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Fairfax County History

Virginia Room Research Last Updated: Jul 10, 2024 4:57 PM

Fairfax County Oral Histories

The Virginia Room collects oral histories of long-time and notable Fairfax County residents. Many of the oral histories in the collection were recorded as part of larger projects such as the Northern Virginia Oral History Project and the Providence District "Providence Perspective" Oral History Project. Transcripts from those initiatives are available on this page.

In 2017, the Fairfax County History Commission compiled the Index Catalog of Oral Histories, Fairfax County, Virginia which lists all known Fairfax County-related interviews and their repositories.

George Mason University houses tapes from the Northern Virginia Oral History Project, a collection of interviews with Fairfax County residents recorded between 1958 and 1996. Fairfax County Public Library's Virginia Room has most transcripts of interviews for Series 1 and 2, up to 1983.

Virginia Room COVID-19 Project

Beginning in April 2020, the Virginia Room began collecting digital submissions from Fairfax County residents describing their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 100 community members contributed approximately 300 items such as photographs, journal entries, poems, and artwork. A small sample of this collection is available for viewing through the FCPL’s Biblioboard Creator platform.

 Fairfax County Public Library COVID-19 Collecting Project 

Oral History Transcripts A-Z

  • Mary Agee on May 14, 2008
    Mary Agee started working for Northern Virginia Family Service in 1972 and went on to become its Director and Chair of the Board for 27 years before stepping down in June 2015.
  • Joseph Beard on November 21, 1974 and on January 23, 1979
    Joseph E. Beard (1908-1993) was Fairfax County Agricultural Agent for over thirty years. He was born in Floris and majored in dairy husbandry at VPI. He was appointed County Agent in 1937.
  • Judith P. Beattie on July 15, 2007
    Judith P. Beattie (1924-2019) was the daughter of noted architect Frazier Peters. Beattie founded and operated the Hunter Mill Country Day School for 36 years.
  • Nicholas F. Benton on July 16, 2010
    Nicholas F. "Nick" Benton is the founder, owner and editor of the Falls Church News Press newspaper.
  • Oliver W. Besley on November 10, 1976
    Oliver Watt Besley (1913-1981) was the great-grandson of Oliver G. Besley, a sawmill owner who in 1899 donated land in Annandale for the construction of Wakefield Chapel. Oliver Besley was a real estate broker and land developer with the firm Lewis and Besley Corp. based in Springfield, VA. In this interview, Besley recalls the Wakefield Chapel community in the 1940s.
  • Alvin A. Birch on January 6, 1977
    Alvin Ashton Birch (1894-1981) was a life-long resident of Pender, Virginia. He was a carpenter who helped construct houses for Albert R. Sherwood and Phoenix Properties. Birch recalls life in the Pender community in this oral history interview.
  • Thomas Black on February 22, 2008
    Thomas Black worked for Fairfax County Police Department for almost thirty years beginning in 1982.
  • Marlene W. Blum on June 12, 2008
    Marlene W. Blum was president of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs and chaired the Fairfax County Health Care Advisory Board for over twenty-five years.
  • Alvin J. Brown on March 27, 1975
    Alvin Jason Brown (1897-1983) was a life long African American resident of the Great Falls/McLean area. In this interview conducted by C.J.S. Durham, Brown recalls the previous owners of Towlston Grange and former residents of the Towlston Road area.
  • Camille Brown on March 21, 2021
    Camille Washington Brown grew up in Bailey's Crossroads, VA, and attended the segregated FCPS schools James Lee Elementary, Lillian Cary Elementary, as well Luther Jackson High School before transferring to J.E.B. Stuart High School. She later went on to have a successful teaching career.
  • Linda F. Byrne on October 29, 2010
    Linda Byrne is community activist who was a key player in bringing the Oakton Library to the community. Byrne is a past-president of the Oakton Women's Club and worked for Sup. Linda Smyth's office in the Providence District from 2007-2019. She spearheaded the Providence District's Providence Perspective Oral History Project.
  • DeArmond J. Carter on March 28, 2021
