Primary Sources

Through collaboration with libraries, archives and museums, this section provides direct access to relevant primary sources and features fascinating stories about individual items. If you have any sources you would like to share with us, please contact Dr Jonathan Curry-Machado.

Trading Consequences. Text mining for Commodities research.

Experiments in producing useful commodities from the nests of insects in India. John O’Brien on British attempts to utilise insect neests for economic purposes in India.

Investigation into the India-rubber trees of Brazil, 1877. John O’Brien on a primary source featuring a nineteenth century expedition from British India to Brazil and the Amazon.

Reports on the Hindu method of making sugar. An eighteenth-century report on producing sugar and jaggery in India.

Economic botany collection at Kew. This fascinating collection of over 85,000 objects includes historic specimens and artefacts relating to all plants amenable to being developed as commodities that were collected by naturalists and scientists from different parts of the world from the mid-nineteenth century.

A colony in crisis. Primary sources relating to the grain shortage of 1789 in colonial Saint-Domingue.

Botany in British India material – A British Museum collection. Botanical gardens in India; plant-collecting expeditions to Assam, the Coromandel Coast and the Spice Islands; and the use of plants as foodstuffs, industrial products and medicines.

Catalogue of the edible vegetable productions of India, 1810. The story of the making of a primary source from early colonial India.

India Office Medical Archives project. A project to identify and catalogue material relating to disease and public health in British India, 1780-1914.

The Directors’ Correspondence Project, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Digitisation of the extensive collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Directors Correspondence.