Public History MA Placement: Researching Black History at York Minster

Posted on 16 April 2014

For my placement choice I was given the opportunity to work at the York Minster. The remit was to research Black history that was explicitly connected to the Minster and the resulting research would form part of an exhibition for Black History month.

‌‌For my placement choice I was given the opportunity to work at the York Minster. The remit was to research Black history that was explicitly connected to the Minster and the resulting research would form part of an exhibition for Black History month.

The entire placement was great but the aspect that I most enjoyed was the engagement with primary sources. I visited the Borthwick institute to have a look at deeds of sale of slaves to the Lascelles of Harewood house. To have a piece of paper almost three centuries old in front of me that detailed the sale of human flesh was both deeply emotive and affecting. I also was given the privilege of working at the Old Palace and where I had the opportunity to look at a baptismal entry dated from 1777 that detailed the baptism of a black man by one of the Minster's Canons. This experience had the longer lasting effect of clarifying what I would like to do in the future as a career.

Through the efforts of my placement supervisor Helen Moore I was also given the privilege of seeing how other institutions work. We went to Wakefield Cathedral and visited Wilberforce House in Hull. Both of these experiences not only gave me new ideas for my research but also gave me an insight into the heritage sector as a whole and the challenges faced by people working in this area.

My placement was an experience that I would recommend to anyone even remotely interested in working in the heritage industry. It allows you to see the practical application of history and the challenges and rewards that this application yields.

Megan Maisey

Public History MA Placement