    "Dee Dee" Carter (1955-) grew up in Vienna and recounts her early years attending Our Lady of Good Counsel School, the discrimination she encountered in Oakton High School in the early 1970s, and her later career.
  • Rena R. Carter on February 20, 1970
    Rena Rice Carter (1889-1984) a long-time resident of Burke, Virginia and served as the village's postmaster from 1927-1959.
  • Dr. George M. Casey on February 12, 2008
    Dr. George Casey has been practicing dentistry in Oakton since 1972.
  • Jane Chapman on December 11, 2007 and interviewed on January 15, 2008
    Jane Chapman (1924-2017) lived in the Jefferson Village Falls Church neighborhood since 1947.
  • Thomas P. Chapman, Jr. on January 19, 1976
    Thomas Putnam Chapman, Jr. (1903-1984) was the Clerk of the Fairfax Circuit Court from 1945 to 1967. Prior to serving as clerk, he was the principal for Fairfax Elementary School. In this interview, Chapman recalls growing up in Fairfax and his experiences as a teacher and clerk.
  • Gilbert Christiana on July 16, 2010
    Gilbert Christiana moved to Fairfax County in 1957, worked for the FAA, and later taught electronics at Northern Virginia Community College.
  • Carl A. S. Coan Jr. on May 28, 2008
    Carl Coan Jr. (1934-2013) founded the law firm Coan & Lyons and served on the Housing Authority Redevelopment Housing Authority from 1975-1986 and on the Fairfax County Planning Commission from 1995-1999.
  • Annemarie "Anna Marie" W. Collat on October 7, 2010
    Annemarie W. Collat (1930-2014) was born in the Free State of Danzig and emigrated to the United States in 1958. She ran a riding facility in Idylwood from the 1960s-1990s.
  • Michael D. Collier on January 18, 2008
    Michael D. Collier is president of Uniwest, a real estate and construction company established in Arlington in 1986 and located in Merrifield since 1995.
  • Mrs. T.M. (Charlotte) Corner, August 12, 1971
    Charlotte Troughton Corner (1893-1988) was one of the first teachers at the Franklin Sherman School in McLean. She was a resident of McLean for over half a century.
  • Chris Cosgriff on July 27, 2010
    Chris Cosgriff, a Fairfax County police officer, founded the Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc., (ODMP), a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America's fallen law enforcement heroes, while in college in 1996.
  • Otrich Sharper Jackson Costley on April 10, 1985
    Otrich Costley (1900-1996), was the daughter of Selone Boston and Frederick Douglas Sharper. Her father was a farmer at Langley. The family later relocated to Odrick’s Corner, a Black community along Lewinsville Road and were involved with founding the historic Black church, Pleasant Grove Church in McLean. Otrick married Mott Jackson and then Cornelius Costley. 
  • Fred Crabtree on May 26, 2009
    Fred Crabtree (1916-2012) was a board member on the Fairfax County Park Authority from 1969 to 1992 and largely influential in acquiring and developing numerous parks in the county.
  • Charles L. Davis on January 11, 2008
    Charles Lucien Davis (1919-2012) was a founding member of the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department. During World War II, he flew in combat on B-24 Liberator Bombers and was a POW for 66 days.
  • Craig Day on July 25, 2007
    Craig Day moved to Falls Church with his family in 1963 and as a teenager discovered and researched the Dulin ruins on the Chiles Tract. Supervisor Jim Scott appointed Day as the student representative of the Chiles Tract Task Force where he fought for its preservation. Day, a 1977 graduate of Falls Church High School, still holds the school’s shot put record. 
  • Marion Dobbins on January 21, 2008
    Marion Dobbins, a life-long resident of Merrifield, Virginia, is a sixth-generation Fairfax County resident.
  • C.J.S. Durham on June 30, 1984 and on October 18, 1987
    C.J.S. "Jack" Durham (1905-1991) was a founding member of the Fairfax Historical Landmarks Preservation Commission which became the Fairfax County History Commission in 1969. As conservationist, Durham was influential in the establishment of the Great Falls National Historic Park and the preservation and protection of the C&O Canal. In 1933, he purchased Towlston Grange, a circa 1767 house once owned by Bryan Fairfax in Great Falls, Virginia, and had it restored. He and his wife Ethel, lived there until his death in 1991.
  • Thomas J. Evans on January 30, 2008
    Tom Evans, a local Civil War historian has researched in-depth the Hunter's Mill Road area's history.
