Prominent historian once a track and field star
In this special Standouts series, every week, The Nassau Guardian will highlight the significant impact that past BAAA scholarship recipients have had on the wider local community, and in some cases the wider international community.
Today, most Bahamians and certainly the vast majority of her colleagues and associates throughout the world know Dr. Gail North-Saunders as an outstanding author and historian. She has written a number of books that have received great reviews, including “Historic Bahamas” that traced slavery, the liberation of natives of Africa, industries and social life pertaining to this country.
Dr. North-Saunders also provided vital service to many residents, young and old, who needed historical information about The Bahamas. She is regarded as the first official Bahamian archivist. Dr. North-Saunders spent a little over three decades (31 years) dealing with Bahamian archives. In time, she developed a well-received Department of Archives which became, and still is today, the central area of historical data in the country, more so even than the established daily newspapers. Her work is noted worldwide.
Other than her service in The Bahamas, Dr. North-Saunders’ background includes serving as president of the Association of Caribbean Historians; president of the Caribbean Archives Association and an executive member of the International Council on Archives.
Before those sterling credentials started to accumulate, however, she was simply Gail North, the fantastic athlete.
As a Queen’s College track and field mainstay during the early 1960s, she was a strong challenge to overcome in the short sprints and the 440 yards (400 meters). Dr. North-Saunders was a star several times over during high school and club meets.
Her rivalry with Elaine Thompson, Althea Rolle and Christine Jones is legendary, as they battled fiercely for supremacy in the sprints.
Dr. North-Saunders’ high point as an athlete came when she represented the country on the sprint relay team at the 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games, in Kingston, Jamaica.
Indeed Dr. Gail North-Saunders is a prime example of athletic/academic excellence.
• Contributed by Guardian columnist Frederick Sturrup.