About Black Voices at Rutgers

Black Voices at Rutgers is a portal that helps you discover African American oral history interviews with a focus on Rutgers and life in New Jersey.


Why Black Voices at Rutgers?

We want to make it easier for scholars and educators to find and access Black voices in New Jersey and Rutgers history. Oral history provides a unique window into people's lives and memories of the past. Rutgers University holds several thousand oral history interviews spread out across different collections and libraries, but a comprehensive catalog for browsing interviews from multiple projects at once does not exist. Finding Black voices in a sea of oral histories can also be difficult because many collections do not use subject headings that would make it easier to find African American interviewees.

Black Voices at Rutgers aims to address this research challenge by creating an index of African American interviewees who have participated in various oral history projects and providing an easy way to search interview descriptions and subject headings. Whenever possible, we are enriching the original interview abstracts by adding photographs of the interviewees and linking to related resources, such as archival documents in our Scarlet and Black Digital Archive or honoree biographies in the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance Hall of Fame.

Who created this portal?

This portal was created by Jesse Bayker, Digital Archivist at the Scarlet and Black Research Center.

Undergraduate Research Assistant Madison Griffin contributed to this project as part of the Aresty Research Assistantship program in 2023-2024 and created a digital map based on Black Camden Oral History Project interviews. Check out Madison's mapping project: Late 20th Century Black Activism in Camden New Jersey.

Who recorded these interviews?

Multiple generations of Rutgers historians have recorded these interviews over the years. Some of the earliest interviews showcased in this portal were recorded by Gil Cohen in Newark in the early 1990s. Several historians have recorded interviews under the auspices of the Rutgers Oral History Archives from the 1990s until today. Most recently, historians affiliated with the Scarlet and Black Research Center have been working to record the memories of African American alumni, professors, and residents of the communities surrounding our campuses.

Check out the Collections page to learn more about the oral history projects that have been integrated into this portal and the historians who conducted the interviews.