  • Normand A. Fisette on August 21, 2011
    Norm Fisette (1923-2017) was a longtime Oakton resident.
  • Thomas D. Fleury on July 21, 2010
    Tom Fleury is a Vienna resident and managing director of The Penrose Group, a real estate development and property management company.
  • Food for Others - Roxanne Riche and Anne Zimmer on May 5, 2008
    Roxanne Riche was the Executive Director and Anne Zimmer was a board member of Food for Others which distributes free food to those in need in the Northern Virginia area.
  • Phyllis Walker-Ford on March 15, 2021
    Phyllis Walker-Ford (1947-) grew up in Franconia and attended the segregated Drew-Smith Elementary and Luther Jackson High schools. Ford is a member of the Fairfax County History Commission and was very active in restoring the Laurel Grove School Museum.
  • Blaine P. Friedlander, Sr. on July 21, 2010
    Blaine P. Friedlander Sr. (1928-2013) grew up on Pickett Road in Fairfax in the 1930s and taught at Fairfax High School. He served in the Korean War and later practiced law.
  • Chrystal Gaskins on March 21, 2021
    In this summarized interview, Crystal Gaskins (1972-) recalls growing up in Reston and Centreville.
  • Aaron J. Georgelas on July 15, 2010
    Aaron Georgelas is part of a long-time McLean family and a managing partner of The Georgelas Group, a McLean real estate development company.
  • Ezra Glaser on May 16, 2009
    Ezra Glaser (1913-2010) lived in Fairfax County since 1940 and was appointed as Assistant Commissioner of Patents in 1962.
  • Gerald L. Gordon on May 31, 1991
    Gerald L. Gordon, president & CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority from 1987-2019, discusses the growth of Fairfax County's economy during the 1980s-1990s in this interview with Ross and Nan Netherton.
  • Helen Haight on May 16, 2009
    Helen Louise Marshall Haight was born in the African-American community known as The Pines off of Woodburn Road. She describes her experiences of growing up near Merrifield in this summarized interview.
  • Gerald T. Halpin on November 19, 2010
    Jerry Halpin (1923-2017) a real estate developer and founder of West*Group Management LLC was responsible for developing most of Tysons Corner.
  • Holly Hambley on February 21, 2008
    Dora Kay Hayes Hambley is a long-time resident of the Briarwood neighborhood in Fairfax.
  • Dr. Robert T. Hawkes, Jr. on July 31, 2007
    Dr. Robert Hawkes (1942-2008), a resident of Fairfax since 1969, taught U.S. History at George Mason University for 37 years. 
  • Joseph A. Heastie and Ernestine C. Heastie on May 14, 2008
    The Heasties have lived in Northern Virginia since 1974. Ernestine C. Heastie was the first African American member of the Fairfax County School Board.
  • Hugh R. Heishman and Barbara M. Heishman on October 10, 2007
    Hugh and Barbara Heishman (1934-2016) attended Fairfax Elementary and Fairfax High School together before marrying. Hugh Heishman was involved in the automobile business first opening a Crosley dealership on Columbia Pike and later a Volkswagen/Porsche dealership. 
  • Edwin B. Henderson II and Nickie Henderson on August 7, 2008
    Edwin Bancroft Henderson II, the grandson of Dr. E.B. Henderson, is the founder and Executive Director the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation.
  • John Henris on July 21, 2010
    John Henris, a software engineer, came to Fairfax in 1991 and is an active volunteer at local senior centers.
  • John Hopkins on July 30, 2010
    John Hopkins, a life-long resident of Fairfax County worked for the Fairfax County Park Authority for over 35 years. 
  • Lily Houseman on January 11, 2008
    Lily Houseman was born in South Dakota in 1918 and has resided in Falls Church since 1949.
  • Judge James Keith on March 11, 1974
    James Keith (1911-2002) was a judge on the 16th and later the 19th Judicial Circuit of Virginia and served on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors from 1956-1962. Born in Warrenton, VA, Keith came to Fairfax to practice law in 1935. He retired as a judge in 1979.
  • Fred Kielsgard on January 18, 1987
    Frederic T. Kielsgard (1915-2005) grew up along Lee Highway across from Lehmann's Tavern in the 1920s and 1930s in Fairfax.
  • Marvin Kirby on January 24, 1971 and Ernest E. Webb on February 12, 1972
    Marvin H. Kirby (1903-1983) was born in Langley, Virginia and Ernest E Webb (1887-1975) was a life-long resident of McLean.
  • Sarah Lahr on March 26, 2008
