WANTED! Men and women willing to travel to the beautiful tropical colony of Kourou in the Americas. All material needs supplied. All expenses paid.
Eight months later…
It’s hard not to laugh when you think about Monty Python, but the reality of France’s 18th-century colonization efforts is truly horrifying. It was one of the world’s greatest government-caused humanitarian disasters, and it’s a story that should be shared, remembered, learned from, and never be repeated in any way.
It all started at the end of the Seven Years’ War. The Treaty of Paris forced France to cede its colonies in Canada, Grenada, Dominica, and Tobago to Great Britain. The small settlement of Cayenne in Guyana (now French Guiana), called France Équinoxiale1 at the time, was the country’s only remaining colony on the American continent2. Bounded by the Maroni River in the north and the Oyapok River in the south, Cayenne was a small, impoverished colony of about 575 settlers and almost 7,000 enslaved people.
Having lost its largest and richest colony, France was determined to expand its small foothold on the South American continent. If successful, at some point in the future, it could be used as a base of operations for launching attacks against British possessions in North America and the West Indies. In 1762, France’s minister of the navy and colonies, the Duc de Choiseul, began organizing a massive colonizing expedition to Cayenne and Kourou, a river about 37 miles northwest of Cayenne. Kourou was chosen because it was believed to be a lush area full of beautiful plants and abundant gold3.
The Duc de Choiseul’s administration recruited settlers from all over France and parts of Europe, especially Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. Even the island of Malta was targeted as a source of settlers. Choiseul promised that anyone traveling to Rochefort, the port of embarkation for the expedition, would have their travel costs and subsistence covered, and their transportation to Guyana would also be free.4 Once in Guyana, the colony’s organizers and King Louis XV promised to fully support the settlers for two-and-a-half years. They would be given plots of land; housing; food, including all the vegetables they were familiar with in Europe, cattle (they even transported 14 water buffalo and their handlers from Civitavecchia, Italy!), and all species of poultry; as well as clothing.
The king himself ordained that the colony would be a land of enlightenment. A place with all the advantages of the British American colonies – only better. The importation of enslaved Black people was expressly prohibited except in the direst circumstances, and the native Indians would be protected. They even encouraged marriages between the settlers and native women. Settlers were promised a society with freedom of conscience with no imposition from the government, freedom of religion, and freedom of maritime commerce; the settlers would pay no taxes. Additionally, any settlers who managed to give birth to a son would receive a reward.
Worried the colonists would become depressed, feeling trapped so far from their home countries, the organizers recruited a troupe of clowns and musicians to entertain the new colony. There were tambourine players, several horn players, a violinist, a guitar player and composer, and nine German musicians (I’m not sure what instruments they played). They even recruited an 8-year-old harpist from Koblenz. Also recruited were botanists, naturalists, doctors, agricultural workers, merchants, artisans, and the “most virtuous and the most understanding men to be governors and intendants”5 of the settlement. The one thing the government neglected to supply was enough food.
Convinced by all the extravagant and too-good-to-be-true promises, nearly 17,000 men, women, and children, mainly from Alsace and the Rhineland, streamed across France to take the French government up on its offer. A naval administrator named Victor Pierre Malouet was tasked with reviewing the new settlers. He was shocked by what he saw, calling it a “deplorable spectacle.” He stated the new colonists were “imbeciles of all kinds” mixed with farmers, merchants, nobles, artisans, city folk, gentlemen, civil and military servants, and a troupe of clowns and musicians.6 Another source called the settlers “the scum of the population of the east of France.”7
While the settlers living in Cayenne before this expansion attempt did manage to support themselves, mainly with the help of enslaved persons and native Indians who hunted and fished, they certainly didn’t produce enough to support the thousands of new settlers, no matter how many supplies were sent from France. Cayenne’s governor and the colony’s leading planters thought it was sheer madness to send so many unacclimatized Europeans to Guyana and expect them to start plantations without the help of enslaved people. Most likely trying to save themselves, they refused to help or support the new settlers in any way.
