Africa, the Blitz and Nixon: the life of Dorothy Purser

Lieutenant Colonel Dorothy Purser was a Jamaican pharmacist and midwife who travelled to London during the Blitz to train as a Salvation Army officer. During her career she served in the UK, the West Indies and the United States. Dorothy had two assignments at Mother’s Hospital, Clapton, London, first as an officer in 1941, and […]

Foregrounding Human Stories in Quantitative Data

The Mapping Black London project is built from two large databases, together containing 1013 rows of data (as of 28 April) – a number only set to increase over the coming months. Given the vast amount of data that we are working with, one of the challenges presented to the Mapping Black London team has […]

Creating a Visual Historiography

Secondary literature has played an important role in shaping the Mapping Black London project. As of the 20 April 2020, eighty different secondary sources, be they monographs, edited volumes or academic articles have been consulted for the project and 70% of points found on the Map of Black London in World War II come from […]

Ladipo Solanke

No figure embodies the excitement and tensions inherent in the black student politics of 1930s London quite like Ladipo Solanke, founder and long term secretary-general of the West African Students Union Association, (WASU). In a career of activism spanning three decades, Solanke rubbed shoulders with countless celebrities and politicians, both black and white, and helped […]

African-American Red Cross Social Clubs

‘A permanent jukebox, a weekly orchestra, drinks on the very soft side, and charming red cross hostesses who savvy how to keep the boys clear of the doldrums’. Such was the description provided of the Duchess Street branch of the American Red Cross service clubs by David H. Orro, war correspondent for the Chicago Defender. […]

Aggrey House

Accused of being a ‘little Jim-Crow hostel’ by the Trinidadian writer George Padmore, Aggrey House was an institution founded by the British government to offer temporary accommodation to black students in London. Throughout the nine years of its existence from 1934 to 1943, the House was torn between its twin founding missions to both support black […]