Since 1999, The HistoryMakers has been recording African American oral histories to refashion a more inclusive record of American history and to educate and enlighten millions worldwide.

Background

MISSION STATEMENT                                        
A national 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational institution committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans. Through the media and a series of user-friendly products, services and events, The HistoryMakers enlightens, entertains and educates the public, helping to refashion a more inclusive record of American history.
VISION STATEMENT                                        
To capture America’s history one person at a time, creating a priceless video collection and giving those involved their special place in history to educate the world about the struggles, determination and achievements of African American life, history and culture.

The HistoryMakers is a national 501(c)(3) non profit educational institution founded in 1999, committed to preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized, archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories. The HistoryMakers is the single largest archival collection of its kind in the world designed to promote and celebrate the successes and to document movements, events and organizations that are important to the African American community and to American society.

The HistoryMakers is sharing its collection through The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, The HistoryMakers Education Institute, The HistoryMakers Speakers Bureau, live public programs and its interactive website (www.thehistorymakers.com). The purpose of this archive is to:

        • Educate the world on the accomplishments of African Americans
        • Show the breadth and depth of this important American history as told in the first person
        • Highlight the accomplishments of individual African Americans
        • Showcase those who have played a role in African American-led movements and/or organizations
        • Preserve these video oral histories for years and generations to come

 
The only methodic and wide-scale attempt to capture the testimonies of African Americans occurred in the 1930s with the recording of former slaves as an undertaking of the Works Projects Administration (WPA). From 1936 to 1938, teams of writers and researchers were sent throughout the South resulting in approximately 2,300 hand-recorded interviews and some audio taped interviews. The HistoryMakers is the next methodic and wide-scale collection effort since the WPA Slave Narratives Project. Our goal is to complete 5,000 interviews of both well-known and unsung African American HistoryMakers. While African Americans have made significant contributions to American life, society and culture, the world is still largely unaware of these contributions.

The HistoryMakers' goal is to change that by capturing the personal stories of African American contributors. In doing so, we want to include the stories of individual African Americans along with those of African American organizations, events, movements and periods of time that are significant to the African American community. In recording messages of leadership, achievement and perseverance embodied in these life stories, The HistoryMakers has plans to disseminate its holdings through traditional and interactive media as well as public programs, special events, an interactive website and a unique digital archive.

The HistoryMakers hopes to enrich the lives of all ethnic groups, both young and old. Our collection presently houses 7,000 hours of African American testimony on videotape. Our oldest HistoryMaker is 105 years old and the youngest is 29. We have done interviews in over 80 cities and towns as well as in the Caribbean, Mexico and Norway. The HistoryMakers' stories are stories of success against the odds, of achievement in the face of adversity, and of inspiration. They are America's Missing Stories.

The HistoryMakers staff has created finding aids for promotional footage on the organization:

Finding Aid to The HistoryMakers Promotional Videos (Chicago 2000)
Finding Aid to The HistoryMakers Promotional Videos (Chicago 2001)
Finding Aid to The HistoryMakers Promotional Videos (Chicago 2002)
Finding Aid to The HistoryMakers Promotional Videos (Chicago 2003)
Finding Aid to The HistoryMakers Promotional Videos (Chicago 2004)
Finding Aid to The HistoryMakers Promotional Videos (Chicago 2006)