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 […]


This project is still a work in progress and each day we’re finding more information about the people and places that made black London in World War II. If you’re a researcher who has found something we’ve missed, or perhaps if you know someone from your circle of family and friends who was in London […]

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 […]

The Florence Mills Social Parlour

Amy Ashwood Garvey’s life would be remarkable by the standards of the twenty-first century let alone the first half of the twentieth. Born in Jamaica in the late 1800s, married to the most famous pan-African leader in the world in Harlem, and an active anti-colonial protestor as well as an entrepreneur in her own right, […]

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. […]