Keep the Doors Open: A Case for Preserving Individual and Institutional History
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There are several churches across the United States that are called Mount Pleasant Baptist Church but the subject of this capstone is Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in New Kent County, Virginia. One cannot visit a website to find any information about its 127-year-old history or the people who form this church. In this thesis/capstone I ask the question, “What is Mount Pleasant Baptist Church’s story?” then take an oral history approach to find answers. Oral history interviews seek to find lived experiences that are not necessarily found in standard historical documents. The Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Oral History Project brings to light the struggle that the church faces today: to keep the church’s doors open with limited resources. This capstone presents eight narratives that arose from semi-structured interviews with individuals who have a deep connection to the church. Using a multidisciplinary approach to argue that the importance of gathering, organizing and sharing institutional memory will serve as an invaluable tool to help a younger generation care for this historic Black church.