Posted in Oral History, Websites

Hey Listen Up! StoryCorps and the National Day of Listening

Hey! You! Yes, you! Are you listening? I hope so, but if not you have 24 hours to get it right, because Friday the 23rd is StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening. I only know this because as we were driving down highway 101 for a Thanksgiving getaway we were listening to an NPR interview with Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps. StoryCorps is an innovative project to record, share, and preserve the oral histories of all kinds of Americans—you, me, anyone.

Since 2003, according to the interview, over 50,000 interviews have been recorded, and since the interviews are done in pairs, this accounts for over 100,000 folks who have been recorded. Here’s how it works: 1) Find someone whose story needs to be told. It might even be you! If your parents or grandparents are still living, this is a priceless opportunity for you, 2) Print out the “Great Questions List.” or use the question generator, 3) Sit down with another person as the interviewer or interviewee, push the “Record” button, and begin asking questions.

There are different options for recording an interview.
1. Use StoryCorps’ do-it-yourself guide to get started.
2. Record an interview directly on your computer, tablet, phone or computer, and upload it to their website. Or you can just save the recording as an audio file and share it with family by burning it to CDs.
3. Visit one of their Story Booths.
4. Rent a storykit to make a recording.
5. Bring StoryCorps to your organization’s event to set up a recording booth.

If you record your story on their equipment or in one of their Story Booths, the interview will be saved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Pretty amazing!

I thought it appropriate to learn about StoryCorps on Thanksgiving Day, and know it is not a coincidence they sponsor the National Day of Listening the day after a holiday where families traditionally gather. What a great opportunity to take your mom, dad, or grandparents aside to find out more about their lives. I am grateful I was able to record interviews with my parents and grandparents in their lifetimes, and I am more thankful every passing year I can listen to these precious memories in their own voices.

Do not wait another day to record these oral histories—your own or your loved ones’. It is one of the most important things you can do for future generations.


I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

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