From our friends at the American Folklife Center:
On May 12, 2009, the U. S. Congress authorized a national initiative by passing The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (PDF here, if you’re interested). The law directs the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to conduct a survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights Movement, and to record new interviews with people who participated in the Movement. The survey information and portions of selected interviews will be made available worldwide through the Project website. The interviews will become a permanent part of the national library and the national museum.
This portal principally focuses on making available information about relevant audiovisual collections throughout the country. Because the collections reside at a wide range of institutions, we are not able to provide access to the collections themselves. The repositories include local historical societies, university special collections, and public libraries. The database will allow users to search for and locate information about collections in the following ways: by broad topic listings, by Library of Congress Subject Headings, by the name of the collection or the repository, and by the geographic location of the repository. In some instances one can locate interviews by searching on the names of individual CRM participants, if the repositories have made such information available through their websites and/or finding aids.
Why is this relevant? Well, of course, the Southern Oral History Program’s resources are included in this survey. And SOHP alums Willie Griffin and Elizabeth Gritter were two of the four scholars who compiled the list.
But even more exciting is the fact that the Southern Oral History Program is contracted to complete the interviews that will join the Library of Congress collection and become part of the museum. The SOHP has done thirty-five of the fifty planned interviews, speaking with Judge Matthew Perry shortly before his death; with a family of activists in Bogalusa, LA; and with Pete Seeger, among others.