The first group of Kourou settlers managed to clear a small plot of land (with the help of enslaved people loaned by a nearby Jesuit mission) and started building 14 rows of leaf-covered huts. But before the shelters could be completed, 300 more settlers arrived, quickly followed by more than 1,400 others. The settlement’s leadership tried to stop the flood of immigrants, but their efforts failed. In the spring of 1764, another 1,400 settlers arrived and were sent to the Isles du Salut, a small group of islands off the mouth of the Kourou River. Before you get excited by thinking, “the Salvation Islands, well, that can’t be too bad!” believe me, no salvation was involved. The island group’s original name was the Isles du Diable (the Devil’s Isles), but the name was changed so it wouldn’t terrify the people sent there. Within months they had packed 1,300 more people onto the islands. At one point, so many tents covered the islands that a passing British merchant ship thought the tents housed an invasion army.
In the end, somewhere between 13,000 and 15,000 people were sent to Kourou. Packed together into such tight quarters under terrible living conditions, most settlers succumbed to epidemic diseases (most likely typhoid fever), starvation, or simply from pure despair within a few months of their arrival. The medical officer on site in the fall of 1764 was trying to treat 1,400 to 1,500 sick people every day. They died so fast, and in such numbers they couldn’t even be counted.
Surgeon Bertrand Bajon described the colony as one of “sorrow, indolence, foulness, filth and despair.”8 When Étienne François Turgot, the governor of Guyana arrived in December 1764, nineteen months after the first settlers arrived, he wrote, “I could not restrain my tears…I saw myself surrounded by a multitude of emaciated and pale widows and orphans of both sexes bathed in tears, who clasped their hands and raised their eyes towards heaven.”9 Turgot and his entire household became sick almost immediately, and 12 of its 20 members died. The new governor was nearly blinded.
By April 1765, Turgot had abandoned the colony with about 919 survivors. Over the few years of the colonization attempt, about 3,000 survivors managed to return to France, but they continued to die from the diseases they brought back. They also launched epidemics in the ports to which they returned. Despite the masses of people delivered to Guyana, by 1770, the population had only grown to about 1,178 people.
After the colonization of French Guiana failed, “French colonial interest turned to buying slaves to fill the colony.” And while France retained control of Guyana and some islands off the coast (it would lose St. Domingue in Toussaint L’Ouverture’s rebellion of 1791-1803), the Kourou collapse essentially ended France’s ambitions as a continental power in the Americas.
1. The Latin word Équinoxiale means “of equal nights.” It refers to French Guiana’s location on the equator, where the days and nights are of equal length.
2. For those of you thinking, “What about New Orleans?” like I was, in 1762, France had ceded Louisiana (everything west of the Mississippi, including New Orleans) to Spain in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, so as far as France was concerned, New Orleans was no longer a French colony.
3. The Guyana region was once thought to be the location of the mythical city El Dorado.
4. One gets the impression from Emma Rothschild’s paper “A Horrible Tragedy in the Atlantic” that the promise of reimbursing travel costs was probably not fulfilled. See page 76 for the story of a newspaper that reported a German servant girl begging for help after her family, now destitute, had walked from Alsace to Paris. The editor of the paper was promptly arrested for reporting on the situation, probably to prevent word from getting out that the grandiose promises being made by the French government were not being kept.
5. November 27, 1763, letter from the Duc de Choiseul to Voltaire.
6. Victor Pierre Malouet, Collection des Memoires et correspondances officielles sur l’administration des colonies, et notamment sur la Guiane française et hollandaise, Paris, 1802.
7. From Précis historique de l’Expedition du Kourou, pages 47-48.
8. M. Bajon, Memoires pour servir a l’histoire de Cayenne, et de la Guiane françoise, (Paris, 1777), volume 1, page 61.
9. December 24, 1764, letter from Étienne François Turgot to the Duc de Choiseul.
“A Horrible Tragedy in the French Atlantic” by Emma Rothschild, published in Past & Present, August 2006, No. 192, pp. 67-108.
“Colonial Experiments in French Guiana, 1760-1800” by David Lowenthal, published in The Hispanic American Historical Review, February 1952, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 22-33 relate specifically to the attempt to colonize Kourou.
From sweltering summers to freezing winters, the smell of fish never seems to fade, and the determination to sell the best fish never leaves a fishmonger’s heart. Long ago, for New Yorkers who fished to sell their catch, their next stop was where everyone knew one another and were eager to see each other’s bounty: the Fulton Fish Market. I have always loved attending farmers’ markets. From Yorktown to Blacksburg, Richmond to Williamsburg, farmers’ markets are a chance to meet local vendors and their families, purchase and support small businesses, and create lasting relationships by regularly attending.
