New York City Archives - StoryCorps

“We Knew We Were the Best.” Reflections from the First Black Marines of Montford Point

A group of Montford Point volunteers in their dress uniforms circa May, 1943. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1942, the U.S. allowed Black men to enlist in the Marine Corps for the first time. It was during World War II, and resulted in more than 19,000 Black recruits being sent to Montford Point, North Carolina for basic training.

These men fought for their country in the midst of the racism and prejudice they faced at home. They were essential to the war effort but did not recieve the same respect in uniform as their white counterparts. 

Many of those men are no longer with us, but their voices can be heard in the StoryCorps archive. One of those voices is that of Corporal Sidney Allen Francis,  a retired New York City police detective.  Sidney came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Candice, to talk about how his time at Montford Point shaped him.

William Pickens, Estel Roberts and Benjamin Jenkins at their StoryCorps interviews in Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York, and Dayton, Ohio in 2012, 2014, and 2010. By Leslee Dean, Mayra Sierra, and Virginia Lora for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired February 24, 2024, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

 

 

At The Lesbian Switchboard, Empathy Was On The Other End of the Line

The Lesbian Switchboard was a helpline for queer women that operated from 1972 to 1997. Denise Tuite volunteered to spend hours at night sitting in the cramped offices of the Switchboard, taking calls from women with no one else to talk to about their sexuality.

Some of these calls were casual, asking where to meet women in NYC. Others were from people in need of advice and consolation.

But through all of them, Denise could recognize the same emotions she’d once felt..

At StoryCorps, Denise shared what brought her to the Lesbian Switchboard.

Originally aired December 15, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Top Photo: Denise Tuite at her StoryCorps interview in Tinton City, NJ on November 1, 2023. By James Eustace for StoryCorps.

Father and Son Locksmiths Share the Keys to Their Success

For Phil Mortillaro (above right), locksmithing was a summer job that turned into a lifelong passion. He started in the trade shortly after he left school in the 8th grade.

All five of his children spent time in his Greenwich Village shop, but only his youngest son, Philip (above left), has followed in his father’s footsteps.

Philip Jr with his grandmother, Helga Lumen, at Greenwich Locksmiths in 1987.

Father and son sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps to talk about the family business.


Philip Jr. and Phil Mortillaro at Greenwich Locksmiths in 2023. Photo by Brian Pape for The Village View.
Top Photo: Philip Jr. and Phil Mortillaro at their family business, Greenwich Locksmiths, in Manhattan in 2014. Photo by Von Diaz for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired October 17, 2014 and November 24, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Nearing The End Of Her Life, They Sat Down For One Last StoryCorps Conversation

In the early 1970s Jackie Miller and her husband adopted their son, Scott.

Thirty-seven years later — in 2008 — Scott came to StoryCorps with Jackie to talk about their relationship and to find out more about the history behind his adoption. 

Scott Miller with his parents, Jackie and Percy Miller, in Barbados, in the mid 1970s. Photo courtesy of Scott Miller.

 

A cut of that recording aired June 11, 2010, on NPR’s Morning Edition. You can listen to it here.

Fifteen years after that initial conversation, Jackie’s health started to decline. Realizing his mom was nearing the end of life, Scott wanted to do one more interview, and share an update on their relationship.

Scott Miller and Jackie Miller at their StoryCorps interview in New York City, NY, on May 30, 2008. By Mike Rauch for StoryCorps.

Click here to watch “Me & You,” an animation of Scott and Jackie’s first story.

 

Top Photo: Jackie Miller and Scott Miller at their StoryCorps interview in Tarrytown, NY, on October 27, 2023. By Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.

 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired Nov. 17, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Mom’s Advice to Son With Tough Questions: “To Thine Own Self Be True”

To mark our 20th anniversary, we’re revisiting classic StoryCorps conversations — like this one from 2006, between a young boy and his mother.

When 12-year-old Josh Littman first interviewed his mom, Sarah Darer Littman, he came with a list of his own questions, and they were not easy. As a child, Josh had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder formerly called Asperger’s syndrome. 

Josh and Sarah returned five years later, when Josh was depressed and having a hard time in college. In 2017, Joshua and Sarah came back to StoryCorps for a third interview, to reflect on the past decade and look toward the future.

Sarah Darer Littman and Josh Littman at their StoryCorps interview in New Haven, Connecticut on August 3, 2023. By Chapin Montague for StoryCorps.

