Contribute to Common Ground - New Bedford Whaling Museum
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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.”

This project was conceived by Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes, former Curator of Social History.

For questions contact the project coordinator at commonground@whalingmuseum.org.