10.30 FIBIS experts answer your research questions
12.00 Break for Lunch.
14.00 “The East India Company Civil Servant who created a New Method of Language Learning” by Professor Marjorie Lorch, PhD. Birkbeck, University of London
Thomas Prendergast wrote a series of bestseller foreign language learning manuals in the 1860s and 1870s. He is now viewed as an influential British educator whose legacy continues today. However, surprisingly little was known about his life. He was born in 1807 into a notable family. He spent his life working for the Honourable East India Company in Madras. In 1858, at the age of 52, Prendergast retired and went blind shortly afterwards. At this time, he began writing his books which enjoyed great popularity and remained in print for decades after his death in 1886.
In this presentation Marjorie will describe her efforts to reconstruct the details of his life in Madras and England using a range of resources and strategies. These revealed information about his family background and early life in Madras, schooling in England, training at the East India College, his career through his various posts and promotions as a civil servant in the HEIC and finally details of his life in retirement in Cheltenham and the activities that included his late contributions to education. These fascinating biographical details provide a picture of Prendergast’s intellectual and social character and bring to life a man of his time in 19th century British India.
15.30 “‘Almost-mothers’: exploring your family’s ayahs” by Dr Jo Stanley, FRHistS.
On the stiff brown sugar-paper pages of most Anglo-Indian family photograph collections – maybe in your own, too – there is a sepia photo or two showing a sari-clad Asian nanny: the ayah. Occasionally she’s resplendently central, displaying the latest baby for the professional photographer. In most cases she’s to the side of the family group, holding Baba, along with any number of little Missie Sahibs and Master Sahibs, behind the Sahib and the Memsahib. Often she’s the sole Asian servant in the group. But who was she?
16.30 – 17.00 Networking