Marion Woodfork Simmons is a family and community historian who takes pride in preserving the history of the communities where she and her ancestors lived. She lived in southeast Washington, DC and attended Kimball Elementary in the 1960s and 1970s. The Kimball Memory Project is her second local history initiative.
Simmons was an oral history interviewer for the Fort AP Hill Oral History Project in Caroline County, Virginia. She interviewed individuals to record their memories of the rural communities that existed in Caroline County, Virginia before the government purchased the land to build the Fort AP Hill Military reservation. The final product of the project was a book titled Wealthy in Heart: Oral History of Life Before A.P. Hill.
In 2009, Simmons initiated the Union High School History Project to preserve the history of Union High School in Caroline County, Virginia. Union High was the only high school for blacks during the era of segregation. She researched the history of the school, conducted oral history interviews and collected memorabilia. The end result of the project was a self-published book titled Memories of Union High: An Oasis in Caroline County, Virginia 1903-1969.
The book uses remembrances from alumni, faculty, family and friends; excerpts from school newspapers and yearbooks; and over 100 photographs and other memorabilia to preserve the history of Union High School. Memories of Union High was recognized by two national organizations. It was a Finalist in the African American Non-Fiction category by the National Indie Excellence Book Awards and a Finalist in the USA Best Book Awards.
The Union High History Project working papers and school artifacts were donated to the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia to establish the Union High History Project archive.
Simmons has received several awards for her efforts to preserve local history. She was the recipient of the 2014 Caroline Historical Society Annual CHS Award for preserving and promoting the history of Caroline County, Virginia. In 2012, she was recognized by the Caroline County Board of Supervisors for preserving the history of Union High School and publishing Memories of Union High. She was the recipient of the 2012 Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) Meritorious Achievement Award for distinguished performance through a significant and measurable contribution to African American history and genealogy.
Simmons has lectured and been interviewed to discuss how ordinary people can preserve the history of the communities where they live. She was a contributor to the Caroline County, Virginia’s Historical Society Newsletter.