For two decades, StoryCorps has shared countless stories through broadcasts, animations, and podcasts. As StoryCorps marks its 20th birthday, and we’re celebrating with 20 iconic stories from our archive.
Danny & Annie
Brooklynites Danny, an OTB clerk, and Annie, a nurse, remember their life together—from their first date to Danny’s final days with terminal cancer. This remarkable couple personifies the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of every day people if we take the time to listen. Originally an animation in two parts, here you’ll see a special version that combines both parts of their story.
Germans in the Woods
Joseph Robertson served in the U.S. Army for 26 years. He was an infantryman during World War II and fought at the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States during World War II. In this short, Joseph recounts killing a young German soldier, whose face remains etched into his memory. Joseph passed away in 2009.
A Second Chance
For 15 years, StoryCorps has brought people together to talk about things that might otherwise seem difficult to talk about — like in this conversation. A high school honors student in 1997, Darius Clark Monroe wanted to help his family get out of financial trouble. So he robbed a bank in Stafford, Texas at gunpoint with two of his friends. During his time in prison, he decided to apologize to the people who were inside the bank on that day, including customer David Ned. Seventeen years later, they sat down at StoryCorps to talk about what it meant to both of them for David to offer Darius forgiveness.
From the first roll call of the 1964 school year, William Lynn Weaver was targeted by white teachers at the Tennessee high school he and thirteen other black students integrated. A few weeks later, Weaver, a former high achiever, brought home a failing report card. What happened next still moves him: the intervention of an educator from his past who became the unseen hand shaping all his future success.
Cousins James Ransom and Cherie Johnson recall their formidable Sunday school teacher, Miss Lizzie Devine, the only woman who scared them more than their grandmother. Set in the small Florida town of the cousins’ memories, this animation will have you laughing out loud as the cousins remember the fearsome Miss Devine.
A Mother and Son’s Story of Self-Discovery and Support
Chris López always knew that there was something different about her youngest child Gabe. Assigned female at birth, Gabe always felt like he was a boy. Gabe and Chris came to StoryCorps to talk about his life, and some of their concerns about what the future may bring.
A Wonderful Life
Five years after Ken Morganstern was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he sat down with his daughters, Priya Morganstern and Bhavani Jaroff, to talk about the memories he had left. Ken needed some prompting from time to time, but family stayed strong in his memory. He still found pleasure in the simple things in his life, and took comfort in knowing that he leaves behind a legacy of love with his children.
The Saint of Dry Creek
Patrick Haggerty grew up in the 1950s as the son of a dairy farmer in rural Dry Creek, Washington. As a teenager, he began to realize he was gay—something he thought he was doing a good job of hiding from others. One day after performing at a high school assembly, his father Charles offered his son some advice that showed Patrick he knew his son better than he ever realized.
Miss Betty’s Calling
For 25 years, Betty Thompson — who was lovingly referred to as “Miss Betty” — dedicated her career to Jackson Women’s Health Organization where she helped countless people who walked through those doors. In 2004, Jackson Women’s Health Organization became the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, and in 2022, it was forced to close as a result of the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. At StoryCorps, Betty reflects on her decision to help these women, and the experiences as a teenager in the 1960s that brought her to her calling.
Alex Landau, an African American man, was raised by his adoptive white parents to believe that skin color didn’t matter. When Alex was pulled over by Denver police officers one night in 2009, he lost his belief in a color-blind world—and nearly lost his life. Alex tells his mother, Patsy Hathaway, what happened that night and how it affects him to this day.
Growing up in the 1960s, Storm Reyes lived and worked in migrant labor camps across Washington state. When she was 8 years old, she began working full-time picking fruit for under a dollar an hour. At StoryCorps, Storm shared stories of her difficult childhood with her son, Jeremy Hagquist, and remembers the day a bookmobile unexpectedly arrived, opening up new worlds and bringing hope.
The Door She Opened
In 2018, at the age of 63, Dee Westenhauser came out as a transgender woman. But growing up in El Paso, Texas in the 1950s she remembers having a hard time fitting in. One weekend, her parents decided to take her to her aunt Yaya’s house. Aunt Yaya saw a kindred spirit in Dee, and gave her an opportunity that no one else would: a safe, loving space to be herself.
Leading the Way
John Washington was born blind and with a severe loss of hearing that has become more extreme over time. He raised three children with his wife Fannie Ruth, who was also blind and deaf. John, who did not finish high school, began reading books in braille and went on to teach others to read braille as well. He helped found the first braille magazine in the United States focused solely on issues important to the African American community. At the age of 95, John sat down with his eldest child, Melva Washington Toomer, for a conversation about the pride he takes in his kids and to laugh over some of their childhood hijinks. This StoryCorps conversation was done with the help of a TeleBraille machine, which translated Melva’s typed questions into braille for John to read and answer.
Recollections of a New York City Bus Operator
New York City bus operator Ronald Ruiz remembers one of his passengers on the City Island line in the Bronx.
A Journey of Love and Loss
Lyle Link tells his granddaughter Carly Dreher about growing up on his family’s farm and how he couldn’t wait to leave, and the adventures he went on with his wife Marion and the pain of living without her.
20 Years Later A Couple Reflects On A Tender Moment Captured In The StoryCorps Booth
It’s been nearly two decades since Mike Wolmetz got down on one knee at the StoryCorps booth in Grand Central Terminal to propose to Debora Brakarz. Their love story was one of the first we ever broadcast on the radio back in 2004. Now, as StoryCorps marks its 20th anniversary, we’re brought full circle as they return to share their journey—from the proposal to parenting.
A family’s legacy of service, sacrifice, and fatherhood after 9/11
Back in 2007, John Vigiano Sr. shared the story of his two sons — John Vigiano Jr. and Joe Vigiano — who died in the line of duty during the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. At StoryCorps, as we reflect on our past two decades for our anniversary, we check back in with the Vigiano family for an extended reflection on their family’s legacy.
Mom’s Advice to Son With Tough Questions: “To Thine Own Self Be True”
In their first StoryCorps recording in 2006, 12-year-old Joshua Littman and his mom, Sarah Darer Littman, shared a heartwarming conversation on a range of life topics. For more than a decade, we’ve witnessed Josh and his mother trace his transition into adulthood. Through StoryCorps conversations, we’ve celebrated crucial milestones in Josh and Sarah’s lives. Now, in commemoration of our 20th anniversary, the mother-son duo return to share the next chapter of their lives.
18 Years After Katrina, A Grocer Rebuilds His Community One Shop at a Time
The Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005. Almost 10 years after the storm, it still didn’t have a single grocery store. Burnell Cotlon, a resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, played a crucial role in supporting the community. In 2014, Burnell and his mother, Lillie Cotlon, sat down for a StoryCorps conversation to talk about why he was inspired to help. Now, in honor of our 20th anniversary, they return to reflect on his contributions since.
As Her Memory Dims, One Remarkable Mother Remains A “Beacon of Light”
In 2011, Mary Johnson-Roy embarked on a profound journey of forgiveness at StoryCorps, sitting down for a conversation with Oshea Israel, the man who murdered her son. Twelve years later, they return to share an update on their extraordinary bond. In our final extended 20th anniversary broadcast, Mary talks to her husband, Ed, about their love and the events that have unfolded since.