UVA Today Article Highlights Library Collaboration with The HistoryMakers Digital Archive

An article in UVA Today offers additional details about the Library’s efforts announced here to enhance the visibility of The HistoryMakers—the largest digital archive of oral African-American history in existence. The project, funded by a new $1,000,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be led by University Librarian John Unsworth, Mike Christel of Carnegie Mellon University, and Julieanna Richardson—Harvard graduate, lawyer, digital historian, and founder of The HistoryMakers.

Richardson set a goal of conducting 5,000 interviews with people from all walks of life, the famous and not-so-famous, encompassing what she calls “America’s Missing Stories” of African Americans’ contributions to the arts, to the military, to business, to the legal and healthcare professions, to architecture, engineering, and education.

The new grant will build upon work completed under a previous grant from the Mellon Foundation to Unsworth when he was at Brandeis. Those efforts resulted in increased discoverability in libraries’ catalog systems and a growth in the subscriber base from three to 50 institutions.

Efforts to include a Virgo catalog record for each individual interview, and to expand the reach of The HistoryMakers records, will involve the work of a dozen library faculty and staff members. UVA Library staff will use its NEH-funded mapping tool, Neatline, and Social Networks and Archival Context Cooperative (SNAC), also funded by the Mellon Foundation, to connect The HistoryMakers digital archive to holdings of other archives.

“Neatline will be used to map place-names that we can extract from the transcripts of The HistoryMakers’ interviews,” Unsworth explained, “and perhaps for creating exhibitions around those places using the timeline feature of Neatline, or with included text and graphics. We’ll also be publishing records to SNAC from The HistoryMakers, as a way of increasing the visibility of The HistoryMakers’ subjects,” he said.

Read more about the HistoryMakers project in the article “UVA Library to Enhance National Digital Archive of African-American Leaders” (UVA Today, 10/2/2018).

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