Senate House Library offers researchers unique resources to study Black histories across the UK, Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa. One of the collection’s strengths is its ability to illustrate the importance of the connections between diaspora and home country in 20th-century activist movements.
The library’s archives evidence the multipronged interchanges formed across the Atlantic between Caribbean communities in the UK and abroad. These are seen in the papers of Trinidadian writer, historian and political activist C.L.R. James, who spent his life moving between Britain and Trinidad, and Jamaican lawyer and activist William ‘Billy’ Arthur Watkin Strachan, who first fought as a Royal Air Force pilot in World War Two and then campaigned for Jamaican independence from Britain. Both collections are fragments of personal histories that spurned on anti-colonial independence movements and the transition into a post-colonial world.
Archives on South Africa
The importance of transnational community networks can also be observed in the Library’s archives on South Africa. These materials show the international efforts involved in the struggles to oppose Apartheid in South Africa. Among these records, we hold one of our most recent acquisitions: the Paul and Adelaide Joseph archive. Paul and Adelaide Joseph were South African-born anti-Apartheid activists who were forced to flee to London in the 1960s. Their archive features letters and correspondence relating to Nelson Mandela, with whom the Joseph family was close friends, giving an intimate and personal perspective on this history.