An oral history project at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, is documenting the history of the predominantly Black West Johnson Street neighborhood of Staunton. The project began as an exercise for a course last spring. But once the students began collecting stories they found that there as such a rich history of undocumented experiences that the effort has been expanded and will now include a documentary film. Students knocked on doors in the city’s oldest Black neighborhood and recorded the stories of some of the area’s oldest residents.
Mary Baldwin College enrolls about 1,500 undergraduate students. Only women are permitted to enroll in the residential undergraduate college. African Americans make up 24 percent of the student body, according to the latest Department of Education data.