Precious Places

Precious Places Community History Project is a community oral history project inviting members of Philadelphia's many neighborhoods to document the buildings, public spaces, parks, landmarks and other sites that hold the memories of our communities and define where we live. Unlike oral history projects in other cities, Precious Places teaches the video production process to participating groups, fostering projects authored by those who intimately know the featured neighborhoods.


The next round of Precious Places will be launched in March 2014. Stay tuned for details. Please feel free to contact us if your neighborhood group would like to participate. Interested persons should call or e-mail Scribe for upcoming deadlines 215-222-4201 or


About Precious Places

The Roots of the Project

Conceived as a way to mark the 20th anniversary of Scribe Video Center, the Precious Places video documentaries celebrate Philadelphia's richness of neighborhoods, buildings, public spaces and landmarks. They record community memories and help define where we live at a time when so many of the city's memories are undergoing so much change.

Scribe had long felt that Philadelphia lacked but deserved a compiled oral history of its streets, squares, monuments, and buildings, where social and cultural richness have led to the development of complex, diverse and vibrant communities. Through more than two decades of work with individuals and groups, of teaching and guiding people as they made documentaries that brought their dreams and visions to life, we knew that many more stories were out there just waiting to be told. And we shared with others concerns about the disinterest, deterioration, gentrification, unfamiliarity and even misinformation that endanger so much of the region. Community oral history, we thought, was an ideal way to spread the words and the sights of these precious places and to celebrate them and the people who cherish them.

The Process

This year, up to ten neighborhood groups will collaborate with research consultants and experienced filmmakers to document their neighborhoods. These facilitators provide training on oral history and documentary production, but the community group members are planning, researching, and writing their films. On October 2nd, 2010, each group will spend an entire day shooting footage in the neighborhood, including interviews and documenting selected sites or events. Finally, after editing their videos, groups will be invited to show their work at the Kimmel Center as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

Producing a documentary video is a chance to honor the local experience, and to become the author, not just the subject of your neighborhood’s history. In addition, community groups can learn the skill of producing oral history to uncover the rich stories that make up our past. Finally, the project is a valuable opportunity to make us aware of our diverse neighborhoods and the development policies that often render certain ‘precious places’ out of existence.

Watch the trailer for Petty's Island
by Camden City African American Commission:


The Complete Series

In the past six years Scribe Video Center has collaborated with dozens of community groups in Philadelphia, Camden, Chester, Coatesville, and Ardmore to produce 61 neighborhood histories, with up to ten more beginning production this summer. Through Precious Places, Philadelphia now joins the ranks of other cities such as New York and Los Angeles in having a citywide oral history project. With Precious Places, however, the community members themselves create their own videos about the people and places that make our city unique. Follow the links below for more information about specific projects.

Order the Precious Places Community History Project now on DVD!

The complete 3 DVD series seen on WHYY TV 12 is available for purchase.

Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 1 Produced in 2004-2007
Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 2 Produced in 2004-2007
Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 3 Produced in 2004-2007


Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 4 Produced in 2008-2009
Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 5 Produced in 2009-2010


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