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Letter of Ignatius Sancho Offer Window to Life of Black Man in 18-Century London

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Northeastern researchers have mapped Ignatius Sancho's letters. What they found could change the way we think about Black life in 18-century England.

Over the course of 150 letters, Sancho depicts himself not as the character in a stereotypical Black narrative of the time, but rather as an avid letter writer who rubbed elbows with the upper echelons of British society. His letters chronicle his friendships, his sense of humor, his travels, and his everyday existence. 

And now, thanks to a research project at Northeastern University – London that maps his writing in the United Kingdom and beyond, his letters have been rediscovered in a new light, potentially changing the way we think about the Black experience under the British crown.

Led by Northeastern professors Nicole Aljoe and Olly Ayers along with four undergraduate research assistants, the Ignatius Sancho’s London project pulls data from digital and physical archives of Sancho’s letters and maps them, creating an interactive resource to help the public understand Black life in 18th-century England.

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