Celebrate Black History All Year Round with “The HistoryMakers”

Duke historian John Hope Franklin (left) and political scientist Samuel DuBois Cook, both of whom are featured in the HistoryMakers database of oral history interviews.

Guest post by Heather Martin, Librarian for African and African American Studies

Looking for oral history interviews of African Americans? Try The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, a new subscription database available through Duke University Libraries.

HistoryMakers contains over 10,000 hours of video interviews with African-Americans distinguished in the categories of education, media, science, politics, law, the arts, business, medicine, the military, sports, religion, entertainment, and other areas of public life. Interviewees discuss memories from the 1890s to the present. The project currently includes original interviews of more than 2,000 individuals, with a goal of collecting 5,000 interviews.

By creating story segments from each interview, HistoryMakers allows users to find relevant discussions on specific topics. Interview transcripts are searchable, but you can also choose from a list of story topics (e.g., leadership, desegregation/integration, public health issues, philanthropy, role models, gender identity, faith, humorous story quality, and arguing a position). You can also create shareable playlists by selecting stories from your search results.

A search for “Duke University” reveals hundreds of interviews with noteworthy individuals, including Paula McClain, current dean of Duke’s Graduate School.

A search for Duke University retrieves 321 stories, including interviews with noted historian John Hope Franklin;  Samuel DuBois Cook, the first African American professor at Duke; Vera Ricketts, the first black female pharmacist at Duke University Hospital; and Paula D. McClain, current dean of the Graduate School at Duke.

HistoryMakers complements Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South and other oral history materials in the Duke Libraries’ collections. It is a substantial addition to our primary source collections.

To learn more about the creation of The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, visit the organization’s website.

 

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