Subject Guides

Our subject guides offer an introduction to key themes within our collections. Each subject guide presents an historical overview, related items from our collection and bibliography to support further research. We are continuously adding new subject guides, however if you have a particular interest or suggestions, we would love your feedback, email

You can further your research via the Archives Hub Discovery Network, which includes over 280 institutions providing basic access to their collections and repositories across the UK.


Black Cultural Archives has a rich resource of unique journals and newspapers, highlighted in this guide. If you would like a list of unique titles which can be found at other institutions please contact us.

The enslavement of Africans from the 17th century saw a huge rise in negative portrayals of Black people. During the 19th century Social Darwinism, or scientific racism, grew in popularity and can be seen today in stereotyping.The resources at Black Cultural Archives can be used to promote an alternative history and encourage positive representations.

The emergence of Black communities led to the fostering of new identities and forms of art, in part found in the shared cultures of the Caribbean and Africa and in part as a counter balance to the dominant, white culture.During the 1970’s there was a re-emergence of many community based dance and theatre groups, but they struggled to find funding and to professionalise.

Based on Bernard Coard’s seminal book, this guide covers some of the issues facing Black children in the education system, along with a brief timeline on education history.


Covering the turbulent decade of the 1980s, this guide provides some background to the key uprisings in 1981 and 1985, using the rich resources available at Black Cultural Archives.

The activism of the Black women’s movement focused on, but was not limited to, the areas of work, health, education and organisation as set out in The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain, the influential book by Beverly Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe on the Black women’s movement up to the 1980s.

There has been a Black publishing presence in the United Kingdom stretching back to the eighteenth century.However, the variety and popularity of Black publishing and press exploded in the 1960’s and 1970’s as a direct result of the political and press climate at the time.

This guide provides a brief introduction to the system of enslavement and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, along with a timeline of key dates throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


This guide looks at the ephemera collection held at Black Cultural Archives, giving details of what ephemera is and how it can be used.

The Georgian period was a time of immense growth and change in Britain, a pivotal point in British history. Whilst there were a number of prominent figures leading and shaping the campaign for racial equality in Georgian Britain, there were a larger number of more “everyday” Black Georgians, working particularly as domestic servants.

This guide aims to provide an overview of Ansel Wong and his collection, highlighting significant moments in his varied career. Ansel Wong has been involved in many aspects of Black British Education. He has also been involved with a number of Black Power movements such as the Black Liberation Front and the UK Black Panther movement.

This guide provides an insight to the variety of Black British campaigns and movements that took place during the 20th Century.


This new subject guide was released to coincide with the Rastafari in Motion exhibition in 2016. The origins of the Rastafari movement can be traced back to the 1930s with the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I on the 2nd November 1930 in Ethiopia.

Reference NUBIAN/2/2/ Reproduced by kind permission of Nubian Steps

Black Cultural Archives were gifted dance collections as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Black Dance Archives project. This was in partnership with National Resource Centre for Dance, University of Leeds, and State of Emergency. For further details on the collections we hold at Black Cultural Archives, please look at the Browse page via this link

Black Echoes Reference PERIODICALS/10 Reproduced by kind permission of Black Echoes

This introductory subject guide is intended to extend upon the three themes featured in the Black Sound exhibition. This highlights the array of Original imports of Black artists, mostly from America who visited Britain and ended up living here from 1919 onwards. DIY culture symbolizes the creativity in music through pirate radio stations of the 1960s through accessible technology. Finally Remastering the mainstream focuses on the triumph of freedom of ideas, boldness of spirit and hard graft.

This new subject guide is released to coincide with the unveiling of the First and Second World War memorial to the contribution made by African and Caribbean and Women, as well as it being the 74th anniversary of the MV Empire Windrush arriving at Tilbury Docks on 22nd June 1948.