After acquiring the territory in the South, the English East India Company carved out districts and placed them under the administration of the Collectors. In the absence of any comprehensive guidebooks on districts, the Government ordered for the preparation of the Manuals for the districts. The District Manuals are the precursors of the District Gazetteers. Starting from the publication of Madras District Manual by J.H.Nelson in 1868. Manuals were brought out for the then districts of South Arcot (J.H.Garstin 1878). Tiruchirappalli (Lewis Moore 1878), Chengalpattu (C.S.Crole 1879), Tirunelveli (A.J.Stuart 1879), The Nilgiris (H.B.Grigg 1880), North Arcot (Arthur F.Cox 1881), Salem (H.Le Fanu 1883), Thanjavur (T.Venkataswamy 1883),Coimbatore (F.A.Nicholson 1887) and North Arcot (Revised)(H.H.Stuart 1895).
When the District Manuals became out of date, they were revised and retitled as District Gazetteers. The first such District Gazetteer by W.Francis for Madurai District was published in 1906 followed by Thanjavur (F.R.Hemingway 1906), South Arcot (W.Francis 1906), Tiruchirappalli (F.R.Hemingway 1906), The Nilgiris (W.Francis 1908), Tirunelveli (H.R.Pate, 1917), and Salem (F.J.Richards 1918).
Post - Independent District Gazetteers
The work of revising and rewriting the district Gazetteers which was begun in Tamil Nadu in1954. Dr.B.S.Baliga, the then Curator of the Madras Record Office was entrusted the work of revision of the Gazetteers. The district Gazetteers published in Tamil Nadu, after Independence are, Thanjavur (Dr.B.S.Baliga,1957), Madurai (Dr.B.S.Baliga ,1960), South Arcot (Dr.B.S.Baliga ,1962), Coimbatore, (Dr.B.S.Baliga 1966), Salem (Dr.A.Ramasamy,1967) and Ramanathapuram (Dr.A.Ramasamy, 1973), Pudukkottai (Gopalakrishna Gandhi, IAS., 1983), Dharmapuri (P.Pulney Andy Senji, 1995), Kanniyakumari, (M.Gopalakrishnan,1995),The Nilgiris, (M.Gopalakrishnan 1995), Composite Tiruchirappalli, (Tiruchirappalli, Karur and Perambalur) (Dr.K.S.K.Velmani.,1998), Kancheepuram & Thiruvallur (Erstwhile Chengalpattu) (M.Gopalakrishnan, 2000). Tirunelveli (Dr.K.S.K.Velmani, 2002), Thoothukudi (R.Sinnakani, 2007).