Working under the question of “how did Northern Virginia become the region that it is today?,” I would like to take a look at the formation of current Northern Virginia. This is a topic that I want to look at for a couple of reasons: 1) not being from the area, I think it has a distinct and interesting history, and 2) the GMU Special Collections & Archives has a wealth of interesting primary sources on the history of Northern Virginia. I would like to be able to look at Northern Virginia from the 1960s to today in order to show how it became the incredibly diverse and powerful region that it is today. Since the current NoVa is such a large area, I will be focusing primarily on Arlington and Fairfax.
Utilizing oral histories and primary documents like maps, photographs, and correspondences, I hope to be able to piece together a “then and now” look at Northern Virginia. I would like to look at influential events that have taken place over the last 50 years: the expansion of the metro, George Mason University, Dulles International Airport, the growth of information technology in the area, etc. If feasible, I would really like to look at current long-term residents of all ages to get their perspectives on how the region has grown and changed, and would be able to foil these participants with oral histories from the Northern Virginia Oral History Project (housed in Special Collections & Archives), which is a series of oral histories done in the 1970s and 1980s. Even though I will likely find a lack of video material to correspond with these earlier oral histories, I would be able to use photographs and pair them with more recent footage of the places talked about in their interviews. Although there will be some agreement about major changes and developments in the region, I think that this project idea would lead to some interesting commentary on history and memory as well as hopefully draw in some interesting personal perspective.