Archtoberfest—National Archives Month!

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At StoryCorps, we talk about “the archive” a lot. There are 55,000 plus interviews in “the archive.” We promise our participants that we’ll keep interviews in our “archive.” We send those same interviews to the American Folklife Center to form an “archive” of voices to be preserved for generations to come. So, seriously…what exactly IS an archive anyway?

Well lucky for us, the Recording & Archive (R&A) department here at StoryCorps turned October–which, as we’re sure you all know, is National Archives Month–into “Archtoberfest!” All month long, the R&A department has been educating our staff about the depth of our collection and bringing in some fantastic guests to provide context about the larger world of archives. Want some highlights of the fun we’ve been having? We thought you might…

archtoberfesttitle (Illustration By Kevina Tidwell)

Listening Lunches

At our offices, we have a long-standing tradition of what we call “listening lunches.” We join together to listen to a full-length interview, or a few extended segments from interviews that have not been broadcast. Listening lunches remind us of the tremendous riches we can find in our collection, and allows us to take time out of our busy schedules to do what we believe in most: listen. This month, R&A’s fabulous interns Kat Phillips and Kevina Tidwell made the selections. Kat curated a program with three different extended clips about the impact of gentrification–from San Francisco’s Mission District, to the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, and finally to Charleston, SC. Kevina presented a selection of musical clips which included stories from gospel singers in Nashville to a jazz pianist from Harlem.

Kat Phillips presenting her listening lunch (photo by Natalia Fidelholtz)

Kat Phillips presenting her listening lunch (photo by Natalia Fidelholtz)

Special Archtoberfest Guests

A few months ago, we wrote about our great archival partnership with the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center. In addition to joining the Schomburg’s open house earlier this month, we were thrilled to host Steven Fullwood on October 17th for more Archtoberfest activities. He brought an incredible selection of zines, newspapers, leaflets, poetry chapbooks, and funeral programs from the In the Life Archive for us to check out. In his talk, Steven highlighted key collections they hold and reminded us of the importance of making archives available locally to the communities that created and donated the materials.

We also invited representatives of other organizations from our 80 Hanson Office Building to for a panel discussion about their own archive work. Yvonne Ng from WITNESS, Richard Goldstein from BOMB! Magazine, and Michael Katchen from the Franklin Furnace Archive discussed their collections, their initiatives to provide access to those collections (or, in Witness’ case, to inspire communities to create their own archives), as well as the challenges that each of these organizations face.

Left to Right: Michael Katchen and Yvonne Ng.

Left to Right: Michael Katchen and Yvonne Ng.

The Summit

Finally, we held a day-long summit entitled “Oral Histories Online: Ethics, Legality, and Opportunity” to discuss the future of our archive. We were honored to host Bertram Lyons from the American Folklife Center and AVPreserve, Doug Boyd of the Nunn Center at University of Kentucky, and John Neuenschwander, who quite literally wrote the book on legal issues and oral history. We covered a broad range of issues that many archives are struggling with, and emerged from the intense day of conversation energized and excited to move forward with new ideas for the future.

 Oral Histories Online participants: l to r Dean Haddock, Tamara Thompson, Donna Galeno, Virginia Millington, Robin Sparkman, Doug Boyd, Natalia Fidelholtz, Bert Lyons (photo by Mike Cades)


Oral Histories Online participants: l to r Dean Haddock, Tamara Thompson, Donna Galeno, Virginia Millington, Robin Sparkman, Doug Boyd, Natalia Fidelholtz, Bert Lyons (photo by Mike Cades)

As you can imagine, these highlights were just the tip of the archive-iceberg! We also had scavenger hunts through our database, refresher trainings, all manner of snacks, and so much more for StoryCorps’ Archtoberfest!

We hope we inspired you to dig into your old photos & recordings, discover your own family’s oral history, and to think about what you can do to help bring archives to life! After all, EVERY month should be archives month!

Thanks to Talya Cooper, StoryCorps’ Archive Manager, for sharing!

“What Is Your Cry Style?” Take the Quiz!

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Our stories are not meant to make you cry–we promise! But since we know our interviews from everyday people have been known to cause a few tears (our own included) we thought we should let everyone have some fun with it.

This #crydayFriday figure out what your “cry style” is with this fun quiz! The results are sure to give you some great inspiration when it comes time to share your own cry face this Friday–enjoy!

