A message about racial equality from our Chief Executive and Keeper
The National Archives is committed to fairness and equality for all. We do not tolerate racism or any racial injustice. Archives are for everyone because they are about everyone – past, present and future.
We are proud to be a part of a dynamic network of archives and, as a custodian of the nation’s histories, to promote and share the diverse stories within our records.
Our collections span 1,000 years of difference, debate and progress. Created from the perspective of state and empire, we hold important records that bear witness to past injustice and the long fight for equality in the Black community. Our records describe the incremental changes, the debates which took place behind closed doors, the policing and monitoring. Our records, like those of other archives, also show the ongoing and ever-present forms of resistance to racism, and struggles for social justice from within the Black community both globally and at home.
It is important that archives are open about what they hold and about the empowerment they offer: as a potential tool for legal recourse, memorialisation of lives lost, monitoring the rate of change, and fundamentally to learn from our past.
We embrace the values of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, but we acknowledge that we have a lot more to do. In publishing our vision, Archives for Everyone, we are committed to making the Inclusive Archive a reality:
‘The inclusive archive builds trust and tears down barriers to access, participation and understanding. It harnesses talent from diverse backgrounds. It is bold, active and outward-looking – encountered by people and communities in unexpected places and at vital moments.’
We are hugely proud of our talented and diverse staff and their commitment to making our collections accessible to anyone, from anywhere. They are the heart of our transformation. We aim to build together a workplace that continually looks to remove any inequalities and barriers.
The Black Lives Matter protests across the world have reinforced the urgency for change. We will become more aware. We will listen. We will strive to be better so that we can wholly reflect and represent the society we serve.
Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper, The National Archives
Our website is home to a number of Black British history resources that you may find useful.
- Black British social and political history in the 20th century
- Foreign Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office records from 1782
- Enslaved people and slave owners
Teachers notes and resources:
- Bound for Britain: Experiences of immigration to the UK
- Civil Rights in America
- Bussa’s rebellion: How and why did the enslaved Africans of Barbados rebel in 1816?
Online exhibitions, images and projects:
- Black Presence: Black and Asian History in Britain between 1500-1850
- Race Relations Acts
- Caribbean through a lens project
- Slavery 1700s-1800s
- Loyalty and dissent project
Blogs and podcasts: