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Journal of the Bahamas Historical Society, Volume 6 (October 1984)

by Dr. Paul Albury

The inaugural meeting of the Bahamas Historical Society is still fresh in my memory. It was the sort of gathering which is not easily forgotten, because of the general excitement the great throng which was anxious to be enrolled as charter members and the prominent and capable men and women who were to lead the organization. Lady Arthur must have experienced the most exquisite feelings of satisfaction, for it was she who had undertaken the task of launching the Society into the cultural arena of Bahamian life.

She was not the first to see the need of such an organization; in fact, it would be difficult to say who was. Thirty-four years before, Edgar Mayhew Bacon had presented a strong case in this respect and his plea was strongly supported by Miss Mary Moseley. But in 1925, the people of The Bahamas were excited by the bootlegging boom and could spare little thought for cultural proposals. Nor were the next two decades any better. After bootlegging came the depression and, after that, the Second World War.

By the 1950's, however, conditions were more propitious; there were fewer disruptive influences and the economy, based on tourism, was on a sound footing. Another important difference is that whereas Bacon had only flung out a suggestion for others to effect, Lady Arthur was prepared to lead the way.

She belonged to the famous Spring-Rice family of England; her father, at one time, having been the British Ambassador to Washington. Thus she was endowed with that inbred sense of purpose and duty which characterized the upper echelons of her race.
Coming to The Bahamas as the Governor's wife, she was in a most favoured position to make an imprint on the cultural life of this colony, and she took advantage of that opportunity with vigorous resolve.

The desirability of an Historical Society was forcefully impressed upon her mind during a cruise through the West Indies in the summer of 1958. In many places she found active societies and she reflected that The Bahamas was second to none of these in the matter of colourful history.


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