The Dr Louis Sterling Reading Room

View of office space with desks on either side holding packeets of disposable cups and bottled water. There is a comfortable office chair against the end wall, which has two windows holding plant pots. Between them is a photograph of Louise Da-Cocodia. At the top of the wall is a banner reading Dr Louis Sterling PHD Reading Room "Stuck on the block, read, read. Sitting in the box, read, read." (Akala is a British rapper, journalist, author, activist and poet)

By Laila Benhaida (Community Archivist) with input from Paulette Clunie of The Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust

We recently visited Judy Craven, Paulette Clunie and Diane Watt of the Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust to look at a new collection of books they have acquired from Dr Louis Sterling, a Jamaican sociologist. Dr Sterling came to Manchester to study his PhD focusing on migration from St Elizabeth, Jamaica, to Manchester where he interviewed local people from St Elizabeth. 

Louise Da-Cocodia, known as Mrs D, came to Manchester from Jamaica to train to be a nurse.  Her career as a nurse spanned over 30 years and by the mid-1960s she became Manchester’s first Black senior nursing officer.  She became heavily involved in women’s rights, served on the regional Race Relations Board (which later became the Commission for Racial Equality), undertook community voluntary roles such as chair of the West Indian Centre and also became a lay inspector at the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mrs D was influential in the Moss Side and Hulme Task Force which led to the Hytner Enquiry following the 1981 Moss Side Uprisings.  She strove to promote equality and to tackle institutional and structural racism, and co-founded the Cariocca Education Trust and the Arawak Housing Association.

The Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust (which was set up as the charitable arm of the Cariocca Education Trust) aims to carry on Mrs D’s legacy through education by working in partnership with schools, colleges, and particularly families and young people of African Caribbean heritage by supporting access to education and tackling the barriers that affect access, performance and progression.[1]

Dr Louis Sterling’s collection spans around 2000 volumes including history and sociological text, dictionaries, reference books and periodicals.  The collection is currently arranged thematically under broad themes:

  • Enslavement
  • The Caribbean
  • Caribbean Countries
  • Underdevelopment
  • Migration
  • Racism
  • Policing
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Literature

There is also a ‘Collection Highlights’ reading list which lists titles that highlight each theme.

At the moment there is no catalogue available; this is an aim for the near future.  In the meantime, Paulette, Judy and Diane are keen to support access to this rich collection for research purposes.     We are certain that this collection will prove to be a valuable source of information and research for the local community and beyond.

The books will be available (reference only) in the reading room for public access by appointment only on Tuesdays.

To enquire about access please email the Dr Louis Sterling Reading Room [email protected]

The Wesley Centre

Louise Da-Cocodia Education Trust
Royce Road / Old York Street
M15 5BP

Tuesdays only