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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2016  /  November 2016  /  Black People’s Involvement in the First World War

Black People’s Involvement in the First World War

Caroline Bressey at the IWM

Black People’s Involvement in the First World War

Dr Caroline Bressey (UCL Geography and Equiano Centre) was co-convenor and speaker at the Black History Month World War 1 Workshop, on Black People’s Involvement in the First World War, organised on 21 October by the Centre for Hidden Histories in partnership with the Imperial War Museum (IWM).

Convened with Professor David Killingray (Goldsmiths), it included papers from academic experts and community activist, as well as IWM and Heritage Lottery Fund specialists.

In her paper, Caroline traced the World War I era life stories of Black British individuals, drawing on her research using the Barnardos archive. Other papers addressed the use of oral history testimony in research, the marginalisation of African and Caribbean servicemen in war memorials, the value of photographic archives, and the continuing marginalisation of Black servicemen in current World War I centenary events.

There were also contributions from early career and PhD researchers, and a discussion of the representation of First World War colonial troops and labourers in contemporary photographs from the IWM’s archive.

There were question and answer sessions throughout, when the audience raised the need for greater university outreach on these issues and the role played by schools and the National Curriculum in sensitizing students to this history. There was a continuing need for campaigners and community activists to sustain the public visibility of Black people’s involvement in the 1914-1918 conflict.

Copies of the IWM’s AHRC-supported Whose Remembrance? film, and the guide, ‘Researching the British Empire in the First World War’, were made available to participants (See link below).

The Centre for Hidden Histories:

‘Whose Remembrance’:

The Equiano Centre:


Caroline at the IWM

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Caroline Bressey