Lost history

In 1815, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, George Barker, and his wife, Sarah, left England to go and work and live as missionaries in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. They lived on two mission stations at Theopolis and Bethelsdorp, in what was known as the Albany District, and they travelled back and forth to the largest town in the area, Grahamstown.

During this time, George Barker kept journals, which are now housed in the Cory Library at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. His life is quite well documented, but I have become fascinated by Sarah’s lost story. By slowly and painstakingly transcribing the journals from an online site I have found through the Cory Library, I am trying to piece together her life through the scant mentions that George made of her in his journals.

When we worked on the Turkish fold book last week, it reminded me of an ingenious map of the London Tube that I have, and, as I was thinking about our project this week, I remembered a map I had across in my research of the area where the Barkers had lived in the Albany District. Because so much of the rediscovery of the past is often based on geography, I thought I would make the map into a Turkish book as one of the steps in trying to recreate Sarah’s lost history.

I felt the map needed to look as if could have come from the time that they were living there, in the early 1800s, and so I printed it out on ivory fine granite paper, and cut down an old, recycled folder for the cover. I needed to find a way to mark the three significant places, Grahamstown (spelled Grahams Town in those days), Theopolis and Bethelsdorp, so that I could envision Sarah’s life there. After trying to mark them with red and gold pens and finding that didn’t show up clearly enough, I printed out a square of red, punched holes in it, and used the circles for the three spots. Finally, on the front cover, I attached a label to identify the Albany District.


1 comment
  1. meredithpurvis said:

    I really enjoyed your book! It is simple and elegant and does a lovely job of conveying that idea of “artifact” or record.

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