A Weekend In Danville: 3 Days, 21 Stories

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Alia Haddad, Senior Associate of our Custom Services & guest blogger of the week, recaps our most recent Door-to-Door visit to Danville, VA.

From October 10-12, 2014, StoryCorps partnered with the Danville Regional Foundation to bring our MobileBooth to record 21 captivating and wide-ranging conversations between 42 people, representing the diverse community of the Dan River Region. Our visit is just the beginning in what will be a long line of capturing local oral histories in this region, however. In addition to the annual Dan River Region Festival, the weekend also marked the launch of the foundation’s History United initiative, which aims to develop a multi-faceted approach of telling a diverse and inclusive history of the region. We’re so excited that History United will continue on in this effort, capturing and archiving stories of this historically and culturally rich community.

 The StoryCorps MobileBooth parked it for three days, located outside of the Danville Science Center.

The StoryCorps MobileBooth parked it for three days, located outside of the Danville Science Center.

The stories we captured in Danville exemplified, not just the diversity of this specific community, but of our whole StoryCorps archive as well. We heard stories from William Franklin Scott, son of the first African American NASCAR driver Wendell Scott, as he reminisced with his own son, Warrick, about the legacy of his father and the effect he had on Danville and the whole of the United States. Former Senator Charles Hawkins & Professor Jack Hayes peppered their conversation on politics with tidbits about the history of the tobacco industry in Danville. On a more somber note, we heard from John Guzlowski, who spoke to his wife about how his parents met in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II. These and all of the 21 stories we captured represented the remarkable history and spirit of this region–reminding us again that amazing stories are everywhere you look!

John Guzlowksi and wife Linda Calendrillo (left to right) pose with the Booth after finishing their interview.

John Guzlowksi and wife Linda Calendrillo (left to right) pose with the Booth after finishing their interview.

While the StoryCorps MobileBooth could only be in town for a short three days, it was enough time for our StoryCorps facilitators, Luis and Mayra, to experience true Danville life (aka 90-minute hot yoga sessions and $1.50 beers). With friendly-people like these and beautiful restored red-brick buildings galore, we’d stay all year if I could. Luckily, Ina Dixon, who is leading the History United Initiative, does live in town and is ready to capture all your Dan River Region stories. For more information, check out the website here: http://www.historyunited.org/.

Ina Dixon, who is spearheading History United, takes a snapshot with Warrick Scott who is wearing a T-Shirt immortalizing his grandfather.

Ina Dixon, who is spearheading History United, takes a snapshot with Warrick Scott, donning a T-Shirt immortalizing his grandfather, Wendell.

Animation Studio or Independent Animator/Director for New StoryCorps Half-hour Special

StoryCorps is seeking proposals from animators for a new half-hour animated
special featuring stories of military veterans.

StoryCorps is seeking an animation studio–or an animator/director who will construct and manage a production team–to develop character-driven animation that will bring our award-winning stories to life in this new tv special dedicated to military veterans. The completed film will be distributed on public television, through film festivals, and online

In 2013, StoryCorps released its first half-hour special, Listening Is an Act of Love, which aired nationally on PBS’s documentary series, POV. This new special will present 6 stories from military veterans, set within a frame narration with a host. The content comes from StoryCorps’ archive, and particularly its Military Voices Initiative, which provides post-9/11 veterans, service members, and their families the opportunity to record and share their stories with the public to help bridge the gap in understanding between veterans and civilians.

For more information about the project and how to apply, please email Rachel Hartman at rhartman@storycorps.org. Applications are due no later than October 29, 2014.

Shortlisted candidates will be notified on November 7, 2014, and asked to submit further materials. A final decision will be made by December 1, 2014.

The 2014 StoryCorps Gala!

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Last week, October 9, 2014, was our 2nd Annual StoryCorps Gala–celebrating our Military Voices Initiative and hosted by the brilliant Stephen Colbert!

The night was set in the beautiful Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. With entertainment from Mr. Colbert, a selection of MVI stories and animated shorts, the evening was an amazing success. Thanks to all who came out for such a fun event and for supporting StoryCorps’ work!

Enjoy a recap of our 2014 Gala with some choice pictures of the fun-filled evening!
 

