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The Bristol Black Archives Partnership (BBAP) protects and promotes the history of African-Caribbean people in Bristol. We collect archives and objects that enable people to enjoy and experience their heritage and encourage everyone to have a deeper appreciation of Bristol's diverse history across time.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this unique partnership allows the contributions and achievements of people of African and Caribbean descent to be not only fully recognised but also preserved as a legacy for future generations. The collection of material empowers people to explore their heritage and to share their stories for the benefit of themselves and other communities.
Officially launched by veteran politician Tony Benn in March 2007, the partnership embraces African-Caribbean organisations and individuals, Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives Service, Bristol Libraries, the University of the West of England and England's Past for Everyone, HM Lord Lieutenant of Bristol and others.
It was set up when Paul Stephenson, civil rights campaigner and first Black Honorary Freeman of the City of Bristol, placed his own personal archives with Bristol Record Office for safekeeping.
For years local Black history has been under-recorded and in danger of being lost forever. We need to recover and protect our personal and community's pasts before it is too late.
Young children are keen to learn about history that is relevant to them and about twentieth century people they can identify with and look up to as role models.
Bristol's history is incomplete without recognizing and including the contribution, experiences and achievements of Black people.
Knowledge of local Black history educates everyone. It enriches all our understanding of Bristol's diversity, which can promote respect and community harmony.
We need to uncover our true past (for example, resistance to slavery) and to keep a record of our experiences to ensure that history does not become distorted.
Our history is more than a record of the past; it helps to explain the present and to plan for the future - together.
History was often regarded as a matter of what the powerful, the famous, and the wealthy thought and did. However, history is not just about kings and queens, it is also about the lives of ordinary men, women and children. The Bristol Black Archives Partnership is keen to capture the stories of ordinary people to create a more complete history and as a legacy for our own descendants. You can help to set the historical record straight by supporting our work and contacting us with material for preservation.
We collect archives and objects that cover the total experience of the Black presence in Bristol across time. The earliest reference to a named person of African descent found so far is the baptism of William Ivie in 1574 (at Dyrham) and we are equally interested in collecting very modern material.
There are a number of ways in which you can leave your story for posterity. Archives and artefacts all leave valuable clues about who you are. The material can be donated by individuals and families or by businesses and organisations:
Examples of archives you may wish to deposit
- minutes of clubs and organizations, accounts or
- administrative records.
Examples of artefacts you may wish to deposit
- cooking items
- musical instruments
- toys or
- shop signs.
To ensure maximum protection and accessibility, your archives and objects will be cared for by Bristol Record Office and Bristol Museums. Material can be donated as a gift or as a deposit with ownership retained.
Bristol Record Office will keep your archives safe for future generations in secure, environmentally - monitored strongrooms. Your archives will be safe from wear, tear and dust. Home to over 800 years of Bristol's history, the record office can also make your archives available for anyone interested in the history of their family, community, locality or the life of the city itself. Sensitive documents can be kept confidential for a hundred years or so.
The city's Museums Service looks after objects that tell us about the history of communities and individuals in Bristol. Both archives and artefacts will make a unique bank of material for M Shed, the new museum of Bristol
The museum will bring the city's history to life and allow visitors to explore the lives of the people who have shaped it. It will include past and present stories of people of African descent who live in Bristol or who have some association with the city, and highlight their contribution to the social, economic, political, creative and cultural enrichment of the city. In particular, the impact of the city's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade will be told from the perspective of enslaved Africans and their descendants, as will the significance of ongoing legacies.
Bristol Black Archives Partnership produced My Legacy Journals (in association with the city's Equalities team) to offer African-Caribbean people an opportunity to record their own stories and family histories.
Preserved at Bristol Record Office, the completed journals capture information not necessarily documented elsewhere. They offer people the assurance of having their story lodged in the city's official archives for the benefit of their own future descendants and other researchers.
You can make an appointment to collect copies in person from Bristol Record Office.
BBAP teamed up with Bristol's Children and Young People's Service (CYPS), the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service (EMAS) and Firstborn Creatives to create a learning resource entitled Black Bristolians: People Who Make a Difference. It profiles 25 African-Caribbean achievers such as:
- Jim Williams, the first Black Lord Mayor of Bristol
- Hyacinth Hall, the first Black head teacher in Bristol
BBAP selected and interviewed the 25 achievers, researched and wrote the biographies and supplied the images; EMAS wrote multi-curricular lesson plans for all Key Stages; CYPS co-ordinated and managed the project and wrote the shorter version biographies; and Firstborn Creatives produced a DVD featuring young people interviewing the "Black Bristolians" and a visit by pupils of the City Academy to Bristol Record Office.
The biographies provided the basis for Black artists to work with children at 14 schools who presented their findings with a performance at the City Academy in December 2007. Many of the Black Bristolians have visited schools in person to bring their history alive.
Based on consultation with young people who want to learn about history that is relevant to them and about local role models, the packs have been given to every school in Bristol (primary and secondary) as well as youth groups and supplementary schools.
This learning resource can be viewed online at:
This guide highlights archive and artefact sources that have been identified so far relating to the history of people of African descent in Bristol and to Bristol's involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade - all of which are easily accessible for research in Bristol. It should not be taken as a complete list of existing references but as a starting point for research, and an indication of the type of information and material that exists.
Although the main focus of this guide is concerned with material dating from the 16th century, it is important to remember that African history does not begin then - the earliest human existence has been found in Africa and all human beings are likely to have African ancestors. Early great African cultures and empires, including Ancient Egypt, the Swahili culture on the east coast, the powerful empires of Mali, Songhai, Ancient Ghana and Great Zimbabwe, and the great kingdoms of Kongo, Ife, Asante and Benin, made an immense contribution to the world.
View the document from the related documents section.
Your can buy copies of the guide from Bristol Record Office for £3 per copy (£5 if sent by post). If you would like order a copy by post, please send your name, address and a cheque for £5.00, made payable to Bristol City Council, to:
BBAP Guide to Sources, c/o Bristol Record Office,B Bond Warehouse, Smeaton Road, Bristol BS1 6XN.