Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Preserving the Legacy of the Black Experience
Howard University
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oral history collections


Essential to the study and documentation of the civil rights era is the Ralph J. Bunche Oral History Collection, which comprises over 700 transcripts of interviews with national, state and local civil rights activists, who helped shape that pivotal period in U.S. history.  Supplementing the Ralph J. Bunch Oral History Collection is a collection of transcripts of television documentaries focusing on the civil rights movement, aired between 1963 and 1974.  Other collections focus on women, Howard University, the Black Press, and Blacks in the Military during World War II. There are also tape recordings of conferences, seminars, meetings and other important civil rights gatherings which occurred during the same period.  In addition to the oral history collections are a number of non-transcribed tapes of lectures, seminars, poetry readings, speeches, panel discussions, conferences and commercially produced tapes (Pacifica Radio) on a variety of topics.

Ralph J. Bunche Collection

The Civil Rights Documentation Project (CRDP) was established by the Fund for the Advancement of Education to acquire primary source materials on the civil rights struggle not already represented adequately in existing collections.  Using 1960--the year the student sit-in movement gained national attention--as a beginning point, the Project aggressively chronicled the civil rights era.

More than 700 interviews were recorded and transcribed during the course of the Project.  After their donation to Moorland-Spingarn, the amassed interviews were renamed the Ralph J. Bunche Oral History Collection in honor of the late United Nations Undersecretary who envisioned the original Project and remained closely associated with it until his death in 1971.  The Collection has been available since the late 1970s for scholarly research and is described and partially annotated in the Bibliography of Holdings of the Civil Rights Documentation Project, published in 1974. 

Alphabetical guide to the Ralph J. Bunche Collection (formerly the Civil Rights Documentation Project)

Voting Rights Act Oral History Project

On September 1, 1994 the MSRC launched the Voting Rights Act Oral History and Documentation Project. Supported from grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, the Project documents the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through oral history interviews and the collection of personal papers and other primary source material.

The Project focuses on the period between 1965 and 1985. Most of the officials interviewed were African American men and women from eight southern states initially covered by the Act: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,Texas, and Virginia.

The Project documents the legislative history of the Act. Individuals who worked for or against passage of the Act and its extensions were also interviewed. The resulting oral history interviews have been transcribed.

Alphabetical guide to the Voting Rights Act Oral History Project

Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners)

Alphabetical guide to the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners)

Black Press Archives

The MSRC is the repository of the Black Press Archives. Authorized in 1973, the Black Press Archives was a cooperative effort between Howard University and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), whose plan was to develop an archives at a university where the assembled documentation of the black press could be permanently preserved and made available to scholars, students, and the public. As a result of the joint venture, the Center receives more than 200 newspapers currently, and has in its newspaper archives hundreds of titles on microfilm. A second component of the program to document the history of the black press is the aquisition of the office files, personal papers, photographs, and memorabalia of outstanding journalists, cartoonists, editors, and publishers. Many of the collections documenting the black press in the Manuscript Division were aquired as a result of this venture.

Alphabetical guide to the Black Press Archives

Black Military Oral History Project

This project sets out to record the recollections of World War II veterans of the 366th Infantry Regiment and the Tuskegee Airmen who served in segregated units in Italy.

Alphabetical guide to the Black Military Oral History Project

Donor's Oral History Program

A donor's program has been established wherein organizations and individuals that deposit their papers and archives in the Manuscript Department of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center are encouraged to add a recorded and transcribed oral history memoir to their donation.

Alphabetical guide to the Donor's Oral History Program

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