Cataloguing Project: One Vast Interconnected World

  • 3 March 2020

Throughout 2019, staff from the British Empire & Commonwealth Collection worked on a project to open up access to some of their oldest photographic collections. This work was supported by a Paul Mellon Centre Curatorial Research Grant.

These collections hold photographs and drawings that document the experiences of British people who went to live overseas – their lifestyles, design tastes and social activities. They also show local responses to exported 'Britishness' and the cultural exchange which came about as a result of the empire.

The historian P.D. Morgan wrote about this type of interactive system between coloniser and colonised using the phrase 'One Vast Interconnected World'. This became the name of the project, which led to the cataloguing of over 4,500 photographs from South Asia, East and West Africa, Australia, China and the Caribbean.

Images from the project are displayed in a small exhibition, now open in the Bristol Archives searchroom and are also available online.