The HistoryMakers Digital Archive

Access the world’s largest African American video oral history collection

photo collage of historically significant African Americans

View History Here

In support of the opening of the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center, the UO Libraries has purchased institutional access to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, the world’s largest African American video oral history collection. As of January 2020, this database features 148,163 videos compiled from interviews with 2,691 historically significant African Americans.

“While a basic version of the HistoryMakers site is available for free to the public, our institutional subscription provides access to the greatly expanded content in their digital video archives,” said Mark Watson, interim dean of libraries. “This license is only available to universities, colleges and public libraries in the U.S., so we are truly proud and excited to provide access for students, instructors and researchers at the University of Oregon.”

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is an ever-expanding collection of high-quality video content with fully keyword-searchable transcripts—a boon to researchers at all levels.

According to the website, “The life stories and experiences of the individual HistoryMakers interviewed for The HistoryMakers collection show the vast diversity of African American contribution and achievement in America and abroad. They span a broad range in terms of education, economic and social status, political affiliations and religious beliefs; they exhibit origins ranging from New England to Hawaii; and they share personal and family memories stretching from the 1700s to the present.”

Supported in part with $2.3 million from the National Science Foundation, the site includes interviews with more than 200 leading African American scientists including NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who was featured in the movie “Hidden Figures,” and atmospheric scientist Warren Washington, one of the world’s leading climate change experts.

Thousands of other interview subjects range across the fields of business, entertainment, politics, media, religion, education and more. Highlights include interviews with Harry Belafonte, Mellody Hobson, Hank Aaron, Savion Glover, Melissa Harris-Perry, Eric Holder, Charles Blow, Whoopi Goldberg and James Earl Jones. Barack Obama was interviewed in 2001, while he was still an Illinois State Senator.

Members of the UO community can access licensed content on The HistoryMakers through our library research guide. Users may be automatically prompted to provide their UO login credentials when connecting from offsite.