Background

My interest in the Black and Asian Heritage of the UK started because of my work for the Community Police Consultative Group for Lambeth (1984-89) and the role of John Archer who became Mayor of Battersea in 1913.

Labour General Election Poster 1924

© Battersea Labour Party

 

Indian Troops on the Western Front 1914

Indian Troops on the Western Front 1914.
French postcard. Sean Creighton Collection

An enormous number of events are being planned for 2007 to mark the anniversary of the abolition of the official involvement of Britian in the slave trade in 1807. My discussion note ‘2007. What are We Celebrating?’ for the Black & Asian Studies Association Annual Conference in April 2006 is available on request by email.

Black & Asian Heritage

2007 – Remembrance of the Abolition of the official British involvement in the Slave Trade

• Up until the end of June 2007 I am freelance Archive Mapping & Research Project Officer for a partnership of five Museums, Archives & Library on Tyne & Wear looking at the material they have in their collections.
• Linked to my work for Riverside Community Development Trust I am putting together material for potential activity by the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Local History/Heritage Forum.

Black & Asian Heritage in the UK – Notes (These notes are available on request by email)

• Black & Asian Heritage in UK Enewsletter No. 1 - October 2003)
Contents: Labour and Race; Have You Seen?; Francis Barber – ‘Resurrection’ at Lichfield; Looking for Relevant Reduced Price and Second Hand Books?; Black People in Tudor England; Battersea and Wandsworth 1920s-50s; Black History of the Web; Robert Wedderburn; Alexander Wedderburn; Black Seaman killed on HMS Aboukir 1914; Kaikhhosru Sorabji, Parsi Composer; Black People in 18th and 18th Century Wandsworth; Children’s Country Holiday Fund; Merton Multi-Cultural History Group; Books and Articles of Interest; Claude McKay and Freethinking; Black Representation on Edwardian Picture Postcards; West African Visitors 1934; Duleep Singh and Conservation; The Scout Movement; Kenya Red; Holborn in the 1930s; Reportage in Local Papers – 1860s and 1870s; Grantley Adams in Britain; Black Organisational History; Black Temperance Activity; John and Alice Harris – Missionaries for Black Rights in Kenya; William Hone’s Reportage on Representation of Black Peoples; Black Sports History Articles; The Earls Balcarres and Jamaica; Black Images at National Trust Properties; George V Visit to India 1911-12; Searching for Light: The ‘Red’ Dean’s Reminiscences; United Nations First Assembly 1946; Oxford Pamphlets on World Affairs; Indians and Labour: A Putney Example; Anglo-Indians/Eurasians in Britain; Afterword
• Black & Asian Heritage in UK Enewsletter No. 2 (February 2004)
Contents: Mayor of London’s Commission; Black Freemasonry; Can you help?; Web Resources; Obituaries in the Guardian; History Comes Around; Snippets from Battersea; Items Relevant to ‘Labour & Race’; Books, Articles, etc; Black Presence around the Country; Black Theatre and Music Hall; Black Orangeism; Passenger Shipping Records; Reports and Articles in The Teacher Newspaper; Other History and Social Policy Material Available & Secondhand and remaindered books for sale.
• Black & Asian Heritage in UK News Digest – September 2004
Contents: Labour and Race; Feedback on ENewsletter 2; 1900 Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Conference; David Pitt; Black Orangeism; Black Freemasonry; Bishop Crowther’s Grandson; EPH Thompson; National Fairground Archive; Andolph Slssingar; John Wilson and John Maxwell
• Black & Asian Heritage Information Digest – December 2006
Contents: Black and Moslem Members of English Freemasonry; Curzon-Wylie Assassination; Duleep Singh in Scotland 1857; Wesleyan Conference on Slavery in the United States; Items in Illustrated London News 1857; Friendly Societies and Black and Asian People and Issues; Black Themes in Literature: Thomas Day, History of Sandford and Merton; Robert Bage. Fidel’s Story, 1796; George Borrow, Lavengro, the Scholar, the Gypsy, the Priest, 1851; Material on the Web; Henry Wood and Negro Spirituals; John Burns in and on Africa; Fela Sowande at Clapham Junction; Battersea Labour Politicians disagree about George Bernard Shaw’s ‘The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God’, 1932; Black Oxford Graduates; Lloyds and Slave Trade; Black Soldiers and the First World War
• Black and Asian Scottish Stories 1920-1941
• Did Thetford Elect the First Black Mayor
• Exploring Dorset’s Black & Asian Heritage
• History of anti-colonial and anti-racism activity in Britain
• Negro Life in Freedom and in Slavery. A Note about an 1851 theatre production
• The North East's Black, Asian and Arab Heritage: An Introduction
• Notes on Indians in Britain and India connections
• Organising in the Film Industry in the late 1930s
• Overseas Blues Conference July 2004 Review
• West Country Black & Asian Heritage Information
• A Wimbledon Window on the Black & Asian Presence 1950-53

