The University of Aberdeen’s Museums and Special Collections Team have a number of online exhibitions, on a variety of topics. This blog post focuses on the Scotland, Africa and Slavery in the Caribbean exhibition currently available online.
After the Union of Scotland and England in 1707, North East Scots eagerly claimed a share of the riches generated by slavery, especially in the Caribbean. The exhibition which was originally created to mark the 200th anniversary of Britain’s abolition of the African slave trade in 1807, presents research into violence against enslaved people in labour camps and the financial profits from slavery.
Library staff have selected a range of books in our collections that showcase the many different aspects of both the slave trade and the anti-slavery movement.
Recommended by Lucy Drysdale: A Monograph being a Contribution towards the History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade & Slavery by James Eames: Addressed to the Earl of Shaftsbury and published in 1854, this book is a blistering condemnation of slavery; and invites the Earl to follow the abolitionist’s example in the form of a detailed examination of Clarkson’s work as a “wise, zealous and untiring advocate for the rights and privileges of mankind…” Exploring his adult life from the point of winning prizes for his anti-slavery dissertation at Cambridge to working with luminaries such as William Wilberforce and Granville Sharp, and their final successes in Parliament, the narrative combines moral and philosophical arguments against the slave trade with historical biography and insight into the writings and thoughts of Clarkson and his fellow abolitionists.
Recommended by Louise Faustino: The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery by Vincent Brown: This book is multidisciplinary, part social history and part anthropology. It is themed around the “extravagant death rate” in Jamaica during the era of slavery, amongst all sectors of the population whether enslaved or free, white, or black. It outlines the horrifying violence that was a continual method of creating and maintaining slavery throughout the world. Further it examines how “mortuary politics”, that is, practices around death, were central in creating culture and giving communities opportunity for change, particularly in the abolitionist movement. Jamaica and its story are used to explain the racial culture of the making of the United States and the world of Britain too.
Recommended by Sarah Todd: The Interesting Narrative by Olaudah Equiano: A contemporary autobiography, Equiano tells his tale of life in southern Nigeria, enduring the brutality of plantation slavery, winning his freedom, and his subsequent life as a pre-eminent abolitionist, businessman, public speaker and author. With deliberation, piercing insight and deep humanity, he outlines the physical, mental and spiritual journeys his life contained, and how he developed his strong faith and speaking and writing abilities. Finally, the book lays the seeds of his legacy as a pioneering abolitionist.
Other books held in the Library’s collections give evidence on historical debates around abolition, highlight the differences in international law and attitudes, and explore the consequences of abolitionism in contemporary Scottish politics and society. Joseph Knight by James Robertson is a novel based on the landmark court case between Knight, an enslaved African brought back to Scotland from Jamaica, and his master John Wedderburn, a wealthy sugar-plantation owner. Taking place in 1778, this momentous legal trial ended with the ruling that the slave laws of Jamaica did not apply in Scotland, making Joseph a free man. Robertson’s “gift for witty re-imagining” and his “canny understanding of the novelistic and its conduits to the world we live in now” is evident as the story moves to Knight’s life following his emancipation; exploring the concepts of slavery and freedom with “cunning and great assurance.”
The Joseph Knight case came during a period of history where individuals all over the world were strongly challenging slavery and the political and commercial organisations that kept this brutal practice alive. Many of them, such as Clarkson and Equiano, are justly famous, but figures such as Zachary Macaulay are less well known. Born in Inverary and beginning his adult life as a plantation overseer, Macaulay soon discovered that slavery was a “foul stain upon this nation”, and embarked on a 40 year career of research, campaigning and writing for the cause in the UK and Sierra Leone. Iain Whyte’s Zachary Macaulay 1768-1838: The Steadfast Scot in the British Anti-Slavery Movement follows his subject’s efforts to balance his passion for this work with his personal shyness and desire for anonymity. Catherine Hall is another author who examines Macaulay closely; this time through looking at his legacy and the impact he made on his son Thomas: her work Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain examines the deep contrasts between them: the “evangelical humanitarianism” of the abolitionist and reformer against the “liberal imperialism” of the Victorian historian.
Elsewhere in our collection, we see strong friendships forming, and an international dimension to the anti-slavery movement. An example of this can be seen in “Geographies of Early Anti-Racist Protests in Britain: Ida B Wells 1893 Anti-Lynching Tour in Scotland” (Chapter 6 in the “Activists, Visionaries and Artists” section of Africa in Scotland, Scotland in Africa: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Hybridities.) The chapter details Wells’ life in America and her pioneering struggles as a teacher, journalist and activist in the USA; and her work on both sides of the Atlantic, working with like-minded British women such as Aberdeen-based Isabella Fyvie Mayo, in whose home Wells stayed while in Scotland in 1893; and Catherine Impey, founder of “Anti-Caste”, possibly the first British journal against racism. It explores how these three women met and worked together with other like-minded souls throughout the 1890s to consistently “keep plugging away at the evils they were fighting.” From the first speech Wells gave in the Music Hall in Aberdeen, the chapter provides a deep insight into the tour, the formation of ‘The Society of the Recognition of the Brotherhood of Man (SRBM)’ alongside it, and the strong public response to Wells and her speeches and writings across Scotland and England.
A broader perspective on this period in history; and how culture and society across the country was influenced by the changing political and social landscape can be found in Scotland and the Caribbean c.1740-1833: Atlantic Archipelagos. Written by former Aberdeen academic Michael Morris, this work fully examines the literature and poetry of the time, and explores and discusses how the imperial vision of the Scottish and British colonists in the Caribbean gave way to the realities of abolition and emancipation across the country, paying particular attention to figures such as Robert Burns, Joseph Knight and the Wedderburn family. Similarly, ‘Send Back the Money!’: the Free Church of Scotland and American Slavery by Iain Whyte is “an exciting investigation” of the growing opposition to slavery, and the various roles the Church played in galvanising support, spreading information and driving the national campaign. Finally, detailed information on local activities can be found in records of the Aberdeen Anti-Slavery Society, which can be accessed via our Special Collections Centre.
