Teacher's Notes

This resource has been designed to support the Citizenship curriculum in schools. A series of activities have been developed which will enable students to understand not only the moral principles behind the campaign to abolish the slave trade but also the ways in which the campaign was successful and has provided a model for many subsequent and contemporary campaigns.

British Library Learning seeks to inspire young people to become creative researchers and big thinkers. Both our onsite and online programmes encourage students to reflect on the formation of knowledge, to ask questions about ideas and to make personal meaning. The interpretation of words, texts and objects is key, as is the notion that understanding is achieved by a process of discussion and exchange.

This resource seeks to enhance the Citizenship curriculum by focusing on real life issues that are relevant to young people, by emphasising interactivity, discussion and debate and by encouraging them to think for themselves about their identity and place in society.

Studying the slave trade is likely to provoke strong responses among students and, indeed, the historical sources explored by this resource reflect the cruelty and atrocity of the slave trade and of slavery itself. They also reveal attitudes, sometimes ignorant and stereotyped, prevalent in Britain and the world at the time.

Teaching this subject raises questions about how to convey the magnitude and inhumanity of the slave trade in sensitive and thoughtful ways. The history also gives teachers the opportunity to explore corresponding contemporary issues including racism, blame, guilt and ignorance.

It is possible that students may respond inappropriately to the images and objects from this resource and those related to the abolition campaign simply because they are unaware of the content or context of the material they are being shown. However, exploring the resources thoroughly and discussing the issues they raise with respect and reverence will help young people to understand the global impact of the slave trade, as well as its relevance and resonance today.

The following resources have been designed both to support the sources from the campaign to abolish the slave trade but also to explore concepts of campaigning and how aspects of the abolition campaign are still meaningful today.


What makes a successful campaign: an introduction

What makes a successful campaign: research

What makes a successful campaign: organisation and leadership

What makes a successful campaign: communication

What makes a successful campaign: interpreting campaign material