Transcripts from Island to Island exhibition (FOI-4109)
Dear ***** *****
Re: Freedom of Information Request.
Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, received 17 September 2019. Your request has been considered and our response is in bold below.
You requested the following:
I write to ask for transcripts of the interviews of Caribbean elders in connection with the Island to Island exhibition. It will help me to see how the interviewees identified with the photos presented to them
The Council’s Response
We understand that you have made this request to help you to understand how the elders engaged with the photos presented to them.
During the development of the exhibition narrative, both the Museum Officer and the Heritage Learning Manager engaged with Caribbean elders through reminiscence sessions. The photographs were used for the elders to respond to. The Museum staff observed reactions to the photographs, which helped to develop context and led to the loan of objects displayed alongside the photographs.
In line with common museum practice, these initial sessions were not recorded, in part due to the need to have signed permission forms from all participants. Therefore, the Museum does not hold recordings or transcripts of this engagement process.
Following these sessions, two individuals self-identified as having relevant items that they were willing to loan for display in the exhibition. For example, one gentleman used to make the same style of fishing nets shown in the photograph of Oistins, Barbados taken in the 1950s or 1960s, and loaned us the needle he had brought with him to the UK.
When collecting the items, the Museum Officer discussed its history and the experiences of the owner in order to inform the exhibition caption. For one individual, this conversation was recorded for staff reference only. The final text of the resulting caption was included in the exhibition:
“When I come here, I think that this country is the same like my country.”
John “Uncle Sam” Buffong brought this net-making needle with him to Hackney when he moved from Montserrat in 1960.
He had made it himself from wood he cut from a tree and used it to knit fishing nets. When he moved to the UK, he had planned to continue to make and sell these needles and fishing nets as he had done in Montserrat.
This discussion was not recorded with the intention of being added to the Museum’s collection, only to inform the curatorial research. Due to the resource-intensive nature of transcribing interviews, this recording will not be transcribed.
I understand that in an email, dated 5 December 2017, the Heritage Learning Manager stated that the Museum Officer had worked with elders “to record oral histories and collect objects from local people that summed up their personal Island to Island story.” This was not entirely correct as no formal oral histories - with the intention that they would be transcribed, accessioned into the Museum’s collections and shared for public reference - were recorded in the development of the exhibition. We apologise for this misrepresentation of the engagement process.
However, as part of the curatorial process, extracts from the Museum"s oral history collections were used to provide context to the photographs. Interviews with Caribbean elders conducted between 1990-2010 were used to represent the following themes:
- Growing up in the Caribbean (including housework, working life and food).
- School Days.
- Identity, visiting the Caribbean and what ‘home’ means to them.
Full transcripts of these interviews are available online:
Syvlia Armstrong - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11147
Philomena Wells - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11120
Caxton Holder - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11029
Vera Maloney - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11118
Mrs Rigg - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11026
Shirley V Boateng - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object9629
Marcia Davis - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11025
Frances Howe - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11024
Mavis Stephenson - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11036
***** Lovell - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11119
Sonia Shoude - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11037
James Boston - http://museum.hackney.gov.uk/object11125
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Information Management Team - Governance
London Borough of Hackney
Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
London E8 1DY
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Information Management Team
London Borough of Hackney