Women’s History Month Playlist


For your listening pleasure we went into our archive and collected stories about and from powerful leading, inspiring women.

“A lot of the older guys didn’t think I should be there.”

Barbara Moore spent more than 40 years working as a bricklayer in Baltimore. She was only 21 years old when she became the first woman to join her local bricklayers union. At StoryCorps she tells her daughter, Olivia, how she first got into the trade.

“Hello my name is Yusor Abu-Salha.”
One of the young victims of the tragic Chapel Hill shooting recorded a StoryCorps interview with her third grade teacher, Mussarut Jabeen. All three of the Chapel Hill victims attended Jabeen’s school. Mussarut Jabeen returned recently to talk about Yusor’s life.

“I wasn’t very nice..”
Eighty-seven year old Kay Wang talks with her son Cheng, and granddaughter Chen, about her childhood and a life with no regrets.
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“If you need me to hold your hand I’m there.”
Paquita Williams, an MTA train conductor, helped comfort her passengers during a time of crisis. Her passenger and now friend, Laura Lane, remembers that day with her.

“You told me you were so tired that you had fallen asleep at a red light.”
Tina Vasquez talks with her mother Sonia about witnessing how hard she worked, in many different jobs. Together they reminisce over their Friday nights at Denny’s.

“I got married the day of my 22nd birthday.”
Mala Fernando tells her daughter Ashanthi Gajaweera about the early days of her marriage in Sri Lanka and finding herself as she grew older.

“It was the first time I met openly gay people.”
During Clea Rorex’s first term as Boulder County Clerk in 1975, she began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

“Do you remember when we were 19, totally in love, and couldn’t tell anyone?”
Bobbi Cote-Whiteacre and her wife, Sandi, talk about their relationship.

“He said to me ‘I will make sure every day is a living hell for you.'”
Tia Smallwood tells her daughter, Christine, about becoming a business woman in the 1970s. During her first job interview she was asked to get up and turn around, after refusing to do so she was hired.

“We go to cemeteries along the border…”
Dr. Lori Baker is a forensic scientist at Baylor University in Texas. She tries to identify remains and match them with families looking for lost relatives. Thousands of people have died trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. Their unidentified remains often end up in unmarked graves in small border town cemeteries. She sat down for StoryCorps with her husband, Erich Baker, to talk about how she got started.

“Do you remember the first dinner together?”
Yelitza Castro has been cooking meals for homeless men and women in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2010. Through this work she met Willie Davis, who sits down with her for a StoryCorps interview and talks about how it all began.

“I went as macho as I could be to mask what I was underneath.”
Earlier this month, Dave shared four classic StoryCorps interviews with the audience at TED. Those eight voices helped everyone attending see why we believe preserving your story is so important. The following conversation is between Alexis and her daughter Lesley. Born Arthur Martinez, she joined a Chicago gang while growing up, later transitioning to the woman she was always meant to be.

Preserving Pieces of History at Howard University

Stokely Carmichael

This month, we are highlighting some wonderful stories we have collected from Howard University, one of our great partners in Washington, D.C.

StoryCorps has partnered with the university’s Legacy Initiative three times to record conversations between some of Howard’s influential retirees and their colleagues and loved ones. The Howard University Legacy Initiative celebrates and preserves the legacy of the college’s retiring faculty and staff – people who have helped shape Howard University into what it is today.

Each time we’ve been able to hear stories about a wide range of experiences, but back in August we were lucky to hear two stories of personal encounters with major leaders in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

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Dr. Loretta Easton (left) and Darline Dugger (right)

Dr. Loretta Easton spoke with Darline Dugger of the Legacy Initiative about going to college at Howard University and becoming a physician. In 1959, after graduating from Howard, Dr. Easton moved to Hawaii to continue her education. Shortly after arriving, she met a man who introduced himself and invited her to dinner. Dr. Easton had forgotten his name shortly after meeting and was struggling to remember. She shared the pivotal moment of realization, which occurred when they were sitting down at dinner.

“Still I could not figure out who this man was. I looked at the tie-clasp that he had on, and there were the initials ‘MLK’ and I had just had dinner with Martin Luther King.”

