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The Abolition Project


This site looks at the role of Thomas Clarkson and others who helped in the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies. The site contains original source documents and images as well as actors' intepretations of abolitions poems and speeches. Also included is a number of online teaching tools.

It has been designed to provide background information, lesson ideas and tools for teachers, but could also be used by pupils for research with support.

This website has been developed from information from:

  • A three year MLA East of England funded project focusing on Thomas Clarkson that brought together archives, museums, historic sites, community groups, local schools and the county schools advisory service in a productive learning partnership. 
  • Study work and tools produced by local schools, consultants and Members working with E2BN and/or MLA.  These tools include 'Museum box' and the 'E2BN timeline and gallery'.

We hope the site will continue to be developed and enriched in the future.

The Clarkson Project

This Project was carried out in three phases: 

Phase 1: identified relevant local archive collections in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire concerned with Thomas Clarkson's work and the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery itself. The digitised documents cover the period 1790 to the 1890s and include letters, diaries, speeches, legal documents, printed material, photographs and illustrations.

Phase 2: Brought together teachers from 4 Suffolk schools, 3 teaching Years 8 and 9 and one primary teacher with Year 6. The County Humanities Adviser, the Suffolk Record Office and Suffolk's Heritage Learning Officer provided support and training including ways to make archives accessible in the classroom. Del White from the Ipswich-based NIA Project, gave guidance on the importance of language and terminology, the selection of teaching materials and other guidelines for teaching this sensitive subject. The teachers developed schemes of work focusing on Thomas Clarkson and abolition, based on the archival material, and trialled and evaluated these with their students. Coinciding with the bicentenary of the passing of the bill, local media became involved, filming and interviewing students at a workshop in Ipswich Record Office, training students in radio interviewing and programme development and students used these skills when they visited Thomas Clarkson's home, church and grave at Playford near Ipswich.

Phase 3 has been the development of this website hosted by E2BN which includes all the digitised documents, the teachers' schemes of work, teaching guidance and the interactive museum box. Students in the project also contributed to workshops at Ipswich Museum focusing on the museum's development of its 2007 exhibition, - Abolition! The Thomas Clarkson Story.

Impact on Teaching and Learning

Few schools in Suffolk were teaching the slave trade and abolition in KS2 and 3. The ones that were, were not using local archives and collections in their teaching. As well as the 4 schools directly involved in the project 2006-07, three other Suffolk schools (2 at KS3 and 1 at KS2) have taught abolition this year. This will also be taken up by the high school teaching the GCSE Pilot History course 2007-08. The aim is to roll the programme out to all Suffolk schools. In addition, several schools in Cambridgeshire have been using the sources and working with the Cambridgeshire Adviser.

The project has provided opportunities for teachers and students to use local sources, collections and sites.

The project has encouraged teachers to teach history from a BME and more culturally diverse perspective, within the context of human rights and to promote the teaching of black history within Suffolk. To support, teachers' guidelines have been developed on how to teach abolition and slavery with sensitivity and new online teaching resources have been written on slave resistance and revolts and the work of black abolitionists in ending slavery.

The project has

  • Broadened the KS3 history curriculum as currently taught in Suffolk schools, to include a more culturally diverse history and local history
  • Provided professional development opportunities for teachers
  • Made available new and sustainable online teaching resources
  • Fostered partnerships between BME communities, local schools and archives and collections
  • Demonstrated the value of using local sources and collections to teach national and international events
  • Built knowledge and pride in students' own locality by embedding local events and people into a national and international perspective
  • Built knowledge of a ‘local hero' who made a difference nationally and internationally
  • Fostered students' self-esteem and pride in their own history and ability to make a difference
  • Provided students with the opportunity to explore an engaging model of active citizenship
  • Widened teachers' awareness of Suffolk Record Office and other archive collections
  • Provided opportunities for teachers to work together, to share ideas and strategies
  • Demonstrated how Clarkson's writings and abolition sources can be used for literacy across the curriculum - constructing arguments, writing for an audience, persuasive language, language of extended argument, etc

Supplementary Work - Abolition Project

A number of other schools and organisations across the E2BN region have also been working on projects relating to abolition. These areas include:

  • Citizenship KS4: Challenging racism and discrimination - where do we come from?
  • KS3: What has 19th century political history got to do with citizenship today?  Election and campaigning.
  • History: Unit 15 ' Black peoples of America: from Slavery to Equality

In addition, a number of tools have been developed and tested as part of the project: Museum Box; the E2BN Timeline and the E2BN Gallery - a number of albums have been linked to the site. 

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