Oral History Initiative

The mission of the museum’s Oral History Initiative is to document, preserve, and interpret African American stories through the art and practice of oral history.

We collect and preserve oral histories from iconic elders of African Americana and others who have shaped the culture in significant ways. We also develop oral history projects that support the research and exhibition goals of the Museum.

What is Oral History?

Oral History is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving, and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events.
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Watch: Andrew Young

Andrew Young discusses the origins of the 1968 Poor People's Campaign and his role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the Museum's Oral History initiative, featured in the exhibition, City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People's Campaign.

Explore Our Oral Histories

March on Washington--Marchers Gathering at the Lincoln Memorial After Walking from Washington Monument Grounds, August 28, 1963

Civil Rights History Project

The museum and the Library of Congress have produced an invaluable look at the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights History Project provides faces and voices to many of the previously unknown individuals who made valuable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
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They ask me to remember but they want me to remember their memories and I keep on remembering mine

why some people be mad at me sometimes Lucille Clifton

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NMAAHC Oral History Specialist, Kelly Elaine Navies

Soul Talk: An Oral History Workshop And Discussion

Watch Museum Oral History Specialist, Kelly Elaine Navies discuss oral history as the documentation of history and culture, as well as offer guidelines for recording the stories of people in your family and community.
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History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Capturing Your Family’s Oral History

Oral History, or the practice of recording and preserving memories and experiences, enables us to capture the wisdom of our living libraries before they pass away and “burn to the ground.” Unlike other methods, oral histories provide a personal account of pivotal events from those who experienced them.
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Contact Us

We encourage you to record the stories of your elders and others for your family and your community!
For more information, contact the Museum at NMAAHC-oralhistory@si.edu