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Martin Luther King Jr. is pictured above marching from Selma, wearing leis provided by the Hawaiian delegates to the march.

In another conversation, Dr. Delores H. Carpenter talked to her former student and Rev. Sindile Dlamini about her work as a student in the Divinity School at Howard, becoming a professor, and working in the community. Dr. Carpenter shared her memories of the emerging Black Power movement and how she perceived its message at the time.

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Dr. Delores H. Carpenter (right) and Sindile Diamani (left)

“I was in the graduate theological school at Howard, and I remember the very famous Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown being on campus when the words ‘Black Power’ were brand new to the country…there was this new Black consciousness awakening, which was wonderful because the theme was ‘Black is Beautiful.’ That had a profound impact on me and on the nation.”

Stokely Carmichael
Stokely Carmichael

These personal reflections are so essential in understanding the impact the Civil Rights movement had on our country, and how it continues to inform the national dialogue today. We look forward to recording and preserving more stories like these from across the country.

Chicago School Closings: Watch and Respond


StoryCorps is partnering with The School Project, a six-part documentary series on public education releasing six segments over the 2014-2015 school year. As a whole, this series explores the local perspectives on recent mass school closings in Chicago, the expansion of charter schools, the controversy surrounding standardized testing, school discipline policies, and the history of reforms and educational models. StoryCorps is incredibly excited to colloborate with such an important project, as we work to record and share the personal stories of people in the Chicago area on the issues surrounding public education.

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Want to learn more? The second installment of this series “Chicago Public Schools: Closed,” will premiere January 22nd! This short documentary follows Rousemary Vega, a parent turned activist, through the maze of hearings and protests that preceded the largest school closings in American history. “Chicago Public Schools: Closed” features major figures in public education–Terry Mazany, Linda Lutton, Andrea Zopp, Karen Lewis, David Vitale, and Jitu Brown–who help connect the dots between decades old education policies, demographic shifts, and the challenges facing CPS today. You can hear the StoryCorps interview from WBEZ when the schools originally closed in 2013.

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Photos by Bill Healy

For those of you in the Chicago area, this film will premiere with a free public screening in the Performance Hall at the University of Chicago Logan Center on Thursday, January 22 at 6:30pm. The screening will be followed by a presentation of new research on school closings by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research and a subsequent panel discussion moderated by Laura Washington of the Chicago Sun-Times. Interested? The event is FREE and all can RSVP here.

StoryCorps wants to help record your own experiences with school closings. Whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, community member, we want to hear how school closings have impacted you. How has your neighborhood changed? How have your children been effected? What is the social environment of your new school like now? Make your appointment on our website today! Just mention “The School Project” during your StoryCorps recording to our facilitators to be included!

From our StoryCorps in Chicago team member, Andre Perez.

Five Best Books: Dave Isay on Lost Worlds


You may remember listening to one of our most recent broadcasts between Gay Talese and Bob Walsh, as they discuss the construction of New York City’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Laced within this story, you will notice beautiful passages from Mr. Talese’s book titled, “The Bridge,” which documents the Verrazano’s construction.

“The Bridge,” was on one of StoryCorps’ founder Dave Isay’s “Five Best Books on lost worlds” list which originally ran earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal. Today, we are happy to be sharing this list with you!

Enjoy getting lost in Mr. Isay’s recommendations and happy reading!

REVIEW — Books — Five Best: Dave Isay on lost worlds
The Wall Street Journal
(Copyright (c) 2014, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)


“The Jollity Building”

By A.J. Liebling (1962)

1. This paperback collects some of the legendary New Yorker writer’s best-known profiles of midtown Manhattan characters, including the classic title piece, which documents the human ecosystem of the Jollity Building on Broadway somewhere in the upper 40s — a place populated by scam artists, two-bit orchestra leaders, hat-check concessionaires, struggling sign painters and casting agents, all under the watchful eye of Morty Ormont (ne Goldberg), the rental agent. The lowest rung on the Jollity’s totem pole is the Telephone Booth Indians who operate their “businesses” from eight pay phones in the lobby. At the top of the heap, tenants who have the luxury of an office with a door. Alongside tenants like Skyhigh Charlie, Three-to-Two Charlie and Hairynose, “There is a fellow known as Paddy the Booster, who sells neckties he steals from haberdashers, and another known as Mac the Phony Booster who sells neckties which he pretends to have stolen but are really shoddy ties he has bought very cheaply. Naturally, Paddy looks down on Mac, whom he considers a racketeer.”