Photo Credit: Deidre Schoo
 

Photo Credit: Erin Patrice O’Brien

Show Your Cry Face on #crydayFriday

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It’s happened to the best of us. Minding your own business, headed to work or school or wherever, and then BAM! “Time for another StoryCorps…” The tear ducts didn’t even see it coming.

Photo credit: Deidre Schoo

Photo credit: Deidre Schoo

We can’t make up for the morning mascara smudge, or the accidental public crying, or that time your co-worker saw you listening to our broadcast in the parking lot before work, sobbing into your thermos…BUT we can thank you for being such loyal listeners! Beginning this Friday, StoryCorps wants you to have a little fun with all those feels.

Every Friday, show us your best StoryCorps cry face using #crydayFriday. We’ll be re-sharing some of our favorite faces as we go!

You might be wondering right about now…what is a cry face? We’re glad you asked.

No real tears are required for this one. Goofy cry, ugly cry, real cry, whatever you want.

It could be something like…

This:

Or maybe a little bit of this:

Sad Selfies Are Welcome!

Even this:

Embrace the emotions...

And definitely this:

StoryCorps Issue Tissues

(Cry face re-enactments courtesy of the brave members of our StoryCorps Team).

We hope you get the picture. Long story short, we didn’t mean to make you cry, but we are truly thankful for all the tears over the years. We know it means that you’re listening (which is an act of love we’ve heard).

So get your best cry face ready for Friday and thanks again for being such amazing fans! Let the #crydayFriday festivities begin!

Inside the Historias Archive: An Interview with Christian Kelleher

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Did you know it’s National Hispanic Heritage Month AND National Archives Month? To celebrate, we want to let you in on the inner workings of our incredible Historias collection.

Our Historias archive is one of the largest collections of contemporary Latino and Latina voices ever gathered! With participants’ permission, we send all interviews with individuals who identify as Latino/a to the Nettie Lee Benson Collection at the University of Texas at Austin, the premiere archive of Latin American materials in the United States. Christian Kelleher, the head archivist at the Benson Collection, was kind enough to chat with us about what happens to these interviews once they’re Texas-bound, as well as some of the other treasures this library and archive holds.

Christian Kelleher at the Benson Collection with an antiphonary (a liturgical book) from Mexico City from 1589--one of the first books printed in the Americas. Credit: University of Texas Libraries.

Christian Kelleher at the Benson Collection with an antiphonary (a liturgical book) from Mexico City from 1589–one of the first books printed in the Americas. Credit: University of Texas Libraries.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Nettie Lee Benson Collection, and your specific role there? How long have you been at UT Libraries?

“The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection is the special collection library and archive on the UT Austin campus that specializes in materials from and about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino/as in the U.S. Among the premier collections in the world, the Benson holds over one million volumes in its library along with a significant body of original manuscript materials, photographs, maps, audio and video recordings, artworks, and cultural artifacts. I’ve been at the Benson Collection nearly 12 years now as the head archivist, leading the rare books and manuscripts division. It’s an honor and a thrill to work with the materials and individuals that I interact with every day. In our holdings we have some of the first books printed in North America–from Mexico City beginning nearly a hundred years before the first book printed up in New England–and beautiful original pintura maps from the Relaciones Geograficás, the first survey of New Spain done by the Spanish Crown in 1577.”

A map of Guaxtepec, Mexico from 1580 from the Relaciones Geográficas collection, a key primary source about the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Credit: University of Texas Libraries

A map of Guaxtepec, Mexico from 1580 from the Relaciones Geográficas collection, a key primary source about the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Credit: University of Texas Libraries

“We have the original literary manuscript of Argentine author Julio Cortazar’s Rayuela that is a genuinely interactive experience to page through. There is correspondence from Mexican-American activists working to desegregate schools in the Southwest, which provides unique insight into the processes and personalities of heroes in the civil rights movement. Students and scholars come to the Benson from all over the world. The individuals and organizations whose archives we preserve are endlessly fascinating: political figures, authors, activists, intellectuals, and regular people who witnessed, participated in, and lead in the making of history.”

Have any researchers already used StoryCorps materials? Have you used them to engage the university community or the general public?

“The StoryCorps archive is something that I feature when I talk with students in classes all the time because it’s a resource for so many of their research interests. Mexican American Studies, Latin American Studies, History, Anthropology, Media Studies, Sociology, Education, Women’s and Gender Studies, Art, Medicine–you name the discipline and it’s represented in StoryCorps. All I have to do is turn them on to the archive and let them go.”

