RG 181: Records of the Arlington View Civic Association, 1957-2005

Collection Number
RG 181
Arlington View is a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, bordered by Washington Boulevard to the north, Columbia Pike to the northwest, Interstate 395 to the east and the Army and Navy Country Club to the south. The 0.118 square mile area of Arlington View had a population of 870 as of 2009. Landmarks of note include Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Hoffman-Boston Elementary School, the Carver Community Center, and the Harry Gray House, the first brick townhouse built in Arlington. The Arlington View Civic Association has operated in the neighborhood since at least the 1950s when the community banded together to stop a company from building an oil storage tank in the neighborhood.

Arlington View is an historically African-American neighborhood, though demographics have begun to shift in recent years to include more Caucasian and Hispanic residents. In 1863, the federal government began settling freed slaves in Freedman’s Village south of the Potomac on land now occupied by the Arlington Cemetery. The settlement was one of a number of temporary camps for freed slaves in the region It grew over the following decades, serving as a seed for Arlington’s African-American community in local neighborhoods.

The Arlington View Civic Association grew out of the Johnson Hill Citizens Association. The neighborhood was known as Johnson Hill or Johnson’s Hill until well into the 20th century. After the Civil War, former slaves including Harry Gray purchased large portions of Johnson’s Hill from the Johnston family. Gray, a descendant of slaves owned by Robert E. Lee, built a brick townhouse on his property in 1881 that still stands in Arlington View today. Gray’s land was subdivided over time and now forms the northwest portion of Arlington View.

In 1900, the federal government dissolved Freedman’s Village in order to expand the Arlington National Cemetery, and some displaced residents moved to the south to Arlington View and Green Valley and east to Queen City. In 1939, the building of the Pentagon displaced the residents of Queen City, and many of those residents moved to a temporary trailer camp in what is today Arlington View. After World War II, the residents began to come together to rejuvenate a deteriorating community. Community members reestablished the defunct civic association, and in the 1960s the civic association began planning a sweeping conservation project for the neighborhood.

Arlington View, along with the Maywood and High View Park neighborhoods, pioneered the Arlington Neighborhood Conservation Program. The county developed the program to enable communities to create their own plans for improving their neighborhoods. Improvements included traffic management, beautification, and adding or improving curbs, gutters, sidewalks, street lights, parks and recreational facilities. Arlington View committed to a plan in July of 1964 and the county adopted that plan in February of 1965. The county financed half of the project while the citizens of Arlington View financed the other half. The association involved the entire community in developing a plan for improving the neighborhood over the following decades. By 1994, twenty-eight Arlington communities had adopted the Arlington Neighborhood Conservation Program.
Scope and Content
The records in this collection range in date from 1957-2005, and they occupy three linear feet. Minutes and correspondence make up the majority of the collection. The bulk of the collection comes from 1969 and 1973-2004. There are only a few records from years prior to 1969 in the collection, and records from 1970-1972 were missing, according to the donor. The civic association retained meeting minutes, a great deal of correspondence both to and from the civic association, reports from other organizations, news articles, event programs and maps. Subgroup 1, “Minutes and Notes,” contains administrative records for the regular work of the association. Subgroup 2, Other Files, has four series: Administrative Files, Publications, Subject Files and Maps. Administrative files include bylaws, membership lists, minutes and correspondence and stationery. Publications include those of the Arlington View Civic Association, Arlington County publications, Arlington County Civic Federation publications, event programs, miscellaneous publications, and newspaper clippings.

These records tell the story of Arlington View’s efforts to conserve and preserve its neighborhood starting in the 1960s. The civic association addressed such issues as neighborhood conservation, schools, parks and recreation, zoning, traffic calming, crime, blight and adequate housing. The planning and implementation of the Neighborhood Conservation Program occupied much of the association’s time and effort. It also paid special attention to providing stewardship for the Hoffman-Boston School and Carver Community Center that lie within the neighborhood’s boundaries, especially during the period when the neighborhood’s children were bused to other communities after desegregation.

The civic association published a newsletter periodically entitled “The AVCA News” or “AVCA Bulletin” or “The AVCA Quarterly.” Other publications in this collection include those of Arlington County, Arlington County Civic Federation, miscellaneous publications, event programs and newspaper clippings. The collection includes subject files for the Neighborhood Conservation Program, the Mid-Atlantic Community Education Consortium, Columbia Pike Revitalization, the Residential Program Center near the community, dumpsters at the Hoffman-Boston School and political advertisements and correspondence.
Arrangement and Description
The collection came to the Center for Local History in several binders organized loosely in chronological order (Subgroup 1, “Minutes and Notes”). Each binder held records in loose reverse chronological order except for one, “Minutes and Notes 2002-2004,” which had records arranged in loose chronological order. The processing archivist retained the original order for records from the binders. The civic association labeled each binder “Minutes and Notes” with a date range, and the processing archivist retained that naming convention for the records from the binders. Series and files based on the civic association’s naming conventions appear in quotes.

Some records were stuffed into the pockets of each binder without any clear arrangement (Subgroup 2, Other Files). The processing archivist arranged records within each file in Subgroup 2 in chronological order. Note that most of the administrative files as well as some publications and maps are located in Subgroup 1. Only those administrative files that were not organized by the civic association in binders were included in Subgroup 2. Records related to the subject files are also found throughout Subgroup 1.

Folders with oversized materials have a double asterisk [**] to denote where material was removed and separation sheets added.
The collection was donated by Florence Ross, long-time secretary of the Arlington View Civic Association on July 24, 2010.
There are no access restrictions to this collection
Related Collections
Other collections about the neighborhood and affiliated locations are RG 373, Hoffman-Boston High School Records, RG 103, Freedman’s Village and Reconstruction Collection, and RG 126, Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization Records. For larger Arlington racial and neighborhood issues, see RG 14, Arlington County Civic Federation, and RG 69, Arlington Public Schools: Desegregation Materials. The Center for Local History has the published Arlington View Neighborhood Conservation Program on the shelf (VA 711.4 A724nar).