“They Called Me Mayer July”

By Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Mayer Kirshenblatt (2007)

2. Folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett spent 40 years interviewing her father about Apt, the small Polish town in which he grew up. After decades of prodding from his daughter, Mayer, a retired house painter, picked up a brush at the age of 73 and began painting his memories of the town as well. The resulting collection is breathtaking — a building-by-building, person-by-person re-creation of Apt. A hand-drawn map at the front of the book lays out the streets, alleys and stores that come to life in the pages that follow — along with the characters who inhabited them. The book’s text is composed entirely of Mayer’s oral histories, amounting to a priceless portrait of a world wiped off the face of the earth. “The places I remember exist no more,” he tells his daughter. “They are only in my head, and if I die they will disappear with me.” Mayer Kirshenblatt died two years after the book was published. His memories and paintings live on in this book, as do the spirit and stories of the Jews of Apt.

“Cheap Novelties”

By Ben Katchor (1991)

3. Ben Katchor’s sublime collection of 91 cartoon strips chronicles the wanderings of Julius Knipl, a rumpled photographer-for-hire taking pictures of buildings in a gently surreal streetscape that vaguely resembles Manhattan’s financial district of old. Knipl laments a fading world of dairy cafeterias, tchotchke salesmen and trophy manufacturers. On one page, eight exquisite frames serve as a memorial to the eternal flame beneath a stainless-steel sauerkraut pan. On another, an ode to elevator inspection certificates (“One elevator inspector caught Mr. Knipl’s eye / with his distinctive signature. / He was here five years ago on April 27 / to examine not only the elevator’s mechanical operation / but more importantly to peer into the dismal void which lies at the heart of most buildings.”) Don’t miss the Knipl-esque comic-book novelties for sale on the covers of the book: a torn-sock repair kit, a 15-cent adenoid remover . . . and a radiator hot-dog steamer (“Popular in rooming houses all over the world . . . Perfectly legal . . . 50 cents”).

“The Bridge”

By Gay Talese (1964)

4. This superb work by Gay Talese is an ode to the men who built the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island and remains America’s longest suspension bridge. Talese notes that he had often asked himself: “Whose fingerprints are on the bolts and beams of these soaring edifices in this overreaching city?” “The Bridge” honors the men who “drive into town in big cars, and live in furnished rooms, and drink whiskey with beer chasers, and chase women they will soon forget. They linger only a little while, only until they have built the bridge.” Men like Edward Iannielli Jr., who tells Talese about visiting his ironworker father on a job when he was 13 or 14 and getting his permission to climb up: “As I stood up there, all of a sudden, I am thinking to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ ” During the construction of the Verrazano, it was Iannielli’s hands that a fellow ironworker named Gerald McKee clung to on Oct. 9, 1962, before plunging 350 feet to where “the water is like concrete.” After which Iannielli began to weep and began to slip over, too, until another worker jumped on top of him and held him tight to the catwalk.

“McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon”

By Joseph Mitchell (1943)

5. This remarkable volume of New Yorker profiles includes a fabulous history of McSorley’s, which was already New York’s oldest bar, whose motto at the time was “Good ale, raw onions and no ladies.” But my favorite piece is “Mazie,” Mitchell’s astonishing profile of Mazie P. Gordon, the foul-mouthed ticket taker/bouncer/angel of a low-rent movie theater on the Bowery called the Venice. Mazie works out of a phone-booth-size ticket cage seven days a week, lording over the theater and its patrons. At 11 p.m. each night, she leaves her booth and sets off on her “Samaritan tour of the Bowery.” When she finds men passed out on the street in the winter, Mitchell writes, “she badgers them until they awaken. She punches them in the ribs with her umbrella and, if necessary, gets down on her knees and slaps their faces.” Mazie will then guide the man to the nearest flophouse, pay for his lodging, and get him undressed with the help of a clerk. (Full disclosure: My daughter Mazie was named in honor of Gordon.) In the author’s note at the front of this collection Mitchell writes: “The people in a number of these stories are of a kind that many have recently got in the habit of referring to as ‘little people.’ I regard this phrase as patronizing and repulsive. There are no little people in this book. They are as big as you are, whoever you are.”