    Sarah Lahr (1915-2011) lived in Holmes Run Acres since 1951 and served on the Fairfax County School Board. 
  • John K. Lally on December 15, 1986
    John K. Lally (1927-2002), an attorney, came to Fairfax in 1954. He owned and managed the Capitol Court Motel and Shirley Gate Motel on Lee Highway.
  • Jacqueline Lane on June 22, 2010
    Jacqueline Lane (1927-2017) worked for the CIA and recollects on the changing environment of Oakton and Tysons.
  • Mary Lipsey on August 29, 2007
    Mary Lipsey grew up in Falls Church and taught seventh grade American history at Lake Braddock Secondary School for 30 years. Lipsey founed the non-profit Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association and serves on the Fairfax County History Commission.
  • Donald Lucas on May 24, 2010
    Donald Lucas (1934-2015) came to Fairfax County in 1951 when he got an apprenticeship at Fort Belvoir and worked for the Army for 37 years. 
  • Joanne Malone on April 17, 2009
    Joanne Malone (1941-2018) moved to the Pine Spring area of Falls Church in the 1960s and was a long-time member of the Fairfax County Park Authority Board.
  • John Maragon, Jr. on June 24, 2020
    John Maragon, Jr. (1930-) grew up in McLean in the 1930s and was a member of the McLean Volunteer Fire Department while in high school. He recalls his time in McLean in this firsthand account.
  • Shirley M. Marshall and Annabel Baer on March 23, 2010
    Shilrey M. Marshall moved to Oakton in 1963 and her daughter, Annabel Baer, grew up there.
  • Ursula Mattheisen on September 17, 2007
    Ursula Mattheisen (1925-2012) was a long-time early resident of Holmes Run Acres in Falls Church and a conservation activist. 
  • Maddy McCoy on August 8, 2008
    Maddy McCoy established the Fairfax Court Slavery Index which helps researchers identify approximately 30,0000 enslaved individuals who resided in Fairfax County from 1742-1865.
  • Gladys Oliver McElwee on April 2, 2008
    Gladys McElwee grew up in Annandale on her father's Robert Stringfellow Oliver's farm in the 1930s. 
  • Vivian Morgan-Mendez on May 23, 2008
    Vivian Morgan-Mendez came to Fairfax County in 1991 and was influential in the preservation of Nottoway Park in Vienna.
  • Enid L. Miles on February 27, 2007
    Enid Miles married into the Jerman family of Jermantown Road in Fairfax. 
  • Miss Louise Millard and Miss Emma Millard on November 15, 1972
    Carrie Louise Millard (1906-1982) and Martha Emma Millard (1902-1981) were long-time residents of McLean.
  • Chip Monie on July 21, 2010
    Chip Monie, a local morgage banker, grew up in Tysons Corner and Oakton in the 1960s.
  • Marshall Morrow on March 18, 2008
    Marshall Morrow, a life-long resident of Fairfax County since the 1930s, was a construction contractor in the Washington area.
  • Barbara A. Mosgrave on May 29, 2009
    Barbara Mosgrove (1939-2012) came to Fairfax County in the 1960s, worked for the Federal Government and lived in Woodburn Village Condominiums for 35 years. 
  • Norman Neiss on July 17, 2010‚Äč
    Norman Neiss (1926-2016) came to Fairfax in 1965 and had a thirty-year career in the Navy. Neiss was greatly involved in civic affairs and served on several civic associations and district councils in Fairfax County.
  • Oakton Women's Club - Charlotte Wineland, Jane Wood, and Lynda Byrne on September 17, 2007
    Charlotte Wineland, Jane E. Wood (1920-2017), and Lynda Byrne were all involved with the Oakton Women's Club and they reflect on the club's history in this interview. 
  • Sally Ormsby on February 7, 2008
    Sally Ormsby (1936-2008) was a prominant local community activist serving in a number of positions including director of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.
  • Takako Pagoda on February 26, 2008
    Takako Pagoda was born and raised in Okinawa, Japan and came to Fairfax County in 1985.
  • Samuel R. Pearson and Alfred T. Souder on October 26, 1978
    Samuel R. Pearson (1901-1989) and Alfred T. Souder (1905-1992) discuss their recollections of McLean, Virginia. Their discussion includes historic houses, properties, businesses, the Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad, and the origins of the McLean Volunteer Fire Department.
  • Anna L. Porter on October 15, 2020
    Anna Elisabeth Larsen Porter (1958-) grew up in the Salona Village neighborhood of McLean in the 1960s and 1970s. She recalls her experiences in this firsthand account.
  • Bertie Poston on March 12, 1987
