The National Science Foundation awarded The HistoryMakers a 3-year grant to interview 180 of the nation's top African American scientists, create curriculum based on the interviews and hold public programs featuring the scientists. The goal of the ScienceMakers initiative is to create positive role models and use their life stories as a way to encourage others to enter scientific professions.

The ScienceMakers: African Americans and Scientific Innovation oral history collection is a growing collection of interviews with scientists, as of October 2011 at 40 interviews holding over 2000 story segments. This collection is designed to increase awareness of the contributions of African American scientists, raise awareness of STEM careers, and increase understanding of STEM concepts. It is supported by the National Science Foundation, DRL-0917612.

The interviews are designed to be both life oral history and subject matter oral history, covering a range of topics including:

  • Childhood: Earliest memories, mostly related to family life, (birth of siblings, death of grandparents), and the communities in which they lived
  • Education: School experiences from elementary through graduate school; teachers that stood out as powerful, strong, and influential; and how those experiences shaped their interests
  • Challenges Faced: Extent to which they did or did not feel challenged by school teachers and courses and the challenges of focusing on school work amidst cultural issues and activities with which they were involved.
  • Research and Work: Competitions for scholarships and funding, creation of research labs, balancing research and teaching, their hopes and impressions of the impact they have had on others (e.g., students, colleagues, society)
  • Mentors: Guidance received throughout their lives, including parental support and educator encouragement
  • Identity: Influences on their identity, including the political and cultural environment in which they were raised
Stories can be searched by:
  • Keyword (i.e. "chemistry")
  • Location (i.e. "Chicago," "Bell Labs")
  • Person's Name (under "Table of Contents")

Click here to view the archive.