Bristol and Transatlantic Slavery: A textbook for schools

Posted on by Lauren MacCarthy.

by Richard Kennett, Assistant Headteacher at Gatehouse Green Learning Trust and Jane Hack, Senior Engagement Officer for Learning at Bristol Museums

Watching the Colston statue fall last summer was a profound moment for our city. It made us reconsider our past. For history teachers, it made us reflect on what and how we teach transatlantic slavery.

In schools, there has been a focus on the Middle Passage and the plantations of the Caribbean. Tracy O’Brien, one of my co-authors, said this was ‘narrow and macabre’. After speaking to other Bristol history teachers, we decided we needed to do something about this. We would write our own book.

A stack of Bristol and Transatlantic Slavery textbooksThis started as a small idea. We would write a short pdf we could email to other teachers. But then Jane heard about our idea and offered to support us in turning it into a real textbook. Over the next six months the book, the project and the author team grew.

The project is a true collaboration between teachers, academics and museum staff. We have all worked hard to do something very different. We tell a wider and deeper narrative of transatlantic slavery, across time and place. We’ve used objects from Bristol Museums and images from Bristol Archives to illustrate Bristol and Transatlantic Slavery: origins, impact and legacy.

We’ve been open to feedback from many people throughout (and we received a lot!). We hope this book might improve the teaching, and the understanding, of this key part of the story of our city and our country.

Bristol and Transatlantic Slavery: origins, impact and legacy is available from our online shop. Schools and colleges can buy multiple copies at a special rate by contacting the Learning team.

Main image: © James Cameron

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