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Getting started with Myanmar research

Shwethalyaung Buddha, Pegu, Burma (1907)
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BMD returns were not formally organised until the arrival of the British in 1826, when they gained the territory of Tenasserim, bordering Siam.  Civil Administration was initially centred at Prince of Wales Island, Penang. In 1834 the province became part of Bengal, however military administration was based in Madras until the 1840's.  Records relating to baptisms, marriages and burials in Tenasserim may therefore appear in Chaplain's Returns in the UK or Madras (for military events) or in Madras, Penang or Bengal returns during this period.

The only official returns were Anglican and RC until the 1850's, when the Government of India provided means for returns of minority religions such as the Baptists.  Records from the Myanmar National Archives show that Baptist marriages were not reported until November 1858.

Further expansion took place in 1853 which gave Britain control of Pegu and Arakan provinces (including Rangoon and Akyab.) The northern border of British territory at that time was a rough line between Thayetmyo and Toungoo.

The last Anglo-Burmese war ended in 1886, when Upper Burma was incorporated into the Empire.

The British granted independence to Burma (now known as Myanmar) in 1947. Aung San, who was ostensibly to have been the new leader, was assassinated the same year, and his colleague Thakin Nu became president. Thakin Nu stayed in power only briefly, asking General Ne Win to assume control as soon as the first signs of civil unrest erupted in 1958. Since 1988, the military government has made repeated gestures toward democratic government, although they have in fact taken no real steps in that direction.

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