The essay explores the comparative value and limits of contemporary letters and retrospective memories as sources for historical understanding, drawing upon a single case study. As a young, single Manchester woman, Joan Pickett took up the assisted passage to Australia in 1960. Over the next eight years before her return to England, she wrote more than 270 letters to her parents and brother. In 2000 she spoke with me about her experiences in an oral history interview. Here I focus upon one aspect of Joan's migration experience - her decision to go to Australia - and consider Joan's determination to record and share her experiences, the different types of evidence provided by the letters and the memory accounts, and the different insights they offer about women's experience and identity.