Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
Political historian Arnold Bertram has recommended that a committee be set up to collect and archive data on Jamaican history so that the present generation of Jamaicans can benefit from the information.
"The first thing I would suggest is that you must have something of a secretariat, that can collect data, that people know they can send information to, or people know they can go to collect this information," Bertram declared during the first Allan George St Claver Coombs Lecture, at the University of the West Indies Mona, West Jamaica Campus, recently.
The lecture, which was spearheaded by the Outreach St James historical research committee and intended to be an annual event, was a review of the life of the late Allan George St Claver Coombs, who launched Jamaica's first island-wide trade union in 1936. Coombs also served as minister of communication and works and member of parliament for North-Western St James under Norman Manley's administration of the People's National Party in 1955.
Bertram said that public participation in bringing forward historical stories, for compilation and recording, must be encouraged.
scrutiny of verification
"If people have information, it is not in the public domain, and it can't remain in somebody's head. It must come in the public domain and stand the scrutiny of verification," added Bertram. "Establish a secretariat that can receive documents, information, interviews, and then you need a group of people to sift through this information, to start verification of what needs to be verified, or to affirm their investigations into what needs to be done further."
Bertram encouraged the lecture's attendees to learn everything possible about Coombs, who was affectionately called "Father Coombs", and who had St Claver's Avenue in Montego Bay named after him.