License this article from Dow Jones Reprint Service

SCL 2015: Looking for a Few Good Libraries!


StoryCorps @ your library and the American Library Association wants YOU to apply to be a part of our 2015 program!

It’s no secret that StoryCorps loves working with libraries. We understand the importance of libraries as critical community anchors, and appreciate the valuable services that libraries provide to their patrons. That’s why, in 2011, we partnered with the American Library Association to create a unique program that put tools and resources to create oral history programming directly in the hands of librarians–StoryCorps @ your library (SCL).


Library staff and volunteers practice recording interviews at the Octovia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, NM.

In creating the program, we began with the premise that the people who work at public libraries know their communities better than anyone else. We decided to create a national project that would provide StoryKits–portable sets of professional recording equipment–to librarians and library volunteers and allow them the opportunity to record and celebrate the unique stories of their patrons and others. During the pilot year, we received over 200 applications for ten program slots, and we chose–through a peer-review process moderated by the American Library Association–a cohort of libraries that included small, rural libraries; large, multi-branch library systems; and everything in between. Over the course of a year, we traveled the country to visit these libraries, delivering intensive two-day trainings and providing programmatic guidance. Then, following the trainings, we worked closely with the pilot libraries to provide them with technical and outreach support as they began to record the voices and stories not often included or represented in mainstream media.

Our SCL team with a few of the 2014 SCL libraries. From L to R: Smithville, TX; San Francisco, CA. Bottom: Tampa, FL.

Our SCL team with a few of the 2014 SCL libraries. From L to R: Smithville, TX; San Francisco, CA. Bottom: Tampa, FL.

At the end of the program, our library partners had collected over 420 stories collectively, from Greensboro, NC all the way to Gallup, NM. At the Nashville Public Library, Andrea Blackman recruited community college studies to record stories with their classmates, and those stories are now housed in the NPL’s Special Collections Division. In Chicago, students at DePaul University recorded interviews with a variety of Chicagoans; some interview participants spoke of taking part in the Great Migration; others described arriving in Chicago from Eastern Europe, and still others, patrons at the CPL’s Talking Book Center, discussed their experiences as visually-impaired individuals. In Tampa, FL, the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library System created a program, “Our Lives, Our Legacies: The Hillsborough Black Experience,” in which each month a specific theme was celebrated. The Multnomah County Library collected interviews from library patrons in celebration of its centennial year, and in Smithville, TX, the Smithville Public Library recorded stories with veterans and others that will eventually become a walking tour of the town of Smithville.

Now, we are delighted to announce the next call for applications for the StoryCorps @ your library program. As in the pilot program, StoryCorps will select ten libraries to train and support, and also enhance our suite of freely available tools and resources. StoryCorps will enhance existing web-based resources, present at the annual ALA and Association for Small and Rural Libraries conferences, and support the development of DIY tools to ensure that all libraries can create programs to celebrate the unique stories of their communities.

Interested? Find more information and apply right here!


The 2014 National Day of Listening!


Happy National Day of Listening to one and all!

On Friday, November 28th, join us in celebrating the 7th Annual National Day of Listening (NDL). Get lost in conversation instead of Black Friday’s long shopping lines!

What is NDL? Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, The National Day of Listening offers a holiday alternative to Black Friday shopping sprees. It is an effort to encourage people of all backgrounds and beliefs to interview a friend, loved one, or member of their community about their lives.

It’s easy to participate! Check out our handy instruction guide below for all you “DIY-ers” out there and be sure to visit StoryCorps DIY for even MORE vital information. Happy Listening!


Who will you be recording your story with for this year’s National Day of Listening? Tell us below!

