Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Learning Resource created by Leeds Museums and Galleries | Leeds Discovery Centre.


The dress and textile collection at Leeds Museums and Galleries is full of interesting objects. The garments help us tell stories of the past. Perhaps they represent someone who lived in Leeds or maybe the object was manufactured in Yorkshire. However, many of the objects in the collection have other stories that we rarely talk about. This resource looks at a history of cloth that is often overlooked.


Curriculum Links

  • KS3 History: ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901
  • KS4 History: British Empire, migration
  • KS3 PSHE: Living in the Wider World: racism, discrimination, human rights.


Discussion Ideas

  • What are some of the legacies from the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans that we can see today? For example: unequal power structures, unfair trade, unequal standards of living and racism.


Activity Ideas

  • During the trade in enslaved Africans, enslaved people were often traded for textiles. Research modern day slavery in the garment industry.
    - What parallels can be drawn between historical slavery and modern-day slavery?
    - Why do we still see slavery in the clothes manufacturing industry today?
    - What can we as consumers do to help combat modern day slavery?

    We now have multiple ways of finding information about what is going on around the world – through newspapers, online, television, social media etc. We can talk to people in other countries in real time, and travel all over the world. How far do you think people living in Britain and buying cotton at the time of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans knew about the reality behind the cloth?
    - Research the work of abolitionists active at the time of the transatlantic trade.
    - Who were the campaigners?
    - What methods did they use to campaign?
    - How far could consumers in Britain plead ignorance of the slavery origins of their garments?