How do you think researchers will make use of these interviews in the future?

“You might have to bear with me on this one. I’ve been reading a book on the history of the Chaos Theory, and am in a section on fractals. I’m definitely no physicist or mathematician, but if I understand correctly fractals are patterns that appear similar when examined at different scales. So, for example, when you look at a coastline from space you see this rough demarcation between land and water. Then, if you zoom in to, like, airplane height, you still see the same rough boundary, just on a different, closer scale. And again, standing on the rocky shoreline. But for each view while the shoreline looks random or chaotic, there is actually an underlying pattern.

I think an archive like StoryCorps’ will be studied in a similar way. If you look at the whole archive of more than 50,000 interviews you might see chaos with so many different personal histories. When we look at the 2,500 Historias interviews at the Benson Collection, there is still a huge diversity of human experience within that population. Even down to a single interview–with the interviewer and interviewee talking back and forth, over one another, with their life stories moving through time, in different geographic locations, and adding and losing family members, changing jobs, etc.–researchers will see patterns and meaning underlying that apparent chaos, and it will be relevant for the big population and the individual alike.”

Are there any topics, people, or communities that you’d like to see StoryCorps address or work with in the future?

“I love it. That’s always the right question for an archive: who is not being represented that needs to be? You know, one segment of the population that I don’t think we listen to enough is kids. They have insights that are shrewd, alternately hilarious or heartbreaking, and often surprising, though maybe everyone would be better off if kids didn’t surprise adults quite so much. I know that there would be legal and ethical concerns about such a project–and rightly so–but like everyone else, kids definitely have something valuable to add to the conversation.”

What are some of the other oral history collections you hold at the Benson Collection?

“Oral histories are an important part of many archival repositories. At the Benson Collection, we have a number of significant oral history collections like the Voces Project of nearly 1,000 interviews with Latinos and Latinas involved in World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars, including soldiers, doctors, nurses, and people on the home front. Many of those were done by students here at the University, as a way to engage them in understanding their family, community, and national history beginning on the level of an individual’s experiences and contributions. Our own librarians have done oral histories with civil rights activists in such organizations as the American G.I. Forum and the League of United Latin American Citizens, and we have collections from scholars and activists on human rights and political movements as well.”

Do you have a favorite collection at the Benson? One that you’re particularly excited to work with, or one with a subject matter that particularly strikes your fancy?

“A collection that I think demonstrates the power of an archive, and will promote new discoveries in research and scholarship for many, many years is the Gloria Anzaldúa papers. Anzaldúa was a Chicana feminist theorist poet who pioneered fields like Borderlands Theory and Queer Studies. Her archive documents so many aspects of her professional life and her personal life that were intricately connected. Anzaldúa was central to a historical moment recognizing that individuals and peoples aren’t on one side or the other of a boundary–whether that’s a national border, sexual identity, religious definition, language group, or ethnic identity, and many others–but that they cross those borders, move between them, or, Schrodinger’s Cat-style, inhabit both sides at the same time.

Cover page of a manuscript draft of Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldúa, 1986. Credit: University of Texas Libraries,

Cover page of a manuscript draft of Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldúa, 1986. Credit: University of Texas Libraries and the Gloria Anzaldúa Literary Trust.

Her archive illustrates how she grappled with such ideas intellectually and personally in her correspondence, published and unpublished written works, interactions with students and artists, and in her own wide-ranging reading. A European filmmaker made a documentary about the importance of visual arts to Anzaldúa’s work, and described Anzaldúa’s archive as an altar to her impact on the world around her. Anzaldúa scholar AnaLouise Keating described her archive as her “final and most complex text” and I think that really captures what an archive can be: complex, beautiful, and rewarding to inquiry.”

Finally, what are three favorite places that you’d recommend to a visitor to Austin?

“Wow, there’s so much great stuff in Austin that there’s something for anyone’s particular (and even peculiar) interests! I’ve been really enjoying seeing film screenings from the Austin Film Society at their new Marchesa Theatre. I recommend to everyone to see the world’s first photograph on exhibit at UT’s Harry Ransom Center–there’s only one, it’s the first ever, and it’s right here on campus. And on the right nights at the right time of year, seeing the bats fly out of the Congress Avenue bridge at dusk before a good dinner and night listening to live music is a very cool thing to experience.”

