Time for the Barbados Museum to stop hoarding! Must become an active worldwide promoter of Barbados History… and of Historical Tourism

Barbados Museum

Barbados Museum & Historical Society suffers from a Hoarding Mentality

Submitted by BMHS longtime member Sinsten Merriweather (BFP editor: as contrived a name as we’ve every seen!)

The Barbados Museum’s website claims they have a collection over half a million ‘artefacts‘ (yes, that’s how they spell the word to the world online) that “tells the story of the people of Barbados and preserves our history for future generations.”

“Indeed, our history is preserved for future generations because none of the current generation can access it.”

… BFP’s Cliverton

The Museum has photos of precisely 19 of those 500,000 artifacts displayed online, with no explanation, description or provenance attached.

Do you want to know what the Barbados Museum has in inventory that might interest you? Well, don’t look for a list or a working searchable database online – you’ll have to email Mrs. Marcia Griffith and in a few days she might (or might not) get back to you with further clarifications. God forbid that the museum actually put a database online where people can search for topics, historical periods, artifacts and documents that interest them!

Barbados Museum Website

And half the time the existing website (as limited as it is in vision and function) doesn’t work, or maybe sometimes might perhaps work… if, sort of.

Missing: A vision of Telling the History of Barbados to the world

What is the Mission Statement of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society? Your guess is as good as mine and I’ve been a member for over ten years. If I had to guess, I’d say that the mission of the BM&HS is to do whatever the current management, staff and Board desire as their whim without reference to any written mission statement.

It is true that in the last ten, and especially the last five years, the leadership have done some wonderful things with little money. In particular some of the bus tours of the island (not many recently though) awakened a thirst for Bajan history amongst some of the young people.

But…

… the Barbados Museum is falling down disastrously in making history accessible to the people. In this day, that means online – not just certain items displayed in a glass case to those who visit a physical building. The mission statement should be to make Barbados history available to anyone around the world, instantly, and in so doing to encourage people to take an interest in Barbados and to visit our country (and to spend their money while doing so!)

What the Barbados Museum should be  

My vision for the Barbados Museum is that to start, all artifacts and documents will be databased. Then we will start the long process of scanning the documents and photographing the physical artifacts. If someone has a particular interest in a certain item in the database, they could pay to have it scanned sooner.

Our collection should be world famous, but it is currently hidden and hoarded by the keepers – who, drunk with their own little fiefdoms, decide what the people should see or not.

Put it all online! Purchase 20 scanners @ $300 each and enlist volunteers who (after training and vetting) would sign out historical documents and scan them, to be databased and posted online FOR FREE. If we can’t find 20 people willing to volunteer to scan documents to preserve Bajan history, lets just pave over the whole island right now and sell it to Sandals Resorts or the Arabs.

Welcome to the 21st Century. A pitiful 19 of 500,000 museum artifacts available online isn’t failure: it is proof that those in control of the Barbados Museum haven’t a clue.

So much we hear about ‘historical tourism’ but there is little promotion backed up by assets. The buildings are gone: all we have left are the documents and artifacts at the museum that are locked away in drawers and stuffed in boxes on shelves – never opened in 20 years or more.

Scan the diaries and documents and put them online! Let the world have them for free.

Excite those who love history. Let them come to Barbados and stomp about the remains of the signal towers. Let them visit the sites where the Cold War and World War II were fought. Let them read the journals of escaped slaves and slave owners. We have them! Why are we hoarding them?

Let us post the documents online about the Moyne Commission and Clement Payne. Let us post the 1933 diary of a 13 year old girl who fell in love with the son of a caretaker at her father’s plantation. (The diary is there at the museum. I have read parts of it and know that it is a beautiful piece of history.)

Let us free Bajan history, excite and attract the world. What a squandered resource and opportunity!

Barbados Museum & Historical Society… are you listening?

Sinsten Merriweather

29 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, History

29 responses to “Time for the Barbados Museum to stop hoarding! Must become an active worldwide promoter of Barbados History… and of Historical Tourism

  1. Party Animal

    Barbados Museum & Historical Society suffers from a Hoarding Mentality.
    I don’t think your are correct on this one, Bajans want to get rid of any thing that is to do History of this Country.
    I would like them to get rid of the Westminster System of Government and put a Management System such as a Company Management System in place, so when the screw up we can Fire them.

  2. How timely. To your point on Historical Tourism, the renowned author Henry Fraser writes about the role of Heritage Tourism in his latest book “Island in the Sun – The Story of Tourism in Barbados”. He has a recent article in support of the June as Heritage month.

