The History of African-American Churches in Fort Smith

An Oral History Project

The Fort Smith Historical Society is undertaking an oral history project which focuses on recording the oral histories of Fort Smith’s African-American community, its churches and families.  We will work with members of local churches to record eyewitness accounts and memories, some handed down through generations to those who are now some of Fort Smith’s oldest citizens. Stories and photographs, artifacts and memorabilia will be photographed or scanned to be preserved by the FSHS. Vanished churches and businesses, schools and neighborhoods are all past ---and sometimes present---concerns of a growing community.  

The African-American experience has always been a part of Fort Smith history. The Fort Smith Historical Society’s oral history project is prepared to take on the challenge of growth…of seeing that everyday memories of Fort Smith’s past, including the personal histories from the vibrant African-American community, are not lost.  

An important aspect of this project is the development and presentation of select recorded material into video format, with transcriptions online and in print.  Oral histories in print, and video recordings online allow young people, students, and researchers to access first hand experiences that illustrate everyday lives from the perspective of those who were there.

These are not re-enactors; they are living history, an incomparable, intergenerational, educational experience

 These interviews can be done at our recording studio at the Fort Smith Museum of History, in the interviewee’s home, or at the McGill Center. We want each person to feel at ease and be as comfortable as possible. We would be interested in scanning your photos, documents, and other material to be preserved in our archives.

For more information or to schedule an interview, call 479- 207-0894, 479-646-9140,Or contact the Fort Smith Museum of History at 479-783-7841.