by Imogen Brown, Laura Henderson and Shree Jemahl, Form L4S.
Girls in the Lower Fourth visited the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool on 19th and 24th April as part of their studies of the origins, nature and legacies of the Slave Trade. Here, Imogen Brown, Laura Henderson and Shree Jemahl, all from Form L4S, report on their visit, accompanied by pictures from the visit of forms L4K and L4E.
On the 19th of April, 45 rather sleepy L4ths set off on a coach to Liverpool; on the day we would enjoy the delights of a look around the museum, a handling session and of course the museum gift shop. We were unsure of what adventures would prevail but we knew that they would be exciting and we would gain a lot from our trip.
With some school trips, the facts you learn can be interesting but leave no impact on you. It would be impossible to study the slave trade without imagining how the slaves themselves would have felt, and of course reflecting on the legacy of the slave trade today.The museum was much more exciting than just objects and information, it had quotations, video interviews with descendants of African slaves today and interactive displays. The inhumane punishment of the slaves in the Americas is something that many people find difficult to study, as the pain and suffering of the people involved can be hard to think about. A dark room with a screen on all four walls showed a re-enactment of the horrific punishment that the slaves had to face. Another section of the room that showed the legacy of the slave trade included an advertisement for Pear’s Soap, suggesting that black skin was dirt that could be washed off with soap. This horrible advert was an artefact that left a lasting impression on us.
After our visit to the museum galleries, we were lucky enough to have an artefact handling session with a member of staff from the museum. In the session we handled and discussed certain artefacts. These of course were not real, but rather replicas, and good idea too because who would trust us? It was very moving to be able to feel (literally) what the slaves went through and how the slave trade affected their lives. The artefacts included anti-slavery tobacco boxes, shackles and a poison bottle. The items came with question cards which we all discussed, and it was really interesting to hear others’ opinions. At the end of the session we all chose an object from the table we were sitting on and discussed what meant to the slave trade. One object that we found particularly interesting was the coded quilt used on the ‘underground railroad’. The different patterns embroidered on the fabric each could be used to pass messages from slave to slave. These quilts would have been hung out of windows and could be used to communicate things like the location of the nearest safe houses.
Overall we had a very insightful and interesting day at the Slavery Museum, even getting up and at school for 7.30! We would like to thank Mr Hammel and Mrs Britton for taking us and giving us the opportunity to expand our knowledge.