Ariel Harris ’13, Triggs International Fellow in History
My last week in Nassau was just as smooth as my first week on Nassau. But this time I was on my own (w/o Prof. Stewart) back in the Archives and in the streets of Nassau. Fortunately, I still have assistance, and I gained good friend and good company. I have experienced nothing but good hospitality from all The Bahamians I encountered. I arrived back to Nassau on a Saturday and was in the church house on Sunday morning. My new found friend Monalisa from The National Archives of the Bahamas invited me to church. I was extremely happy I attended. When the Pastor did his alter call I remained in my seat, but the holy spirit moved him to call me to the alter. The Pastor prophesied over my past life experiences and over my future endeavors. I couldn’t believe it! I had never me this man before in my life, but I knew I was exactly where I was suppose to be. To receive a spiritual message from a complete stranger from across the country I felt like all my academic plans were in place and in order.
After church we went to the Pastor’s house for dinner and joined some out of town guest from Maryland or D.C., can’t remember the region, but the first lady of the church works for the Ministry of Tourism and invited them over for dinner. We talked American politics, Bahamian politics, and Bahamian culture. I learned a great deal about how some Bahamians view the Republican party of the U.S. and our current President. I also learned more in depth about the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement of the Bahamas.This discussion provided me with insight and perspective on topics that I rarely discuss in the U.S., I felt privileged and honored to be engaged in the conversation. The very next day I was back in the archives, but only for a two hour since it was the day before Christmas Eve. I only had time to read one of the books I didn’t have an opportunity to read a book on the Turks & Caicos Island and their plantation period. The next day was Christmas day, and I went to visit a friend’s family for the holiday. That night I got to experience what Bahamians call the greatest show on Earth! Junkanoo is annual parade that happens at midnight, Christmas day and ends on the day after Christmas at 6a.m. I’ll let the images below speak for me, because words will not do my experience justice. Since the archives was closed I rested on the 26th and got mentally prepared for the next two days that I would be in the Archives.
I learned a lesson from my first visit and came back as prepared as I could be while on San Salvador. I made a list of documents (in priority order) that I was interested in researching fand got on my job on the 27th. This proved effective and time efficient. I was able to complete my list in one day sitting. This visit proved rewarding on so many levels! After reviewing the Freed slave Registers of 1733- 1834, I found that Charles Farquharson freed one slave in 1825 by the name of Charlotte Farquharson. This discovery could prove beneficial to my project in a few ways. One, because I had never read her name or manumission mentioned in any of the literature on Charles Farquharson. Two, because this was one of the goals of my project- to discover, construct, and recreate the lives of the voices of the enslaved Bahamians who were lost. I learned that the record of this slaves manumission could be found at the Register General’s Office. I hitched a ride from Monalisa to the office right before it closed at 4:00p.m. on the following day. I was informed that the record “book: R3 p.105 # 49” symbolized that she was granted land by the crown.
I was unable to obtain the record, but luckily Monalisa is allowed to complete the search for free because of her position at the Department of Archives. So I’m hoping that her search enhances my senior thesis project.
Since this is my final entry I would like to take the time to publicly thank all those who assisted me in developing and funding this project. First off I would like to thank my donors for believing in Cornell students and funding fellowships that help develop our academic goals and our professional future. I am thankful to the Fellowship committee for trusting that my project deserved the Cornell Fellowship. I am grateful to Prof. Stewart, and Laura Farmer for the month long editing process of my proposal. I appreciate Prof. Stewart, Mrs. Stracahan, Monalisa, and The National Archives of the Bahamas staff for assisting me in my research on Nassau. I really appreciate the Gerace Research Center staff for assiting me with my plantation visits, prints, and connections on the Island that informed my project especially; Tyrone Pratt, Mrs. Velda, Mrs. Rochelle, Mrs. Erma Pratt, and Li Newton. The Bahamas was a great place to complete my research because of their culture of hospitality.
Signing off, an extremely proud Cornell Fellow!