Scholar to discuss black activists’ reception in Victorian Britain

Hannah-Rose Murray, a visiting fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, will discuss Frederick Douglass and other African-American abolitionists who traveled to Britain in a free presentation at the New Haven Museum.

Titled “Frederick Douglass: New Haven to Great Britain,” the event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

According to Murray, scores of black activists like Douglass travelled to England, Ireland, Scotland, and even parts of rural Wales to educate the British public on slavery. Black men and women lectured in large cities and tiny fishing villages, wrote and published narratives, stayed with influential reformers, and ensured millions of words were written about them in the newspapers. Douglass spoke to hundreds of thousands of people between 1845 and 1847, and returned to America as the most famous African American in the transatlantic world.

Murray, who earned a Ph.D. from the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham, focuses her research on African American transatlantic visits to Britain between the 1830s and the 1890s. She posits that men and women like Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells made a huge impact on British society, and educated millions of people about the nature of American slavery and lynching. Murray has created a website dedicated to their experiences, which maps their speaking locations across Britain, and incorporates her own research and writing on black performance, celebrity and networking strategies in Britain, and the talks, plays and exhibitions she has organized on both sides of the Atlantic.

The New Haven Museum has been collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven since its inception as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862. Located at 114 Whitney Ave., the museum brings more than 375 years of New Haven history to life through its collections, exhibitions, programs, and outreach. For more information visit the museum’s website or its Facebook page, or call 203-562-4183.