Letters to the Museum

Looking For Gollywog Church Collection Boxes....

Greetings from Limerick. I teach cultural studies and visual cultural studies here at University of Limerick. I have recently begun a research project on visual representations of sub-Saharan Africa and black Africans in contemporary Irish charity catalogues (eg.Concern (www.concern.net), Bothar (www.bothar.org), etc.). One of my aims is to begin to trace ways these texts' visual representations of the 'deserving' rural poor rehearse and update racist imagery and discourse about Africa. As many current overseas charities in Ireland have links with the Catholic Church, I wish to think about how their catalogues reproduce a dominant mid-century discourse about 'black babies'. As you are no doubt aware, many churches contained collection boxes to which parishioners donated money to help feed, educate, baptise and 'save' children in various African colonies.

While I have a good number of anecdotal accounts of church collection boxes decorated with gollywog heads and/or drawings thereof, I have been unable to locate the boxes themselves. Although from what I have learned about the Jim Crow Museum (which is a fascinating and valuable project) it would appear that my interest is beyond the remit of the museum, I am writing on the chance that you might be able to offer some idea of where I might look for these collection boxes and allied imagery. In short, do you know of any collectors who might have or know where to find such artefacts? Any assistance that you could give me on this matter would be most greatly appreciated. Also, might you know of any work (other than that of your own and that listed on the website) on projects similar to this?

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your time and effort.

Kind regards,

Dr. Kate Boulay
Department of Languages and Cultural Studies
College of Humanities
University of Limerick
Limerick
Ireland
kate.boulay@ul.ie
+353 (0) 61 202 244

-- August 10, 2007


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