March 2024

The HistoryMakers Julieanna L. Richardson Will Receive Ambrose Oral History Award

Julieanna Richardson x Timothy Greenfield SandersThe Rutgers Living History Society (RLHS) will award the 2024 Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award to Founder & President of The HistoryMakers Julieanna L. Richardson.  The RLHS Annual Meeting and presentation of the Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award will take place on April 26, 2024 at the Busch Campus Student Center, beginning at 9:00 AM.

Richardson has a diverse background in theatre, television production, and the cable television industry that created a unique path to founding the largest effort to record the African American experience since the WPA Slave Narratives of the 1930s. Founded in 2000, The HistoryMakers is a national, 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution headquartered in Chicago that has grown to be the digital repository for the black experience and a unique resource for K-16 education, the media, STEM and other disciplines.

A 1980 graduate of Harvard Law School, Richardson graduated from Brandeis University with a double-major in Theatre Arts and American Studies, where she did extensive oral history interviews on the Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes. She worked as a corporate lawyer at the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block prior to serving in the early 1980s as the Cable Administrator for the City of Chicago Office of Cable Communications.

Richardson currently sits on the Honors Council of Lawyers for the Creative Arts; Simmons University Dean’s Advisory Council of the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities, and James Madison University’s Flowerings Advisory Council. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Howard University (2012), Dominican University (2014), Brandeis University (2016) and Bates College (2023). She has also served as the commencement speaker for Dominican University as well as Brandeis University 65th commencement.  In 2014, Black Enterprise magazine awarded Richardson its 2014 Legacy Award, its highest recognition of women’s achievement. That same year, Richardson was profiled in American Masters: The Boomer List, a PBS documentary and exhibition at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. She is a 2021 recipient of the Chicago History Museum’s John Hope Franklin Making History Award. Her TedTalk “The Mission to Safeguard Black History in the U.S.” was featured in 2022; and, in 2023, she was featured on 60 Minutes.

The Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award is awarded annually by the RLHS.  The RLHS is an honor society affiliated with the Rutgers Oral History Archives, the oral history center in the Department of History in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.  Previous recipients of the Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award include Tom Brokaw, Steven Spielberg, Studs Terkel, Rick Atkinson, Ken Burns, David Isay, Elizabeth and Michael Norman, Isabel Wilkerson, Michael Beschloss, Peter Bergen, Jacqueline Dowd Hall, Ric Burns, John Whiteclay Chambers II, James Bradley, Deborah Gray White, Doug Stanton and Svetlana Alexievich. 

For admission information, please email Shaun Illingworth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 848-932-0455.

Illingworth Teaches “Intro to Oral History” to Students in Spring 2024

During the spring semester of 2024, ROHA Director Shaun Illingworth has been teaching "Introduction to Oral History" to a class of over twenty School of Arts and Sciences students. "Intro to Oral History" immerses students in oral history
theory and methodology, practical interviewing techniques, and digital and material archival preservation.

As a part of the class, each student conducts an oral history interview. Students have been interviewing Rutgers alumni and faculty, military personnel, and family members, delving into various aspects of their life narratives and how their lives intersect with notable historical events, from World War II to the pandemic. Preparing for the interview involves each student researching primary and secondary source materials and formulating questions and topics to explore in the interview. The interview then takes place either in-person or through Zoom under the supervision of Illingworth or a ROHA staff member. In addition to members of the class gaining valuable research and communication skills, this approach engages students in the hands-on experience of creating a primary source.

Drawing upon audio from their own interviews, as well as from digital holdings in ROHA's collections, students in the class write podcast scripts and produce podcasts as a way to incorporate their fieldwork and multimedia.

ROHA Goes to the Movies: Jody Small's The Storm and the Boats

Since 2022, ROHA and noted documentarian Jody Small of Jody Small Productions (JSP) have partnered on filming interviews related to the Pandemic in the Garden State.  Ms. Small and her videographer have amassed over twenty hours of video interviews, which will become part of the ROHA collection. 

Ms. Small has also produced a documentary titled, The Storm and the Boats: An Oral History Collection Featuring Stories From New Jersey.  "The stories are moving," Shaun Illingworth explains, "both for their familiarity--viewers will recognize many of their own pandemic experiences in the film--and their portrayal of the life-and-death stakes of these events."  A screening of the film will be held on Monday evening, June 24, 2024 at the Fair Lawn (NJ) Community Center.  We will have further information for you in future newsletters.