Call for Reviews - The HistoryMakers Digital Archive

Dionti Davis's picture

Dear JHistory:

I am writing on behalf of The HistoryMakers with a request to review and feature The HistoryMakers Digital Archive (Link:  

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is an easy-to-use online reference tool consisting of thousands of video oral history interviews of African Americans (9,000 hours) from a broad range of backgrounds, geographic, subject matters and experiences. They include the life stories of both well-known people like General Colin Powell, Nikki Giovanni, Harry Belafonte, Vernon Jordan, Marion Wright Edelman and President Barack Obama (while he was still an Illinois State Senator), along with many others who are unsung including 211 of the nation’s top African American scientists. They also include the video oral history of Katherine Johnson, who was featured in the Hollywood movie Hidden Figures. In the coming months, the life stories of James Earl Jones, Dick Gregory, Whoopi Goldberg and almost 800 others will be added, thanks to a grant from Pew Charitable Foundation. Recorded in over 180 cities and towns across the United States and some international locations like Norway, Mexico and the Caribbean, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive provides unparalleled access to its content with the use of a powerful search engine, transcripted testimony and topic search.

Thousands of subjects are featured in The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, including: foodways, film & filmmakers, the Black Arts Movement, funeral rites, public health & medical workers, modern music, poetry, entrepreneurs, the Black radical tradition, sports, LGBTQ stories, shifts in beauty culture, migration & the Black Diaspora, Black Feminism, theology & religious life, STEM, and land ownership, to name a few. To date, 26 universities, one public library and one private school have become subscribing institutions, thus providing their faculty, students and administrators access to the largest attempt to document the African American experience since the WPA Slave Narratives. These institutions include Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brandeis University, Emory University, the University of Richmond, Boston University, the University of Virginia, Howard University, and Columbia University, in addition to Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Latin School.

Developed in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University over a seventeen year period, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive was created by The HistoryMakers, a national nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization headquartered in Chicago. Interviews in The HistoryMakers Digital Archive range from 90 minutes to 15 hours in length, and are housed permanently at the Library of Congress, but are only accessible by appointment in the Library of Congress’ main reading room. By April of 2018, all 9,000 hours of first-person testimony will be fully accessible on The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. The interviews available on the digital archive are the same materials that are housed permanently at the Library of Congress.

We hope that you will find The HistoryMakers Digital Archive worthy of review. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let us know at (312) 674-1900, or


Dionti Davis

Special Assistant to the President