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Library of Congress, American Folklife Center and Smithsonian, Civil Rights History Project

On May 12, 2009, the U. S. Congress authorized a national initiative by passing The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-19) [PDF, 121KB]. The law directs the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights Movement (CRM), 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.

Civil Rights Marchers in Chicago, June 1965
Civil Rights marchers take to the streets in Chicago, June 1965 --
Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.

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 (LCSH), 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. A collaborative catalogin application, developed in 2012, prvovides partner institutions the means of uploading metadata about newly conducted interviews while in the field and enables the Library to verify and make the records available to researchers more quickly and efficiently than previously possible.

About the Portal

Researchers seeking specific information on and access to collections listed in this portal are requested to contact the holding institution directly. The survey database is capable of incorporating and displaying additional resources as information about new or archival collections is made available by the holding institution. Please check the site frequently in the months ahead for these new resources.

The American Folklore Society was responsible for coordinating the work of a team of research scholars who conducted the survey and populated the portal database during the period between April 2010 and January 2011. The members of the AFS research team were Danille Christensen (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Will Griffin (independent scholar), Elizabeth Gritter (Middle Tennessee State University), and Andrew Salinas (Amistad Research Center, Tulane University).

LIbrary staff developed the innnovative collaborative cataloging application, a first for the institution, in 2011-12. It is anticipated that more such uses of the application will be forthcoming for similar projects.

About the Civil Rights History Project Act

The Civil Rights History Project was created by an act of Congress in 2009, sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (NY) and co-sponsored by Representatives Sanford D. Bishop (GA), William Lacy Clay (MO), John Lewis (GA) and Mike Quigley (IL). "The fight for civil rights was one of the most significant social and cultural movements in our nation's history, and this project will help future generations understand the struggle to make the dream of equality and freedom a reality for all Americans," said Rep. McCarthy in proposing the legislation. In the Senate, the sponsor was Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the cosponsors were Senators Lamar Alexander (TN), Robert F. Bennett (UT), Thad Cochran (MS), Edward Kennedy (MA), Carl Levin (MI) and Charles Schumer (NY). The act was signed into law in May 2009 by President Barack Obama.


Please direct questons and comments about the CRHP portal to We will respond to your inquiries as quickly as we can.


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   October 24, 2012
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