Making Fair Housing Oral Histories Accessible

In 2012, the Anne Braden Institute (ABI) at the University of Louisville created Home for Us All: Fair Housing in Louisville and Jefferson County, a collection of oral histories. Conducted by Amber Duke, ABI Program Coordinator, and Marty Lawfer of the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission, the interviews record the perspectives of local land developers, city planners, and social justice activists on the history of housing segregation in Louisville. They provide arresting research material on the current state of housing segregation, the progress that has been made, and the challenges still faced by fair housing advocates. The ABI recorded the interviews as part of its research for a twenty-year action plan for fair and affordable housing in the Louisville Metro area (

To make the interviews accessible to researchers, the ABI hired me to combine the audio files with written transcripts (largely produced by Nicole Cissell, who earned a public history graduate certificate at UofL in 2013) and an introduction page using CONTENTdm software. Rachel Howard, the digital initiatives specialist in the Department of Archives and Special Collections at Ekstrom Library, helped me learn the software and negotiate some of the technical issues involved. I then created metadata for the interviews in accordance with Library of Congress authority headings. I sought to create the metadata from a researcher’s perspective so that relevant headings could be easily and readily found using simple keyword searches.

It was a rewarding experience being a part of such a collaboration. Cate Fosl and Mariam Williams of the ABI, and Rachel Howard and Terri Holtze of Archives and Special Collections, were all a pleasure to work with. Most importantly, it’s an honor to be partially responsible for making the collection publicly accessible. I came to realize how important fair housing is as a social justice issue. Home for Us All will be a terrific tool for researchers for years to come.

To see the Home for Us All collection, go to

— Matt Holdzkom, M.A. Candidate in History

To read more about Matt’s work, visit his blog at



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