Did you know that there is a small display case in the Library? It is very easy to walk straight past the case on your way to the desk without stopping to take a look at what is inside. As the current display will soon be changing, this seems a good time to remind you all of its existence.
The display case is used to show off some of our manuscript and rare book collections which tie in with current exhibitions, anniversaries or topics. At present the display case contains material from our Michael Graham Stewart collection of material on the transatlantic slave trade to tie in with this year’s commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.
The material on display includes a slave registration certificate from 1826 for the birth of a baby boy named Japi in Cape Town; an inventory of slaves on the Prospect Sugar Estate in Jamaica in 1820; and an engraving of the slave ship Brookes of Liverpool from 1791 showing how to cram the maximum legal number of slaves into the decks for transportation. It was images such as this that helped to mobilise popular opinion in supporting the abolition of the slave trade.
Next time you are in the Library why don’t you stop by and have a look at the current display before it changes? The next display will be of manuscripts relating to the Great Eastern steamship designed by Brunel. Next January marks the 150th anniversary of the launch of the Great Eastern from a site almost directly opposite the Museum.
Kate (Manuscripts)