Slave Trade Abolition in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk
Throughout the year of the Bicentenary, 2007, commemorating the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807, St John’s College ran an innovative project generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, working with secondary school children to `tell a different story’ about the history of the abolition of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade. Working with students from six secondary schools across the two counties of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, the STACS project has promoted engagement with abolitionism at the regional rather than the national level by considering the roles of Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson. Drawing on original material from St John’s College Library and Suffolk and Cambridgeshire County Records and Archives the project has focused on working with the six schools to produce dramatic presentations on slave trade abolition. Further details are available here.
From September 2008, the `nature and effects of the slave trade, and resistance’ became a compulsory part of the history curriculum for secondary school students – hopefully one of the most profound legacies of the bicentenary year. The second substantial part of the STACS project has been the development of resources for use in schools to teach pupils about the slave trade and abolition, resources which successfully meet the QCA KS3 History guidelines that: `the study of the slave trade should include resistance, the abolition of slavery and the work of people such as Olaudah Equiano and William Wilberforce’. Age appropriate material has now been developed for both primary (Key Stages 1, 5-7 years; 2, 7-11 years) and secondary schools which draw on original historical documents and the most contemporary research being undertaken on slave resistance. The central focus of the material for primary school is on the extraordinary life of Equiano introducing pupils to the nature of the slave trade through his famous autobiography The Interesting Narrative (1797) which played such a crucial role in the abolitionist campaign. The material developed for secondary schools builds upon this, but approaches the subject through the person of Thomas Clarkson and takes pupils onto a much more wide ranging and complex discussion about the various factors involved in the abolition of the slave trade including a consideration of its economics, the role played by various revolts like the Fedon Revolution in Grenada (1795-96) and resistance on the ships by enslaved Africans – the latter drawing on research undertaken by Professor David Richardson of Hull University.
The material is freely available at www.slavetradeabolition.org