Doing Your Own Community History

We’ve compiled resources for you to use and share with your own community. Some of these will be helpful; others will simply inform you about how others know their histories. When you learn something new, make sure you save it somewhere special for future generations!

Things to consider:

  • Community might not always mean family or blood relatives. Communities can be friends, neighbors, mentors, and colleagues.
  • This research can be difficult for many reasons: personal trauma, lack of records, community loss, to name a few. Take care of yourself as you do this type of historical work.
  • Collaboration and conversation is key—but not everyone may want to talk to you about the past.
  • Community history is not traditional research. It can take time, and it does not need to happen in a library or museum. We learn about our past in so many different places, from photographs to text messages to video clips. Think expansively about your methods and materials!

Consider your visit to the Reconstructed Quarters at Highland. How might the histories shared here help you on your own journey?

Ask Questions:

Your 16 Greats Challenge | Adrienne Fikes

Tips for a Great Conversation | StoryCorps

Principles and Best Practices | Oral History Association

Genealogy Activities For Kids! | National Archives

Listen and Learn:

Lemon Project Sankofa Summer Genealogy Workshops

Genealogy Series | US National Archives

Library of Virginia Research Guides & Indexes (see the Biographical and Genealogical Resources)

Explore African American Histories:

Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

How Do We Know What We Know? – National Museum of African American History & Culture

Kate Coles Collection – Letters from a Formerly Enslaved Woman in Albemarle County

Learn about the 1870 lost census and why this matters for African American community history.