Other occupations reading list

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Indigo planters

  • Balfour-Paul, Jenny

Indigo. New ed. London: Archetype, 2006

This large, beautifully illustrated book contains information that is difficult to find elsewhere. While only six pages focus exclusively on indigo production in India, there are many relevant sections throughout the entire text which will repay someone with an indigo planter ancestor. The role of the East India companies in supplying what was then a highly desirable commodity and the development of a synthetic blue dye with its impact on the production of natural indigo are two examples.

The author is an authority in her subject and this history of indigo worldwide will help provide context for a family historian. The variety of plants and animals which are a source of indigo, the means of production where they are still known, dyers' methods, the range of textiles and distinctive patterns created both today and in the past by countries as diverse as Mali and Japan are all covered. There are endnotes and a bibliography.

This would make an excellent present or self-indulgence for someone with an ancestor involved in indigo production.


  • Crawford, D.G.

Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930. Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2002

Originally published in 1930, this gives details of educational qualifications, dates of birth, appointments and promotions, and war service for 6,586 surgeons in the Indian Medical Service. The IMS was a division of the military, although its surgeons were sometimes seconded to civil postings. In addition to career information there are a variety of appendices and background detail on such topics as medical colleges and places of instruction in India. Note that the Roll does not include members of the Subordinate Medical Service/Departments.

Tea planters

  • Moxham, Roy

A brief history of tea. London: Robinson, 2009

Sandwiched between the author's short account of his own experiences as a tea plantation manager in Africa is the history of tea, particularly the efforts made to satisfy the British desire for a cup of tea. This included tea smuggling and a link between tea and the opium trade. Unsurprisingly the main focus is on tea production in India making this readable book essential, if somewhat disquieting, reading for anyone with an ancestor connected with tea growing and trading in the region. The producers' strategy to increase tea drinking amongst locals in India, tea canteens during WW2, as well as modern developments are also mentioned. Previous editions were titled "Tea : addiction, exploitation and empire".