Church Hill is the oldest neighborhood in Richmond and it is undergoing a dramatic transformation.  While large areas of the neighborhood remain mired in poverty, other parts of the neighborhood are the homes of upscale restaurants and hipster businesses.  How can Church Hill youth use archival sources, including transcripts of Church Hill residents’ oral histories, as well as conducting interviews of their own, in order to achieve a complex understanding of their own community?

“Archiving Richmond” is an University of Richmond course collaboratively taught by theater professor Patricia Herrera and American Studies professor Laura Browder, with the collaboration of head of rare books and special collections Lynda Kachurek. In this class we will be working with youths in CHAT, a small high school in the historically African American neighborhood of Church Hill. We will be teaching our students and CHAT students how to conduct oral history interviews and hosting a “history harvest” in Church Hill.  Our students will work with CHAT students to conduct community interviews, collect neighborhood memorabilia, and create a dramatic narrative about the Church Hill community.  These dramatic narratives will not only be digitally archived, but will also be the basis for a six-month long museum exhibition at the Valentine Richmond History Center in downtown Richmond, which will be curated by CHAT students under the guidance of Michael Lease and Traci Garland, VCU professors who will be teaching a museum studies course in the same semester.

Digital America will be following the student’s documentation process with the online storytelling tool, Cowbird. In the meantime, you can catch up on past projects and collaborations on The Fight for Knowledge website/archive. There is so much to read! to view! to think about!