My note ‘The Black Presence in Oxfordshire’ which I supplied to a researcher has been posted on Dan Lydon’s website on black history for schools: www.blackhistory4schools.com/articles/Oxfordshire%20black%20history.doc

John Archer, Battersea’s Mayor 1913-14

• John Archer is one of five black Europeans featured on a new section of the British Library website launched on 2 November 2005. The other four are Alexandre Dumas, Alexander Pushkin, George Bridgetower and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The text has been written by the black writer Mike Phillips. He has drawn on material provided by me for which due acknowledgement has been given. www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/blackeuro/homepage.html
• Illustrated talk on John Archer, Wandsworth Museum, Black History Month October 2004. The Museum used my material to create an exhibition about John Archer. The text of the exhibition can be seen on www.untoldlondon.org.uk/diversity/downloads/John%20Archer%20text%20rev.doc
• John Archer. Talk to Labour Heritage ‘Race & Labour’ Conference’ 27 March 2004. www.labourheritage.com go to ‘AGM 2006’ page, then click on ‘For information about AGM 2004)
• John Archer. Battersea's Black and Labour Activist 1863-1932. (Agenda Services, 2000) Biographical sketch emailable on request.
• "I am a Lancastrian bred and born...": The Life and Times of John Archer, 1863 - 1932. North West Labour History Journal, No. 20, 1995/96. To order see www.wcml.org.uk/nwlhg/membership.html
• John Archer. Biographical note. Association for the Study of African, Caribbean and Asian Culture and History in Britain Newsletter No. 9, April 1994

Irish-Black Connections

Talk to the Birmingham Irish History Group on 2 November 2005 about Irish-Black connections, following its email request to the BASA email network for information. The notes handed out at the talk are available on request by email.

Paul Robeson

• Politics and Culture - Paul Robeson in the UK - talk at the SOAS 100th Birth Anniversary event in 1998. This is available on request by email.
• Talk on Paul Robeson in the UK at the ‘Overseas Blues’: European Perspectives on African American Music Conference (23-28 July 2004) at the University of Gloucestershire in Gloucester. A revised version of this is expected to be published in 2007 in a book of Conference papers.
• Talk on Paul Robeson in the UK during the Lambeth Riverside Festival July 2005.

Black Freemasonry

• A number of Black American musicians, singers and political leaders were freemasons, particularly associated with the Prince Hall Black Freemasonry movement. There is also evidence of Black Freemasons in Britain.
• A note on this I wrote with Professor Andrew Prescott was first published in History & Social Action Black & Asian Heritage in the UK Enewsletter No 2 (see above).
• A revised version ‘Black Freemasonry’ is posted on the website of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry which Andrew runs: http://freemasonry.dept.shef.ac.uk/ . The article is linked from the home page.
• A paper on Prince Hall Freemasonry was given at the Band of Brothers Conference in Sheffield in November 2004. For Conference see Mutuality webpage.
• The Scottish Freemasons have posted details of their Black Freemason members, including the Afro-American entertainers Bert Williams and his ‘In Dahomey’ colleagues. See: http://www.grandlodgescotland.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=44&Itemid=104
• A further site not listed in the note on black freemasons is: www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/1914/famous.html
• Historian of many aspects of UK Black History Jeff Green has written about John Alexander Barbour-James, a black colonial official and author in the new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Barbour-James was a freemason, as was another man Jeff has researched: Jamaica born Dr James J Brown of Hackney (1882-1953). From memory Jeff thinks he was a member of the Zennor Lodge. See also Jeff’s book: ‘Black Edwardians’ (Frank Cass).