In New York City’s South Street Seaport, well before the Brooklyn Bridge was built,
the Fulton Fish Market was a mainstay for fishermen and seafood lovers who wanted the best catch.
The market first opened in 1807, where it sold fish and goods other than seafood, but later moved to the location between Fulton and Beekman Streets, only a few blocks from Wall Street. Fulton soon became a mainstay for avid customers selecting fish, especially Brooklyn housekeepers and immigrant family members. It was not until after the mid-1850s that businesses and restaurants started becoming frequent buyers as Fulton was branching outward to national markets. In 1924 alone, the market sold 384 million pounds of fish and a variety of 200 kinds, no less!
The market consisted of the “Tin Building” and the “New Building.” What happened to the old Tin Building, you might wonder? Well, in 1936, it sank into the bay after the pilings collapsed, and the structure slid into the water. One could imagine the fishermen unloaded so much of their catch that the weight caused it to collapse! As other ports developed in New Jersey and Philadelphia with national and regional buyers, the Fulton Fish Market started seeing a dip in sales in the 1930s.
Fishmongers at the Fulton Fish Market’s early days were different from our stores today. Because restaurants and chefs were the majority of the market’s customers by the turn of the century, fish were often sold whole – scales, eyeballs, and all! Chefs usually know how to descale and prep fish for service, so buyers at the Fulton Market knew how to make the most of every inch of a whole fish!
While fish were usually brought in via boat, as the market began to expand, many sellers would drop their catch off at the docks and wheel them in by carts or trucks.
One of the most important aspects of the Fulton Fish Market was the history of generations of New Yorkers buying and selling the best catch. Many people learned the best days to purchase, what vendors were the best, and who offered the best prices so they’d get the most for their buck. Naturally, the Fulton Fish Market has had difficulties in its more than two hundred years of operation. In addition to the 1936 sinking of the old Tin Building, the market was set ablaze in 1995. Eventually, the Fulton Fish Market needed a complete reconstruction, and a remodel to satisfy its ever-growing clientele. This led to its move to the Bronx in 2005. Larger spaces and a new building allow Fulton Fish Market to continue its legacy, albeit as a shinier model.
The history of the Fulton Fish Market showcases how our shared maritime heritage can unite and build communities. Generations of fishermen and fishmongers came together and formed lasting connections with one another to create lasting memories, endearing friendships, and always encouraging the growth of local businesses.
“About Us.” Fulton Fish Market. Meade Digital Enterprises. 2023. https://fultonfishmarket.com/.
Gill, John Freeman. “A Slice of the Fulton Fish Market Gets A New Life.” The New York
Times. February 28, 2020. Updated April 27, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/28/realestate/a-slice-of-the-fulton-fish-market-gets-a-new-life.html.
Graddy, Kathryn. “Markets: The Fulton Fish Market.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives,
Note: This blog contains direct quotes with outdated language that some readers may find offensive.
Matthew Henson was the first African American to reach and stand on one of earth’s farthest reaches – the North Pole. He traveled with Robert Peary’s expeditions to venture into the desolate lands of the Arctic. In 1909, Henson, Peary, and four Indigenous natives stood at the top of the world for the first time in recorded history. Together, they faced numerous dangers, harsh landscapes, and sub-zero temperatures.
Henson understood the magnitude of the attempt to reach the North Pole, and that he represented all African American people should he be successful. In Henson’s 1912 autobiography, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1912), he tells us in his own words about his experiences and the challenges he overcame that led him to his monumental polar achievement. Within the book, he describes his “strongest doubts” and remembers his journey as one filled with “toil, fatigue, and exhaustion.” Nevertheless, his story is one of perseverance, grit, and determination.
I could write about it, but wouldn’t you rather have Matthew Henson share his story? Come along with me as we follow in his own words, his epic journey to the North Pole.
Traveling on an early 20th-century ship had its charm, but also its share of discomforts. Henson describes being aboard SS Roosevelt as they made their way north toward the Arctic…
From Etah to Cape Sheridan, which was to be our last point north in the ship, consumed twenty-one days of the hardest kind of work imaginable for a ship…The constant jolting, bumping, and jarring against the ice-packs, forwards and backwards, the sudden stops and starts and the frequent storms made work and comfort aboard ship all but impossible.
