WSU library curates Black pioneer history

Black Oral History Collection includes interviews of Black individuals throughout PNW



A former WSU professor worked to curate the collection, which was then used as educational tools for middle school history courses.


About 50 years ago, one WSU professor saw the importance of documenting the stories of Black individuals in the Pacific Northwest and began creating audio recordings. The collection can now be accessed through the WSU Libraries Digital Collections.

The collection contains the rich history of Black pioneers in the Pacific Northwest said Trevor Bond, associate dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections at the Terrell Library.

“This collection was created in the 1970s and donated to WSU in 1998. The information spans the early 1970s and the history of Black people living in the Pacific Northwest at that time,” Bond said. 

He also said a team of students worked with the library to digitize and further preserve the collection because the information is so valuable. 

“In 2002, we worked with a group of grad students to transcribe the interviews and move the collection online in order to make the information more accessible,” he said. 

The Black Oral History Collection can be largely attributed to Quintard Taylor, former WSU professor, Bond said. 

“This project was really spearheaded by Quintard Taylor, he did a lot of work on Black history in the PNW and eventually moved to UW as a professor,” Bond said. “He did a lot of work to make sure that these stories were told properly, all the interviews included are primary sources so he was able to record a lot of knowledge of life at that time.” 

Bond said although the collection was already complete upon its induction to the library, its creators wanted to emphasize the contribution and importance of the work of people of color in the Pacific Northwest. 

University Archivist Mark O’English said that in addition to the Black Oral History Collection, there is a set of videos that were created as supplementary educational tools for middle school history curriculums. 

The collection of videos is also supported by a classroom handbook. The point of this information is to comprehensively cover the information of the Black Oral History Collection.

“All the recorded stories and interviews are original sources that otherwise wouldn’t have survived,” Bond said. “I’m so glad we have this collection at WSU because it’s so critical to understanding the story of Black immigrants in the PNW.”