    Roberta Mary Poston (1895-1990) was born in Wiehle, Virginia and spent her entire life living in Reston. 
  • Anna Pauline "Pat" Price on August 19, 2008
    Anna Pauline Price has been a life-long resident of Oakton since the 1920s.
  • Ken Quincy on May 21, 2008
    Ken Quincy moved to Vienna in 1971 and had a career working for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
  • Lola Quintela on April 20, 2009
    Maria Delores Quintela, born in Bolivia, moved to Oakton in 1993 and worked for The Parent Institute.
  • Edith Rogers on June 12, 1970
    Edith Rogers (1887-1978) was a teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools. She taught at Herndon High School, Fairfax High School and Forestville School.
  • Milburn Sanders on September 26, 2009
    Milburn Sanders (1922-2012) was a life-long resident of Great Falls, VA. He was a founding member of the Great Falls Volunteer Fire Department, and active with the Great Falls Historical Society and the Fairfax County History Commission. 
  • Marie K. Saunders on May 8, 1968
    Marie Elizabeth King-Saunders (1914-1990) grew up in Gum Springs. In this interview abstract, Saunders recollects growing up in Gum Springs and the life of West Ford.
  • Vivian D. Smith and David E. Smith on April 14, 2008
    Vivian and David Smith moved to Holmes Run Acres in 1954. Vivian is the Holmes Run Acres Civic Association historian.
  • Bernard A. Speer on June 18, 1980
    Bernard Ashley Speer (1917-2015) was a descendant of William P. and Martha Mary Speer who moved from New York to Flint Hill, VA before the Civil War. Speer grew up in Oakton, VA, graduated from Oakton High School and served in the Army during World War II. He worked for the Virginia State Milk Commission and later Alexandria Dairy. Speer recalls life as an Oakton resident and his family's history in this interview.
  • Mayo Stuntz on June 11, 1980 and interviewed on August 13, 2008
    Mayo Stuntz (1915-2013) was a life-long resident of Vienna, historian, and CIA employee. He served on the Fairfax County History Commission for many years.
  • Cecil C. Swink on August 23, 1971 and interviewed on October 28, 1972
    C. C. Swink (1895-1981) was the son of E.F. Swink owner of Swink's Mill. 
  • Helen Lee Tyrrell on July 2, 2014
    Helen Lee Tyrell grew up in Dunn Loring in the 1930s-1940s. 
  • John C. Ulfelder on July 27, 2010
    John C. Ulfelder's grandparents bought Maplewood, a c. 1870 Second-Empire mansion in Tysons Corner, in 1925. 
  • Lowell T. Wakefield, Jr. on December 9, 1976
    Lowell Tennyson Wakefield, Jr. (1928-2006) was born in Annandale, VA. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and worked for the Washington Gas Light Company for 38 years. In this interview, Wakefield recollects his family's history as well as Wakefield Chapel and the community it served. 
  • Wendelin N. Walsh on April 10, 2008
    Wende Walsh came to Fairfax County in 1967 and was a Spanish teacher at Oakton High School.
  • Virginia Waters and Timothy Waters on October 13, 2010
    The Waters came to Fairfax County individually in the early 1960s. Waters Field in Vienna is named for Timothy Waters' father.
  • Robert Gibbs Whitmore on March 6, 2021
    Robert "Bobby" Gibbs Whitmore (1959-) describes his experiences growing up in Merrifield and the discrimination he faced in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Anne Wilkins on May 20, 1974
    Anne Wilkins (1914-1996) served on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors from 1951 to 1963. She became the board’s first female chairman in 1958. Under her leadership, she shaped the direction of Fairfax County’s growth and development including the establishment of a countywide master plan, modernized public services, and built a county-wide sewer and water system.
  • Lloyd Wineland III on November 23, 2007
    Lloyd Wineland III worked for his family's business, Wineland Theatres, which his grandfather established in 1922. Wineland Theatres owned and operated move theaters and drive-ins throughout the Washington Metropolitan area. 
  • Aileen Wright on October 25, 2007
    Aileen Wright grew up in The Pines and Merrifield area in the 1930s.
  • Virgie Wynkoop on November 11, 1977
    Virgie Wynkoop (1878-1981) was born in Oakton and attended Oakton School located at the junction of Lawyers Road and Hunter Mill Road. She reminiscences about that school in this interview. 
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