2015 TED Prize Awarded to StoryCorps Founder Dave Isay

revised TED slider 2015 FI


On 10th Anniversary of the Prize, TED Celebrates the Power of Storytelling
with its Annual $1 Million Award

November 17, 2014 (New York, NY) – TED today announced the recipient of the 2015
TED Prize: Dave Isay, founder of the groundbreaking oral history project StoryCorps.
Each year TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, awards the TED Prize to
one exceptional individual and gives them the chance to conceive and launch a high-
impact project–“a wish” offered to them without restriction. StoryCorps will be
receiving $1 million from TED to launch Isay’s wish. Beyond the monetary value of the
prize, TED invites its global community of innovators, entrepreneurs, and TEDx
organizers to participate in and help fulfill the wish.

Between now and the 2015 TED Conference (March 16-20 in Vancouver, BC), Isay and
StoryCorps will work with TED to conceive of an audacious wish that builds on his
decade of success with the organization – and share his vision live from the TED stage
on March 17. The talk will be broadcast for free via http://tedlive.ted.com/webcasts/2015

StoryCorps celebrates the dignity, power, and grace that can beheard in the stories we find all around us. Since Dave Isay launched StoryCorps in 2003, 100,000 Americans have participated, making it the largest single collection of human voices ever recorded.

At the heart of StoryCorps is a simple, timeless idea: provide two friends or loved ones
with a quiet space and 40 minutes of uninterrupted time for a meaningful face-to-face
conversation; record that conversation; give the participants a copy; and archive
another copy at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps
seeks out the stories of people most often excluded from the historical record and
preserves them so that the experience and wisdom contained within them may be
passed from one generation to the next. StoryCorps shares edited excerpts of some of
these recordings in its popular weekly broadcasts on NPR, animated shorts, and
bestselling books.

“On the tenth anniversary of the TED Prize, it seems fitting that TED – an organization
whose central mission is to spread ideas and empower storytellers – is honoring a
storytelling pioneer,” said TED curator Chris Anderson. “Under Dave Isay’s leadership,
StoryCorps has given nearly 100,000 Americans the chance to record interviews about
their lives and leave a legacy for the future. I am thrilled about this winner, excited to
see how TED and StoryCorps will collaborate, and eager to see how we can pair an
incredible idea with a global community.”

Dave Isay said, “We are thrilled and honored–and, frankly, floored–to receive this
prize. We look forward to working with TED in the years to come to bring StoryCorps to
more people, and to remind everyone of the power of listening and the simple truth
that every life and every story matters.”

About the TED Prize

The first TED Prize was awarded in 2005, born out of the TED Conference and a vision by
the world’s leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to launch a global
project that marries the recipient’s “wish” with TED’s global community.
The original prize: $100,000 and the TED community’s range of talent and expertise.

What began as an unparalleled experiment to leverage the resources of the TED
community has evolved into a $1 million award and an ambitious effort to spur global-
scale change.

From Bono’s the ONE Campaign (’05 recipient) to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (’10
recipient) to JR’s Inside Out Project (’11 recipient), Sugata Mitra’s School in a Cloud (’13
recipient) and Charmian Gooch’s call to eliminate anonymous corporations (’14
recipient), the TED Prize has helped to combat poverty, take on religious intolerance,
improve global health, tackle child obesity, advance education, and inspire art around

About StoryCorps

Founded in 2003 by MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay, the nonprofit organization StoryCorps
has given nearly 100,000 Americans the chance to record interviews about their lives,
pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and leave a legacy for the future.
Participating in StoryCorps couldn’t be easier: You invite a loved one, or anyone else you
chose, to one of the StoryCorps recording sites. There a trained facilitator greets you
and explains the interview process. You’re then brought into a quiet recording room and
seated across from your interview partner, each of you in front of a microphone.

The facilitator hits “record,” and you share a forty-minute conversation. At the end of
the session, you walk away with a CD, and a digital file goes to the Library of Congress,
where it will be preserved for generations to come. Someday your great-great-great-
grandchildren will be able to meet your grandfather, your mother, your best friend, or
whomever it is you chose to honor with a StoryCorps interview.

StoryCorps shares edited excerpts of these stories with the world through popular
weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books.
These powerful stories illustrate our shared humanity and show how much more we
share in common than divides us.

