DC has always been a city of change. The history of our neighborhoods has been written and rewritten by generations of residents who create and contribute to our vibrant communities. The DC Community Heritage Project empowers DC residents to celebrate their stories, preserve their memory, and prepare us for the next chapter.

We had such a great time with our grantees and partners, hearing about all their exciting work discovering and preserving community culture. Learn more about some of their projects below, and be sure to visit their websites to learn more!

Rainbow History Project

Patrick T. Gertschen was a resident of the DC metropolitan area for over thirty years. Throughout the 1970s until his death in 1995, Mr. Gertschen documented the LGBT community through taking photographs of several annual events. The Estate of the late Mr. Gertschen donated over twenty photo albums and loose photos to RHP for the purposes of maintaining, displaying and archiving the data for future generations. The collection is roughly 2,500 photos. RHP is working to professionally digitize, document and display these loose photos and albums so that they can more widely available to the community and to researchers. Many of the people at the events may have already been lost to time, or to the AIDS crisis; our digitization efforts will allow us to share the images broadly so that people can help us identify the participants (or even themselves!).

African American Music Association

The African American Music Association created a panel discussion which was be included in the “Billy Stewart and Van McCoy: DC’s Unsung Native Sons” public program. The event was held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on June 25, 2016, celebrating the legacy of two of Washington DC’s most talented but underrated singers/songwriters of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including Rhythm & Blues and pop music composer Van McCoy – 1940-1979 (“The Hustle”), and the signature sound of Rhythm & Blues balladeer Billy Stewart – 1937-1970 (“Sitting In The Park” ,”I Do Love You”) . The main focus of the program was a panel discussion on the life and career of Van McCoy and Billy Stewart, as both artists were born and raised in Washington, DC, attended DC public schools, and began their music careers in DC during the 1950s. Also included was a live musical tribute by local artists who have been influenced by McCoy and Stewart’s music, and an exhibit display of photos, albums and other memorabilia of Stewart and McCoy. 


Leveraging an open source eLearning authoring tool similar to HP5, https://h5p.org/, the instructional technologist developed a rich HTML5 based course that will be deployed from the OFT/ON website, http://www.ofton.org. This interactive eLearning course overlay sdidactic and open ended question types to prompt students throughout the video to think critically about the themes and characters in “Saving Shaw School.”

The final product includes an interactive eLearning module that will also be mobile accessible. This eLearning course will guide students through an analytical and evaluative process to contrast and compare video segments from “Saving Shaw School” by using instructional methods from the Common Core State Standards in accordance with DC Public School standards. The program will be immediately available at no cost to middle school teachers and DC public libraries.

This eLearning course will be a pilot to demonstrate how this course can scale up to provide the student with additional opportunities to explore the story plot and facilitate their critical thinking and divergent problem solving about contemporary issues that permeate their community.

Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, Inc

PWYWCA completed an oral history project interviewing ten narrators who were asked to share their experiences with the PWYWCA over the years. The narrator categories included former residents, former patrons, board members, former employees, and local Shaw residents. The interviews were then transcribed and organized into a bound booklet to include brief bio’s and photographs of each narrator.

Hola Cultura

“Mapping New Latino Neighborhoods” builds on our 2015 research into factors that contribute changes in DC’s Latino neighborhoods over the last five decades. Last summer, with the help of University of Maryland professors Drs. Ana Patricia Rodriguez and Ronald Luna, we mapped where the city’s Latino population lived from 1970 to 2010 and conducted oral histories with longtime residents to add rich detail and context to what the maps revealed about Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights, historic Latino neighborhoods in Ward 1, where rising housing costs have accompanied a steady reduction in Latino residents. Read more here

This summer we looked more closely at the growing Latino presence in other parts of the city, particularly in Wards 4, 7 and 8. We have commissioned a new set of maps from University of Maryland graduate students that update Latino settlement data through 2014 using the US Census Bureau’s American Home Survey. Then we carried out new oral history interviews and journalistic reporting to examine emerging Latino enclaves and to what extent Latino community spaces—churches, stores, soccer fields, etc.—are moving with residents to their new zip codes.

Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association (FDMHA)

The goal of this project is to document FDMHA’s significance through oral accounts and written evidence, the final product being a video of witness accounts, including individuals on the Board of Trustees, past and present. There will be a companion booklet with historically relevant photographs.

Women in Film & Video

PAINTED CITY is a short documentary film (20-30 minutes) about the history and significance of D.C.’s outdoor murals and the preservation issues they face in changing neighborhoods.

Uniting Our Youth Inc.

Doing the Nae Nae at Langston Terrace is a video that explores the life, lifestyles and culture that creates community among Langston Terrace teenagers. Doing the Nae Nae at Langston Terrace celebrates the region’s pride and uniqueness and shows its positive connectivity to other D.C. communities as well as global communities of teenagers.
Many scholarly projects have brilliantly expounded upon the facts surrounding Langston Terrace’s prestige as the first public housing complex development built in the District of Columbia, and the second built in the United States. Doing the Nae Nae at Langston Terrace gives a voice to one of the largest population segments in the District of Columbia according to the U.S. Census Bureau – the teenage youth population. The final project includes a video that examines fashion, music, language, dance, and social practices that threads together the teenage community at Langston Terrace.

Anacostia Gracious Arts Program

Our summer program was an oral history project where young people who live in Benning Terrace, also known as “Simple City,” will interview their parents and elders from the neighborhood. Violent crime has plagued this neighborhood for a generation and we hope this project will offer the opportunity for the community to share their stories with the changing DC population.

This grant is presented in partnership with the DC Historic Preservation Office, with gratitude to the Charles Sumner School for hosting.