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Posts tagged with 'slavery'

An act of defiance

1 December 2010 by David

Today marks 55 years since Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress, defied the segregation laws of the southern states of the USA by refusing to give up her seat on the bus for a white man, and in doing so became a figurehead for the Civil Rights movement.

As the bus she was travelling on in Montgomery, Alabama, became more crowded, the bus driver decided to move the ‘colored’ sign which divided the passengers by race further back the bus, and demanded that Parks also move back to allow white passengers to sit down — Parks’ refusal and subsequent arrest led to a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system, organised by the then-unknown Reverend Martin Luther King. Though Parks was not the first to defy segregation laws in this way, her protest was the catalyst for mass action which led ultimately to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and an end to segregation.

Parks’ story is just one of the inspirational stories in the history of the Civil Rights movement: find out more in the Legacy gallery of the International Slavery Museum. Read more…

Alice’s voyage

12 November 2010 by Sam

detail of an old document

Curator of maritime archives Sarah Starkey explains why this document is helping to build up a picture of the history of the slave trade and the ships involved with it:


“This image is a detail from a recent offer to the Maritime Archives and Library. It is part of the ship’s articles for the ship ‘Alice’, on a voyage from Liverpool to Africa and the West Indies in 1760, which indicates a slave trading voyage

The document is missing the list of crew signatures which would usually be attached. The articles were their contract for the voyage and they signed to agree to the conditions of service listed, such as food provided, when wages would be paid and what share of the profits would be allocated.

The articles also state that the Alice carries a Letter of Marque, this means that the ship was a privateer (a pirate with a licence from the government) and could capture merchant vessels from other nations and their valuable cargos. This could be a very profitable enterprise. Read more…

Win a copy of our new Transatlantic Slavery book

29 September 2010 by David

Book cover

Transatlantic Slavery: An Introduction

Our new publication Transatlantic Slavery: An Introduction has hit the shelves. 

The book draws on the wealth of material held by the International Slavery Museum and tells of the 400-year period in which at least 12 million Africans were taken into slavery in the largest forced migration in human history. With a foreword by Reverend Jesse Jackson it’s an excellent introduction to the subject.

With Black History Month just around the corner, it’s a fitting time for the launch of the book which examines an important chapter in Black history. Don’t forget to check our special programme of free events throughout October. Read more…

Campaign Zone opens at the International Slavery Museum

10 September 2010 by Sam

man in museum gallery

Stephen Carl-Lokko at the entrance of the new Campaign Zone

As you will no doubt be aware the International Slavery Museum has never been content just to reflect on the history of the transatlantic slave trade, its abolition and legacies. Anyone who has read the excellent blog posts by the head of the museum Richard Benjamin will know that it is an active campaigning museum which works to raise awareness of modern forms of slavery and how people can help in the fight against them.

This has led the museum to hold the Trafficked exhibition and acquire and exhibit thought provoking items such as the ankle bracelets worn by modern day slaves and the artwork ‘Missing’ (2007) by Rachel Wilberforce, all of which are currently on display. Read more…

New books available to buy and win

31 August 2010 by Karen

Book cover showing The Beatles and The Zutons

The Beat Goes On: Liverpool, Popular Music and the Changing City

It’s all go on the publications front at NML with new titles arriving and due shortly.

You may already know that we recently launched a book to accompany the Hitched exhibition at Sudley House. Also called Hitched it features 13 beautiful wedding outfits in full colour, together with close-up details and many original wedding photographs. It’s a snip at £4.95 and is available through our venue shops and our online bookshop.

If you enjoyed The Beat Goes On exhibition at World Museum last year then the new book of the same name is for you. It is a critical historical account of popular music in Liverpool, looking at why the city is so important musically and how has it sustained its importance, from the Beatles to the Zutons and beyond. It’s also available to buy online and through our venues. Read more…

Ask a curator!

26 August 2010 by Lisa

Ask a curator day logo

Have you ever wanted to know about how you look after an Egyptian mummy? Do you ever dream of putting together your own art exhibition? If you’d like to ask some of our museum and gallery curators a question about what they do then read on…

Ask a Curator day is Wednesday 1 September and curators from all over the world are signing up to take part in this giant Q&A session – taking place on Twitter!

We are joining in and want you to ask our curators questions on either art, slavery or Egyptology, as these are their specialist subjects.

We have three great experts ready to answer you; Egyptologist Ashley Cooke, art curator Laura MacCulloch and curator of transatlantic slavery Angela Robinson. Read more…

Ankle bracelet tells of modern day slavery

10 August 2010 by Sam

simple brass coloured u-shaped bangle

This bracelet may look like a beautiful piece of jewellery but the story behind it is much less attractive. Curator of transatlantic slavery Rebecca Watkin explains:


“The International Slavery Museum team have recently displayed two ankle bracelets which have been donated by Anti-Slavery International. One of the ankle bracelets was ‘worn’ by a young girl in Niger who was subjected to a form of descent based slavery.

Descent based slavery occurs in some countries where people are either born into or are from a group that society views as suited for being used as slave labour. People from this group are not allowed to own land or inherit property and denied an education, a status which is carried from one generation to the next.

The bracelets represent the importance of the museum’s work in developing its collections in this area and campaigning on the issue. The team felt it was important to display the ankle bracelets with the personal stories, which really challenge the visitor who believes slavery to be an issue of the past and not of the present. Read more…

A New York perspective on the International Slavery Museum

21 July 2010 by Lynn

Chase Delano, visiting us from Connecticut, close to New York, shares with us her experience of a rainy trip to the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum.


Chase Delano

Appropriately, it was raining as I made the trek down to the Merseyside Maritime Museum of Liverpool. Despite the rain, friendly strangers stopped to help point me in the direction of the museum—a kind gesture one might not find in the busy streets of New York, especially on a rainy day. I followed a wet crowd through the gates leading down Albert Dock and into the doors of the museum. The place was filled with people of all ages—from grandparents to grandchildren—and amongst the four floors of different exhibitions, each generation found something of interest to them. Read more…

The beauty of humanity shines through

8 June 2010 by Sam

young woman sitting in an office

It’s great to see our venues through fresh eyes. One of our work placement volunteers has written this great review of the International Slavery Museum, which has made me want to visit it all over again:


“My name is Lauren Edwards and I have been volunteering for National Museums Liverpool for just over a year but have spent the half term shadowing Rebecca Watkin, curator of the International Slavery Museum. Working within the museums is something that is both diverse and challenging and the International Slavery Museum has been a great place to gain experience and see how much National Museums Liverpool has to offer. The International Slavery Museum is unique in its subject content and links to the city and is a groundbreaker and I have found it a privilege to spend time there. From dealing with enquires behind the scenes, to assisting on handling sessions on the gallery floor, I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience and the International Slavery Museum and would encourage all to pay a visit.

As you enter the International Slavery Museum the Slavery Wall begins a journey into the history of transatlantic and modern slavery, life in Africa itself and the legacy that slavery has left behind but also acts as a physical reminder of the pain and suffering, yet hope and strength that those touched by slavery showed. It iincludes quotes such as:

“I prefer liberty with danger, than peace with slavery.”

The above quote, though anonymous, shows the conflict that runs through though the history and debate of transatlantic slavery and indeed thought the gallery itself.  Perhaps it is yet more significant through its anonymity amongst the quotes from politicians and activists, as a voice of all those nameless but not forgotten enslaved people which the International Slavery Museum can help to remember. Read more…

Captive skills

7 June 2010 by Stephen

I like traditional African arts and crafts, particularly things made out of wood and leather that reflect the ancient cultures of the continent.

The spread of African civilisation along the slave trade routes was something people who operated the evil trade probably did not anticipate.  Enslaved Africans brought strong cultural identities and a wide range of skills when they were forcibly taken across the Atlantic to work in the Americas.

Liverpool slave ship captains traded goods for human cargoes on the African coast then took their captives across the infamous Middle Passage to the New World. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.