Contribute to Common Ground - New Bedford Whaling Museum
The logo for Common Ground. A mosaic of different peoples faces throughout the ages.

Common Ground is an ambitious oral history project and exhibition to create a full picture of the Greater New Bedford region and residents through story collection. A key goal is to give voice to community members. By gathering individual stories, Common Ground presents a diverse, inclusive, and celebratory accounting of the lived experiences of South Coast residents.

The project creates an archive of oral histories and supporting documentation provided by storytellers (either loaned, photographed/scanned, or donated), including historic images, objects, and ephemera relating to individuals and significant places. Audio files and transcripts of individual stories will be accessioned into the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s permanent collection. As such, the stories of our community will be cared for and preserved — allowing researchers, descendants, and community members to access this archive for generations to come.

In addition, the New Bedford Whaling Museum will launch a special exhibition of Common Ground from January 26, 2023 through August 6, 2023. It will present highlights from the story archive and documentary materials, including photographs, video, and material objects. The exhibition will use technology to bring individual storyteller’s narratives to life. This will include interactive screens and audio players, alongside display cases, objects, and photographs.

From its beginnings as a part of Wampanoag territory, to its early Azorean and Cape Verdean immigrants, and more recent Central American and Caribbean immigrants, the common thread throughout New Bedford’s history has been migration and ethnic and cultural diversity—the heartbeat of this port city. Common Ground creates an archive and exhibition in order to demonstrate the depth and breadth of the communities of the greater New Bedford area and their lived experiences. Through this, we highlight how diverse identities and individual stories intersect to create a singular picture of the region – and, in the process, find a “common ground.”

For questions contact the project coordinator at

Common Ground is made possible through major funding by the William M. Wood Foundation, with additional support from Mass Humanities, and individual supporters listed below. As of January 2022, project partners include SouthCoast Artist Index, 20mi2, Our Lady of the Assumption, the New Bedford Free Public Library, Joseph Abboud Manufacturing, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Fairhaven, the Westport Free Public Library, Hong Meas, the SouthCoast LGBTQ+ Network, and the AME Bethel Church.

Patricia A. & Mark S. Allen
Howe Allen & Timothy Evans
Thomas P. Barry & Nancy Shanik
Christina M. Bascom
Jackie & John Beauregard
Lybi & Mark Bittner
Susan S. Brenninkmeyer
Anne Broholm
Karyn & Ben Campbell
Ginette Castro & Michael Oleksak
Breana & Benjamin Cole
Paula Cordeiro & David O'Brien
Cynthia & Douglas Crocker II

Emily & Horace Field
Clare Healy Foley & Paul Foley
Jennifer Forbes
Bettye & Robert Freeman
Tally & John N. Garfield, Jr.
Sharon & David Giblin
Vanessa & John Gralton
Denise & Charles Hixon
Joy & Carl Horstmann
Margaret Jackson
Patricia & John M. Kalisz
Margot & George Kalkanis
Martha & Michael Keating

Frances F. Levin
Shena Lowe
Doris & John Ludes
Anita & Willitts Mendonca
Tina & Joseph Nauman
Heather Parsons & Andrew Kotsatos
Mark Rasmussen
Katherine Read & William Sommerville
Cathy & Henry Roberts
Tricia & Chris Schade
Sloan M. & Wick Simmons