The Lakeland Community Heritage Project Digital Archive is a partnership between the Lakeland Community Heritage Project (LCHP), Dr. Mary Corbin Sies of University of Maryland’s Department of American Studies, and MITH, to document an historic African American community before and after segregation and contribute to an understanding of urban renewal’s impact on communities of color.
Lakeland is an historic African American community established in 1890 and located in College Park, MD, adjacent to the University of Maryland campus. Lakeland thrived until its self-contained uniqueness was undermined by social change and a devastating urban renewal program which used eminent domain to “take” two thirds of Lakeland’s territory and relocate roughly sixty-five households elsewhere in Prince George’s County. Promised improved housing for Lakelanders never materialized, and the housing eventually built was not made available to displaced residents.
In 2009 the Department of American Studies began a collaboration with the Lakeland Community Heritage Project, establishing an ongoing community-engaged project whose primary achievement is creation of The Lakeland Digital Archive. The partnership provides LCHP – an all-volunteer historical society – with student and faculty labor to help document and archive Lakeland’s history, while training students in an ethical and equitable practice of collaborative heritage research wherein Lakelanders produce historical knowledge using their own voices. The Archive contains photographs, land records, census data, newspaper clippings, maps, dozens of oral history sound files, archival records, and video recordings.
MITH is directing a multiple-year effort to redesign the archive website in collaboration with members of the Lakeland community, and to explore other platforms for making Lakeland’s heritage accessible to different populations: current and former Lakelanders, community elders, community young people, residents of Prince George’s County, MD, and scholars interested in the history of African American communities and urban renewal and its ongoing consequences.