Happy International Archives Day! The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is celebrating by launching five NEW Special Collections that feature raw interviews from American Experience’s Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till, John Brown’s Holy War, and Jubilee Singers, as well as WGBH’s Peabody award-winning documentary Africans in America!
Now available online, you can access these collections at http://americanarchive.org/special_collections or in person at the Library of Congress and at WGBH, preserved for future generations to learn about our nation’s history.
The AAPB, a collaboration between the Library of Congress and Boston public media station WGBH, has digitized and preserved more than 50,000 hours of broadcasts and previously inaccessible programs from public media’s more than 70-year legacy.
The AAPB invites you to spend the day (and everyday) exploring the collections at americanarchive.org. Let us know what you discover by tagging us at @amarchivepub!
New Special Collections Summaries
The Freedom Riders Interview Collection contains 124 raw interviews from the American Experience documentary of the same name. The film documents the six-month period from May to November 1961, when white and black activists rode together on buses across the American South to protest the continued segregation of public buses and transportation facilities. Risking attack from white mobs and arrest by local police, the documentary chronicles the reality of the Freedom Riders’ experiences and success at calling attention to southern indifference to federal law and demanding enforcement of integrated interstate bus travel. The Freedom Riders interviews were conducted with activists and journalists who took part in the Freedom Rides, including John Lewis, a key player in the Civil Rights Movement and a member of the House of Representatives; Diane Nash, a coordinator for Freedom Riders in Nashville; Moses Newson, a journalist who covered the first Freedom Ride; John Seigenthaler, a Special Assistant to Robert F. Kennedy; and Genevieve Hughes Houghton, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) field secretary on their Freedom Ride. Subjects discussed include the Supreme Court, the American South, Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, violence, racism, segregation, CORE, and the Civil Rights Movement.
The Murder of Emmett Till – http://americanarchive.org/special_collections/the-murder-of-emmett-till-interviews
The Murder of Emmett Till Interviews Collection is made up of 40 raw interviews from the award-winning 2003 American Experience documentary, The Murder of Emmett Till. The film, which chronicles the story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was murdered in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman, follows Till’s life and transformation into an icon of the Civil Rights Movement. The Murder of Emmett Till interviews paint a picture of the Jim Crow South, the Mississippi community in which the murder took place, and contain intimate recollections by those who knew Emmett Till. Guests include family and friends of Emmett Till, including Mamie Till Mobley, Emmett Till’s mother and Civil Rights activist; and Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin; as well as journalists, politicians, and witnesses, like Ernest Withers, a photographer known for his photos of the segregated South; Willie Reed, a witness who testified against Emmett Till’s murderers; and David Jordan, a Senator from Mississippi. Topics include segregation, Jim Crow, lynching and violence, the American judicial system, journalism, the American South, and the Civil Rights Movement.
John Brown’s Holy War – http://americanarchive.org/special_collections/john-brown-holy-war-interviews
The John Brown’s Holy War Interview Collection is comprised of 41 raw interviews conducted in 2000 for the American Experience film of the same name. The interviews examined the enigmatic life, history, myth, and legacy of abolitionist John Brown, one of the most controversial figures in American history. John Brown’s Holy War outlines John Brown’s life, role in the abolition movement, unsuccessful raid on the Harpers Ferry federal armory, death, and subsequent entry into American lore as both villain and martyr during the American Civil War. Interviews were conducted with historians, authors, and educators, including James Horton, Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University; Paul Finkelman, historian of American law; Margaret Washington, historian and Professor of History at Cornell University; and Russell Banks, novelist. Interviews feature a range of topics, including abolition, philosophy, enslavement, race, Christianity, economics, mental health, journalism, the Dred Scott Decision, Frederick Douglass, Pre-Civil War American politics, the Harpers Ferry attack, and the American Civil War.
Jubilee Singers Interviews – http://americanarchive.org/special_collections/jubilee-singers-interviews
The Jubilee Singers Interviews Collection includes 19 raw interviews conducted in 2000 for the American Experience documentary Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory. The film focused on the early years of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an ensemble of students from Fisk University in Tennessee who created the a cappella group in 1871 in an effort to raise funds for the financially-struggling school. The original Fisk Jubilee Singers, largely made up of former slaves, toured around the United States, and, later, Europe, and were known for their performances of spirituals, which they are partially credited with preserving and introducing to a wider audience. Interviews were conducted with musicologists and historians, including John Hope Franklin, historian and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; Toni Anderson, Music Historian; Horace Clarence Boyer, musicologist and noted scholar of African-American gospel music; and Reavis L. Mitchell, Professor of History at Fisk University. Topics include spirituals and music, slavery, racism, religion, segregation, the American Civil War, and higher education, particularly historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and Fisk University.
Africans in America – http://americanarchive.org/special_collections/africans-in-america-interviews
The Africans in America Interviews Collection is made up of 53 raw interviews from the award-winning, four-part documentary of the same name, which aired on PBS in 1998. The documentary, the first to fully examine the history of slavery in the United States, focused on the experiences of African people and their transformation of America, beginning with 16th-century enslavement on Africa’s Gold Coast and ending on the eve of the American Civil War in 1861. The interviews offer an in-depth examination of the social, economic, and intellectual foundations of slavery and the ways in which African people changed the United States. Guests include descendants of slaves and slave-owners, authors, professors, historians, and statesmen, including Colin Powell, retired four-star general and the first African American on the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Karen Hughes White, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and founder of the Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County; Catherine Acholonu, a Nigerian author and Associate Professor of English Literature, Awuku College of Education; and Jeffrey Leath, Pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia. Topics covered include Christianity and English Protestantism, George Washington, Toussaint Louverture, the American Revolution, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, gender conventions, racism, violence, economics, family, and enslavement.
Special thanks to Lynn Mason of the WGBH Media Library and Archives’ Stock Sales and Licensing team for her work in digitizing the collections and Miranda Villesvik for ingesting the collections into AAPB.