Community Programme: Collaborative project with the Caribbean Social Forum

A partnership project between the British Library, Caribbean Social Forum and Chocolate Films. Inspired by the British Library exhibition Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land members of the Caribbean Social Forum share their stories of journeying from the Caribbean to the UK.

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How Caribbean migrants helped to rebuild Britain

After World War Two, Britain was a country short of workers and needed to rebuild its weakened economy. Linda McDowell traces the history and experiences of the thousands of men and women who came to Britain from the Caribbean to work in sectors including manufacturing, public transport and the NHS.

Image is a collage from Mirza's personal collection

'The Golden Fleece': The Windrush quest for educational desire

Can education be revolutionary? With a focus on the experiences and work of black and Caribbean women in Britain, Heidi Safia Mirza interweaves stories from her life, family and academic research to reflect on education and its potential for social change.

Banner image for article: 'An introduction to Moon on a Rainbow Shawl'. Crop of the front cover of the Lord Chamberlains Office script

Migration stories in Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl

Set in Trinidad, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl centres on a group of characters contemplating migration or other ways of leaving their shared tenement yard. Lynette Goddard examines the play’s setting, offstage spaces and the contrasting ambitions and perspectives of men and women.

Banner for Daybook of Mrs Pettigrew article, showing Pettigrew on her wedding day.

‘We Jamaicans in 1950s England’ from the Daybook of Mrs Pettigrew

This is an edited extract from the memoir of Jamaican-born Verona Franceta Pettigrew neé Bennett who emigrated to Britain in 1956.

Related themes

Map of the West Indies

Waves of history

Following Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of the Americas in the late 15th century European imperial powers transformed the Caribbean. Explore the history of the region, the legacies of enslavement and colonialism, and how Caribbean society has been deeply shaped by rebellion, resistance and ideas of freedom.

Photograph of John Hazel, Harold Wilmot and John Richards at Tilbury Docks, June 1948

The arrivants

From the late 1940s to the early 1960s thousands of men, women and children left the Caribbean, by sea and by air, for Britain. They were encouraged by the 1948 British Nationality Act that granted citizenship and right of abode in the UK to all members of the British Empire. Why did people come? What did they leave behind? What did they find when they arrived, and how did they shape Britain?

Drafts of Windrush Songs by James Berry

Authors, artists and activists

From Samuel Selvon’s Lonely Londoners to Andrea Levy’s Small Island; from calypso to the birth of Black British music; and the pioneering work of activists, journalists and teachers. Explore how the experiences of migration and settling in the UK, alongside the political landscapes of the Caribbean and Britain, have led to new artistic expressions, cultural movements and waves of activism.

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The Windrush generation scandal

Learn more about the Windrush generation scandal and the experiences of Caribbean-born British citizens who have been affected by the 2014 Immigration Act.