The relatively recent surge of interest in family history has prompted websites such as Ancestry and Find My Past to digitise a broad range of records to aid research. These websites have been extremely useful in helping us identify and reconstruct the lives of people with African heritage in Hull and East Yorkshire.
Recently, we have been using online data from the 1881 census to find potential people of African descent in the region. While information from the census usually, raises more questions than it answers, it is a fantastic starting point as each entry records a person’s full name, birth place, age, occupation and address.
Below is a list of names that we have collected from the this census so far. With additional research, it is hoped that we will be able to identify those with African heritage and provide stories about their lives.
Unfortunately, it may not be possible to find further information about all of these individuals as often people disappear from the records. However, every person we identify with African heritage is important in demonstrating that that there was a Black presence in Hull and East Yorkshire in the late nineteenth century.
Please contact us if you have any further information about the people featured in this list or you would like advice on how you can help our project by becoming a volunteer researcher in your spare time.
Last week, I visited the National Archives in Kew to gather information on the West Indian recruits who trained at Filey and the small contingent of Black American G.I’s based at Cottingham during World War Two. While records relating to the conflict are in abundance and the majority are very well preserved, after trawling through a large number of files kept by the Air Ministry, Colonial and War Offices it became increasing apparent that finding any specific information was going to be very difficult.
We now have a multitude of stories of people of African descent in Hull and East Yorkshire on our project website, and are adding to these stories every week. For example last week we released the story of Lilian Bader written for us by our guest writer Audrey Dewjee. Lilian, pictured below, was born in Liverpool in 1918 the daughter of Barbadian-born Marcus Bailey and moved to Hull when she was about seven years old. Lilian joined the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) during WWII and went on to marry and have two children. Read Lilian's story HERE.
We also released Emmanuel Armah’s oral history last week. Emmanuel's interview is the twenty fifth in our Contemporary Voices series. Listen to Emmanuel's interview, and find out more about our oral history project here.
Yesterday we launched a page on Duse Mohamed Ali, probably the most famous person of African descent to have lived and worked in Hull and tomorrow look out for a new blog post on my research at the National Archives in Kew into the West Indian recruits and American Black G.I’s during World War Two!
If you are enjoying reading our stories and listening to our oral histories and are interested in the experiences of Black people in the region and would like to get involved then click on the contact us button below.
We have new releases appearing every week, so please pop back to the Africans in Hull & East Yorkshire Project site again!
The start of 2017 has been an extremely busy time for the African Stories in Hull and East Yorkshire project. Already we have released a wide variety of new material which has shed greater light on the history of Black men and women in this region.
We have gained further knowledge of people of African descent in a professional capacity through our research on Black sailors, the University of Hull’s prestigious alumni and the narratives of sportsmen such as Clive Sullivan and Roy Francis.
We have also released multigenerational family histories which document what life was like in the region for people with African heritage. The Bowers and Weeks Families' stories have provided examples of men who relocated from the Caribbean to East Yorkshire, settled and had children.
In addition, we have added the stories of Black men and women who visited East Yorkshire to speak or perform. These include abolitionists Sella Martin, Henry ‘Box’ Brown, Alexander Crummell, William Craft and Moses Roper, as well as sportsmen such as the Harlem Globe Trotters.
Lastly, oral histories from Jason Bowers, Richard Weeks, Cynthia Bailey and Anne deGroot have been excellent additions to our expanding Contemporary Voices archive.
If you have missed any of these wonderful stories, please click on the individual links to read or listen to them straight away.
Dr Lauren Darwin