Up on the Hill

An Oral History of the Halls Hill Neighborhood in Arlington, VA.

Written by folklorist Thomas D. Carroll, from interviews with residents.

The High View Oral History Project has logged a wealth of memories that help to broaden our understanding of life in Arlington County during the 20th century. Once known as Halls Hill, High View Park is one of Arlington's historic African American neighborhoods. Situated on land that was an antebellum estate, a number of current residents are descended from the estate's slave families while others joined the community in the early 1900's. Until recently the neighborhood has persisted as a close-knit, stable community with continuing traditions and a strong self-identity. The collective memories of elders who endured the era of segregation and the struggle for civil rights comprise an important but largely unknown aspect of Arlington's history. Themes that have emerged from their stories include not only the formation of the community, but also the pivotal role of social institutions in sustaining families and building community. Stories also chronicle the development, during and after integration, of relationships that traversed such territories as the public school system and the cement block wall that segregated Halls Hill from the adjacent white neighborhood. Today, factors have placed the community on the brink of profound change: an aging population, encroaching gentrification and the demolition and rebuilding of the Langston Brown Community Center, long a focal point of the area's social activities. The gathering of oral history and artifacts and the establishment of a neighborhood archive in which to house them are an attempt to preserve the spirit of Halls Hill/High View as the old neighborhood becomes cloaked by the passage of time and inevitable change.

The field research and booklet were funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Copies of "Up on the Hill" are available to the public on our online sales page.