NEH: Reanimating African American Oral Histories of the Gulf South: Tailoring Education and Research through Natural Language Understanding


The project, “Reanimating African American Oral Histories of the Gulf South: Tailoring Education and Research through Natural Language Understanding”, involves the reformatting and annotation of 500 oral histories of African Americans from the Gulf South, representing the stories of people who lived through the transatlantic slave trade up to the present day, as well as the development of a new web search interface and 150 curriculum modules for K–12 educators. An interdisciplinary collaboration between Linguistics, Oral History program, and the Libraries will reanimate 500 interviews with African Americans in the Gulf South, a population absent from many other oral history collections, with rich annotations and a web-based customizable interface. Our design harnesses computational linguistic methods and is informed by the needs and expertise of three diverse user groups, resulting in a host of improved accessibility outcomes. For education, teachers will be provided an easy to use interface to enhance student engagement with localized curriculum using the interviews. For linguistics, researchers will have access to an unprecedented amount of spoken African American data to investigate African American language change and regionality, and racially-based biases in speech technologies. Finally, oral history programs across the country will be offered a new means of enhancing accessibility into their own archival collections.

This project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The Endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars. For additional information see the links below.

Award Number PW-277433-21
Start date July 1, 2021
End date June 30, 2024
Additional Information Reanimating African American Oral Histories of the Gulf South
NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities)