Digital Collections Spotlight: Celebrating Black History Month
by Gabriella DiMeglio, Quinn Library, Library Support Staff
Happy Black History Month!
What better way to celebrate than to engage with historical records that center the Black experience in America? The following digital collections – available through Fordham University Libraries – are great places to do so.
Bronx African American History Project
The Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP) is one of the most impressive community based oral history projects in the United States. Founded in 2002 in collaboration with the Bronx County Historical Society, the BAAHP “is dedicated to uncovering the cultural, political, economic, and religious histories of the more than 500,000 people of African descent in the Bronx.”
Over 300 interviews have been conducted thus far, featuring mostly African American political leaders, educators, musicians, social workers, business people, clergy, athletes, and leaders of community based organizations who have lived and worked in the Bronx since the late 1930’s. Downloadable audio files and verbatim transcripts of a majority of these interviews are available to the public through the BAAHP Oral Histories Digital Archive.
The screenshots above were taken from video footage of select interviews that have been made available for viewing through the Fordham Libraries Digital Collections. The interviewees featured in this collection have generously shared their own stories – each rich in emotion and intrigue – as contributions to our shared history. The recordings offer viewers a myriad of perspectives from which to learn about Black History in the Bronx and beyond.
Browse the Digital Collection here:
Eta Omega Omega Oral Histories
Similar to the BAAHP, the Eta Omega Omega Oral Histories Digital Collection contains video recordings of oral history interviews. The interviews featured in this collection were conducted with various members of the Eta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – the first intercollegiate historically African American sorority. Chartered on May 23, 1964, the Eta Omega Omega Chapter celebrates a rich history of service, philanthropy, and scholarship for the Bronx community.
The members featured in these interviews share stories of their experiences, both within the sorority chapter and throughout their lives as Black women in America. The oral history interviews in this collection are slightly unique in that they were all conducted in group settings, offering an interesting dynamic as the women exchange memories and insights with their fellow members.
Browse the digital collection here:
The Value in Oral History
Oral history interviews offer the opportunity for individuals to tell their own stories. This distinction is especially relevant in the case of African American History, which is all too often rewritten and/or retold by nonblack authors. By reading and listening to the firsthand narratives contained in these collections, we can gain a more accurate and authentic understanding of the Black experience in America.
Finally, a reminder that Black History is American History. The importance of archival collections that center African American stories – many of which have been historically silenced or ignored – cannot be overstated. We should remember this always and support these collections year-round!