Manchester City Council

Libraries Ethnic minorities in our city

General sources

Immigrants and Aliens by R. Kershaw and M. Pearsall, gives a general introduction to immigration.

If you are tracing your family history, see our family history pages for immigration records.

The best overview of our diverse communities, although published as long ago as 1962, is the chapter by W. M. Crawford, 'A Cosmopolitan City', contained in the book 'Rich inheritance', edited by N. J. Frangopulo. Frangopulo went on to contribute an article on 'Foreign Communities in Victorian Manchester' (Manchester Review, vol. 10, Spring-Summer 1965). This paper briefly details the influence of different communities in the Victorian period - Germans, Jews, Greeks, Armenians, Italians and Moroccans.

The 'Strangers in our Midst' series of article which appeared in the Manchester Evening Chronicle in 1958 gives a good account of immigrants in the 1950s. 

Some glimpses of the position in the early 1970s can be found in the published report of a 1975 Amsterdam seminar on 'Minorities in Urban Communities'. The papers about Manchester include such topics as employment, education and housing.

Steve Cohen's 1987 booklet, 'It's The Same Old Story', looks at the very specific subject of 'Immigration controls against Jewish, Black and Asian people, with special reference to Manchester'.

Sources we hold

Resources marked with GB are available in the search room at Central Library, please make an appointment (with at least one day notice).

We have a wide range of source material for the history of the city, a good example would be our census records from 1841 to 1901, at ten year intervals. These list all the people in a particular household and where they were born. Census records of individuals are closed for 100 years but more recent censuses have included questions about ethnic background, and we hold printed copies of the reports of these.

Sometimes, additional reports were published, based on the official census data. For example, Gillian Lomas and Elizabeth M. Monck produced a volume entitled 'The coloured population of Great Britain: A comparative study of coloured households in four county boroughs'. This was based on a study of the official 1971 census, and some unpublished data, to compare the boroughs of Bradford, Leicester, Manchester and Wolverhampton.

Though census data naming individuals generally only survives from 1841, the churchwardens accounts for 1809 to 1848 (ref GB127.M3/3/6A and M3/3/6B) is an earlier series of records that gives insight into the number of migrants to the city, including the 'Irish Poor'.

Another archive collection, covering the period 1847 to 1927, includes minutes and annual or monthly reports of the Society for the relief of really deserving distressed foreigners (ref GB127.M294/2).

For those able to recognise national or ethnic groups by name alone, we hold a great many local church registers and electoral registers, though these do not list all registered adults until the 20th century. Names are also recorded in directories we hold on microfilm.

J. Scholes's 'Lists of Foreign Merchants in Manchester, 1784-1870', documents the rise from two firms in 1784 to 420 by 1870.

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