Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Storycorps - Recording our History One Voice at a Time

For centuries humans passed down mythology, oral histories, and sage advice around the campfire at night. As our society became more techonological, more isolated and less tribal the art of storytelling gave way to reading books, watching television, and
delving into the virtual online world. We hardly talk to each other anymore.

Since 2003, Storycorp has attempted to change that fact by providing professional sound quality booths were two people can sit down together, ask questions of one another and record the stories that make up the fabric of American life.

In Grand Central Station in New York City a mother and daughter can ask each other the difficult questions or the questions that just don't get asked because it's never the right time. "How did you and dad meet?" "What was it like to move to a new country as a young adult?" "Tell me about the day I was born."

The conversations are recorded. The participants are given copies and the master is added to the StoryCorps Archive, housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which they hope will become nothing less than an oral history of America.

Not since the WPA (Works Progress Adminsitration) project of the 1930's through which oral history interviews with everyday Americans across the country were recorded has anything on this scale been attempted. The WPA recordings remain the single most important collection of American voices gathered to date. StoryCorps hopes to build and expand on that work, becoming the WPA for the 21st Century.

If you would like to participate and don't think you'll be in Grand Central Station any time soon, you can visit one of the three MobileBooths criss-crossing the country and record your story inside an Airstream trailer. For the MobileBooth route and StoryBooth locations go to http://storycorps.net/participate/record_an_interview/locations/. To listen to some of the stories being added to the oral history at the Library of Congress go to http://www.storycorps.net/.

vision is to promote understanding between all people. What better way to do that than to share our personal stories with each other and record them for future generations?

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