Over the past eleven years, StoryCorps has also launched a series of successful national
initiatives including:

–The September 11th Initiative, helping families memorialize the stoires of lives lost on
September 11, 2001 in partnership with the National September Memorial & Museum at the World
Trade Center;

–The Griot Initiative, now the largest collection of African American voices ever gathered,
in colloboration with future Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture;

–The Historias Initiative, the largest collection of Latino stories ever gathered; and

–The Military Voices Initiative, honoring the stories of post-9/11 service members, veterans,
and their families.

Additionally, the organization recently launched StoryCorpsU (SCU), an interactive,
standards-based college-readiness curriculum for high-needs schools that uses
StoryCorps content and interviewing techniques to engage the hearts and minds of
young people and promote positive student outcomes.

StoryCorps is working to grow into an enduring national institution that touches

Press contacts

TED Prize: Erin Allweiss, 202.446.8265 or erin@thenumber29.com.
StoryCorps: Blake Zidell, 718.643.9052 or blake@blakezidell.com.

StoryCorps’ Military Voices Honors Veterans Day


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This Veterans Day, StoryCorps is going beyond the front lines to honor & share the stories of those who serve in the military and the families who support them–all part of our Military Voices Initiative.

Beginning this Friday, we will be releasing new content, including broadcasts on NPR‘s Morning Edition and Weekend Edition Saturday, an hour-long radio special, and finally, three new animated shorts produced in partnership with PBS. We hope you will join us this Veterans Day to honor those who serve and hear their stories as told by them.

Check out exclusive initial sketches of the 3 new Military Voices Initiative animated shorts from The Rauch Brothers. Enjoy!

“The Nature of War.” Coming November 10th.



“The Last Viewing.” Coming November 10th.



“1st Squad, 3rd Platoon.” Coming Veterans Day, November 11th.



The Military Voices Initiative provides a platform for veterans, servicemembers, and military families to share their stories. In doing so we honor their voices, amplify their experiences, and let them know that we–as a nation–are listening.

Two Years After Sandy: Resilience, Retrospect, & Oyster Restoration


This past week marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the destructive and deadly storm that swept through the eastern part of the United States back in 2012. Here in New York, flooding destroyed thousands of homes and structures and further debilitated an already shut down transit system. Some areas haven’t been able to recover as quickly as others, but all communities affected have shown remarkable RESILIENCE.

With support from the The Rockefeller Foundation, StoryCorps is thrilled to launch a new project to record personal stories of resilience across the country. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, we see resilience all around us.

Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Giacinto and her mother Denise were living in the East Village, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the storm.

“All I [saw] was garbage thrown everywhere. I was just in awe ’cause I saw the city in such chaos. And I thought about all that had happened, and I was just like, ‘we really have to do something more.'”

Inspired to make change, Alyssa decided to join the Billion Oyster Project at her school, a long-term, large scale plan to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor to create a natural storm barrier for the future and to clean the harbor water.

Alyssa Giacinto

Alyssa Giacinto reaching into one of the local species holding tanks in the New York Harbor School Hatchery. Credit Sarah Shatz

Alyssa attends The Harbor School–located on Governors Island in New York–which is home to The Billion Oyster Project.

During their StoryCorps interview, Alyssa told her mother, “I have an amazing feeling of making a difference, but I’m not the only one. It’s me and other kids, and teachers, and other schools. It’s great that a whole bunch of people could come together and actually create this huge impact on the harbor.”

Alyssa Giacinto and her mother Denise Giacinto.

Alyssa Giacinto and her mother Denise Giacinto Credit Sarah Shatz.

The Stories of Resilience project is just getting started. We will continue to work with various partner organizations in New York and across the country to record stories of endurance and personal strength in their communities.

This is all in an effort to recognize the remarkable stories that surround us, and to celebrate the resilience found within us. By listening to stories about resilient individuals, families, cities, and neighborhoods, we hope to gain insight into what makes us strong, and unbreakable in the face of adversity.

Thanks Emily Hsiao, StoryCorps Custom Services, for sharing!

Archtoberfest—National Archives Month!


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. (Photo Credit Daniel Sitts)

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!