Birmingham City Council

A Shared History, A Shared Future: The Game

Shared History Shared Future
A Shared History, A Shared Futurecelebrates 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade.
Community based groups have been exploring the ways in which slavery in all its forms throughout history has operated, and how it relates to our lives in Birmingham.

The Game

A project with Chandos Primary School


There are many ways culture is expressed. We explored our culture through games.

This project began with a visit to Birmingham Central Library by Year 5 students from Chandos Primary School to look at the Parker Archive of Games, and other material about slavery. The group then examined their own games, of all kinds, and thought about where they had come from, and who they had learned them from.


Film maker John Hill-Daniel led workshops with Drama worker Rebecca Hemmings, learning through play, looking at what those games said about the people who had made them, and the people who had used them.


Having learned about slavery, past and present, we adapted games and created our own games to say something about slavery. We used games to examine our identity and explore issues of slavery.


We then learned how to make a film, made the script and produced our own film, based on what we had discovered through the project.



Games and Birmingham City Archives

The objectives, rules and the artwork in games can provide cultural indicators about who has made the game, who plays the game and where a game has come from.

When Chandos Primary School visited archives they looked at The Parker Archive of childrens games.

They looked at games like Saucy Sybil and My Lady Betty. Paper dolls have been popular with little girls for a long time and these are particularly fine examples. Their costumes are those of a fashionable young girl in London in the 1890s.

They also looked at games like Fancy Bazaar, a trading game, with hand-coloured cards representing the stall holders and produce cards showing everything from cabbages to fancy goods which were available in shops at the time the game was made.

There are tangrams in the collection. These have more obvious links with indentured labour. The name is derived from a cross between Tan i.e. from the Tan dynasty, China, and gram, as in diagram meaning pictorial representation. The Game first appeared here in the 1800s, and was more than likely brought to America and Europe by Chinese labourers.

The children made their own Games about slavery, derived from their own games. We also made an adaption of a common Parlour Game. Every player has a card, but does not know who they are, but everyone else can see who everyone else is (it might be useful to attach the card to your back). By asking questions which can only be answered yes or no, work out your age, what you do, and where you are from.


Find out more about the other projects under the A Shared History, A Shared Future banner.


A Shared History, A Shared Future
Breaking the Chains 2007
Parker Collection of Children's Games
Black History - useful websites for young people