Alan James

Location of Interview
Collection Name

The Working Waterfront Festival Community Documentation Project


The Working Waterfront Festival Community  Documentation Project is an ongoing oral history project documenting the history and culture of the commercial fishing industry and other port trades. The project was begun in 2004 in conjunction with the Working Waterfront Festival, an annual, education celebration of commercial fishing culture which takes place in New Bedford, MA. Interviewees have included a wide range of individuals connected to the commercial fishing industry and/or other aspects of the port through work or familial ties. While the majority of interviewees are from the port of New Bedford, the project has also documented numerous individuals  from other ports around the country. Folklorist and    Festival Director Laura Orleans and Community Scholar/Associate Director Kirsten Bendiksen are Project Leaders. The original recordings reside at the National Council for the Traditional Arts in Maryland with listening copies housed at the Festival's New Bedford office.

Date of Interview
Biographical Sketch

Bio: Alan James, known as AJ, was born on May 29, 1955, in New London, Connecticut. He grew up in foster homes in the Woonsocket, Rhode Island area and later moved back to Connecticut. AJ is a male of White ethnicity and is currently 57 years old. He has worked as a cook and deckhand on the F/V Apollo, a commercial fishing vessel based in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Scope and Content Note 
Alan James, humorously recounts his unexpected entry into the fishing industry during an interview with Madeleine Hall-Arber on September 29, 2012. Over the span of forty years, Alan James's journey in the fishing industry has transformed him into a seasoned cook and deckhand on the F/V Apollo. Throughout the interview, he reflects on the evolving dynamics and challenges within the profession, offering candid insights into the sacrifices and unique aspects of a fisherman's life. Alan explains the deep-rooted passion that keeps individuals dedicated to fishing, even when financial constraints may make leaving seem impractical. He sheds light on the physical and mental strains endured by fishermen.  Camaraderie among crew members is a central theme as Alan emphasizes the significance of loyalty and safety in the demanding profession. He also reveals a multi-generational involvement in fishing within his own family, 

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