The Collections of Colonel Colin Mackenzie (1754-1821), Dr. Leyden and Mr. C. P. Brown constitute the nucleus of the vast collection of manuscripts preserved in Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, which consists of manuscripts of works in literature, history, philosophy and science, written in South Indian and Oriental languages, and of Kaifiyats and inscriptions, found in many places belonging to different periods.
Full fledged library in the true sense was started in 1869. Three collections i.e. the Mackenzie Collection, the East India House Collection and Brown Collection were transferred to Presidency College, Madras in 1870 and Mr. Pickford who was Professor of Sanskrit in Presidency College, was directed to prepare a Catalogue for them.
He was then called upon to prepare a scheme for publication of important literary and historical manuscripts. In 1876 he was requested to discover new manuscripts and to purchase them or acquire them by transcription.
Accordingly, many manuscripts have been acquired from time to time and added to the Library collection.