Some Resources for Learning about Britain’s Slave Past

It’s been years since I’ve posted, and that’s because I’ve been busy in my new post as a Lecturer in British Social and Cultural History at the University of Leicester.  But this post isn’t about that…

In the wake of hugely symbolic events in Bristol today, and in response to the numerous tone deaf ‘BuT hE dId GoOd ToO’ comments I’ve seen in response to friend’s posts and tweets, I thought I put together a quick list of resources for learning and teaching about Britain and the slave trade. I’ve used several of these in my own teaching, and as well as my own learning (because I still have a lot to learn, too).

Legacies of British Slave-Ownership: This is a database of claims for compensation in the wake of the abolition of slavery in 1830s. No, these are not former enslaved peoples claiming compensation; these are former slave owners who filed for compensation due to loss of income. Approximately £20 million pounds (in 1830s erms) was paid out; an amount so huge they Treasury only paid this debt off in 2018.

The awesome David Olusoga made a BBC documentary about this. 

Slave Voyages Database: This is a huge database mapping the triangular trade, with ports of departure (such as Bristol), ports of landing, and most harrowing, the number of enslaved people forced on board, and the smaller number forced off, and into slavery.

An excellent overview from the Black Cultural Archives. This is a really good place to start.

Resources on slavery at the National Archives that includes a range of useful links to archival material, general overviews, and teaching resources.

As an historian of Wales, this one is particularly relevant to my own research. Think Wales was a country of abolitionists? Think again. Welsh wool clothed enslaved people in the British west Indies. Welsh copper was traded for human lives, and was also used in ship building that made British ships cross the Atlantic quicker. It’s not free online, but Chris Evans wrote a book about all of this.

Britain and the slave trade at the British Library

And the National Museum Liverpool.

If I’ve missed any you think should be here, please comment below and I’ll include them.

There are so many more, so there’s no excuse to not educate yourself.


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