterhâne for the appointments of the feudal and manorial officials. Billed as Timarrûznâmçe, these records were usually kept by year to feature the sections for the names and father's names of manorial and feudal proprietors indicated under the title of any sanjak or borough in a state, the means of succession for any disposed property, and the revenue generated by such a property.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 1364 rûznâmçe (daily) records.

Derdest records were kept for those who disposed any feudal and manorial property. Having originated in the late 17th century, these records were a new type of records kept on demand in an effort to keep the manorial system under control. Based on the summary records in general, they embody former records in an updated fashion and do not make any mention of properties owned by the sultans, grand viziers and governors. These records indicate whether or not each feudal and manorial entity was owned and whom the owners were along with the size of the ownership.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 169 derdest (pending) records.

Cebe stands for armour as it is a type of records that contains details about the soldiers of the military division billed as "cebelü".

Cebe records originated after the public registry books were abandoned as a type of records introduced in order to identify and call the roll for cavalry corps on a campaign. These records were kept based on the records of timarrûznâmçe for the purpose of campaigns, displaying the names of cebelü in action and their income items. A specific mark was put on the names of cebelü in action on a campaign while the others were left blank.

Based on the data provided by cebe records, you could tell the number and annual income of manorial proprietors, and thus gain insight into the socio-economic status of any given district. The analysis of the records points to the economic status of development for any given district. To sum up, cebe records are major references to keep the manorial system under control and showcase the status of the entire system in any location.

Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 88 cebe (armour) records.

As per the manorial system, it was obligatory for cavalry corps and officers with a manorial property to be at the disposal for any campaign once they were called for duty. The roll calls were the means to see whether or not the cavalry corps and officers on a campaign met their obligations. Based on the roll calls made by the Rumelian and Anatolian governors or some other official through concise and elaborate records, it was possible to ascertain the competency of the military forces in number and whether or not those on duty took their positions.

In addition to campaigns, the roll calls were also made in an attempt to inspect the manorial system on site and put it in order. This allowed to spot manorial proprietors on site in a sanjak or state to renew their certificates, and bring order to the system for evacuated or problematic properties. There are a variety of roll call records that are currently stored at Defterhâne (the Imperial Land Registry) to survive today.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 3 Roll Call Records.

They are records and documents that contain details concerning certificate-charters, certificates of title and certificates of metes and bound owned by trusts founded by the sultans, a sultan's son(s), a sultan's mother(s), grand viziers and viziers, pashas and high-ranking public officers of religious affairs.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 214 new trust records.

They are the records of the guards commissioned at the state and sanjak-wide castles and their income items.

Kuyud-ı Kadîme Archive of the Department of Archive affiliated to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre is currently home to 80 records of citadel guards.



Apart from records books, Defterhâne also boasts miscellaneous records of each corps such as yaya (infantry military units), musellem (unpaid military units with various functions), yoruk (voluntary cavalry units), akinci (raiders) and voynuk (privileged Ottoman military class).

Some other types of records on the organization and correspondence of Defterhâne are still stored at Defterhâne to survive today. Of them, one of the most important ones is the registers of Defterhâne officers. These registers were launched in the late 18th century to cover the history of clerks, disciples and other officers employed for Defterhâne. In furtherance of them, the salary status of Defterhâne officers was also recorded. There are, additionally, records of Defterhâne officers with regard to the dates of taking and retiring from office.

In addition to the records kept after 1263 of the Hegira Calendar, there were other types of records dating back to earlier times. Of them, “Defterhâne Appointment Records of Disciples” provide details about the name of disciples that began to take office at Defterhâne, the dates of taking such office, and the names of the record-keeping officers, among others, offering grants for them.

Among other records that outnumber the rest at Defterhâne are the ones titled "Certificates" or "Facsimile Records". These records are composed of the copies of all the incoming and outgoing correspondences at Defterhâne. Apart from the letters of opinion penned for the demesne and manorial system, the records involve a plethora of correspondence letters with various subjects such as the orders of daily procedures, the letters concerning the training of staff and a copy of the Regulation on the Directorate of Central Registries (Defter-i Hâkânî Emâneti).

In view of the fact that tens of nations emerged from the large-scale lands once ruled by the Ottoman Empire, it is easier to understand how integral our archives are for the domestic and international community. Such surviving documents play an exceptional role as the mainstay of solutions to both political and social problems worldwide, and the references for scientific research, and the cultural treasures harnessed to gain further insight into the past.