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.
Dr Lauren Darwin
African Stories Project Researcher.