Allan Minns, Mayor of Thetford

My note above ‘Did Thetford Elect the First Black Mayor?’ on Allan Minns has stimulated further work in Norfolk - see:

www.norfolkblackhistorymonth.org.uk/minns.html
www.norfolkblackhistorymonth.org.uk/downloads/bhmprogrammescreenlow.pdf

Merton Multi-Cultural History Group

• I convened a study group of North East Mitcham Community Association researching into and preparing a display for 2000 Black History Month on Merton’s Black & Asian Heritage.
• The interest generated led to the formation of the Merton Multi-Cultural History Group, which Sean jointly convened with Iqbal Husain, a Council worker up until the time he left for another job.
• Details about the Group can be found on Merton Council’s website at: www.merton.gov.uk/leisure/history/multiculturalhistory.htm
• It contains Issues 3-6 of the Group Newsletter & the Group’s 2004-5 programme of talks, which included:
my talk about Black and Asian MPs, Councillors and candidates in the UK 1880s-1950s on 19 July 2004 and talk on Merton Economy and Colonial Labour on 17 January 2005, both on which are available on request by email.

Merton Council Black History Resource Pack

Arising work I carried out for Merton Council on Black History, the Education Department produced resources for use in local primary schools.

Black & Asian Studies Association

• I am a member of BASA (the Black and Asian Studies Association): www.blackandasianstudies.org.uk

Items by me in the BASA Newsletter have been:.

• No. 44 (January 2006): review of George & Darril Fosty’s books Black Ice: The Lost History of the Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes 1895-1925, and Splendid is the Sun. The 5,000 Year History of Hockey.
• No. 41 (January 2005): ‘Creole’, a discussion item on the problem of interpreting references to people being ‘Creole’. This issue also contains further information from Marika Sherwood on the Coloured Film Artists’ Association, stimulated by my note ‘Organising in the Film Industry in he late 1930s’ (see above).
• No. 40 (September 2004): a piece on The Black experience in Edwardian Britain, and a review of the book by Michael Alexander & Sushila Anand. Queen Victoria’s Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-1893 (Phoenix Press)
• No. 39 (April 2004): report on the Black British History Experience Diversity Matters Conference on 28 January 2004, and a review of Abdul Alkalimat’s The African American Experience in Cyberspace. A Resource Guide to the Best Web Sites on Black Culture and History (Pluto Press).
• No. 38 (January 2004): Grantley Adams.
• No. 37 (September 2003): Aspects of life in Battersea & Wandsworth in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s, and Black History on the Web.
• No. 34 (September 2002): Karl Marx and Paul Lafarge.
• No. 32 (January 2002): Developing Work in the London Borough of Merton.
• No. 15 (April 1996): Sharing Information about the Black Presence.
• No. 9 (April 1994): Historical figures: John Archer (1863-1932).
• No.7 (September 1993): Review of Gloria Lock’s pamphlet Caribbeans in Wandsworth. (Wandsworth Council).

Note: BASA was formerly called the Association for the Study of African Caribbean and Asian Culture and History in Britain.

Miscellaneous

I wrote while working for bassac:

• ‘Black organisation – in history and today.’ communities in action (bassac, March 2001)
• ‘Black History Month’. communities in action (bassac, October 2002)

Both are available on request by email.

Page updated February 2007