Several years ago, Kathy Porter sat down with her grandmother to record their family history. Now she wants to do that with an entire neighborhood.

In fact, her goal is to preserve on tape the memories of all surviving original residents of the Prince George's County part of Takoma Park, a 378-acre area settled in the 1920s, '30s and '40s.

"I'd been thinking about the fact that people moved in mainly in the 1940s and stayed, but now are retiring and moving away," Porter said. "We're losing a lot of information."

So Porter and a handful of volunteers have started to contact and interview longtime residents and eventually hope to write up their histories as a narrative. They are relying mostly on word of mouth to find their subjects among the fewer than 4,000 residents in the Prince George's section of the city.

A $100 seed grant from the Takoma Foundation last December enabled Porter to buy tapes for the project, and she hopes to find other money for the transcriptions.

Janet Douglas, a conservation scientist employed by the Freer and Sackler Galleries in the District, is one of the project volunteers. She believes a written document of the project is necessary.

"I think for the general population it is better to have a book, rather than sit in a library and listen to tapes," she said. "I also worry about the durability of magnetic tape. The particles break down after a while."

Like Porter, she thinks it is important to document the neighborhood now, while original residents can still tell their stories. "It's important, not only what they have to say, but how they say it," she said.

All tapes will be available to the public at the Takoma Park Public Library, and Porter sees them as an invaluable source for future local historians.

"It's a view of history you don't get from documents, although it's not a substitute for documents. We're looking for 'What was happening to you?' That is the additional piece. I felt like that's what we were missing."

Frances and Julian Blagg are two Takoma Park residents who have started to supply those additional pieces of local history. Since 1941 they have lived in Hillwood Manor, a quiet tree-lined neighborhood of pre- and post-World War II colonials on quarter-acre plots. In May they celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary.

Frances Blagg is blind and hard of hearing but relishes her memory of a neighborhood get-together from those early years. Julian Blagg remembers the vegetables in their small victory garden during World War II. In the 1950s Frances provided the Takoma Journal tidbits of local news such as children's birthday parties or weddings. She also rode in the Republican Women's float during the Fourth of July parades.

Esther Hoover, 73, lives a block away from the Blaggs. She remembers people going to Langley Park to cut their Christmas trees. "University Boulevard wasn't a boulevard" then, she said. "It was a cow path, a honky-tonk, two-lane road."

When she moved to Hillwood Manor in 1948, there was no bus service on New Hampshire Avenue past the District line. "We would stop and pick up people or they would pick us up. This was a woods. We were plunked in a woods." She recalled stepping across the stones of Sligo Creek to get from her development to New Hampshire Avenue.

These are the kind of memories that don't usually make their way onto the recorded pages of history. But because of Porter's efforts, they will now help liven up the record of property deeds, birth and death announcements and City Council ordinances.

Porter, who does public policy research for federal programs, is not a professional oral historian. But in 1989 she took an oral history workshop given by the Historical Society of Washington and spent hours in a library researching the history of the Prince George's area of Takoma Park.

And ever since moving to Takoma Park in 1985, she has been interested in the community. She is president of the South of the Sligo Creek Association and on the board of Historic Takoma, the two organizations sponsoring the oral history project.

Douglas thinks it's about time more attention was focused on the Prince George's part of Takoma Park, which was settled much later than the larger Montgomery County section of the city.

"I have always felt there's a little too much emphasis on the Old Town area {in Montgomery County} and not much information available on Prince George's and the postwar neighborhoods," she said.