Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Archive Hosts Two Students for National Competition Prize
Earlier this month , two students – 11-year-old Paige Hounsel from Dallas, Texas, and 17-year-old Jalen Spencer from Columbus, Ohio were flown to Chicago, Illinois, by The HistoryMakers official airline sponsor, American Airlines, as first prize winners of The HistoryMakers 2016 Digital Archive Competition. Accompanying the two students were their teachers, Suzanne Kimbrell Bauer of K.B. Polk Center for the Academically Talented and Gifted in Dallas, and Julie Kindinger, of Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus. The students and their teachers toured The HistoryMakers offices in Chicago’s South Loop before attending a special awards luncheon in their honor at the Chicago offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The winners ended their day with an architectural boat tour of iconic Chicago landmarks. The PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. is one of The HistoryMakers largest contributors and its investment launched the PwC Charitable Foundation EducationMakers category of interviews in The HistoryMakers’ Collection.
The HistoryMakers Digital Archive Competition is a national competition, held each year, that awards two students and their teachers for work that draws from The HistoryMakers Digital Archive, an online educational resource that the organization has donated to all K-12 public schools, and that currently features 1,298 oral history interviews of African Americans, both well-known and unsung.
Teachers are required to submit a lesson plan that features the Digital Archive as a research tool for students, as well as the student work that results from their lesson.
The Digital Archive has also been licensed for use in the classroom by thirteen of the nation’s top research universities: Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Cornell University, Brandeis University, Emory University, Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern University, Howard University, the University of Texas, the University of Iowa, and the University of Chicago.
Paige Hounsel, the first prize winner in the K-5th grade category, wrote a creative essay reflecting on the significance of the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C., after watching The HistoryMakers’ interview of the Memorial’s Founder and director, Dr. Frank Smith. Paige is an avid reader and writer who will be attending Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, one of the highest ranked K-12 schools in Texas. Jalen Spencer, the first prize winner of the 6-12th grade category, edited a video entry that told the story and paid tribute to late HistoryMakers Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, drawing from the PBS-TV special An Evening With Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, produced by The HistoryMakers and various other interviews and film clips. Jalen is a three-year varsity athlete on his school’s basketball team, and hopes to study filmmaking in college.
In 2014, the PwC Charitable Foundation provided The HistoryMakers with a $1.6 million grant to transcribe, segment and add 2,000 interviews, equating to over 6,000 hours of new content to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. The Digital Archive, which documents the lives of African Americans, originally only made accessible 25 percent of the interviews The HistoryMakers has conducted and recorded—personal accounts of accomplishment and success against the odds—a living library of role models and inspirational examples. With the PwC Charitable Foundation’s support, The HistoryMakers Digital History Archive is being expanded and made available free to public and charter schools for hundreds of thousands of students. By 2017, the entirety of The HistoryMakers current corpus of 9,000 hours of first-person testimony will be available on the Digital Archive.
American Airlines has served as The HistoryMakers airline sponsor for sixteen years, flying The HistoryMakers’ interview crews to over 180 cities and towns across the country. Their support has been essential to The HistoryMakers interview efforts and collection.
About The HistoryMakers
The HistoryMakers, a 501 (c) (3) national non-profit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, is dedicated to recording and preserving the personal histories of well-known and unsung African Americans. It is the largest video oral history archive of its kind, and the only massive attempt, since the WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930’s, to record the African American experience in the first voice. In 2014, it was announced by James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, that the Library of Congress would serve as the permanent repository for The HistoryMakers Collection. Added Billington, “The HistoryMakers archive provides invaluable first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African-Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments—often in the face of adversity, this culturally important collection 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.”
To date, the organization has interviewed over 2,700 HistoryMakers, with the goal of creating an archive of 5,000 interviews (30,000 hours) for the establishment of a one-of-a-kind digital archive. This year, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive has been licensed for use on the campuses of Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Northwestern University, Emory University, Boston University, Howard University, and Carnegie Mellon University – with more expected. The HistoryMakers also announced that The HistoryMakers Digital Archive has been gifted, free of charge, to all public schools in the United States.
For more information, visit The HistoryMakers website at www.thehistorymakers.com, and
The HistoryMakers Education page at https://www.thehistorymakers.com/education.
ABOUT THE HistoryMakers
By recording, preserving and sharing the life stories of thousands of African Americans, from President Barack Obama to the oldest living black cowboy, The HistoryMakers is a leader in helping to educate and enlighten millions worldwide through refashioning a more inclusive record of American history.
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.
What We Do
At its core The HistoryMakers is committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans.
We have made significant progress toward building the nation’s largest African American video oral history collection and exposing this collection to a large audience.
Our Founder, Julieanna L. Richardson, had a dream to create a unique and timeless archive. From Brandeis University to Harvard Law School to the Chicago Cable Commission; this is her story.