Events & News

New Oral History Project Launched!

New Oral History Project Launched!

April 21, 2015
Article from the Spring 2015 Newsletter

The Archive Project is excited to announce the launch of a new oral history project entitled Missing Stories: Capturing the Preservation Memories of Minority Sites and the Outer Boroughs. While great strides have been made to document the preservation stories of neighborhoods and sites in Manhattan, New York City is a vibrant metropolis and important areas are still missing documentation to better reflect the complete story of preservation in New York City over the last century.

One of the most significant problem areas is the lack of stories associated with the preservation of sites and neighborhoods significant to minority communities. While some of these stories have been told individually through various forms, no one has yet set out to tell a comprehensive story about minority involvement in New York City preservation. With generational shifts and changing urban fabric bringing rapid transformation to many of these areas, the stories of these communities are in danger of being lost if they are not collected soon. The same could be said for another area in which the Archive Project’s oral history collection is lacking: sites and neighborhoods located in outer boroughs, especially Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has made a concerted effort in recent years to designate more historic districts and individual landmarks in the underrepresented outer boroughs, finally addressing the higher proportion of landmarks located in Manhattan. Although some of these outer borough sites may have only recently been designated, their preservation campaigns often go back decades. And there are many stories associated with unsuccessful preservation campaigns, and buildings and sites that have been lost or compromised before they had a chance to be protected.

Through a grant from the New York Community Trust, the Archive Project can now begin capturing these overlooked stories and address this need to create a more comprehensive record of the history of preservation. Like all of the oral histories the organization captures, the final transcripts and video recordings will be made public through on the website (www.nypap.org). The Archive Project also plans to form exciting new partnerships to highlight this project, inspire similar efforts in other neighborhoods, and impart our mission to a new population.

The Archive Project is currently working with a special ad hoc advisory committee to identify sites, significant figures, and other resources that will help make this oral history project a success. If you have any ideas for potential interviewees, please contact us

Above: Preservationist Joan Maynard with students in front of the Hunterfly Road Houses; Courtesy of Weeksville Heritage Center