Initiatives – StoryCorps

Life on the Road: Adventures with StoryCorps’ Mobile Tour Staff (July 17 – July 20, 2022)

Quincy, WA-July 17, 2022

Hello from Quincy Valley! We are in this lovely city for some field recordings. A field recording is when we pack up our equipment and set up at a nearby organization to record with their community members.  In the past, we’ve gone to homeless shelters, women’s homes, and small community libraries. We will spend three days at the Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum (QVHS&M) in partnership with the Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship (IRIS). QVHS&M is the heritage and cultural hub of the Quincy Valley community and IRIS works to foster sustainable, rural communities by gathering and sharing success stories that enhance a sense of belonging, inspire action, and build community. We are excited to see these two organizations in collaboration with each other through these recordings.

Besides being in a new location, these recordings are really special because they have been coordinated by our partner organizations. So far, we have gotten lots of powerful stories about agriculture and immigration here at the museum. For me, field recordings are such a personally moving way to learn more about the communities we are spending time in.

Here are a few pictures of our sweet set-up:

We are thrilled to be here! Each field recording day brings new themes to the space and is rewarding in its own way. Maybe we’ll come visit you someday! 

Quincy, WA-July 18, 2022

Today I wanted to introduce you to Harriet and Nancy, who are making these field recording days possible!

Left: Harriet Weber (director of operations Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum); Right: Nancy Warner (IRIS Archive Program Manager.)

In addition to recruiting so many community members to come out and record, they’ve also been acting as fabulous interviewers for some of our participants. They were kind enough to let me interview them on the process in the midst of our recording days together.

S: So, IRIS is based in Wenatchee, WA and serves many communities. Why did you want StoryCorps to record voices from the Quincy community?

N: Well, a lot of people drive through towns like Quincy and it doesn’t look like that much until you know some of the stories. And then when you know some of the stories and you have some relationships with the people it looks completely different! You just see it with new eyes! I think we all need to be a little bit more cognizant of where we live and our connections with people. 

S: I’ve definitely been feeling that as we hear the stories from this community! Before we finish up, I wanted to switch gears and ask you one of the StoryCorps Great Questions: What are you most proud of?

N: Well, I guess I would say that I’m proud of having had this idea in the 1980s…I’m proud that I actually helped turn the idea into reality and created an online archive. It’s been a lot of hard work!

Before we head into Harriet’s interview, here are a couple of visuals of the beautiful Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum that she directs. Have I mentioned that we love recording here?

S: What made you want to form a community partnership between StoryCorps and the Quincy Valley Historical Society & Museum?

H: Well I think it’s been a multi-year mission of ours to collect oral histories, and I’ve been doing that on my own for probably 15 years…and a quote I’ve always loved is “in the end we’ll all be stories”.

S: I love that! I’ll have to look up who said it! (Update: it’s Margaret Atwood). So, what does having StoryCorps here in Quincy bring to you and your community?

H: It brings a level of professional recording here and nationwide archive of people’s stories, and people who are familiar with StoryCorps, that’s really special to them too because they’ve heard snippets on the radio and they understand the importance of it. This work is really close to my heart and so this has been wonderful because it’s allowed us to have some support and help in making this happen. 

S: Before we head out, in the spirit of StoryCorps recordings, I’d love to ask you one question from the StoryCorps Great Questions List: What are you most proud of?

H: I’m most proud of the fine human beings my children turned out to be.

Quincy, WA-July 21, 2022

While Teriyana and I spend time on the ground with participants and the partner organizations we work with, our outreach manager, Lea Zikmund, coordinates with them from our Brooklyn office. Well, usually she does…she’s actually on the ground with us in Moses Lake right now for a surprise visit! I spoke to her about the value of partnering with organizations like Nancy and Harriet’s.

S: What is the purpose of outreach on the Mobile Team?

L: In order to ensure that we are connecting fully with each community we visit, we conduct community outreach. Prior to arriving in a location, we research local organizations that are doing good work in that area and ask them to be involved. Through this model, we bring in unique voices and stories that add to the fantastic mixture of voices in our archive. Our goal is to uplift all of the voices everywhere we go as much as we can.

S: What is the purpose of field recordings?

L: Sometimes when we form partnerships, it’s easier for a community partner to have us come to them. Rather than record at our regular location for the entirety of a stop, our team will take a day trip to another organization and set up there to record. 

That’s all for this week, friends! I’ll catch you next week for more updates on our adventure!

-Sarah

Click here to read the first installment of the Mobile Tour series.

