Would you like to have 310 full length interviews of prominent African Americans at your finger tips? Would you to hear first-hand accounts from the likes of Barack Obama, Ossie Davis, B.B. King and Eric Holder? There is only one way to gain access to these materials, join The HistoryMakers Online Digital Archive.

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive contains over 2,000 hours of video footage, containing 29,000 stories and can be yours for $30/Month. Access your account or become a member of The HistoryMakers and gain access to this priceless archive today. 

Without contributions from users like you, we will not be able to keep this archive online. Make a donation and help The HistoryMakers host this archive, video tape new interviews and add content to the archive. We thank you for helping us keep these memories alive.


The HistoryMakers Digital Archive of 1872 African American video oral history interviews is available online. This archive includes over 97,670 stories given by 1872 HistoryMakers, recorded primarily from 1999 to 2017.

The interface is being iteratively developed and refined, beginning with a strong foundation of work from the NSF-funded digital video library work that has taken place at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) under the Informedia research team. The active collaboration of The HistoryMakers and its executive director Julieanna Richardson with CMU makes this work possible. The first collaboration between The HistoryMakers and Informedia was made possible through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Grant LG-03-03-0048-03 starting in 2003.

From the beginning, Julieanna Richardson envisioned The HistoryMakers as an organization that could successfully combine state of the art technology with traditional oral history methodology. Her dream has come true in the form of a unique digital archive. With a donation of research-based technology from Carnegie Mellon University’s Informedia Digital Video Library, the dedicated team headed by Professor Howard Wactlar and funded by a $163,800 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS), The HistoryMakers created a digital archive of 310 interviews (800 hours of searchable video).

Informedia Digital Video Library, started in 1994, is a research project at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. The overarching goal of Informedia initiatives is to achieve machine understanding of video and film media, including all aspects of search, retrieval, visualization and summarization in both contemporaneous and archival content collections. The base technology developed under Informedia-I combines speech, image and natural language understanding to automatically transcribe, segment and index linear video for intelligent search and image retrieval. Informedia-II seeks to improve the dynamic extraction, summarization, visualization, and presentation of distributed video, automatically producing “collages” and “auto-documentaries” that summarize documents from text, images, audio and video into one single abstraction. Informedia technologies are being applied in the areas of education, health care, defense intelligence and the coordination and understanding of human activity. See the website here:Informedia Digital Video Library.

The online web Digital Archive benefited greatly from a workshop held at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) in the summer of 2007 under the direction of Randforce Associates, in the UB Technology Incubator. This workshop started off a multi-year beta test of a stand-alone .NET oral history interface with the University of Illinois, Drexel University, Carnegie Mellon University, and others. Randforce Associates, led by Michael Frisch, in 2009 contributed to the development of the inferential indexing framework supporting the "Search Tags" capability in The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. The goal of NSF Grant No. IIS-0705491 is to share Informedia processing capabilities and interfaces especially suitable for video oral history collections as open source, for the benefit of other video collection holders and users.

The work was presented at the annual Oral History Association (OHA) meetings in 2008 and 2010 and 2011.

On the CMU path to this goal of openly sharing systems, software, and interfaces into digital video libraries, we are beta-testing features with The HistoryMakers as well as other oral history collections. For a roadmap of our foundation work, please consult the following references (and check the video demos below).


Download these documents to learn more about the process of creating this archive: