The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is is an online subscription database containing over 10,000 hours of full-text and video interviews with African Americans distinguished in the fields of science, culture, politics, the arts, and public life. The HistoryMakers is a non-profit institution committed to "preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories" conducted between 1999 and the present.1
The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is a continually growing resource, projected to include as many as 3,000 interviews by the end of 2018. The Digital Archive presently contains only a subset of all interviews conducted by the HistoryMakers organization: the HistoryMakers has produced and is continuing to produce African American oral histories for the archive (at present, the HistoryMakers' goal is to complete 5,000 interviews). The HistoryMakers Digital Archive does include the ca. 100 oral histories presently contained in the ProQuest HistoryMakers oral history video archive. THM has noted the relationship with ProQuest will end in 2019.
Content selection is driven by the organization's definition of a HistoryMaker.2 Interview subjects include more than 200 African American scientists; public figures ("CivicMakers") like civil rights activist Angela Davis and foundation executive Marian Wright Edelman; artists, musicians, and performers; educators and lawmakers; and political figures including General Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, and (then Illinois State Senator) Barack Obama. Each interviewee page includes biographical information and indexed fields such as category of HistoryMaker, gender, occupation, and decade of birth.
All interviews were shot on broadcast quality video, and encoded as separate MPEG-1 video files. Interviews are divided at natural boundaries to create thematic video segments (averaging 4 to 6 minutes each). Each segment is accompanied by a fully audit-edited transcript ("based on the Minnesota Historical Society's standards for oral history transcription" and proofread and edited for context and style standards).3 Transcripts are fully text-searchable and linked to the appropriate interview segment. Segments are fully indexed by dates, topics and locations using Library of Congress Subject Headings.
A small subset of interviews have been enhanced with metadata ("tagged stories") including information on historical context, biographical themes, and interview qualities.
The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is the product of the most systematic, wide-ranging attempt to capture the personal testimonies of African Americans since the 1930s Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) recording of former slaves. The HistoryMakers stated, "The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is a unique, one of a kind reference tool that puts the archival holdings of the nation's largest African American video oral history archive that are housed at the Library of Congress at your faculty and students' fingertips."
For more information on The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, click on the Appendix tab to see the HistoryMakers' brochures and product information. The HistoryMakers presented an informational webinar to the CRL membership in February 2019.