Bath & Colonialism

What is the Bath & Colonialism Archive Project

What is the Bath & Colonialism Archive Project?

The Bath & Colonialism Archive Project is a research project that began in May 2021. It is funded by The National Archives Testbed fund and brings together the archives of Bath Abbey, Bath Record Office and Bath Preservation Trust, who are working together in partnership for the first time, enabling them to achieve a greater reach whilst sharing knowledge and expertise.

Since the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and the increasing awareness of colonialism’s legacy today, the partner organisations feel there is an urgent need to share a more inclusive history of the city of Bath World Heritage Site. Our aim is to share the information which we have gathered on the subject of Bath’s links to the transatlantic slave trade and the history of the Black presence in the city, to as wide an audience as possible.

A pilot project began in August 2020 with 27 volunteers searching for keywords and place names relating to the transatlantic slave trade within digitised copies of the Bath Chronicle from 1760-1780. It has uncovered significant new content relating to the historic Black presence in Bath and funding from The National Archives Testbed fund has enabled us to discover the potential of the information gathered for use in research, interpretation, and learning.

Advice has been obtained throughout the process from organisations across the city, including B in Bath, the Bath and Colonialism Heritage Action Group and members of Bath’s Black community.

We are grateful to Renee Jacobs of B in Bath for her advice and support.

What next for the project?

This website is the starting point for the Bath & Colonialism Archive Project, and through evaluating the use of the website and the supporting guidance on description, we aim to continue to develop the project in the future. Using the guidance we are editing descriptions and have created an on-line searchable database, which will soon be made available through this website. We hope to extend the time frame of editions of the Bath Chronicle researched beyond the current twenty year period, and continue to add to the information captured in the database.

The Bath and Colonialism Archive Project developed from a larger initiative; the Bath and Colonialism Action Group, a collaboration between the museum and heritage organisations in the City and the two Bath Universities.

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