Project: Exploring the colonial history of the University of Leeds

PROJECT DATE: SUMMER 2021

Researcher: Naomi Eluwa

I’m Naomi and I am in my third year of studying International History and Politics. I am really pleased to be able to contribute research to the really important topic of the colonial history of the University of Leeds as it is vital to allow individuals on campus to develop a greater understanding of the structural inequalities that impact their experience within the university. It will also help with decolonising the curriculum, something I am very passionate about.

The objectives of the project were to find out what the colonial history of the University of Leeds and in carrying out the research found it was very difficult to find information directly linking colonialism to the university.

I collected data by looking at the history of the University of Leeds. This led me to researching the Yorkshire College of Science, the Yorkshire College and the federal Victoria University. I did this primarily through looking at the resources in the University of Leeds Special Collections archives. I also used Hansard records to collect data on the individuals that were instrumental in the development of the University of Leeds.

With this research, I planned to uncover that like the majority of institutions founded in the 19th century, there were deep colonial links. I did this by focusing on individuals from MPs to members of the Royal Family.

In addition to the individuals that revealed the colonial history of the University of Leeds; the expenses files kept in the archives showed that the University directly invested in the East Indian Railway Company, thus highlighting the University’s desire, at the time, to maintain colonial rule in the Empire!