The Living History program is an innovative interview platform, oral history archive and media lab. We’re researching and creating new ways to use recorded interviews as tools for investigating, understanding and narrating current events and issues.
Over four decades, the Living History program has conducted interviews with public figures and participants in social change. Part of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, we believe that in-depth recorded interviews offer unique and powerful insights into people and events.
In order to unlock that value, we’re developing more effective ways to manage and mine interview contents. Our goal is to make interviews a richer, more practical ingredient in the work of journalists, academics and others. Our model relies on standards and open-source software to provide an inexpensive, easy-to-reproduce publishing platform.
This website includes features for organizing, navigating, annotating and sharing audio and text. We’ve connected video and transcripts to enable rapid browsing of long interviews. You can explore documents, photographs and other supporting material linked to the interview. And you can clip and share portions of the interviews.
You’ll find a variety of material on this site: interviews from our archive dating back to the 1970s; collections of interviews organized around a theme or subject; and interactive timelines based on interviews.
We’ve also posted our current research. Working with journalists to improve transparency, accuracy and accountability in news media, we’ve created a system for reporters to more easily and inexpensively conduct and use interview material, including sharing interviews with audiences.
The Living History program was founded more than 40 years ago with the support of Jay Rutherfurd, who envisioned creating an “audio-visual history program” that would collect and preserve conversations with leading figures in current events.
Philip Bennett is the Eugene C. Patterson Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy and director of the Rutherfurd Living History Program. He is the former managing editor of The Washington Post and of the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE.
Kimberly Patch is lead researcher for the Rutherfurd Living History Program. She is a user interface expert, writer, editor, software developer, and musician. She is founder of Redstart Systems, a company that develops speech interface products.
David Graham is a research fellow with the Rutherfurd Living History Program. He is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S. politics and global news.
Anna Kaul is a Duke undergraduate and RLH researcher.
Jesse Remedios is a Duke undergraduate and RLH researcher.