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.

Process Description

Digitization & Encoding
The HistoryMakers interviews are recorded on Sony Betacam SP videocassettes, an analog format for professional video recording. Each analog 30-minute Beta SP videotape from the 400 selected interviews was digitized and encoded as a separate MPEG-1 video file which was saved on The HistoryMakers file server. Video technicians checked problems reported by cataloguers and made necessary adjustments (i.e., audio boosting, color correction or re-encoding). All files were transferred to Informedia Digital Video Library where their staff viewed the video files while working with The HistoryMakers staff to optimize quality. 
 
Transcription
Transcription of the 400 interviews was outsourced to several transcription firms and individuals, according to standards outlined in The HistoryMakers Transcribers’ Manual. These were based on the Minnesota Historical Society's standards for oral history transcription. A text file was created to correspond with each 30 minutes of encoded and digitized video footage. 
 
Editing Transcripts
The 400 transcripts were proofread by volunteer proofreaders prior to processing and cataloguing. This allowed cataloguers more time to concentrate on their work. Proofreading included auditing (listening to the interview and editing to make sure that the text matched the spoken words), checking and correcting spellings including names, editing the text to conform to style standards, and adding other key information to allow for contextual search of the interview. Additional information was set off by brackets to distinguish it from the spoken words. These references were used for name completion (“Martin [Luther King, Jr.]”) locations (“Savannah [Georgia]”) and spelling of acronyms (“NCNW [National Council of Negro Women]”). 
 
Cataloguing with Informedia's Segmentor
Informedia Digital Video Library’s 'Segmentor' application is used to do manual editing and annotation of the videos. The digital video file and its corresponding transcript text file were opened with the Segmentor application. Metadata for the files were added, and the video and text were divided into segments with their own annotation. The metadata was saved as XML files maintaining the hierarchy of tape and segments. 
 
Segmenting
The interviews were divided at natural boundaries to create thematic video segments, for the dual purpose of defining annotation intervals and for their subsequent function as retrieval units. Within each tape-level “project”, cataloguers used the Segmentor’s video editing controls to set “In” and “out” points for each segment, averaging four to six minutes. The section of transcript corresponding to that portion of video was inserted in the Segment Transcript Window, and the segment was assigned a title that would quickly give the user an idea of what was contained in that segment. The segment transcript, title and codes defining segment boundaries were saved under the “project” metadata in one XML file. 
 
Indexing
The individual segments, averaging 4-6 minutes, were indexed by dates, topics and locations using Library of Congress Subject Headings and Lorene Byron Brown’s Subject Headings for African American Materials. The HistoryMakers also found it necessary to create its own local index terms to include “conceptual” along with “key word” searching .
 
Downloadable PDFs:
The HistoryMakers in compliance with Carnegie Mellon's current NSF funding, NSF Grant No. IIS-0705491, is happy 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, 2010 and 2011. The information available for download pertain to an early version of the digital archive prior to its web version. However, the documents will be extremely useful for anyone working on a similar project.