About the project

Africa's Sons Under Arms is a collaborative research project between partners at Warwick University and the British Library, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) between 2014 and 2018.

The project uses the history of the West India Regiments to explore armed people of African descent serving within the wider British army. This will bring improved understanding of the nature of racial thought from the 18th to 20th centuries.

The project has three main strands:

  • West India Regiment soldiers as subjects of medical and racial scrutiny
  • West India Regiment soldiers as figures of public interest
  • West India Regiment soldiers as participants in army sporting events

The first two of these additional areas of interest have PhD projects associated with them, including one co-supervised by the British Library: Picturing the West India Regiments in an Age of Unrest, Civil War and Tourism, c.1850–1914 by Melissa Bennett, co-supervised by Dr David Lambert (Warwick University) and Dr Elizabeth Cooper (British Library). 

The British Library holds numerous items of importance to the study of the regiment. These include unique manuscripts about the regiment’s formation, newspapers from the Caribbean and United Kingdom, maps of Caribbean military facilities, printed histories of the regiment and much more.

The Africa's Sons Under Arms blog and Twitter account (@AfricasSons #ASUA) provides further information about the project.

Key British Library partner: Dr Elizabeth Cooper (Curator for Latin American and Caribbean Collections)

Arts and Humanities Research Council