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'Black Presence: Asian and Black History in Britain' is a partnership between The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) and the Black and Asian Studies Association (BASA), funded by the New Opportunities Fund.

This exhibition appears on 'Pathways to the Past', the National Archives' website for lifelong learners.

The exhibition covers Black and Asian history in Britain from 1500 to 1850. For an explanation of the subject areas that we have looked at here, and why, see Introduction. For the period after 1850, you can find documents, histories and stories online on the 'Moving Here' website (http://www.movinghere.org.uk/).

Drawing by Barbot - opens new window
Africans Greet Each Other
Most of the digitised documents presented in this exhibition are held by The National Archives. The remainder come from a variety of museums, galleries and other institutions, all of which we would like to thank for their generous permission to use artworks and/or documents held by them. Conditions relating to the reproduction of the images in this exhibition are given in Copyright and Conditions of Use below. For details of the individual images, see Acknowledgements and Copyright Details.
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You can access the exhibition's six galleries and the Introduction by clicking on the relevant names on the home page.

The various sections within each gallery are reached from the menu on the left-hand side of each page. To go back to the home page, click on the Black Presence icon in the top left-hand corner of each page.

From the home page, you can reach the 'Pathways to the Past' site by clicking on the key icon in the top left-hand corner.

Interactive Learning Journeys

You can access the interactive learning journeys from the introductory page by clicking on either one of the two journeys entitled: A Virtual Tour of Black and Asian Presence and An 18th Century Voyage of Discovery.

These are two very different journeys. The first, the virtual tour uses three cities: London; Bristol and Liverpool to examine the places where the Black and Asian presence can be located in Britain’s history. Each city tour has a detailed map which highlights an area of particular interest within each city. A printable version is available in HTML.

The second journey is an 18th century voyage of discovery. You can embark upon the voyage and read the virtual books on Woodes Rogers, Robinson Crusoe, the Slave Trade, the Goldney family and Ironbridge. There is a question section at the end of the voyage where you have the opportunity to answer questions, using evidence found on the voyage and draw your own conclusions.


This provides definitions of unfamiliar terms, together with concise details of some of the historical events and personalities mentioned in the main text. You can access it by clicking on the Glossary links in the text throughout the exhibition, or by clicking on 'Glossary' at the top of the home page or at the bottom of any of the other pages.

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This gives you a chance to tell us what you think of the Black Presence exhibition. You can access the Feedback form by clicking on 'Feedback' at the top of the home page or at the bottom of any of the other pages throughout the exhibition.

Images and Transcripts

To download an image, click either on the small ('thumbnail') reproduction of the image or on the document link below it. If above 120k, the 'byte size' of the image is given below it (the larger images may take some time to download).

To access a transcript (and/or translation), click on the transcript link below the thumbnail. The transcript can also be accessed from the image 'window'. After looking at the transcript, you can return to the image or to the main text.

Drawing by Barbot - opens new window
Preparing Barbot's Journals for Publication
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Drawing by Barbot - opens new window
African Plants

The aim has been to provide transcripts that reflect the original documents as accurately as possible. However, documents are not always clearly legible, especially if handwritten, and for research purposes the transcripts are not a substitute for examining the original documents. In the transcripts, obvious typing errors have occasionally been corrected for the sake of clarity and in places extraneous notes have been omitted.

When words in an original document are incomplete or abbreviated, where necessary in the transcript the 'missing' letters have been added in square brackets. Because of the way browsers 'wrap' words at the end of lines, in some places words containing square brackets may be split between lines in printouts or on screen.

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Document References

Unless otherwise stated, the references given below the captions that appear in the image windows are to records held by The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office). The following abbreviations are used in these references: f. (folio), ff. (folios), m. (membrane), mm. (membranes), p. (page), pp. (pages) and q. (quire).


In 1752 England adopted the New Style calendar (which had been introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582), and New Year's Day - previously celebrated in the spring - was moved from 25 March to 1 January (a change adopted in Scotland in 1600). Throughout the exhibition, where relevant, dates prior to 1753 falling between 1 January and 25 March have therefore been given as (for example) 1 January 1703/4.


Metadata (information about the images) is given on each page. To see this information, go to 'View', then 'Source', and you will find it in the code for the page.
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Copyright and Conditions of Use

The majority of documents and images reproduced in this exhibition are either Crown copyright or out of copyright. For other items reproduced here, we would like to thank the copyright holders for granting us the necessary permissions.

Copyright has expired for some older works, and others are covered by an exception in copyright law that permits publication without permission. In other cases, despite our best efforts we have not always been able to locate the copyright holders. If you believe that any rights that are yours have inadvertently been infringed, we would ask you to contact us and to accept our apologies.

Drawing by Barbot - opens new window
Going Fishing
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Drawing by Barbot - opens new window
Hunting in West Africa

For details of the individual images, see Acknowledgements and Copyright Details. For private study or noncommercial educational or research purposes as defined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended), material included in this exhibition may be reproduced without seeking permission. For all other purposes, permission to reproduce or quote from copyright material included in the exhibition must be obtained from The National Archives or other copyright holders, as appropriate, and full acknowledgement must be made.

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Exhibition credits

A project of The National Archives, in partnership with the Black and Asian Studies Association, with external funding from the New Opportunities Fund.

Exhibition designed and created by Anya Langmead

Project management: Michelle Hockley and Marion Wallace

Writing and research: Linda Ali and John Siblon

Advice, support and additional research: Adrian Ailes, Mandy Banton, Geraldine Beech, Amanda Bevan, Vanessa Carr, Lynne Cookson, Carol Dixon, John Ellis, John Fisher, Meryl Foster, Sheila Gopaulen, Guy Grannum, Alistair Hanson, Abi Husainy, Hilary Jones, Peter Leek, Dan Lyndon, Michael McGrady, Ann Morton, Tim Padfield, Bruno Pappalardo, William Spencer, James Walvin

Transcripts and translations: Adrian Ailes, Barbara Arent, Amanda Bevan, Phaedra Casey, Lynne Cookson, Michelle Hockley, Adrian Jobson

Editors: Ruth D'Alessandro, Adrian Ailes, Michelle Hockley, Adrian Jobson, Peter Leek, Leone Ross, Roiyah Saltus-Blackwood, Marika Sherwood, Marion Wallace,

Project support: Barbara Arent, Ann Claiden, Lynne Cookson

Proofreaders: Adrian Ailes, Monica Allen, Lynne Cookson, Michelle Hockley, Adrian Jobson, Hessan Rahaman, Peter Leek
Image production: Grahame Hill, John Mahoney, Christian Potter, Lowell Potter, Emma Wallis

Website management: Angela Mullen

Special thanks to Marika Sherwood at the Black and Asian Studies Association and to Andrea Allen at the New Opportunities Fund.

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Black and Asian Studies Association

The Black and Asian Studies Association (BASA) was formed in 1991 in order to encourage research on the history of Black and South Asian peoples in Britain. To aid dissemination, it publishes a newsletter three times a year and holds conferences. There is a 'list-serve' information/discussion service, and a website will soon be available. BASA also lobbies the government and non-governmental organisations regarding education, archival and related issues.

Contact details:

Black and Asian Studies Association
28 Russell Square

Email: marika.sherwood@sas.ac.uk



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