Digital Story Title:
“Northern Virginia: A History of Changes by Those Who Call It Home”
Northern Virginia has grown and changed tremendously in the past 50 years. The region morphed from being just a rural suburb of Washington DC into a dense and economically independent region in a relatively short amount of time. This project explores the changes that have occurred, including population growth, transportation, and economic changes, through the words of long-time residents. These residents have witnessed first-hand the dramatic changes that have taken place, and through their words this project demonstrates the recent history of change that defines today’s Northern Virginia.
Having just moved to the Northern Virginia area in September, I was instantly struck by the density of the region. Looking into this defining factor of the area, I found that this population growth had really only occurred in the past 50 years or so. Once just a suburb of Washington DC area, Northern Virginia now holds its own in terms of population, economics, and character. I wanted to explore the reasons behind the change by finding long-term residents that could give me first-hand accounts of the changes that they experienced.
As an “outsider” to the region, I wanted to avoid telling this story through my own perceptions of the region. Therefore, my project is narrated entirely by long-time residents, whose experiences with the region are far more compelling than my own. I want this story to resonate with the people that have lived through the changes, but also with shorter-term residents who found Northern Virginia to be a desirable place to live.
In addition to presenting a historical change, I also want to be able to show how “normal” people can be invaluable resources in presenting public history by compiling a digital story that is almost entirely oral history based. So often we look to the so-called experts as our authority on history, but I find that in the case of something like regional growth the actual residents living through the changes can actually tell us more.
Who is your intended audience?
People interested in local history; meant to present oral history for popular use of local history.