Farewell to The Mixed Museum’s first intern

Collage of images of mixed race historical people and couples

Farewell to The Mixed Museum’s first intern!

We are very sorry to say goodbye to our first intern Emma Bransom who has just completed her eight week placement with The Mixed Museum thanks to sponsorship from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

Emma, a second year History student, was interested in exploring the curatorial side of heritage work and so was placed on the redevelopment of The Mixed Museum’s Timeline project.  Working closely with Dr Chamion Caballero, the Museum’s Director, Emma was tasked with identifying four topics that she thought would fit in the Timeline and that would appeal to her as research subjects. She then gained experience of using archives and databases to research her chosen topics: The Salamans of Cairo Café, Cardiff; ‘Canton Kitty’; Oona King; and Sade. Part of her remit was also to source possible images to accompany her topics, so in addition to using photo libraries Emma was introduced to the tricky word of copyright and permissions! Writing was also a fundamental part of the curatorial placement as Emma was encouraged to write up her findings as possible entries for the new Timeline. The quality of her drafts means that The Mixed Museum will feature Emma’s four entries on the Timeline when it is relaunched, providing her with full credit that we hope will stand her in good stead for her future career aspirations in the heritage sector.

It was an absolute pleasure to host Emma and The Mixed Museum was greatly enriched by her time with us. We hope that Emma will be the first of many placements: if any universities would like to discuss sponsoring a student placement with us, please contact us at: info@mixedmuseum.org.uk. Read Emma’s reflections on her internship below.


My internship at The Mixed Museum by Emma Bransom

‘Well of course I can’t write history pieces for The Mixed Museum, I’m not a proper historian, there’s not enough time and I don’t want to look daft’. This sums up the conversation with my sister over being offered an internship to produce four pieces for an online Museum. Luckily, sense (that’s my sister’s middle name!) prevailed, she told me to stop being silly and say yes and, with a lot of internal trepidation, I had my first Teams meeting with Chamion, the Director of the Museum. She immediately put me at ease about any fears I had and sent me an outline of what was expected and some possible people to write about.

And as a student, just about to enter her third year of a degree course…. I hadn’t heard of any of them!

Let’s hit Google, always a good place to start as a trainee professional historian. I have picked Olive Salaman for my first piece (whoever she is) and here she is in my hi-tech Google search. A film to watch makes a change from a dry history book…let’s crack on.

What a lovely, sweet lady, clearly very much in love with Ali after all this time. You can tell by the way she talks about him. Well, that settles it. She is my first piece; I just hope I can do their story justice. Off down several rabbit holes I go and her story, and the story of Tiger Bay as a community, takes form. By the end of it I am exhausted, well this is new … I feel the weight of responsibility for the first time to tell a normal person’s story. The essays at university are read by two people but slightly more than two will be reading my writing now!

I am happy and I send it off to Chamion for her comments. She has, very nicely, warned me there will be lots of edits and she is right. Surprisingly, I am not disheartened and gaily start my edits. I started researching my second piece, Canton Kitty, and discover, unlike Olive, there is hardly anything on her. I start to panic that I am not looking properly but luckily my weekly meeting with Chamion comes along and saves the day with a wider remit. OK, I’m off again – tap, tap, tap but wait, where is she on www.ancestry.co.uk.?! Nothing, is she made up then, is her ‘great rival’ ‘Chinese Emma’, why would the newspapers make it up? My head hurts – historian’s headache.

So, my second piece is finished, halfway through – gulp! My third piece is going to be on a local lady to me, Ramona, and her son. Feel slightly embarrassed asking them (I don’t know them that well) Unfortunately, this idea didn’t work out, so I am going to try someone else. Luckily, I have already started my last piece on Oona King and someone that Oona mentions as an inspiration is Sade. Writing a piece of a reclusive star from the 80s wasn’t my best idea in terms of information but heyho it’s done. Writing, whilst listening to Sade’s song – this isn’t what work should feel like, this was probably my most relaxed work ever!

My last piece is on Oona King. Do not ask me why …I have a deep mistrust of politicians so this will stretch me a bit. Do the usual Google search (rabbit hole opener extraordinaire) and get a timeline together (these events are history now, but I can remember it, eek). I vaguely remember the George Galloway/Oona King election battle. Wasn’t she in some Blair babe photoshoot? Yes, she was, but she was so much more than that. And the Storyville film on the election battle with all the police swarming around her to protect her. Why did I miss that at the time? Suddenly a politician becomes interesting, and I start typing.


What have I learnt doing this internship?

I have learnt to listen to my smarter sister (obviously, she says). I have learnt that I do not think that I have studied even 1% of English history in the last two years. I have learnt I am old enough to remember some history as it happened (I knew that really but keep forgetting) but my vague memories of events are not necessarily what happened. I have learnt to feel angrier about how some people have been treated over time just because of their skin colour but that an online history site must be about facts, not only viewpoints.

I have learnt not to fear the copious splash of red pen edits because it will all make sense when you read them. And finally, I have learnt that although you will feel stupid at some points, that it is OK – that’s just part and parcel of being a proper historian!