The infamous Peace Corps postcard

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nigeria: Peace Corps Nigeria : Web Links for Nigeria RPCVs: The infamous Peace Corps postcard

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 05, 2001 - 8:20 am: Edit Post

The infamous Peace Corps postcard

The infamous Peace Corps postcard

The infamous Peace Corps postcard

Marjorie Michelmore was a twenty-three-year-old magna cum laude graduate of Smith College when she became one of the first people to apply to the new Peace Corps. She was an attractive, funny, and smart woman who was selected to go to Nigeria. After seven weeks of training at Harvard, her group flew to Nigeria. There she was to complete the second phase of teacher training at University College at Ibadan, fifty miles north of the capital of Lagos. By all accounts, she was an outstanding Trainee. Then on the evening of October 13, 1961, she wrote a postcard to a boyfriend in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here is what she had to say:

Dear Bobbo: Don’t be furious at getting a postcard. I promise a letter next time. I wanted you to see the incredible and fascinating city we were in. With all the training we had, we really were not prepared for the squalor and absolutely primitive living conditions rampant both in the city and in the bush. We had no idea what “underdeveloped” meant. It really is a revelation and after we got over the initial horrified shock, a very rewarding experience. Everyone except us lives in the streets, cooks in the streets, sells in the streets, and even goes to the bathroom in the streets. Please write. Marge. P.S. We are excessively cut off from the rest of the world.

Read the rest of the story on the link to "Peace Corps Writers."

By Ruth Van Horn on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 - 10:49 pm: Edit Post

I was in the Peace Corps in Nigeria 13 after this person wrote the postcard. I wouldn't put such comments even in a sealed letter, but how anybody could be shocked at her truthful statements is beyond me. Rural Nigerians in the early 1960s did practice "indiscriminate defacation" as we learned in training. They cooked and ate outside also. I don't know about now, but what Marjorie said was the absolute truth then. Thin-skinned Nigerians were just embarrassed. Their living conditions were beneath "underdeveloped country" standards. Life there was pathetic with frightful diseases running rampant, no running water except what you could get from a river, no electricity, no bathrooms as we know them. If I had truly understood what awaited me in Nigeria at the age of 21, I would have refused the offer.

By Nadine Darley ( on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 9:18 am: Edit Post

We are researching nigeria because we would like to see what the living conditions and the peoples beliefs are. Thank you for the information. From Tyler and Nadine

By Carlos ( - on Thursday, August 30, 2007 - 12:50 pm: Edit Post

I don't know why this postcard is infamous, it is true that living conditions in Nigeria are terrible. What is infamous is that Nigeria is the sixth oil producer of the world, these people should be rich. But their oil is taken to increase the consumption habits of the 'developed' countries, leaving Nigerians in absolute poverty. That is infamous!

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