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History students join forces with museum experts in research project for groundbreaking exhibition

University of Gloucestershire History students have collaborated with the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum in a groundbreaking study for a new exhibition exploring the military roles of enslaved and free Black men during an 18th century global conflict.

Postgraduate and undergraduate students joined forces with the museum to investigate the involvement of soldiers from Gloucestershire in military campaigns in the West Indies during the Seven Years War (1756–1763), which featured major European powers.

The research examined how enslaved and free Black men were employed by the Gloucestershire Regiment during the conflict, shedding new light on what until now had been an underexplored element of the Glosters’ history.

students looking at display boards and paintings at the museum
Students being shown around the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum by Director, Matthew Holden

The study examined the life of Ukawsaw Gronniosaw – also known as James Albert – who is believed to be the first person from an ethic minority to serve with the regiment and the first person to write a narrative of his experiences of transatlantic slavery.

The collaborative project has informed a new exhibition at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum entitled ‘The 28th Regiment of Foot & The West Indian Campaign in The Seven Years’ War’, which runs from 1 November until March. The museum is open on Wednesdays to Sundays (10am to 4pm) and viewing is free with paid museum entry.

Matthew Holden, Director of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, said: “Collaborating with University of Gloucestershire on such a forward-thinking project has been a fantastic experience.

“Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum are looking to expand their exhibitions and exhibits beyond that which one might expect to find in military museums. With the help of University of Gloucestershire, we are really shining a light on 360 degrees of history.”

Dr Christian O’Connell, Academic Course Leader in History at the University, said: “I’m very proud of our students and the way they’ve been able to contribute to this important project.

“It has been a great opportunity to develop their skills and gain some valuable experience, but most of all, they have directly contributed to shaping public knowledge on an important and very timely subject.”