Click here to read the second installment of the Mobile Tour series.

Press Release: StoryCorps’ 2022 Military Voices Tour to Record and Preserve the Stories of Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, and Military Families

StoryCorps, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of people from all backgrounds and beliefs, today announces its 2022 Military Voices initiative tour, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and undertaken in partnership with veteran service organizations (VSOs) across the country. This spring and summer, StoryCorps will honor veterans and members of the military community by gathering and preserving their stories in three locations: Washington, D.C.; Hilo and O’ahu, Hawaii; and Cheyenne, Wyoming. The organization will offer both in-person and  virtual recording opportunities.

Millions of American men and women have served in the armed services, while their family members have stood behind them at home. The military community knows well the challenges of multiple deployments, combat injuries, and long-awaited homecomings, yet few civilians have been exposed to the unique challenges. The Military Voices initiative illuminates these lived experiences and contributes to StoryCorps’ diverse collection by recording and preserving the stories of veterans of all wars, service members, and military families—in their own words. 

“Veterans and their families make an invaluable contribution to our country through their courage and sacrifice. The Military Voices initiative aims to honor them by recording, amplifying, and preserving their stories,” said Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps

“By recording and preserving the stories of our brave military veterans and their families, we hope that future generations can learn about what it takes to sustain and defend democracy and our daily freedoms,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “CPB is committed to supporting StoryCorps as it documents the words and memories of these men and women who have served our country with courage and dedication.”

Since its launch in 2012, the Military Voices Initiative has gathered over 2,800 of these stories. With participant permission, the recordings are preserved for posterity in the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, an unparalleled world resource for over two-hundred years. This year, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will host the culminating listening event of the 2022 Military Voices tour, where stories from the Military Voices Initiative will be presented alongside interviews from the Veterans History Project. Participants from all three tour locations, and members of the general public, will be invited to this hybrid virtual and in-person event. Details to be announced.

We look forward to the continued relationship with StoryCorps which, through its Military Voices Initiative, complements the Library’s over 112,000 first-person narrative collections in the Veterans History Project,” said Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. “With approximately 19 million veterans among us today, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s support of this StoryCorps initiative amplifies a timely need to preserve these treasured stories so that together these two efforts may enrich our nation’s understanding of US military service.”  

2022 Military Voices Tour

The 2022 Military Voices Tour will visit Washington, D.C. from April 11-22; Hilo and O’ahu, Hawaii from June 6-17; and Cheyenne, Wyoming from July 18-29

In each location, StoryCorps will partner with a local public radio station, which will air a selection of the interviews recorded and, in many cases, create special programs around the project. In addition,  virtual listening events will be held locally, to give civilians opportunities to engage with veterans and service members in their communities. 

Additionally, StoryCorps may share edited versions of interviews collected throughout the tour via its NPR broadcasts, podcast, animated shorts, and digital platforms. Reservations are free and available to the public, and can be booked online at storycorps.org/military-voices

StoryCorps fosters an environment of comfort and intimacy for its interviews, with a trained facilitator guiding participants throughout the process. For those who choose to record virtually, the interview process and experience will be conducted via StoryCorps Virtual, a browser-based platform that allows both participants to see and hear one another during their conversation, which is guided remotely by a facilitator. After each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a complimentary copy of their interview, and a second copy is archived at the Library of Congress with the participant’s permission. 

Location Partner Dates
Washington, D.C. WAMU April 11–22
Hilo and O’ahu, Hawaii Hawaii Public Radio June 6-17
Cheyenne, Wyoming UWYO July 18-29

About StoryCorps

Founded in 2003, StoryCorps has given nearly 600,000 people, in all 50 states, the chance to record interviews about their lives. The award-winning organization preserves the recordings in its archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps’ podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, engender empathy and connection, and remind us how much more we have in common than what divides us. StoryCorps is especially committed to capturing and amplifying voices least heard in the media. The StoryCorps MobileBooth, an Airstream trailer that has been transformed into a traveling recording booth, crisscrosses the country year-round gathering the stories of people nationwide. Learn more at storycorps.org.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for email updates.

The Unedited StoryCorps Interview: Julie Stolzberg and Abigail Pogrebin

“I know that you can go through great sadness and still be a very happy person.”

While many StoryCorps listeners are familiar with the audio pieces we share on NPR’s Morning Edition and our podcast, StoryCorps interviews are really much longer conversations. For 40 minutes, participants are invited to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with someone they know and care about. These interviews can take place in one of our Storybooths or in another private space with a trained StoryCorps facilitator present.