 

Big thanks to Christian Kelleher for answering these questions, and to StoryCorps’ own Archive Manager, Talya Cooper, for putting this interview together!

Georgia & Chelda—Heartwarming Story From Ties That Bind

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As the season of football, pumpkin-flavored everything, and jacket weather begins to hit us, we know there’s nothing like curling up with a hot beverage and a great book to embrace the fall. To assist you on this seasonal-journey, StoryCorps gives you Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps–now in paperback! (For easier transport from the bookstore to that really cozy spot on the couch).

We hope you enjoy this special excerpt from Ties That Bind–just a small gift from us to you!

In 2009, two best friends, Chelda Smith and Georgia Scott, sat down in our Atlanta, GA StoryBooth to talk about all the crazy twists and turns their relationship has taken over the years. This story has never been broadcast and is only available in Ties That Bind. So plump the pillows, rock your favorite autumnal sockwear, and enjoy the read! Be sure to look for Chelda & Georgia among so many other powerful stories in Ties That Bind–out in paperback 9/30!

Chelda Smith (left) and Georgia Scott (right).

Chelda Smith (left) and Georgia Scott (right).

Chelda Smith, 24, talks with her best friend, Georgia Scott, 26

Chelda Smith: I remember growing up and picturing this fairy-tale life. The Huxtables had five kids, Brady Bunch had a whole bunch of kids–but I didn’t have the family network that I wanted. So I just decided that my friends would have to make my picture come true. When I was fifteen, I was on summer vacation in Atlanta from Boston, and I went to the local library just to find something to do–and I saw you. You’re a talker, and we just really took off. While I was there for the summer, we hung out every day. I think we were both shopping for a good friend, and we became inseparable. You told me about the HOPE scholarship program–how if you graduate from a Georgia high school with a B or higher average, you can go to college for free. We were both going into the twelfth grade, so I convinced my parents to let me move down to Atlanta to go to school and get the scholarship. [Laughter.] And so I went to live with you.

Georgia Scott: You became a part of my family. We were unusually close, and we didn’t include anybody else into our world–it didn’t really matter who you were. It was Georgia and Chelda, Chelda and Georgia, and nobody else.

Chelda: We each had boyfriends, and if my boyfriend wanted to take me out–

Georgia: –he’d have to take both of us out. We went to the prom with one guy. He in the middle and one of us on either side. And we were perfectly fine with it! [Laughs.]

Chelda: Whatever I lacked, you had. And what you lacked, I had. We were two peas in a pod. We chose the same college and we were roommates in this tiny, six-by-six dorm room. But even though we were roommates at your house, too, this was overkill.

Georgia: I don’t think we’ve ever had this conversation before, but I had a boyfriend who needed a hundred percent of my attention. And you became a social butterfly in college and made other friends. Before it just used to be Georgia and Chelda, but now it was Georgia, Chelda, and a string of other people. And I don’t think I really liked it. I left a year after, and that’s sort of when we lost touch.

Chelda: We had two separate lives.

Georgia: I think I went maybe a year without speaking to you. And when we did speak, I felt like, I might not feel like talking to you but I just have to make sure you’re alive and kicking.

Chelda: I always missed you, no matter what was going on, no matter how upset or angry or hurt I was. I thought, We’re not ever going to get back to normal. But if I know she’s okay and I keep tabs on her, then I’ll be fine. So I started keeping a log of when I spoke to you. There would be like three-, four-month increments between our conversations. And because our friendship had been so tight, I couldn’t tell other people that we weren’t friends anymore. People knew us as a couple, so when they would say, “How’s Georgia?” “She’s great!” [Laughter.] After college, I went to New York to get my master’s. I was working really hard. I was putting my little ducks in a row and then–wham.

Georgia: I remember you texted me, “I have something to tell you.” And I kind of brushed you off. And then you texted me again and said, “I’m pregnant.”

Chelda: I got pregnant my second year in grad school, and it was a secret. Nobody could know that I got pregnant out of wedlock. I was the one who was going to school and going to get the picket fence and all that, so it was a shock. But your reaction was exactly what I thought it’d be–

Georgia: I was there the following day.

