Hannah-Rose Murray

Early Career Leverhulme Research Fellow

Background

Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray received a PhD in American Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2018. Her research focuses on recovering and amplifying formerly enslaved African American testimony (including forgotten slave narratives, oratory and visual performance), specifically focusing on their transatlantic journeys to Britain between the 1830s and the 1890s. She has created a website (www.frederickdouglassinbritain.com) dedicated to their experiences and has mapped their speaking locations across Britain, showing how Black women and men travelled far and wide, from large towns to small fishing villages, to raise awareness of American slavery. She has organized numerous community events including talks, performances, podcasts, plays, walking tours and exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic. Her first book, Advocates of Freedom: African American Transatlantic Abolitionism in the British Isles, will be published by Cambridge University Press in Autumn 2020.

Qualifications

PhD in American Studies from the University of Nottingham (2018)

MA in Public History from Royal Holloway University (2012)

BA in History from UCL (2011)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Early Career Leverhulme Fellow

Co-Director of Survivor Alliance UK, a not-for-profit organisation founded by Minh Dang in 2018.

Research summary

Transatlantic abolitionism; U.S. slavery; U.S. history; African American history; slave resistance; Civil Rights; race; performance; the Black Atlantic; networks; print culture; visual culture; #BlackLivesMatter; activism; African Americans in Britain; Frederick Douglass; celebrity culture; abolitionist iconography; oratory; legacy and memorialisation. 

Summary of PhD: “It is Time for the Slaves to Speak:” Transatlantic Abolitionism and African American Activism in Britain 1835-1895

During their transatlantic journeys to Britain throughout the nineteenth century, African Americans engaged in what I term “adaptive resistance,” a multi-faceted interventionist strategy by which they challenged white supremacy and won support for abolition. The successful employment of adaptive resistance relied on a triad of performance, abolitionist networks and exploitation of print culture. For the first time, I have identified and unified these themes as central to black abolitionist transatlantic visits, and conclude that if an individual ensured an even balance between all three, it was likely their sojourn was successful. This changes our previous knowledge of black abolitionist missions, as we can use this analysis to explain why some activist visits were moresuccessful than others. 

Knowledge exchange

I have held numerous community talks, seminars, workshops on both sides of the Atlantic, and have written blog posts for archives, libraries, community activists, and independent historians. Other activities include:

Performances

‘“Send Back the Money!” An Evening with Frederick Douglass.’ 9 November 2018, The Jam House, Edinburgh. In conjunction with Dr. Arun Sood from the University of Plymouth, I compiled testimony from my transcribed speeches of Douglass to write a script celebrating Douglass’ activism in Scotland. The venue invoked historical memory by reciting this testimony, on a site where Douglass had actually lectured in Edinburgh. A folk singer performed a song written in 1846 and inspired by Douglass’ visit, and Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier (University of Edinburgh) closed the evening with a talk about Douglass’ impact on Scotland.

“The Iron in My Soul”, 9 July 2017. A Performance celebrating Morley and Henson’s friendship. I composed the script for this short play, and 99% of the dialogue comprised of testimony Henson and Morley gave through oratory or written narrative. The play can be viewed here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwEKiyn-M8g

Black Abolitionist Walking Tour and Performance the British Library, 2016. I wrote a walking tour and a short play re-enacting an antislavery meeting between Frederick Douglas and George Thompson.

Exhibitions:

Henson and Morley: Journey to Justice Exhibition, National Justice Museum, Nottingham. January-June 2017. As part of a collaboration between Midlands 3 Cities, University of Nottingham, Journey to Justice and the National Justice Museum, I curated an exhibition alongside artist Matthew Chesney (BACKLIT Art Gallery) focusing on Josiah Henson and Samuel Morley. The exhibition included a panel describing their lives and original artefacts including Henson’s Narrative and late nineteenth century photographs. Their interracial friendship championed racial equality, abolition, worker’s rights, and social justice. I received a BAAS Public Engagement Award to organize an extensive public engagement programme including a performance.

Picturing Frederick Douglass Exhibition, Museum of African American History, Boston, Massachusetts, 2016. My digital map showcasing Frederick Douglass’ speaking locations was displayed between June 2016 and February 2018. I wrote a timeline of Douglass’ life, which was displayed around the exhibit and contributed ten locations where Douglass made a mark on British society. This exhibition is currently being used by local police to challenge racism - https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/arts/museums-police-racism.html

Project activity

African American Mapping Digital Humanities Project

I have created the only publicly available website dedicated to Frederick Douglass in Britain (www.frederickdouglassinbritain.com) It includes an overview of his journey, together with the main controversies he caused, as well as digital maps highlighting his speaking locations. Another three maps show Josiah Henson, Ida B. Wells and Moses Roper’s speaking locations, and a fifth map shows the locations of black abolitionist visits to the British Isles as a whole. Images of the maps have been used in museums, talks and university courses in both Britain and America, and has been included on the bibliographies of projects such as Frederick Douglass in Ireland.

Black Abolitionist Walking Tours of London

Every 2 months, I conduct an African American Abolitionist Walking Tour of London, celebrating six sites rich in the history of activism against slavery, white supremacy and lynching. I cover the histories of Frederick Douglass, Martin Delany, William and Ellen Craft, Josiah Henson, Henry Highland Garnet, John Sella Martin, William Wells Brown, and Ida B. Wells.

Heritage Plaques

In collaboration with Jak Beula from Nubian Jak Heritage Plaques, I have organised two heritage plaques to Frederick Douglass (in London in 2013) and Ida B. Wells (in Birmingham in 2019). I am currently in discussion with English Heritage to erect a heritage plaque to William and Ellen Craft in London.

Talks and Seminars

As part of my Leverhulme Fellowship, I am designing a series of seminars and talks about Black abolitionists across Scotland.

Current project grants

Early Career Leverhulme Fellowship

View all 11 publications on Research Explorer