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Archive visit: After the Windrush

In this seminar, we are going to consider the consequences of West Indian migration to the UK, focusing on the 1950s. I also want to (re)introduce you to working with the collections of the Modern Records Centre (MRC), which is at Warwick and could be an excellent source for future long essays and dissertations. Indeed, we'll be holding this seminar at the MRC.


Everyone should read the following by way of an introductory overview:

Thompson, M. E., 'Forty-and-one years on: An overview of Afro-Caribbean migration to the United Kingdom' in Palmer, R. W. (ed.) In Search of a Better Life: Perspectives on Migration from the Caribbean (New York; London, 1990), pp 39-70.

In addition, you will be working in sub-groups for this seminar, with each assigned one of the primary sources (A-E):

Group 1 (Tuesday, 3-4)
  • Zara Brown, Emily Byrne, Jemima Benjamin - source A
  • Mali Benjamin, Jaz Kobewka, Aiysah Southon - source B
  • Shereen Ahmed, Koehun Aziz-Kamara, Zach Baker - source C
  • Mary Otusile, Tobias Peters - source D
Group 2 (Wednesday, 11-12)
  • Safia Ali, Lucy Burn, Liv Watts - source E
  • Mike Candy, Tamar McPherson, Arabella Walker - source A
  • Emma Coleman, Sam Hall - source B
Group 3 (Tuesday, 4-5)
  • Chloe Marshall, James Pritchett - source C
  • Richard Caswell-Jones, Afia Headley, Eve McKeown - source D
  • Matthew Barrett, Hannah Ipaye, Krishan Sachdeva - source E
  • Martha Connell, Liam Gould, Diane Musabi - source A
Group 4 (Wednesday, 12-1)
  • Charlotte Blythe, Megan Clarke - source B
  • Francesca Gordon, Lily Satchell, Evan Tarr - source C
  • Jess Hackett, Ben Kinder, Elizabeth Olabode - source D
  • Esme George Scantlebury, Nile Thomas, Hamish Wilson - source E
Primary Sources
  • Source A - MSS.309/U/5/1/64 'West Indian immigrants - a survey of the position in the Midlands' by Felicity Bolton. Movement for Colonial Freedom pamphlet 1956
  • Source B - MSS.125/1/3/33 Correspondence and newspaper cuttings following the 1958 race riots in Britain
  • Source C - MSS.200/B/3/2/C1199 Immigrants from the West Indies. Correspondence, including answers to BEC questionnaire
  • Source D - MSS.292/805.7/3 Commonwealth Workers in Britain - 'Coloured people in Great Britain: Summary of press news and comment', Institute of Race Relations, September 1958
  • Source E - MSS.292/805.7/3 Commonwealth Workers in Britain - British Caribbean Welfare Service annual report, 1957

Seminar Activity

Each group should be prepared to speak for 10 minutes maximum about their primary source. Focus on the following questions, in particular:

  • Who/which organisation created produced the source?
  • What does the source have to say about West Indian immigration to the UK - both positive and negative?
  • Does the source make any proposals for how West Indian immigration to the UK should be encouraged, managed, prevented etc.?
  • How does the source represent West Indian people?

These materials are ready for you to consult at the MRC. To ensure that each group has the Small Meeting Room to themselves while doing this preparatory work, I want each group to choose one hour-long slot and then e-mail me so that the MRC will be ready for you:

  • Wednesday, 20th February, 10am-4pm
  • Thursday, 21st February, 10am-4pm
  • Friday, 22nd March, 10am-4pm
  • Monday, 25th February, 10am-4pm

You will each need to bring your student card so you can sign in, plus the reference number of document you wish to consult (e.g. MSS.309/U/5/1/64). Please take laptops, tablets etc. and/or notebooks and pencils so you can take notes. You can also take cameras/camera phones so you can capture images of the sources. Your group might want to use these in your presentations. You must not take any liquids, pens or marker pens.

The seminars

The seminars on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th February will take place at the MRC in the Seminar Room at the usual times. Each group will have 10 minutes maximum to present on the source you have be assigned, followed by questions from the rest of the class. If you wish to use PowerPoint to present images/slides, please either bring a USB stick or e-mail me the file in advance.

Click here for more information on the Modern Records Centre.

Further reading

See the reading list of the associated lecture.

Additional primary sources