And there were some important rules that had to be followed:
There is a general rule that every member of the expedition, including the sailors, must take a bath at least once a week, and it is wonderful how contagious bathing is. Even the Esquimos [sic] (now referred to as Inuit) catch it, and frequently Charley has to interrupt the upward development of some ambitious native, who has suddenly perceived the need of ablutions, and has started to scrub himself in the water that is intended for cooking purposes.
Henson, like the rest of the crew, had his assigned duties. But what did he do to pass the time while traveling for months onboard Roosevelt?
On board ship there was quite an extensive library, especially on Arctic and Antarctic topics…In my own cabin I had Dickens’ “Bleak House,” Kipling’s “Barrack Room Ballads,” and the poems of Thomas Hood; also a copy of the Holy Bible, which had been given to me by a dear old lady in Brooklyn, N. Y. I also had Peary’s books, “Northward Over the Great Ice,” and his last work “Nearest the Pole.” During the long dreary midnights of the Arctic winter, I spent many a pleasant hour with my books.
Matthew Henson was quick to give credit where credit was due. He regularly applauded the tenacity and aptitude of the Esquimos. After all, they knew the land better than anyone, having lived there for thousands of years. But Henson also regularly praised and credited the expedition’s success to the North’s unlikely hero – the dog.
Next to the Esquimos, the dogs are the most interesting subjects in the Arctic regions, and I could tell lots of tales to prove their intelligence and sagacity. These animals, more wolf than dog, have associated themselves with the human beings of this country as have their kin in more congenial places of the earth…Without the Esquimo dog, the story of the North Pole would remain untold; human ingenuity has not yet devised any other means to overcome the obstacles of cold, storm, and ice that nature has placed in the way than those that were utilized on this expedition.
What does one pack to wear to the frigid Arctic tundra? Furs, of course. But fresh furs have to stay clean because if they get too dirty, they become infested with vermin.
It is easy to become vermin-infested, and when all forms of life but man and dog seem to have disappeared, the bedbug still remains. Each person had taken a good hot bath with plenty of soap and water before we left the ship, and we had given each other what we called a “prize-fighter’s hair-cut.” We ran the clippers from forehead back, all over the head, and we looked like a precious bunch…
The Arctic is no easy place to endure. Ice forms that shift under your feet. Blinding ice storms and dense fogs. Henson reminds us that traveling to earth’s farthest reaches was no simple feat:
These floes were hardly thick enough to hold a dog safely, but, there being no other way, we were obliged to cross on them. We set out with jaws squared by anxiety. A false step by any one would mean the end…For the next five hours our trail lay over heavy pressure ridges, in some places sixty feet high. We had to make a trail over the mountains of ice and then come back for the sledges. A difficult climb began. Pushing from our very toes, straining every muscle
It was during the march of the 3d of April that I endured an instant of hideous horror. We were crossing a lane of moving ice…when the block of ice I was using as a support slipped from underneath my feet, and before I knew it the sledge was out of my grasp, and I was floundering in the water of the lead. I did the best I could. I tore my hood from off my head and struggled frantically. My hands were gloved and I could not take hold of the ice, but before I could give the “Grand Hailing Sigh of Distress,” faithful old Ootah had grabbed me by the nape of the neck, the same as he would have grabbed a dog, and with one hand he pulled me out of the water, and with the other hurried the team across. He had saved my life.
The loss of life – especially that of his friend Professor Ross G. Marvin – weighed on Henson:
My good, kind friend was never again to see us, or talk with us. It is sad to write this. He went back to his death, drowned in the cold, black water of the Big Lead. In unmarked, unmarbled grave, he sleeps his last, long sleep.
As they neared their intended Polar destination, Matthew Henson begins describing the anxious excitement as they pressed onward:
Commander Peary and I were alone (save for the four Esquimos), the same as we had been so often in the past years, and as we looked at each other we realized our position and we knew without speaking that the time had come for us to demonstrate that we were the men who, it had been ordained, should unlock the door which held the mystery of the Arctic.
