On this day 1807

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On 25th March 1807, the Slave Trade Act 1807 was passed by Parliament. This was the first definite victory for the campaign initiated twenty years earlier to abolish the trade. Although slavery itself had been outlawed in England since 1772, it remained legal in many parts of the Empire until 1833.

Archives and Manuscripts contains a significant amount of material relating to Slavery and Anti-Slavery, spanning almost exactly three centures: from an account in MS.MSL.19/2 concerning a revolt on board a slave-ship sailing from Africa to America in Oct 1678, to Dr Cicely Williams’ correspondence with the Anti-Slavery Society, 1979-80, concerning the issue of female genital mutilation.

The most important collection among our holdings relating to anti-slavery is the Hodgkin papers: these include materials of several members of this extensive network of interrelated families in the Society of Friends, most particularly the papers of Thomas Hodgkin MD. As well as being a pioneering pathologist and the first person to describe Hodgkin’s Disease, he was actively involved in the emancipation of slaves and projects of colonisation by freed slaves.

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall, FRHistS, PhD, DipAA, has been an archivist at the Wellcome since 1979. She has published extensively on the history of sexuality and gender in Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries, given many talks and conference presentations, and featured on radio and television. Further details can be found at her website.

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