"RAP" Oral History Project
Remembering Africanamerican Pittsburgh (RAP) Oral History Project
Initiated in 2007, with generous funding from the Falk Foundation, this project includes 185 oral histories of African American life in Pittsburgh since World War II. In collaboration with the original project director, historian and professor Benjamin Houston, now at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, we are working on completing the transcription processes.
Why this project?
Historians of modern America tend to study how African American communities were affected by the economic, political, and social climate during the years between World War I and World War II. This project takes another step by focusing on changes and continuities in black urban history since World War II, with an eye towards understanding issues of the present-day. Specifically, by interviewing African American Pittsburghers, the project will capture the rich details of community networks, migratory patterns, family and kinship ties, and work and leisure activities that comprised black life and culture in Pittsburgh as local African Americans lived their lives and struggled against inequality in an era of economic decline. These spoken memories and the information they carry will constitute powerful testimony for scholars, public policy-makers, and citizens to heed and understand.
How will it work?
While collecting these oral histories and related primary sources over the next three years, we plan to preserve all this information for future public access. Knit together with the extensive city-wide archival resources on African-American Pittsburgh, these oral histories will form a valuable compendium of collective knowledge to inform both new scholarly analysis and meaningful public programming. We hope that these interviews will become a necessary resource for new and thoughtful scholarship, as well as sensitive and informed public policy.