The Project

Master’s degree students from Virginia Tech’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (National Capital Region), guided by Dr. Elizabeth Morton collected the stories of the Vietnamese community who shopped at or owned businesses in Arlington, Virginia’s Clarendon neighborhood when it was known as “Little Saigon” during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Working with community partners, the organizers of this project conducted oral histories and collected photos that will be archived at the Arlington County Library’s Center for Local History.

In addition, project organizers:

– Collected photos and other memorabilia chronicling the Vietnamese community in Arlington and Clarendon, the businesses in Little Saigon, and other facets of their life during the last four decades. The library has received, scanned, and returned both the original photos as well as digital copies. The community’s contributions, whether spoken, written or in photographic form, will help to preserve this important history for future generations.

– Added content about Vietnamese refugees and Little Saigon to Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Plan, specifically within the Statement of County Significance and within Section 1.B “Tell Arlington’s Story,” adding language that reflects the County’s “intangible cultural heritage.”

– Developed a Wikipedia page for Little Saigon Clarendon, Arlington, Virginia, to serve as an advocacy tool for a historical marker, to recognize and celebrate the important contributions of the Vietnamese community to Clarendon’s history, and to democratically give community members an opportunity to add their own information and tell their stories. Because Wikipedia is a crowdsourced Internet encyclopedia, and a common web search result, this tool permits future content contributions, and offers wide exposure to all members of the community.

– Contributed multi-media resources specific to Little Saigon, Arlington to an online mapping project, East at Main, which crowdsources information for sites important to the Asian Pacific community.

We are hopeful that another outcome of this project will be the creation of an historical marker or monument in Clarendon that will publicly recognize and celebrate the rich contribution the Vietnamese community has made to Arlington.

If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Program below.

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