Research Student Seminar: Dr Nicholas Draper on Legacies of British slave-ownership – public history and the historian

birkbeck_research_13Date: Monday 24 March 2014
Time: 6-8pm
Venue: Dreyfus Room (2.02, 28 Russell Square)

Historians from UCL have produced the first freely accessible database of Britons involved in slave-ownership. The resource helps people explore their family, local and regional histories, and helps increase understanding about a national past that is often obscured. In this seminar Dr Nicholas Draper will show us database UCL have built in the Legacies of British Slavery project, and to use that to talk about (1) the possibilities and limits of prosopography as an historical tool and (2) some aspects of ‘public history’ in contentious fields of research.

Using as a starting-point the records of the £20 million paid in compensation to slave-owners in the 1830s for the loss of their ‘property’, the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project has documented about 46,000 individual claims and awards made to those who either owned slaves or benefited indirectly from ownership.

“Our overall finding is that British colonial slave-ownership was of far greater significance in Britain than has previously been recognised,” said project leader Professor Catherine Hall (UCL History). “What we have done is to establish the life trajectories of some 3,000 absentee slave-owners in Britain, and analysis of this has allowed us to trace the legacies of slave-ownership in Victorian Britain.” Dr Draper has been a lead researcher on this project.

We will go for dinner and drink afterwards. If you would like to come for dinner, please email barbarawarnock@yahoo.co.uk to let her know.

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