    I reblogged the article here:
    https://bimoonews.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/heritage-tourism-island-in-the-sun-the-story-of-tourism-in-barbados/

    This is a direction worth investing.

  3. robert ross

    Post makes total sense.

  4. Pengo

    I know who wrote this because they said the same thing at the annual fete last year. Keep on telling it!

  5. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2014 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad

    Henry Fraser is a dam crook , most of his books deal with fraud of a nation and books to move you from truth and replace with his own lies,
    Ask him and Sir Crook Beckles , about plantation history and all the plantation land mark houses they push down to cover up the crimes,
    we have to deeds and the names of the owner to show how they rewrite history to suit the fraud , Let look at Goodland Plantation house, where is the Great house of a plantation deed of 107 acres, Where is the Windmill and the hole in the ground where the little boy fell in while flying a kite.
    Ask Scumbags Richard Byer he role in this and Boyce Trucking company who was the one hired to push down another land mark and look to sell of the 2 acres for 4million BDS, Ask Questions , We know the answers

  6. Pichirre

    Not a hoarding mentality, a miser complex – why spend money on staff or advertising or equipment? Even volunteers need a stipend. They promote events via press releases only, how many Ads do you see Usually they’re sponsored when they do arrive via Print. They make scrooge seem like Richard Branson!

  7. Nostradamus

    @Pichirre

    I am curious and pardon my ignorance, but does the BMHS have a lot of funds at their disposal that they are not expending but just hoarding?

    I just wonder if their being like scrooge is simply living within their means.

  8. Credas

    While most of the criticism of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society in this article could be right, picking them up on their spelling of “artefact” isn’t. “Artefact” is the usual British English spelling, “artifact” is typically US English.

  9. Rosko G.

    Artifact / Artefact is used interchangeably and like Color / Colour and so many other words the internet is blurring and mixing cultural distinctions even at primary school levels in Barbados and around the world.

    The lesson there is that the museum’s main audience is not Bajans, but the world, and the vast majority of world is not going to stand in front of a glass case on the island. That’s why it is so important that the museum puts everything online. Otherwise, they might as well just set up tables and not tell anyone.

    The internet is not rocket science, but the managers don’t seem to have a clue about anything at all.

  10. Tudor

    The biggest issue with the Museum is the Curator

  11. i plan to write a detailed book on the true barbados.coming soon.

  12. all the hidden and unknown stories .

  13. firbear

    The whole subject of how Barbados regards and treats its history should be examined. The disregard for the historic buildings, the lack of any focal point on the dark times of slavery, the run down condition of Tyrol Cot, the inaccessibility of Needhams Point now part of the Hilton, the lack of any direction signs to the best gun collection in the Caribbean, the lack of any publicity on the sugar heritage.
    Anyone coming here could be excused for thinking that Barbados was discovered yesterday such is the lack of historical interest.
    The one shining example of historical preservation is St Nicholas Abbey, and this is a private enterprise.
    Perhaps all of this is no surprise given the get rich quick attitude of our venal politicians and administrators? History will not ad to their bank balances.

  14. Mad World Actual – Go for it. Each of us have a voice to share so pursue yours. I would suggest you setup a pre-launch page somewhere (like Facebook) and start collecting emails of those who would like to be notified of the release. Good luck.

  15. i would presume it may because all the history of the brutality against the white slaves and the raping of the white slave women may not be good for the children to see. and the tourist.

  16. firbear

    @mad world
    “i would presume it may because all the history of the brutality against the white slaves and the raping of the white slave women may not be good for the children to see. and the tourist”.
    Whatever you are smoking, stop at once! Seek psychiatric help urgently!

  17. kentusmaximus

    the experiments the English did on the slaves, the pictures if any of the shackles, the forced rape of women ,the other experiments done by the English on the white and black slaves in barbados mostly.firbear have you been living under a rock?you seem clueless of the atrocities the English did in barbados. wake up! you like you been sleeping . and i do not drink or smoke weed. but ignorance is bliss. it is also a sin.
    read from your own people.learn something. this is why up to today bajan blacks feel that all white women want them
    it is handed down in your genes,your DNA.but i am afraid
    it is incorrect.see for you stupid ass self-http://www.africaresource.com/rasta/sesostris-the-great-the-egyptian-hercules/the-irish-slave-trade-forgotten-white-slaves/

  18. firbear

    @kentusmaximus

    You sick man, you need treatment.

    Great Grandaddy was a slave,, we not,, move on..History is more than slavery.
    Please tell more about these “experiments” I suspect these are a figment of your imagination.

    BTW, what is the difference between forced rape and any other kind?

