NYPD Guardians Oral History

Image from The Black Shields by Roger Abel


The goal of this oral history project is to create a publicly accessible archive of the reminiscences of retired NYPD officers who have been members of the Guardians Association over the years. This is an opportunity to share perspectives about the complexities of work in law enforcement as well as the impact of internal support structures and advocacy.

All participants in this oral history project are retired members of the Guardians Association, a fraternal organization of the NYPD founded in 1943. The Guardians work to ensure professional support, promote community, and celebrate the shared history of black police. Over the years, they became mentors, organizers, educators, and advocates for one another, opening doors for the advancement of black police for generations to come.

I served as the primary manager and oral historian for this project. I conducted 14 interviews with 16 individuals between 2014 and 2016. Full transcripts and audio are available through the Columbia University Oral History Archives. Other records and materials donated by project participants are also available through the Columbia University Rare Books & Manuscripts Library.