Passengers On Deck of SS Ballarat Arriving at Station Pier, Port Melbourne, 1925.
Source: Museum Victoria
Question: What kinds of stories are contained in the Share a Story database?
Answer: The Share a Story database is an interactive program allowing visitors to Immigration Museum to write their own immigration story. Visitors can submit their stories either by directly typing them into the computer database or by providing a written copy. The stories are then made available for members of the public to read.
Each brief story focuses on immigration to Victoria, particularly the reasons that migrants leave their home country, the experiences they have during the voyage, and the thoughts and feelings they experience as they first settle in Australia. The database can be accessed by all visitors to Immigration Museum, either in the Station Pier Exhibition or the Immigration Discovery Centre.
The diversity of the migrant stories added to the Share a Story database express how personal the experience of migration is. However, key themes do emerge. Some contributions are written by newly arrived migrants sharing their thoughts on settling into the broader Victorian community: “we find Australia a lot different to England. The weather, the shops, the schools, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.”
Other stories are written by second or third generation Australians paying tribute to the lives of their ancestors: “he and my grandmother were model Australian citizens who worked their way up, from simple beginnings, to contribute solidly to our way of life. Their courage and generosity should never be forgotten or go unnoticed.”
Many migrants describe the twin ties they feel to their newly adopted home and the country of their birth: “I am grateful for the opportunities that Australia has given our family although we will never forget tropical Mauritius with its Casuarina trees and golden sandy beaches.”
Others, however, recall the hardships they encountered in making the journey to a new country: “migration rips out your heart and soul. There were hard times in Holland, but times were terrible in Australia when we first came, and there was no family support.”
The stories shared by migrants and their families through the Share a Story database highlight the multi-faceted journey that immigrants to Australia experience travelling to and settling in their new country; and, with several new contributions submitted each week, the collection of stories is constantly expanding. What’s yours?