Chelda: I had been by myself in New York, but you stayed the whole time and took care of me–cooked for me, cleaned for me–and didn’t leave. I thought that was amazing. We’d argue, and you’d disappear for a day–and then come back to cook breakfast. [Laughter.]

Georgia: It was cool being there while you were pregnant, watching how your body changed, literally in front of my eyes. I saw the mood swings and the panic attacks and the back pain and all of it.

Chelda: You’re not the most pro-baby person, but you were very positive. We followed the books to the T, and I had an awesome pregnancy. Having my son was the best decision for me–and for our friendship.

Georgia: And I’ve learned that you are the positive factor in my life, and that no matter what the situation is, you’re the one person that will show me that the glass is half full and not half empty. And I need that.

Chelda: In many ways, Georgia, you raised me. We had the memory of what our friendship was, and we fought for a long time to get it back. Because I always missed you, no matter how upset I was. And so now, even if we don’t speak every day, I don’t question whether our friendship is worth it. Now I fully understand what your role is in my life. You stepped up and were with me every day. So I just want to say, Thank you.

Recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 12, 2009.

StoryCorps OutLoud Launches in Chicago!

Storycorps Out Loud event Photography by Alissa Pagels

You may remember earlier this year when we launched our new, exciting initiative–StoryCorps OutLoud. We continued the OutLoud celebration at our StoryBooth location in Chicago!

The night was all about celebrating the LGBTQ communities in the Windy City with 150 guests gathering at Marwen–a beautiful community arts space in the heart of the city. Our host for the evening, La Tony, had the crowd in stitches all night as everyone got into the OutLoud spirit with powerful stories, performances, beats by DJ All The Way Kay, and, of course, great people.

All event photography credit goes to ALISSA PAGELS PHOTOGRAPHY.

Amazing crowd at StoryCorps in Chicago's OutLoud launch party.

Amazing crowd at StoryCorps in Chicago’s OutLoud launch party.

We saw so many familiar faces from past participants, partners and supporters from all over the Chicago area–including Lambda Legal, Trans Oral History Project, and Affinity Community Services, just to name a few–and were happy to welcome some new friends to the party too!

The YEPP team, before their amazing performance at the event.

The YEPP team, before their amazing performance at the event.

From an incredible performance by LGBTQ youth performance group YEPP (Youth Empowerment Performance Project) to a fierce show by the Chicago drag queen Saya Naomi capping off the evening, the event was nothing short of awesome.

Saya Naomi gave a fabulous performance to end the evening for StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

Saya Naomi gave a fabulous performance to end the evening for StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

As our very own Shirley Alfaro (StoryCorps in Chicago’s Regional Manager) put it during the event, “StoryCorps is here for the community.” We cannot wait to hear the many voices of the Chicago LGBTQ communities as they record their stories with us–StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago has begun!

Huge thanks to all the performers, YEPP, Saya Naomi, La Tony, All The Way Kay, StoryCorps in Chicago staff: Anne Ford, Adriana Cargill, Shirley Alfaro, Alicia Williams, Andre Perez, Gautam Srikishan, and Katie Klocksin; and finally, Andrew Wallace, OutLoud Manager, for making the night such a success!

StoryCorps in Chicago staff with Andrew Wallace, OutLoud Manager, celebrating StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

StoryCorps in Chicago staff with Andrew Wallace, OutLoud Manager, celebrating StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago!

MORE PHOTOS OF THE NIGHT

All The Way Kay DJ-ing it up 9.19 at StoryCorps OutLoud Launch in Chicago.

All The Way Kay DJ-ing it up for StoryCorps OutLoud Launch in Chicago.

La Tony gets crowd laughing as he hosts the evening's event.

La Tony gets crowd laughing as he hosts the evening’s event.

From Left to right: Saya Naomi (Chicago Drag Queen), Andre Perez (StoryCorps in Chicago Facilitator), Precious Davis (Center on Halstad).

From Left to right: Saya Naomi (Chicago Drag Queen), Andre Perez (StoryCorps in Chicago Facilitator), Precious Davis (Center on Halstad).

Andrew Wallace, StoryCorps' OutLoud Manager.

Andrew Wallace, StoryCorps’ OutLoud Manager.

PLUS check out all the fun photobooth shots from the event, thanks to GlitterGuts!

