This resource can be used in teaching Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 students about the campaign for the abolition of slavery. It uses primary sources from the Suffolk Archives collections to explore the life and ideas of the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846), and endeavours to place him within wider context of abolition movements.

Sources include: extracts from Clarkson’s ‘Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species’, illustrations from Clarkson’s publication of the Brookes slave ship, extracts from public letters between Clarkson and Benjamin Greene, who was a slave owner, and an advert from a Haverhill grocer who was boycotting West Indian sugar.

The sources in this pack can be used to explore local connections with global history, particularly:

  • The role played by Thomas Clarkson in the campaign to abolish slavery, in the wider context of abolition campaigns and slave rebellions as a whole
  • The methods and arguments employed by abolitionists
  • How we should study and present the role of white abolitionists within the wider history of abolition movements

It can also be used as a jumping-off point for broader explorations of themes such as:

  • Racism
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Slavery in the modern world
  • Issues around compensating and apologising for historical slavery

We will shortly be publishing an accompanying resource with information on other historical episodes of slavery to help provide additional context.

Content warning

This pack contains sensitive content which could be upsetting, including descriptions and images of violence and inhumane treatment, discrimination, and outdated cultural depictions and language.


Find out more about Black abolitionists

We felt it was important to present a more balanced view of world history, and the fact that African people contributed significantly to the abolition of slavery. To help put Thomas Clarkson into a wider context, we have commissioned KMT Rising to create a resource to explore the stories of Black abolitionists, from the lecture tours of Frederick Douglass, to the revolution in Haiti. Download the teachers’ notes and PPT below.

Black Abolitionists Teachers Guide Final by Suffolk Archives on Scribd

Black Abolitionists Teacher… by Suffolk Archives