The Mollie Hunte Project
Who was Mollie Hunte?
Mollie Hunte was one of few Black educational psychologists working with children in the Black community. Born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1932, she emigrated to London in 1961 to pursue a career in education. Caribbean migrants to Britain from the 1950s struggled to ensure that the education system did not fail their children. Disproportionate numbers of Black children were put in schools for the educationally subnormal (ESN schools) or what we call special schools today. This encouraged Mollie to train as an educational psychologist and join a handful of professionals of African heritage working in the field.
As an educational psychologist, Mollie Hunte performed a significant function in the community acting as a bridge between parents and children, education authorities and the schools. She founded various organisations set up specifically for the Caribbean community from the 1970s until the early 2000s. She co-founded the Caribbean Parents Group (CPG), the Caribbean Parents Group Credit Union, Westphi Academy and PEV Consultancy. She also worked as educational assessor for the London Boroughs of Brent and Ealing, and through her own consultancy. She sadly passed away in 2015 at the age of 83.
In 1975 Mollie joined Claire Sobers, Willis Wilkie, Ingrid French and Colvin Fitt and John Campbell and founded the Caribbean Parents Group. The Caribbean Parents Group was formed in July 1975 in reaction to Ealing Council's transportation of several Black and Asian children outside their local catchment area to Educationally Sub Normal (ESN) schools. The organisation acted as a pressure group to the council and as a support centre for African-Caribbean parents. The organisation also set up and ran a supplementary school from 1978 – 2000.
- Archive reference: LMA/4774/C/01
- Dates: 1975-2000
- Notes: Records include minutes, finance reports, promotional material and annual reports
The Caribbean Parents Group Credit Union Limited was established by the Caribbean Parents Group in 1990. The Credit Union was envisioned, by members of the Black community in Ealing, as a means of building “a financial base for ourselves and our children” and allowed members to save as much or as little as they liked on a regular basis. To join the Union, prospective members had to become members of the Caribbean Parents Group to fulfil the legal requirement of a common bond between credit union members.
- Archive reference: LMA/4774/C/02
- Dates: 1990-2012
- Notes: Records include minutes, correspondence, reports and notes
Was formed in July 1988 and launched in June 1990 at Acton College. The academy provided in-service training: interviewing techniques, interview skills, Workshops in Institutional Development Planning, workshops in Education Reform Act 1988, school policies and educational needs to black young people and training of black governors and childcare. They also worked with parents and children to develop parental skills and parental involvement and help with their child’s education.
- Archive reference: LMA/4774/D/01
- Dates: 1988 – 2000
- Notes: Records include promotional material, conferences and training and audio-visual material
The PEV consultancy was created on the 2nd of October 1989, to supplement young children’s education and development. Mollie Hunte’s role related to not only the consultation being focused on academia but also the problems with behaviour of many young children. This included regular correspondence with the schools as well as liaising with racial equality departments in the various boroughs, her clients were a part of.
- Archive reference: LMA/4774/B/04
- Dates: 1989-2000
- Notes: Records includes minutes, correspondence and training and conferences
The Mollie Hunte archive provides an extraordinarily detailed account of the assessment and treatment of Black African Caribbean children in London as well as wider developments in educational psychology and supplementary education. It contributes to our knowledge about the work of the Black education movement as well as that of the Inner London Education Authority. It is also very important for the study of Black British women’s history.
The Wellcome Trust, through its Research Resources in Medical History scheme, awarded London Metropolitan Archives a grant, for a project entitled Magical Mollie: cataloguing and celebrating the achievements of Mollie Angelia Hunte (1932-2015), black educational psychologist treating Black African-Caribbean children in London to catalogue the archive and bring the achievements of Mollie Hunte to a wider audience for the first time, enriching health-related research around the Black community.
Since December 2018, Rebecca Adams has been working as a project archivist at LMA on cataloguing the Mollie Hunte archive so that it can be made accessible to the public in 2021 and she writes about progress here:
The collection measures 37 linear metres and on arrival at LMA was in a highly disordered state and inaccessible for study. My first task was to go through all 177 boxes to work out what was within the collection returning to appraise specific areas where necessary. I have compiled an extensive list of the contents of each box as well as creating a structure for the collection which effectively highlights the important stages of Mollie’s life.
It has been extremely rewarding working on the project to make this collection accessible for research, as it plays an important part in exploring the personal and public details of a significant individual who despite various obstacles made a crucial decision to uplift and help to shape her own community, as well as encourage others to strive for an education that reflects them.
I have also been aided by an intern, Hayley Reid who has helped immensely with the digitisation of the audio recordings within the collection as well as sorting and packaging.
As the archivist of the Mollie Hunte Collection, I have worked with a range of different materials and formats within this archive including case files for individual children, minutes, correspondence and printed material which has continued my development as an archivist. One of my favourite areas of the collection is the large number of cassette tapes which Mollie recorded and were given to her by friends and family.
Being able to connect a voice to Mollie Hunte as well as her colleagues and friends has made the collection even more captivating. Two key tapes where we can hear Mollie being interviewed on the timeline of her life and different areas of her history, I found particularly fascinating, as I was able to gain a more in-depth insight into Mollie’s life through her own words and perspective.
I have participated in several events to promote the collection to a variety of audiences. I was a speaker at the National Association of Retired Caribbean Nurses Gathering in March 2019, The 15th Annual Huntley Conference: ‘Rodney’s Enduring Legacy of Resistance’ and FHALMA Foundation (Friends of the Huntley Archives at LMA) in February 2020.
As shown above, I was also a part of ‘Our Stories: Reflecting on Black British History in Four Objects’, Culture Mile Learning. I was able to present records from the Mollie Hunte Collection and express their importance through a short film, raising key areas of Mollies work and life. I have also participated in a session on Decolonising Archives hosted by Black Cultural Archives in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at a three day online conference entitled ‘Botany, Trade and Empire’, during March 2021 where I spoke about my work on the Mollie Hunte Collection.