Historians have argued that Scotland’s relationship with transatlantic slavery is enveloped in a sort of ‘collective amnesia’ – a widespread lack of awareness of how our country participated in both the slave trade and slavery. This is true for Glasgow as much as it is for Scotland as a nation. Our city participated fully in the slavery economy, yet the journey of re-discovery and coming to terms with that participation is still in its infancy, and it has a long way to go yet.

Our city changed as a result of slavery – the extraordinary wealth which Glasgow accumulated on the back of enslaved labour is embedded in the city we live in today. And by implication, so is the brutality, suffering and exploitation inflicted on the enslaved in the process. Legacies of all these things are woven into the fabric of our physical environment and our material culture.

Many objects and documents in Glasgow Museums’ collection, the City Archives and Special Collections testify in one way or another to this grim part of our collective heritage.

With this site we aim to draw attention to them and explore the ways in which they can shine a light on Glasgow’s relationship with transatlantic slavery during the 17th to 19th centuries.

This site is managed by curatorial staff at Glasgow Museums. We recognise that slavery and empire have left pervasive legacies across the world. People affected by them are likely to have insights and perspectives on our collections that we have not yet captured or reflected here. We welcome the contributions people make to work across Glasgow Museums, and would encourage anyone with an interest in our collections and the legacies of slavery and empire to get in touch. You can contact us here.

Duncan Dornan
Head of Museums and Collections
Glasgow Life/Glasgow Museums

For more information on Glasgow Museums’ collections please visit http://collections.glasgowmuseums.com