In The Life Archive with Schomburg and StoryCorps

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Okay, we’re going to just say it. StoryCorps loves libraries–a lot.

Why do we love them so? Well, for many reasons. Namely, we recognize the important role they play in communities across the country. Through our partnerships with IMLS and ALA, libraries nationwide have contributed countless interviews to the StoryCorps Archive because of their unique position in local communities. In return, through our Community Archive program, StoryCorps is committed to providing copies of interviews to various groups, organizations and repositories that can make the interviews accessible to the public.

It was in this spirit that a year ago, we announced a major Community Archive partnership with the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

The Schomburg Center is located in Harlem, New York.

The Schomburg Center is located in Harlem, New York.

The Schomburg houses one of the country’s most significant collections of materials–ranging from books to photographs to manuscripts–related to African-American and African Diasporic experiences. From outreach efforts, during our Griot Initiative, and preceding the rollout of OutLoud, StoryCorps collected a significant number of interviews with LGBTQ people of color. These stories will be placed in the In the Life Archive at the Schomburg, a project “created to aid in the preservation of cultural materials produced by and about SGL [Same Gender Loving]/LGBT black people.” We are proud to work alongside the Schomburg to preserve voices from a population often underrepresented in mainstream dialogue, popular culture and histories of both the African-American and the LGBTQ communities.

Under the leadership of the Steven Fullwood (Assistant Curator of the Schomburg’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division), Natiba Guy-Clement (Librarian, Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division), Shawn(ta) Smith (former StoryCorps archive coordinator), and Tamara Thompson (current StoryCorps Archivist), we have transferred 243 interviews to Schomburg with black or African-American participants who identify as LGBTQ. The collection is dedicated to Diana Lachatenere (former curator of the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division) who was instrumental in securing the library’s support for the collection just prior to her retirement after 33 years of service.

“We see the archive as the beginning of a fruitful relationship with StoryCorps to continue to help broaden public discourse about black LGBTQ life and culture through varied demographics of class, culture, age and educational background, to name a few,” Fullwood says. “Our focus is to develop programming featuring the StoryCorps archive as a centerpiece to inform and inspire future conversations at the center, as well as with StoryCorps.”

Steven Fullwood presenting at a Black Gay Lesbian Archive event, (Photo credit: Donald Agarrat).

Steven Fullwood presenting at a Black Gay Lesbian Archive event, (Photo credit: Donald Agarrat).


The interviews come from all across the country, and describe a broad range of experiences. To get a small glimpse into the collection, read some stories from this amazing partnership:

    Christopher:
     
    Christopher remembers that although he was born a female, he felt like a boy from a young age. He recounts the pain and confusion of going through puberty and finding solace in the organization Youth Pride where he finally found the words to describe how he felt. “I didn’t know the word transgendered until I went to Youth Pride. It was as if I was reborn. I was normal, I could be myself and it wasn’t a sin, I wasn’t something that could be shunned, I was just accepted.”
     
    Monica and Charity:
     

    Monica and Charity discuss their participation in SisterSong, a non-profit advocacy group. Monica recalls how she first became interested in doing social justice work while in college. “When I decided to come out in school officially, I experienced this turn of folks not really treating me the same way. And so I felt like I was exiled from the campus. At that point I said you know what? No one should have to feel that way about being who they are, and I think that’s what started my journey towards social justice work.”

    Tishana:

    Tishana recalls coming out to her two young children. “They already knew that something was going on between me and my ex-husband, and I just sat them down and I was like, ‘I think I want to date women.’ My daughter was like, ‘You mean like lesbians?’ and I was like ‘Yeah.’ And my daughter was like, ‘Are we going to go get ice cream?’ It was no big deal to her. Then my son, he was 5, was like, ‘You don’t like boys anymore? I was like, ‘Boys are cool. You’re a cool kid.’ And he was like, ‘Do I have to leave too? Does that mean boys can’t come in the house anymore?’ And I said, ‘No you’re my baby. I just don’t want to marry any more guys.’ And he was like ‘We can’t get married?’ and I was like ‘No baby, we can’t get married anyway.’ He was fine after that. I guess he thought we were going to get married.’”

 


As we collect more stories through StoryCorps OutLoud, we will continue to contribute interviews to the Schomburg. The collection will soon be open to researchers, and we are aiming to co-host a program with the Schomburg this October for New York Archives Week.