But the most evident feeling of pride came when they reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909:
A thrill of patriotism ran through me and I raised my voice to cheer the starry emblem of my native land. It was about ten or ten-thirty a. m., on the 7th of April, 1909, that the Commander gave the order to build a snow-shield to protect him from the flying drift of the surface-snow. I knew that he was about to take an observation, and while we worked I was nervously apprehensive, for I felt that the end of our journey had come….I was sure that he was satisfied, and I was confident that the journey had ended. Feeling that the time had come, I ungloved my right hand and went forward to congratulate him on the success of our eighteen years of effort…The Commander gave the word, “We will plant the stars and stripes—at the North Pole!” and it was done; on the peak of a huge paleocrystic floeberg the glorious banner was unfurled to the breeze, and as it snapped and crackled with the wind, I felt a savage joy and exultation.
Matthew Henson was aware that his contribution alongside Peary was a major accomplishment to all people of his race. His words demonstrate that he understood he would now have a place in history, alongside the great triumphs of other people of color:
Another world’s accomplishment was done and finished, and as in the past, from the beginning of history, wherever the world’s work was done by a white man, he had been accompanied by a colored man. From the building of the pyramids and the journey to the Cross, to the discovery of the new world and the discovery of the North Pole, the Negro had been the faithful and constant companion of the Caucasian, and I felt all that it was possible for me to feel, that it was I, a lowly member of my race, who had been chosen by fate to represent it, at this, almost the last of the world’s great work.
As Henson’s words reach the end of his book and his journey back home concluded, his final thoughts are of a bittersweet longing. There is pride in what he had done mixed with a yearning to be back in the Arctic lands, where friendships were made and historic feats completed:
To-day there is a more general knowledge of Commander Peary, his work and his success, and a vague understanding of the fact that Commander Peary’s sole companion from the realm of civilization, when he stood at the North Pole, was Matthew A. Henson, a Colored Man…
And now my story is ended; it is a tale that is told.
I long to see them all again! the brave, cheery companions of the trail of the North….the lure of the Arctic is tugging at my heart, to me the trail is calling!
As an eager high school thespian and a lifelong lover of theater, I was so excited to discover an interesting group of Official US Army photographs that are among the tens of thousands in The Mariners’ Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation World War II collection. I really wondered what stories these wartime images could tell. So, sit back and enjoy what I learned.
Imagine. You are Margalo Gillmore. Respected British actress of stage and screen, coming from four generations of actors and artists. Here you are, standing next to Katharine Cornell – a dynamic woman whom you have worked with twice prior to this venture, both times on Broadway. Her stoic, stern demeanor and arched eyebrows are somehow calming. You are not nervous, but the weight of the situation is heavy. But it is only a simulation. A drill to prepare for the possibility of being subjected to those vicious chemicals being used in the war. The reality is: this is a daunting task. She looks at you, smirks, and straps on her gas mask turning toward the door of the gas chamber behind you.
Katharine Cornell is a tenacious and passionate performer, regarded as one of the leading ladies on Broadway. She earned the nickname “The First Lady of the American Theater” by critic Alexander Woollcott. Getting her start in minor roles and failed acting auditions for the Washington Square Players, Cornell eventually went on to find success as part of a touring company. With her acclaimed performance as Jo March in a London production of Little Women, Cornell established herself as a leading lady.
She was even one of the three women to win the first-ever Tony Award for Lead Actress (Dramatic). She is unabashedly theatrical, perfect for the stage. She made an entree into television later in her career and her only film credit was a two-minute bit in Stage Door Canteen, where she played herself, handing out food to soldiers during World War II.
How Cornell and Gillmore came into contact with a gas chamber is pretty simple yet fascinating. In order to bring enjoyment to the troops – without being as potentially provocative the way a USO show can be – leading actors and actresses from the American Theatre Wing in New York banded together to create a theater company for the Allied troops during the Second World War.
The stage is set: The Barretts of Wimpole Street. The audience: troops stationed in Italy. All the cast needed to do was go from being Broadway performers to military-trained thespians!
Training began with an early morning wake up at Camp Patrick Henry (present-day Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport), breakfast, military training involving hiking and scaling abandoned-ship drills, and concluding with rehearsals for the play. The usual day for a thespian-in-training in this wartime troupe.
Katharine and her troupe would soon land on the Italian war front. Initially, some actors were nervous that the war-weary troops would not want to listen to a three-hour drama about poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, for example, but rather prefer a USO show with lots of dancing and little-to-no plot. As the legend goes, during one performance, the audience started to become rowdy. A few actors were worried the audience would walk out. Cornell, on the other hand, stayed in character, waiting for the ruckus to subside. She continued with the performance, and the audience was so enraptured with her they gave the cast a standing ovation at the play’s conclusion.
