Archives, manuscripts and Web Archive resources on Black Britain
About the collection
- James Berry Archive
- Andrea Levy Archive
- Andrew Salkey Archive
- Wasafiri Magazine Archive
- Modern Playscripts Collection - including unpublished plays by Black writers from 1968 to date
- E R Braithwaite’s revised typescript of To Sir With Love
- revised typescript of C L R James' play The Black Jacobins
- Benjamin Zephaniah’s manuscript poem ‘What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us’.
We hold extensive records relating to the trade in enslaved people and British imperialism around the world including in Africa, Asia and the Americas. These include the papers of the British colonial administrator and defender of slavery, Edward Long, whose book The History of Jamaica (1774) is notorious for its racist depictions of Black people.
We also hold manuscripts from Africa.
On the Open UK Web Archive you can find thematic collections of websites dating back to 2006 and as recent as last year. Websites such as Black History Month and BlackWomen.co.uk are harvested regularly. There is a 2007 collection relating to ‘Slavery and Abolition in the Caribbean’.
The Legal Deposit UK Web Archive includes websites of the Black Cultural Archives and the Voice newspaper. You can view this content in our Reading Rooms only.
What is available online?
See the Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue to research these collections.
Our online exhibitions include:
- Windrush Stories - featuring articles on Caribbean-British history, migration and culture, and digitised material by E R Braithwaite, James Berry, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Beryl Gilroy, C L R James, Errol John, Claudia Jones, Andrea Levy, Shiva Naipaul, Vincent Reid, Andrew Salkey and Benjamin Zephaniah.
- West Africa - featuring a letter by Ayuba Suleiman Diallo.
You can find further selections of digitised material and articles on our Discovering Literature website (which includes literary and theatrical manuscripts, contextual historical items and ephemera):
- Our 20th Century module includes many of the writers mentioned above as well as articles on the theme of Exploring identity
- Our Restoration & 18th Century module includes the original letters of Ignatius Sancho and articles on Travel, colonialism and slavery
- Our Shakespeare & Renaissance module includes articles on Ethnicity and identity.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
Use the Manuscripts Reading Room or Asian and African Studies Reading Room to view original manuscripts. We don't generally provide access to uncatalogued material, but please contact the Manuscripts Reference Enquiry Team for further advice on this.
The Legal Deposit UK Web Archive is available in all our Reading Rooms.
What is available in other organisations?
Important collections include:
- Black Cultural Archives
- Black Theatre & Performance collections, V&A
- George Padmore Institute
- Huntley Archives, London Metropolitan Archives
- National Theatre Black Plays Archive - union catalogue including British Library Modern Playscripts
- Wilberforce House Museum, Hull.
The National Archives' online resources include:
- Black British History on Record
- Black Presence: Asian and Black History in Britain, 1500–1850
- Moving Here.
Other websites with relevant historical themes include: