In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, human exhibits, more commonly known as ‘freak shows’ become a popular form of entertainment in Britain. Organisers relied on the shock value of novelty acts and drummed up publicity by circulating often exaggerated illustrations of human beings. Curiosity propelled people to pay for a glimpse of men, women and children who were presented as 'abnormal'. Popular exhibits included ‘dwarfs, giants, the bearded lady and conjoined twins.’ On occasion, Black men and women were part of these human curiosities and were presented to locals in Hull and East Yorkshire.
The popularity of human exhibitions extended locally into the early twentieth century with the arrival of the Brandsburton Pygmies in 1905. (Read about the Brandesburton Pygmies here).
The assortment of pictures below is from the student magazine, Hullfire. They demonstrate that scholars of African descent joined an array of sports teams in the 1970s and 1980s, although in many cases at regional and national level Black sportsmen and women were often overlooked. Watch out for more to come on this subject towards the end of the year.
Although to date we have released numerous stories and blog posts on our website, we are always looking for additional information to further enhance our understanding of a person, event or theme.
African Students in Filey 1950s/60s
Last week we received several lists (see gallery of images below) with the names of African students who visited Filey in the 1950s and 1960s. This greatly enhances our understanding of the collection of photographs which featured in our seventh picture blog entitled Sudanese Officials in Filey c.1960. Watch out for a more detailed story of their time in the region towards the end of the year.
With thanks to Mike Kain and Brian Mulrine, archive supervisor at the Crimlisk Fisher Archive.
We are inviting teachers to bring their classes to our study day on 6 October 2017. The aim of this event is to gather secondary school and college students from across the region and give them a taster session on Black history. Highlights include a short talk on Black British history and people of African descent in Hull and East Yorkshire, an oral history interview with Bax from the local band Bud Sugar and a trip to see our fantastic exhibition.
For more information please see the event flyers below. Click on each flyer to download.
To find out more about the project, exhibition or associated events please go to our EVENTS PAGE.
**Please confirm your attendance by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org **
Who Do You Know?
As part of our forthcoming exhibition Our Histories Revealed and continued endeavour to mark African presence in Hull and East Yorkshire through as many mediums as possible, we are urging people to look through their personal collection of photographs taken before 2007, to construct a new feature titled Who do you know? The pictures could be of an event at school, public gathering or your family and friends.
Sending us photographs
If you would like to send us a photograph for this feature please include a couple of lines detailing where and when it was taken. If you would like us to contact you, please also include your name and email address or phone number. Entries can be sent via Twitter, Facebook and our website via the buttons below or our Submit/Contact page or alternatively you can bring a copy to the Hull History Centre and mark it for the attention of the African Stories Project. Photographs will be showcased online and on one of our exhibition boards.
Because we take confidentiality very seriously, we will not be naming individuals, this feature will merely be used to illustrate African presence in different settings around the region.
Go to our new Who Do You Know? Project Page
The picture below was sent to us by Dr Nicholas Evans via Twitter showing three Black scholars among the first graduates of the University of Hull in 1956.
On 21 October 1904, the Gamecock Fleet, which consisted of approximately fifty trawlers, was attacked by the Russian Baltic Fleet in the North Sea off Dogger Bank. Despite signals to call off the attack, the Russians bombarded the trawlers for ten minutes, sinking one ship and damaging five others. As Russia was at war with Japan, it is believed that the British ships were mistaken for enemy vessels.
This black and white transparency image entitled ‘Russian Outrage on Hull Trawlers’ is part of Hull Museums Collections. It shows people gathered at St Andrews Dock after the Gamecock Fleet had returned. Among the crowd there is a Black gentleman dressed in dark clothing. His presence demonstrates the inclusion of men of African descent in the region’s maritime sphere during the early twentieth century. It is possible that one of his friends or relatives were on board the Gamecock Fleet or he was simply on the dock to show his support or hear the latest news.
Thanks to Alec Gill and Nicholas Evans for bringing this image to our attention.
To learn more about Black seamen in Hull click here
These black and white photographs of Sudanese officials were taken in Filey between 3 October and 12 November 1960. The African visitors had travelled to East Yorkshire to complete a course on local governance and stayed in the region for approximately six weeks.
Unfortunately, we know very little about these men or their activities in East Yorkshire. If you have any information about this group, please click HERE to contact us.
With thanks to the Crimlisk Fisher Archive for supplying us with these images.
Click image to enlarge
This photograph was taken at the wedding of Dorothy Murphy and Reverend Ernest Sawyer; a missionary from the Gold Coast. The couple were married at Thornton Hall, Hull, on 8 October 1936. Their best man was Casely Manasseh Obuobisa Mate, who was a student at London University. Unfortunately, we do not know how long he remained in the region or if he came back to visit. This wonderful image was published in the Hull Daily Mail the day after the ceremony.
Can you know anything more about the photograph? Please click here to contact us
Dr Lauren Darwin
African Stories Project Researcher.