Currently our archives house over 65,000 of these conversations, and because they are fascinating complete looks into people’s lives, and offer insight into the mechanics of a StoryCorps interview, we have started to bring these to you unedited.


lsk001520_g2In this conversation, Julie Stolzberg, 43, is interviewed by her friend Abigail Pogrebin (pictured together at left with Julie’s husband Craig). Abigail asks Julie about her family memories, her love of teaching, and the birth of her children.

Julie and Abigail recorded their interview in February 2016 in New York City. The interview was part of a collaboration between Mount Sinai Hospital and StoryCorps’ Legacy Program, which provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories through partnerships with healthcare organizations across the country.

Julie, a teacher and mother of two, passed away in March, shortly after this conversation was recorded. More than 900 people attended her memorial service.

In her interview, Julie reflects on being the daughter of Japanese-American parents and describes her parents’ childhood experiences being interned during WWII. Julie’s father was taken to a camp in California as a young boy. “He was a great eater but the only food that he would not eat as an adult was okra because it was a food that he associated with being in the camps.” Julie says, “to this day I’ve never tried okra out of respect…to stand in solidarity.”

Julie also talks about losing her mother to Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 14. She remembers how her father kept her mother’s memory alive for the family. “I felt like that was giving us permission to see her as a real person, that we could talk about her and that she could be with us, even if she couldn’t be with us physically.”

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

Julie worked for many years as a school teacher in Newton, Massachusetts, and in New York City. She remembers meeting her husband Craig, a PE teacher, on her first day of work at The Dalton School. Julie reflects on falling in love with Craig and starting a family with him. “There’s never been a day that I’ve felt he didn’t love me more than the day before. I want [my kids] to know that marrying their father was the best thing I ever did. I feel very confident that he will keep me alive in the same way my dad kept my mom alive. I take great comfort in that. I know that you can go through great sadness and still be a very happy person.”

Click here for more information about Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.
Above (clockwise from top left): Julie, Craig, Tai, and Emi photo courtesy of Craig Stolzberg.

The Unedited StoryCorps Interview: Phil Avillo and Susan Scherr

“I wasn’t injured, I was wounded. Big difference. Your mother used to say, ‘Before his accident’ meaning, like, getting shot, I would say, “Linda, it wasn’t an accident, somebody was trying to kill me.”

Phil-Avillo-July-1965-Qui-Nhon,-Vietnam-512x348While you are used to hearing the audio pieces we share on NPR’s Morning Edition and our podcast, StoryCorps interviews are really much longer conversations—about 40 minutes—that take place between two people in a booth or other private space with a trained StoryCorps facilitator present.

Currently our archives house over 65,000 of these conversations, and because they are fascinating complete looks into people’s lives, and offer insight into the mechanics of a StoryCorps interview, we have started to bring these to you unedited.

This discussion, between Phil Avillo, 73, and his daughter, Susan Scherr, 36, was recorded in York, Pennsylvania, in November 2015, and covers two StoryCorps programs: the Military Voices Initiative (MVI) and Legacy. MVI provides a platform for veterans, service members, and military families to share their stories in order to honor their voices and amplify their experiences, while Legacy provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories through partnerships with organizations across the country.

You may notice that Phil and Susan are pictured below not in a StoryCorps booth or medical facility, but in his home. The unique Legacy “train the trainer” model allows partner organizations like Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (who have recorded over 30 interviews with StoryCorps), to train their own facilitators who then record interviews with participants in a variety of locations.

lsk001470_g1Phil, a former Marine who fought in the Vietnam War (pictured above in 1965), was recently diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Phil talks with Susan about how his recent diagnosis has affected his life, and sheds light on his approach to living with a disease with no known cause, cure, or long-term treatment. “It’s not like I’m 25, you know. I think this disease is—as insidious as it is—is cruelest, and think all diseases are cruelest, when they hit younger people. If I were forty and you kids were young and this was happening to me, I would be beside myself.”

He also reflects on his service during the Vietnam War where he lost his left leg in combat on December 7, 1965—making him, as he puts it, a Pearl Harbor Day survivor of sorts—and telling Susan that the amputation infused him with a confidence he never before had leading his life to take on a feeling of urgency.

Phil also discusses the loss of his mother at a young age, meeting and marrying his wife, and the full life he now enjoys despite the challenges he confronts daily.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

Click here for more information about Legacy.

Click here for more information about the Military Voices Initiative.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.