Friday, August 1, 2008

StoryCorps' Service to America

Today I thought I'd blog about the Service that StoryCorps is doing to capture the oral histories of everyday Americans and preserve them for posterity.

I’ve been listening to StoryCorps stories since they began broadcasting in 2003, not because I was a StoryCorps junkie, but because it was on the particular station I was listening to on the way to work.

However, I am a family history nut. (I even have two blogs dedicated family history--
one for family and one for a wider audience.) That’s why StoryCorps moves me every time I hear the weekly segment on NPR.

Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, began with a sound studio booth in New York City's Grand Central Station. Feeling that everybody’s story matters, he made it possible for children to bring in parents or grandparents and interview them about what life was like when they were young; for husbands and wives to tell stories of how they met or overcame obstacles; and for participants in momentous moments in history to relate their part in that particular grand scheme of things.

Since that beginning in 2003, StoryCorps has traveled around the U.S., and over 35,000 normal, everyday people have visited a StoryCorps booth or mobile sound studio to interview family and friends. The stories they tell are anything but ‘everyday’. Some of the stories are poignant, like the one of a man who worked as a sanitation worker in Memphis and who marched with Martin Luther King just before his assination. Some are gripping, like the one of an immigrant braving dangers to come to America. And, some are hilarious, like the story told by the 94-year-old lady about her mother giving her an inflatable bra to help with a self image problem when she was a flat-chested young lady, and how it almost caused an international incident while she was flying over the Andes in an unpressurized airplane.

After each interview, participants are given a free CD of the session, and the content is preserved at the Library of Congress. Segments are chosen to be aired on public radio and the web.

StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. You can read about it by going to the StoryCorps web site. Find out how you can be involved, either by moving and shaking so that a mobile sound studio comes to your area, by traveling to a StoryCorps site, or by using an at-home interview kit.

On the
StoryCorps web site you can also listen to segments that have been broadcast or sign up for podcasts. Or, you can order the book Listening is an Act of Love, which is a collection of stories from the project.

Check it out! You’ll be richer for it.

Return to Neighborhood

1 comment:

Candace E. Salima said...

Wow, Liz. I hadn't heard of this group. Thanks for writing about them today! Sounds like a very worthwhile project.