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Black History Month: Who are these National Bakery School students?

by Ruth M on 2019-10-15T09:00:00+01:00 in History | Comments

October is Black History Month, and we're celebrating this by looking at what we can find in the University Archives about Black History and the BAME experience at LSBU.

This photograph of students at the National Bakery School in 1947 is the first class photo where there are Black students. It’s not possible to tell if they are the first Black students of the Bakery School, as class photographs don’t exist between 1939 and 1947 – presumably because the Second World War interrupted the regular run of classes and it was a couple of years before the tradition started back up again. Even if not the very first, they are certainly amongst the earliest!

National Bakery School Class photograph 1947

It's probable, although hard to confirm, that these were international students, rather than UK based students. The National Bakery School had been attracting students internationally for several years – the first Indian student was in 1927, in a year which also had students from the Netherlands and Ireland. We know that there was an Indian student because the annual report for the Borough Polytechnic (now LSBU) mentions it, although we haven’t been able to identify him.

The 1947 annual report doesn’t mention where any international Bakery School students were from, this makes it much harder to establish who they were. Although there are statistics about students, they don’t include how many international/home students there were. The exam registers list names – as in the photograph below – but a name often doesn’t tell you much about where someone came from, and there is no information to help us match any of the faces in the class photograph to the names.

Exam Register 1947 for Bakery students

This highlights one of the difficulties with researching the history of BAME students at any university, not just LSBU. We’d love to know more about our past students, but often the information we’re looking for doesn’t exist or all we have is a list of names in an exam register. As you can see, the exam registers don’t give any additional information about the students and it’s also possible that not every student took those exams, so they aren’t even a complete list of the Bakery students that year.

So, who are these students? We don’t know, but we’d love to find out!


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