In an effort to capture and preserve the African-American experience, the Library of Congress announced June 24 that it is now the home to The HistoryMakers collection of approximately 2,600 video interviews of African-American pioneers.

The collection will join the archives of the Works Progress Administration Slaves Narratives, which were collected in the 1930’s and consist of more than 2,300 interviews of former slaves.

The collection includes 9,000 hours of content comprised of 14,000 analog tapes, 3,000 DVDs, 6,000 born-digital files, 70,000 paper documents and digital files, in addition to more than 30,000 digital photographs. According to The New York Times, the collectionis expected to open in the fall.

The HistoryMakers is a nonprofit research and educational institution that has recorded histories of both well-known and unsung African-Americans since 1999.

Julieanna Richardson, the founder and executive director of the HistoryMakers, told the Times that the Library of Congress was the ideal home for the collection, while also noting that, “the slaves will now be joined with their progeny.”

“I want the African-American child to understand their roots but I also want mainstream America to understand the contributions of Black people in this country,” Richardson told CBS News.

The videos include interviews from civil rights activist and actress Ruby Dee, poet Maya Angelou, Tuskegee Airman, William R. Thompson, and Barack Obama, from his time as an Illinois state senator.

Richardson intends to collect a total of 5,000 interviews by 2019 in addition to increasing the accessibility of The HistoryMakers digital archives.


Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO