Biblical Archaeology Review 34:2, March/April 2008

Past Perfect: An English Newsgirl in Palestine

Biblical Archaeology Review

Controversial English journalist Barbara Board (1916–1986) began her travels to the Holy Land in the mid-1930s, probably one of the few women to venture there at that time. In the preface to her book Newsgirl in Palestine (1937), she explains why she chose to travel and what she experienced:

This book is a record of things that I have seen and heard as a newsgirl in the Holy Land. Apart from the people who come out to Palestine on duty, or business, most visitors make the journey for sacred or sentimental reasons, and their interest is in the past, rather than in the present ...

I came out to Palestine to see for myself how the women of the country live, what their manners and customs are, what they think about life. I found I could not get this from the multifarious books that have been written on the country, and what I have set forth in these chapters is nearly all news in the sense that it has never been published before ...

I have been in homes in all levels of society— from the poorest Christian and Jewish home to the harem of the Emir Abdullah, which I am the only woman reporter to have visited. I have slept in the black tents of the Bedouin and have shared their life with its joys and sorrows ...

No one can appreciate the fabric of Palestine by keeping to the tourist tracks, least of all by listening to the professional guides. One must go into the by-ways and talk to the people in their homes and at their daily tasks.

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