A collage of  all the many African Americans documented  by HistoryMakers
A collage of all the many African Americans documented by HistoryMakers


hosted by The HistoryMakers

Nation’s largest African American oral history archive will hold first National Advisory Board Planning Summit in Chicago

 On Thursday and Friday, July 16 & 17, 2015, The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive,  convene its first National Advisory Board Planning Summit in Chicago, Illinois, at the Palmer House Hilton ( 17 East Monroe; Chicago, Il.). More than thirty National Advisory Board members will assemble in Chicago, representing 24 cities and towns across the United States. Attendees include former presidential diarist Janis F. Kearney from Little Rock, journalists Randall Pinkston and Roz Abrams from New York, advertising executives Thomas and Madeleine Burrell from Chicago, and civic leaders Bernard & Shirley Kinsey from Los Angeles. The Summit will attempt to establish a coherent, effective National Advisory Board that will expand significantly the reach and impact of The HistoryMakers organization. The Summit will kick-off with a reception and dinner at the Palmer House Hilton on Thursday evening, and continue during Friday with a full working-day of presentations, discussion, and the formation of regional and national action plans.

The HistoryMakers have not hosted an event in Chicago since 2012, when the organization honored Motown legend Berry Gordy in An Evening With Berry Gordy at the Art Institute of Chicago. One of the National Advisory Board Planning Summit’s goals will be to not only grow roots in regions across the country, but also to once again strengthen The HistoryMakers presence in its base, Chicago.

Last year, the Library of Congress announced its role as the permanent repository for The HistoryMakers African-American oral history video collection, which archives and documents both the well-known and untold stories of African Americans across the nation. James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, described The HistoryMakers as “a culturally important collection” that is “a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.”

The Advisory Board Planning Summit is designed to result in action plans for each of the represented regions around the country focused on the areas of resources, partnerships, and cross-regional collaboration. The Summit will feature representatives from around the country who have volunteered to assist The HistoryMakers central office in Chicago with outreach, interview acquisition, fund-raising, and collaborations. The initial goal for The HistoryMakers collection was 5,000 life oral histories. Now that the organization has crossed the mid-point of this benchmark, it is seeking to implement a more strategic and methodical approach to the acquisition of further interviews. Geographically, The HistoryMakers collection is not yet representative, with nearly 1,100 interviews coming from three cities – Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C. In order to correct this imbalance, The HistoryMakers has embarked on a new initiative to develop a presence in key regions across the nation.

The summit’s purpose is to facilitate the sharing of ideas and plans between regions, establish best-practices, identify any overlapping affiliations and resources, and to develop action plans for how The HistoryMakers can achieve the greatest impact in each region. Each National Advisory Board member will present to the larger group a plan for their area, outlining what they believe is possible in relation to: 1) partnerships with schools and area colleges/universities; 2) community partnerships (i.e. churches, community organizations, sororities & fraternities); 3) media partnerships (i.e. radio, television, print, and electronic); 4) interview acquisition.

The HistoryMakers is a national educational institution 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 of African Americans, and to document movements, events and organizations that are important to the African-American community and to American society.

There is over 9,000 hours of content in the collection, including 14,000 analog tapes, 3,000 DVDs, 6,000 born-digital files, 70,000 paper documents and digital files and more than 30,000 digital photographs.

The HistoryMakers collection features 2,700 videotaped interviews with African-Americans in 39 states, averaging three to six hours in length.


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