Preserving Black Life Stories with the HistoryMakers Digital Archive

The Allegheny County Library Association is proud to provide library cardholders with access to The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive.

A 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution, The HistoryMakers is committed to preserving, developing and providing easy access to an internationally recognized archival collection of thousands of African American video oral histories. By recording the stories of both the well-known and unsung African Americans from diverse backgrounds, The HistoryMakers seeks to preserve and elevate the cultural equity of the African American community to the level of its historical record, as well as to increase the cultural understanding of present and future generations.

The HistoryMakers has recorded more than 3,300 videotaped interviews, all of which have been digitized. This represents nearly 11,000 hours of videotaped interviews. In addition, 80 special events have been recorded, and more than 3,300 online biographies are featured on the website.

Library users can learn about more than 2,700 HistoryMakers, including President Barack Obama, Whoopi Goldberg, Soledad O’Brien, Dionne Warwick, Hank Aaron, Melissa Harris-Perry, B.B. King, Danny Glover, Eartha Kitt and Pittsburgh native Billy Porter. The Maker Directory includes individuals who made contributions to education, civics, media, business, art, politics, law, science, music, medicine, religion, military, entertainment, sports and style. Stories can be filtered based on their biographical themes, such as creativity, leadership, and courage.

The collection is intended for a wide array of users – from youth, to adults, to institutions. Youth, especially underserved youth, benefit greatly from exposure to the role models and the stories of success that have been recorded. Adults, many of whom seek a better understanding of our society and of the role of African Americans in history, gain the ability to also influence and educate youth, colleagues, friends, and family with their knowledge. Institutions, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, corporations, the media, and the general public, are all users of The HistoryMakers content.

To access The HistoryMakers with your library card, click here. The HistoryMakers is available to all library cardholders in Allegheny County.