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The HistoryMakers: The Digital Repository for the Black Experience

December 21, 2022

For many Americans at this time of year their attention turns to football, but how many people take the time to consider the enormous contribution African Americans have made to the sport? Is anyone documenting the central place of African-American athletes in a pastime that looms so large in the national consciousness? Well, earlier this year the National Football League and NFL Films announced a partnership with The HistoryMakers.

As Julieanna L. Richardson, Founder & President of The HistoryMakers said at the announcement of the collaboration, “Our goal since our inception has always been to document the African-American experience across a variety of disciplines and this commitment will ensure that the stories of African American football legends and African-Americans who have played a critical role in NFL history will now become part of this nation’s patrimony.”

In fact, in addition to SportsMakers there are several other distinct subject categories, such as CivicMakers, BusinessMakers, ArtMakers, and ScienceMakers, who’s oral histories have been recorded by The HistoryMakers.

The HistoryMakers is a nonprofit educational institution, founded In 2000. It has collected the largest collection of African American video oral histories. It provides a robust primary source research database, with a rich dataset for Digital Scholarship exploration and experimentation.

Prior to The HistoryMakers, there was only one other large-scale, methodic attempt to document African American history in the first-person – the WPA Slave Narratives. Now, The HistoryMakers has carried this tradition from the 20th century forward to the 21st century, joining the stories of the enslaved with the stories of their descendants permanently at the Library of Congress.

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