The Missing Chapter: Black Chronicles
Web App

A new free online resource featuring 300 of the earliest photographs portraying people of African, Caribbean and South Asian descent during the Victorian era in Britain.


  • A unique snapshot of black lives and migrant experiences during the decades following the birth of photography in 1839.
  • Many of these images have not been seen in over 125 years. The photographs were unearthed during Autograph ABP’s three-year research project The Missing Chapter.
  • For public and educational use.
  • Teacher guidance notes and interpretive study materials provide a comprehensive visual resource for classroom activities, lesson plan development and independent research.

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The first time these images are made available online in a single resource, the Web App has been developed through Autograph ABP’s The Missing Chapter project. Drawing from the photographs first exhibited in Autograph ABP’s acclaimed exhibition Black Chronicles II in 2014, the Web App features interactive activities and downloadable learning resources.

The Missing Chapter is a three-year research project supported by Heritage Lottery Fund to find, exhibit, and make available to the public the earliest photographs taken of people from different cultural backgrounds in Britain.

About the photographs
The photographs in the Web App represent a diverse range of people, from as-yet unidentified individuals living and working in Britain to performers, politicians, dignitaries, servicemen and women, royalty, missionaries and known personalities

Their collective presence bears direct witness to the nation’s colonial and imperial history, and the expansion of the British Empire during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

These portraits reveal an important, complex black presence in Britain before the SS Empire Windrush landed in 1948 with nearly 500 Caribbean migrants, which is often cited as the key moment in the emergence of a multicultural British society. Many of these photographs were produced in commercial studios during the second half of the nineteenth century, and lay buried deep within the archives for decades - unseen for more than 125 years.

Part of The Missing Chapter programme, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund. Developed in association with the Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images.

For teachers and educators

  • The Web App has been designed with a comprehensive guide for learning objectives, curriculum links and contextual information.
  • Teachers and tutors can use the resource in formal and informal learning environments.
  • This resource will deepen student’s engagement, knowledge and understanding of a ‘missing chapter’ in the visual heritage of Britain.

Learning objectives
The Missing Chapter Web App will:

  • Encourage students to critically engage with a unique collection of historical photographs, exploring how they present different, under-explored perspectives on British cultural history.
  • Support and inspire cross-curricular teaching and learning, which promotes the importance of visual literacy, stimulates critical and independent thinking and introduces specialist terms relevant to multiple subject areas.
  • Explore the role of archives and collections brought to public attention through The Missing Chapter research.
  • Make new research accessible for a wide range of audiences from learning, recreational and academic contexts, through an interactive, creative online environment in which to engage with the work.

Cross cirriculum links and themes

  • Art & Design
  • Photography
  • History
  • English Language
  • Geography, Sociology
  • Citizenship
  • Media Studies

Key themes in the app include: empire, migration, identity and cultural diversity

Study skills developed include: visual literacy, critical analysis, representation and research.

About The Missing Chapter

The Missing Chapter project aims to bring together photographs that showcase diverse black presences in Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund from 2013 – 2016, images are identified through new curatorial research and working collaboratively with national archives and collections, both public and private.

The Missing Chapter project includes exhibitions and events, formal and informal learning activities, and the creation of new educational resources.

One important aspect of the project’s mission is to introduce its findings to new environments and audiences outside galleries or museum spaces, including digitally.