Cornell would return to Broadway a year after the war ended, appearing in the 1946 production of Antigone and the production of Candida a few months later. She would refrain from moving to television and film until her television appearance in 1956 in The Barretts of Wimpole Street.
Ennis, Thomas W. “Margalo Gillmore, An Actress on Stage and on the Screen.” The New York
Times. July 2, 1986. https://www.nytimes.com/1986/07/02/obituaries/margalo-gillmore-an-actress-on-the-stage-and-on-screen.html.
After our previous blog post on ‘What is Oral History?’,
you might be wondering where to start collecting your own stories!
Here’s How to Do Oral History – A Guide.
In her final blog, Lydia challenges you to bring out
your inner historian and collect your own oral histories. They could even feature
in the Moving
As part of the New Library and Museum project,
Wakefield Museums and Castles are reviewing their current oral history archives
and looking to interview more members of the public. Moving Stories, the new
exhibition at Wakefield Museum, has created a perfect opportunity to share some
of these oral histories with local people.
One of Tom Bailey’s drawings on display in the Moving Stories exhibition
Have you ever wanted to ask a relative what it was
like to grow up in Wakefield or what it was like to immigrate to the area from
another country? You may have a neighbour who was part of the mining industry
or worked in one of the liquorice factories. You may know someone who has been
involved with Wakefield Pride or the Rhubarb Festival.
Want to get started? Here’s our top tips for
collecting oral histories!
Some gents having a chat in Fryston, taken by Jack Hulme between 1935 and 1955
Top Tips for doing Oral Histories
Choose a comfortable and safe space when conducting
the interview – often, it is best to use the interviewee’s home or an area that
is familiar to them.
It is also useful to choose somewhere with little to
no background noise (if possible). Remember to mute your phone!
Think about how you communicate with the other
person – a little bit of encouragement goes a long way for their confidence. Think
about your eye contact, body language and other visual cues. There are lots of
ways to show that you’re interested without interrupting or breaking the flow
of their story.
Using a mix of specific and more open questions allows
for insightful discoveries. It is always a great idea to prepare some questions
while allowing room for the conversation to develop naturally.
A response may spark a new question in your head,
but it is important not to interrupt. Listen closely and take notes of any
points you would like to circle back to and expand on.
Remember to focus on their personal experience! It
is easy for us to discuss an experience or how it affected other people rather
than reflect on our feelings. Try and bring the interviewee back to their own
position in these circumstances.
In the video above, Jo talks about her experience of doing ‘Selfie Pantomimes’ during the
COVID-19 Lockdowns. This story would be hard to demonstrate with an object, but comes to life in Jo’s Oral History recording!
What are the benefits of Oral Histories?
Oral histories bring history and museum collections
Providing a human angle to a time in history can
make it easier for people to relate, connect, or empathise with the stories. Hearing
a person’s story in their own words and dialect can be really moving and
revealing, and you get a sense of their personality and character.
Steph Webb, Senior Officer for Curatorial and Exhibitions
with Wakefield Museums and Castles, particularly loves hearing people’s accents
and dialects in oral history. She says it helps establish a sense of place and
gives a powerful feeling of authenticity. It’s also what is so fantastic about
the current Moving Stories exhibition.
Oral histories can help address the problems with
museum collections and tell stories that aren’t represented or have previously
been hidden. Sometimes, physical objects on specific topics are hard to find. An
oral history can allow you to still capture and share the story even where you don’t
have the objects.
What are the challenges of Oral History?
While it is always interesting to hear how someone
remembers an event or story, we have to remember that memory is subjective, so
it may not always be 100% accurate.
An important aspect to remember is that not everyone
realises their story is important or worth sharing. They believe they have
nothing interesting to say and are reluctant to share their experience, even
when it is exactly what we are looking for!
Similarly, some people can be hesitant to share
their stories, and this could be for many reasons. Maybe this will be the first
time sharing it, they may not be sure about how you will tell their story
afterwards. Perhaps they just aren’t confident speaking to others.
Building trust and rapport with the interviewee is
essential to get the best out of your oral history recording.
A visitor writing their story onto a postcard and submitting it at the Moving Stories exhibition at Wakefield Museum