    As usual the debate is reduced to sick gibberish,along racial lines, what hope have we got of preserving our history? I give up, lets just revert to a third world beggar state like those in Africa.No history and no future.

  19. kentusmaximus

    history is shown at a museum. this make any sense to you
    hide your stupid ass face person.firbear
    ignorance is clearly a sin .remember that.

  20. kentusmaximus

    LET us show this at the museum.!!
    White Slavery and Servitude in Barbados

    Between the years of 1652 to 1659 it is estimated that well over 50,000 men, women, and children of Irish descent were forcibly transported to British imperial colonies in Barbados and Virginia to serve as slave labor on plantations.
    Other prisoners of war, as well as political dissenters, taken from conquered regions of England, Wales, and Scotland were also sent into permanent exile as slaves to Barbados. This essentially enabled Cromwell to purge the subject population of any perceived opposing elements, as well as to provide a lucrative source of profit through their sale to plantation owners. The extent to which White prisoners were transported to Barbados was so great, that by 1701, out of the roughly 25,000 slaves present on the island’s plantations, about 21,700 of them were of European descent. Later, as the African slave trade began to expand and flourish, the Irish slave population of Barbados began to drastically recede over time, due in part to the fact that many were worked to death early on in their arrival and also as a result of racial intermixing with Black slaves.

    In stark contrast to the small number of White indentured servants present on Barbados, who could at least theoretically look forward to eventual freedom no matter how bad their temporary bondage may have been, White slaves possessed no such hope. Indeed, they were treated the same as slaves of African descent in every manner imaginable. Irish slaves in Barbados were regarded as property to be bought, sold, treated and mistreated in any way the slave-owner saw fit. Their children were born into hereditary slavery for life as well. Punitive violence, such as whippings, was liberally employed against Irish slaves, and was often used on them immediately upon their arrival in the colonies to brutally reinforce their enchained status, and as a warning against future disobedience. The dehumanizing and degrading cattle-like physical inspections used to assess and showcase the “qualities” of each captive for prospective buyers, which reached infamy with the Black slave markets, was also practiced upon both White slaves and indentured servants in the colonies of the West Indies and North America. Irish slaves were marked off from their free White kinsmen through a branding of the owner’s initials applied to the forearm for women and on the buttocks for men by a red-hot iron. Irish women, in particular were seen as a desirable commodity by White slave owners who purchased them as sexual concubines. Others found themselves sold off to local brothels. This degrading practice of sex slavery made Irish men, women and children potential victims to perverse whims of many unsavory buyers.

    In reality, White slaves fared no better a fate as unwilling human property than did contemporary captive Africans. At times they were even treated worse then their Black counterparts due to economic considerations. This was especially true throughout most of the 17th century, as White captives were far more inexpensive on the slave market than their African counterparts, and hence were mistreated to a greater extent as they were seen as a conveniently disposable labor force. It was not until later that Black slaves became a cheaper commodity. An account dating back to 1667 grimly described the Irish of Barbados as “poor men, that are just permitted to live,… derided by the Negroes, and branded with the Epithite of white slaves.” A 1695 account written by the island’s governor frankly stated that they labored “in the parching sun without shirt, shoe, or stocking”, and were “domineered over and used like dogs.” It was common knowledge among the Irish of this era that to be deported, or “barbadosed”, to the West Indies meant a life of slavery. In many cases, it was actually common for White slaves in Barbados to be supervised by mulatto or Black overseers, who often treated captive Irish laborers with exceptional cruelty. Indeed:

    The mulatto drivers enjoyed using the whip on whites. It gave them a sense of power and was also a protest against their white sires. White women in particular were singled out for punishment in the fields. Sometimes, to satisfy a perverted craving, the mulatto drivers forced the women to strip naked before commencing the flogging and then forced them to continue working all day under the blistering sun. While the women were weeding in the fields in that condition, the drivers often satisfied their lust by taking them from the rear.

    Such instances of horrific rape and unwilling sexual union between Irish female slaves and Black slave-drivers, was actually implicitly encouraged by many of their White masters. Mulatto children, who resulted from such unions, both willing and unwilling, were seen by the plantation masters as a potentially unlimited breeding stock of future native-born slave labor, acquired free of charge and without the costs of transportation. Existing public records on Barbados reveal that some planters went as far as to systematize this process of miscegenation through the establishment of special “stud farms” for the specific purpose of breeding mixed-race slave children. White female slaves, often as young as 12, were used as “breeders” to be forcibly mated with Black men.

