News: Unheard oral histories released by the Museum of London to mark Windrush Day

In commemoration of Windrush Day, the Museum of London has released, for the first time, a selection of unheard oral histories from its collection. Recorded in 2018 as part of the Conversation Booth project at The Arrival event in City Hall, the Windrush Conversations tell each individual’s unique story of arrival in London and their time and experience in the city since.

Exploring what Britain looked like to the Windrush generation, these honest accounts provide an insight into the strong sense of identity as well as the strength of character and resilience of a community in the face of adversity and discrimination that lingers to this day. These personal stories have been uncovered by community volunteers as part of the museum’s Listening to London project, which explores and reinterprets stories from the museum’s extensive oral history collection.

The oral histories will form part of the Museum of London’s new online collection of Windrush-related content which can be found here and includes objects, photos, videos and articles from the collections. Visitors at home will also find a list of additional resources to learn more about Windrush and the challenges faced by the Afro-Caribbean community.

This online collection serves as an important accompaniment to the objects and material currently on display at both the Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands; in particular, our London, Sugar & Slavery gallery which contextualizes these narratives within a history of London’s involvement in the transatlantic trade.

During lockdown the Museum of London shifted focus to temporarily become the Museum for London as part of a mission to bring first-class online content to visitors at home while our physical doors are closed. The release of the Windrush Conversations and our Windrush Stories collection is a continuation of this mission.

Foteini Aravani, Digital Curator at the Museum of London, said: “It’s fantastic that we’re able to share these oral histories celebrating the Windrush generation and the ones who followed. These vivid and lively conversations bring to light the lived experience of different generations of Londoners with Afro-Caribbean heritage, celebrating the contribution of these communities to life in London and highlighting the hardships they, and their family before them, faced as part of their everyday life in Britain.”

Aleema Gray, Community History Curator at the Museum of London Docklands, said: “At the Museum of London Docklands, the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery encourages us to collectively reflect and think about some of the legacies around London’s role in the transatlantic trade. A key part of this acknowledges histories of colonisation, imperialism and forced and voluntary migration. Having arrived as part of Britain’s commonwealth citizens, the Windrush generation has changed the political and cultural makeup of London today. The gallery seeks to document these stories of identity in formation and recognises the way in which such stories continue to put forward important questions concerning citizenship and anti-racism.”

To explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added – visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk

Photo credit: Museum of London

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