This interactive map displays 3,302 of entries in the London Metropolitan Archives’ Switching the Lens database, detailing people’s baptisms, burials and some marriages. Each person’s life was therefore tied in some way to a parish, represented on the map by a church symbol. In many cases the church remains on the site today, but in others it has long since been demolished or destroyed. The data is also displayed as a Heat Map, which allows us to see how certain parishes and parts of the city had particularly large concentrations of people featured in Unforgotten Lives. This is only a partial recreation of the true diversity of historic London, and many of the people and patterns we see would have changed frequently over hundreds of years. Yet it gives us a powerful, interactive and immediate sense of the connection between past and present: between the streets we continue to walk on today, and the places where people of African, Caribbean, Asian and Indigenous heritage made their mark centuries before.
This animated Flow Map visualises the truly global range of places people in Unforgotten Lives came from. It shows 135 journeys drawn from the several thousand entries that make up the Switching the Lens database, where approximately a quarter of parish records make reference to an individual’s place of origin. Sometimes the reference is highly specific, telling us for example an individual was born in ‘Kings Town, Jamaica’. Other entries, however, give only the vague indication that the person was from a region or an entire continent, for example listing the ‘East Indies’ or simply ‘Africa’. There are also no guarantees that the person writing the entry was recording things accurately. What this Flow Map does, therefore, is give an indication of the many places people came from to London, rather than a scientific recreation of every journey. Where possible, each historic place of origin has been connected with its approximate modern day equivalent. The animation allows us to see how London, across a period of around 300 years, was a constant centre of immigration – some of it free, much of it not.