These selected items examine the themes, questions and some of the individuals featured in the exhibition from a variety of perspectives. We hope that you will gain a better understanding of this period from these resources, and welcome your comments and suggestions as we continue to develop our collections.
Lucy Drysdale, Louise Faustino & Sarah Todd.Many thanks to the Museums and Special Collections Team.
In a previous post, we told you about accessing e-resources off-campus. In this post, we would like to draw your attention to OnePetro, an important database of technical literature for the oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) industry.
The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), who own the OnePetro database, have an authentication (login) system based on the IP address of the user’s PC. Signing in is very straightforward when users are on-campus using University networked PCs. However, it is a 2-step process when off-campus, as users are required to come into the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) first so that their personal device will look as if it is campus-based.
Please follow the guidance on the Remote Access section of Toolkit – select the Remote VDI link in the ‘Guides’ section. Once you have logged in to the VDI, navigate to ‘Library Resources’, and from there to Primo.
We may be unable to post books out to our Education Distance Learners at the moment, but we are still here to help. As always, the Distance Learner team are available Monday-Friday from 9am-12pm, responding to your queries. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help with anything, as we would be happy to help!
Since the library building closed, we have been working hard to gain access to more e-books which are available via our online catalogue Primo.
We also have temporary access to some additional electronic resources; you can find a full list of what we have access to here. VitalSource and EBSCO eBooks are two that you may find particularly useful as they have access to some useful education resources and e-books. First time users of VitalSource: click on ‘Create a VitalSource account’. After setting up an account, VitalSource lets you borrow up to maximum 7 textbooks, you can read more information about VitalSource in one of our blog posts here.
We look forward to welcoming students and staff to the Old Aberdeen Library when we re-open, but in the meantime Aberdeen City Libraries have a free virtual library full of thousands of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eComics and digital resources that University of Aberdeen staff and students can access remotely from their home computer or mobile device.
Membership of Aberdeen City Libraries is available to people who work, live or study in Aberdeen City or Shire. If you are not already a member, you can join online now and start using the online services immediately. Sign up for free here.
There are many resources where scholarly content is made freely available online without restriction. Known as Open Access, these include full-text books, chapters, articles and many other outputs. We have listed a selection that you may find useful on our webpages.
The Library is here to help all postgraduate researchers as they begin, or continue their in-depth research, with a short series of Information Skills workshops designed to their needs. With so much academic literature available through the University of Aberdeen, these workshops will give you the confidence and skills to locate and manage the materials you need.
The workshops will take place on the 5th, 6th and 7th of February and will help you understand the resources available to you as researchers here at the University of Aberdeen, and how to get the best out of them.
three workshops on offer, each lasting two hours:
Literature searching – Part
1: Getting started
Literature searching – Part
2: Using databases
Literature searching – Part
3: Managing your references using RefWorks*
the three workshops we will look at:
Planning your search
Looking for books: using Primo and e-books
Databases of academic literature
Getting the best out of Google
Managing your references with RefWorks
Formatting Word documents with in-text citations and bibliographies
NOTE: The workshop focusing on the management of references
(Part 3) is not suitable for research postgraduates in the School of Law, as
the software used does not support the OSCOLA referencing style required for
out more, and to book onto the different workshops please visit www.abdn.ac.uk/coursebooking and
look for Library Information Skills classes.
Services from the IHS platform e.g. the OHSIS database, are unavailable at the moment. You’ll see a runtime error when attempting to access the database site. The suppliers are investigating the problem.
All bookings for the week of 24 August have been rescheduled to alternative locations. If you have a room booked you should already have been advised of this. As a contingency alternative locations for bookings in the week of 31 August are being sourced. If you have a booking during next week you will be contacted about it. If you need more information contact Emma Fowlie: Tel. 01224 273385; Email. email@example.com.
Information Point at TSDRL
Library staff will be available at an Information Point on the Ground Floor of the The Sir Duncan Rice Library 09.00 – 17.00 each weekday until the Library re-opens to help direct readers to alternative locations for services. Please note – there will be no access to the building for users or visitors (see Fetching Service above for details of how to obtain books for loan).
Inter Library Loans are being administered from the Taylor Library while TSDRL is closed. You can collect and return items at the Issue Desk there. Queries can be directed to: Alyson Petrie: Tel. 01224 272601; Email. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library Membership Queries
Library Memberships can still be issued or renewed at either Taylor Library or Medical Library. For any queries relating to these or ID card issues contact: Marion Blacklaw: Tel. 01224 273767; Email. email@example.com.
All fines for TSDRL loanable items incurred during the closure period will be waived.
Special Collections Centre and The Gallery
The Special Collections Centre and Ground Floor Gallery remain closed until further notice.
Nearby Classroom PC Facilities
For students needing access to Classroom PCs the nearest buildings with PC provisions are the Fraser Noble and Meston buildings. A full listings of computer classrooms available across campus is available at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/it/student/class/where-pc.php .
Thesis, dissertation and other binding and reprographic services will continue to run unaffected from the UniPrint office at 23 St Machar Drive (building no.3 on the map at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/about/documents/OA-Campus-Map-2014.pdf ). Work previously submitted to the Print Shop in SDRL can be collected from the UniPrint office which is open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Students should please print off your work from an MFD in Taylor Library or computing classroom before going to the UniPrint office.