Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Documenting the Anacostia Community through Oral Histories

As the only Smithsonian Institution museum dedicated to local D.C. culture, The Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) has served as a center for community heritage and culture East of the River since its founding in1967. Over these past 45 years, the Anacostia Community Museum Archives (ACMA) has amassed a significant amount of audiovisual documentation of public programs and events, as well as community and personal histories from residents, on audiovisual media. Among those audiovisual holdings are an array of oral histories, including those that comprise the Anacostia Oral History Project of 1975. The project was created through the Center for Anacostia Studies and ACM and resulted in 72 original audiocassette recordings that document the lives of Anacostia residents in their own words with their own verbal nuances, making them a very unique type of historical record.

Among the many notable interviewees that participated in the Anacostia Oral History Project is Charles A. Williams, who shares stories of his life in Anacostia and working as a guard for various governmentalagencies during the 1940s and 50s. An interview with Thomas W. Turner provides personal documentation of his life as a student at Howard University and as an Anacostia resident during the 1880s and 90s. Husband and wife duo James and Marguerite Johnson discuss their childhoods in Anacostia during the 1930s and 40s. These three interviews alone provide oral history of life in Anacostia over the course of seven decades, pointing to the wide range of topics and events remembered through this oral history collection.

The original audiocassette recordings of all of the interviews conducted during the Anacostia Oral History Project are housed at ACMA and have been digitized for preservation and access purposes. Access copies can be listened to in the Archives Reading Room by making an appointment with the archivist:

Taylor McBride
Audiovisual Archivist
Anacostia Community Museum

No comments:

Post a Comment