    The enchained Irish of Barbados played a pivotal role as the instigators and leaders of various slave revolts on the island, which was an ever-present threat faced by the planter aristocracy. Such an uprising occurred in November 1655, when a group of Irish slaves and servants escaped along with several Blacks, and proceeded to attempt to spark a general rebellion among the enchained community against their masters. This was a serious enough threat to justify the deployment of militia, which eventually overcame them in a pitched battle. Before their demise they had wreaked considerable havoc upon the ruling planter class, having hacked several to pieces in brutal retribution for their bondage. They had not succeeded in their broader strategy of completely laying waste by fire, the sugar fields in which they had been forced to labor for the enrichment of their masters. Those taken prisoner were made examples of, as a grim warning to the rest of their kindred Irish, when they were burned alive and their heads were thereafter displayed on pikes throughout the market place.

    As a result of a steep increase in Black slave labor migration to Barbados, compounded with high rates of Irish mortality and racial intermixing, White slaves, which had once constituted the majority of the population in 1629, were reduced to an increasingly dwindling minority by 1786. In the present era, there remains only a minuscule, yet significant community within the native Barbadian population comprised of the descendants of Scots-Irish slaves, who continue to bear testimony to the tragic legacy of their enchained Celtic forebears. This small minority within the predominantly Black island of Barbados is known locally as the “Red Legs” , which was originally a derogatory name, understood in similar context to the slur “redneck”, and was derived from the sun-burnt skin experienced by early White slaves who had been previously unadjusted to the tropical Caribbean climate. To this day, a community numbering approximately 400 still resides in the northeastern part of the island in the parish of St. John, and has vigorously resisted racially mixing with the larger Black population, despite living in abject poverty. Most make their living from subsistence farming and fishing, and indeed they are one of the most impoverished groups living in modern Barbados.
    That slave labor was inefficient as compared with that of white men was admitted in both the English and French islands. Edwards estimated that a West India Negro performed only one third the work of an Englishman in England. Peytraud, in his study of slavery in the French Antilles, reached a similar conclusion. 5But the value of such comparisons is diminished by the fact that what the slave did under tropical conditions is generally compared with what the white man did in a temperate climate ; there was practically no data for a comparison under similar conditions; where there was, as cited in the military correspondence, white men to an alarming degree perished. Assuming, nevertheless, the inferiority of slave labor, the profits of large scale sugar culture could easily sustain the expense of slavery, that from tobacco less so, while the cultivation of cereals could not at all bear the expense of slave labor. 6 The costliness of slave labor inhered, of course, in such tendencies as stupidity, slacking, illness, real and feigned, thieving, lack of interest, and occasionally, malicious sabotage and running away. That slavery was a cheap form of labor is, of course, wholly discredited by the facts. But sugar culture not only afforded it, but, for a time at least, went into decadence with its abolition.

    Pasted from

  21. kentusmaximus

    experiments such as .medical, just grab a slave let us open him or her up and see what is inside,let us see if we can attach a black hand to a white body, those kind of experiments,how long in the sun with no shelter does it take a man to die? how deep is a female vagina?
    can we stretch a person and they stay taller or
    how much stretching until they split apart?
    how many men can a woman take raping her till she dies.
    can this fit up this crevasse.
    how long does it take a person to bleed out ?
    those kind and worst experiments.can we breed a monkey with a human?a dog?a horse?medical experiments.
    how long will this person live if i stab them in the bladder?
    or is i put a piece of steel through their ear,the experiments were endless and legal.
    you understand yet?it all happened in barbados.!
    complements of the English.
    your tourist now.!

  22. firbear

    @braincellminimus
    “history is shown at a museum. this make any sense to you
    hide your stupid ass face person.firbear
    ignorance is clearly a sin .remember that.”
    What is this supposed to mean? Maybe if you had paid more attention at school you would not be so stupid now?
    Combine the words “kentusmaximus,thick,pigshit,barrel” into a well known phrase.

  23. Victor

    The Irish slaves were often from educated backgrounds, those who refused to give up their lands to Cromwell or convert to Protestantism…or from the ancient noble families of Ireland whom Cromwell saw as dangerous rebels.
    Such was the demand for manpower in Barbados, ordinary people in England were also captured and sold off into slavery in Barbados. The prisons were emptied, beggars whisked off the streets. Just does not bear thinking about.
    Much has been said about African slaves but these Irish and English seem to have been forgotten. They only form a very small percentage of the total, true.
    Meanwhile, the Barbary pirates of North Africa were rampaging up and down the South West coast of England and European coastlines, grabbing able bodied men and women and selling them off in the Ottoman Empire. I think at one time it is estimated that 20% of able-bodied young men were snatched in this way from villages in the south western coastal counties of England by the Barbary pirates.