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Collections Research: Empire, Slavery & Scotland's Museums

Introduction

These resources have been compiled to support research on the connections in museum collections to chattel slavery, empire, and colonialism. It is a non-definitive list of resources and will be updated. 

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Chattel slavery and the slave trade

The Slave Route- UNESCO

The transatlantic slave trade- National Museums Liverpool

Why colonial slavery should not be equated with human trafficking (‘modern slavery’)

'Research into traces of slavery and the colonial past in the collection registration' gives guidance for looking for traces of slavery and the colonial past in a collection.

Slavery and the British Country House- English Heritage

The Transatlantic Slavery and Legacies in Museums Forum is the first national network of its kind to share current discourse and create a narrative thread to fully represent slavery and its legacies in the UK.

The Slave Voyages website uses interactive maps, timelines, and animations to document the dispersal of millions of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic world.

Chattel slavery and Scotland

Aspects of the transatlantic slave trade and records in the National Records of Scotland.

Printed and manuscript resources recording Scotland's links with slavery at the National Library of Scotland.

The Legacies of British Slave-ownership from UCL is an extensive database of slave-owners and estates that traces the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain. It includes a map with 500+ locations linked to slave-ownership in Scotland.

Scotland’s links with Caribbean slavery - Prof Sir Geoff Palmer CD

The history of Aberdeen and North-East Scotland's links with transatlantic slavery can be found in this resource from the University of Aberdeen.

A film and panel discussion on “Strike for Freedom” from Brown University that chronicles new efforts to memorialise Frederick Douglass’s abolitionist work in Scotland.

Aye, It Wis Aabody: A Story Of Scotland's Role In The Slave Trade is a community heritage project
that explores Scotland’s links with chattel slavery in the Caribbean, through the experience of one rural community and their school.

The Material Legacies of Slavery: Scottish History Zine is a fold out map with information about 11 houses in the Scottish Borders with connections to historic slave ownership.

Ayrshire And Slavery: Ayrshire Archaeological & Natural History Society is a list of resources, including web links and print material, relating to Scotland’s and Ayrshire’s involvement in slavery.

David Dale: an abolitionist cotton magnate is an article from the Legacies of Slavery in Glasgow Museums and Collections website exploring one of the most significant Scottish cotton manufacturer's involvement in abolition and the difference between abolition and emancipation.

Empire and colonialism

Stuff The British Stole is a podcast series from Marc Fennell that uses museum items to illuminate stories of politics, genocide, heroism, survival, and justice.

A short film series that explores the legacies of empire and enslavement in natural history museums, with a particular focus on collections cared for by universities.

Reading Between the Lines: uncovering racism and homophobia in British history - Dr Anita Naoko Pilgrim, The Open University

Empire, colonialism and Scotland

Dundee, Jute And Empire - A free course from Open Learn, The Open University

The Scots in India is an article from the Scottish Diaspora Blog about Scots in the East India Company during the 18th century, in particular Sir Hector Munro of Novar.

Discovering a ‘Thigh Bone Whistle’ is a blog from Summerlee Museum that talks about their provenance research and researching connections to the slave trade and colonialism. 

Text Mouth Ornament, Papua New Guinea. The string of shells which criss-cross the pig tusks and join the dog’s teeth to the glass beads in a spiral fashion and then to the tusks again, resembles the type of shell adornment created and worn by west coast/southern New Irelanders. Captain Brown, whilst on a whaling ship in the Pacific, acquired this object  in 1837. Now part of the collection of the Museums of the University of St Andrews."
Related guide

Decolonial Practice In Collection Management

Resources for decolonial practice, sometimes referred to as decolonisation, in collection management to reflect the connection between collections and chattel slavery, empire, and colonialism.

Find out more