In the Fall of 2023, Josh started a graduate program in Library Sciences and History. He hopes to someday work at the Library of Congress, where all his StoryCorps interviews are housed.

 

Top Photo: Sarah Darer Littman and Josh Littman at their StoryCorps interviews in New York City, New York, in 2006, 2011 and 2017. By Emily Janssen and Michael Garofalo for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired March 17, 2006, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

 

A family’s legacy of service, sacrifice, and fatherhood after 9/11

Top photo: Joseph Vigiano and John Vigiano Jr. with their father, John Vigiano Sr. circa 1994. Courtesy of Joseph Vigiano.

We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary by revisiting classic StoryCorps conversations from our first two decades and sharing updates on participants. 

(Left) Detective Joseph Vigiano, Firefighter John Vigiano II circa 1996. (Right) Police Officer Joseph Vigiano, Police Officer James Vigiano in April of 2023. Courtesy of Joseph Vigiano.

John Vigiano Sr. came to StoryCorps in 2007 to talk about his sons, Joseph and John Vigiano Jr., who both died in the line of duty during the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. 

Joseph Vigiano with his father and brother, James Vigiano circa 1998. Courtesy of Joseph Vigiano.

In 2023 his grandson, Joseph Vigiano, came to StoryCorps to reflect on fatherhood and his family’s legacy.

Joseph and Kathleen Vigiano circa 1989. Courtesy of Joseph Vigiano. 

 

Jennifer and Joseph Vigiano with their son and Police Commissioner Edward Caban in March of 2023. Courtesy of Joseph Vigiano. 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired on September 11, 2009. Rebroadcast with update on September 8, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

20 Years Later A Couple Reflects On A Tender Moment Captured In The StoryCorps Booth

We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary by revisiting classic StoryCorps conversations from our first two decades – like this one between Debora Brakarz and Mike Wolmetz. 

 

Mike Wolmetz and Debora Brakarz at their wedding celebration in Long Island, NY, on June 19, 2005.                         Courtesy of Debora and Mike.

 

Debora was 26 at the time and Mike was 25. They had only been dating for three months when they came to the StoryCorps recording booth in New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

 

The family at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland, on August 8, 2012. Courtesy of Debora and Mike.

 

Nearly 20 years later, they returned to share an update about love, marriage, and parenthood.

 

The family during Halloween 2019 (Mike as the anonymous CIA whistleblower, Debora as Sarah Good (one of the first 3 women to be accused in the Salem Witch Trials), Luca as Spiderman Miles Morales, and Iago as DJ Marshmello). Courtesy of Debora and Mike.

 

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired February 14, 2004, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Helping The Dogs Of Chernobyl

When the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded in 1986, dozens died, and hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from a 1,000 square mile radius. 

But people’s pets were impacted as well. Dogs, cats, and other domestic animals were killed or abandoned, and for more than 30 years those that survived have continued to reproduce in this radioactive forest. 

Stephen Quandt, an animal welfare worker in New York City, came to StoryCorps to talk about a humanitarian trip he took to Ukraine in 2019, and how the work he does ties back to his childhood.

Top Photo: Stephen Quandt at the Clean Futures Fund clinic in Slavutych, Ukraine—a city built for those evacuated after the nuclear power plant disaster—in June of 2019. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Middle Photo: One of an estimated 250 stray dogs living in the forests of Chernobyl, Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Bottom Photo: Pripyat Amusement Park in Pripyat, Ukraine. Photo by Stephen Quandt.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Originally aired July 28, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Same Train, Different Tracks

When a train ride to work veers into a life or death situation, two strangers become an important part of each other’s lives.

Artwork by Lyne Lucien.

Released on July 25, 2023.

A Family Built On The Dance Floor: Reflections From A Father And Daughter

The first time Carl Levine did contra dance, a type of folk dance similar to square dancing, he was a college freshman in the 1970s. He didn’t realize, then, the pivotal role that contra would play in his life.

Chloe E.W. Levine and Carl Levine at Camp Kinder Ring in Hopewell Junction, New York in 2009. Courtesy of the family.

It’s where he met his wife, and the couple raised their daughter, Chloe E.W. Levine, to dance from a young age. Carl and Chloe came to StoryCorps to reflect on a life on the dance floor.

Chloe E.W. Levine and Carl Levine at Pinewoods dance and music camp in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 2021. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Bary.

 

Top Photo: Chloe E.W. Levine and Carl Levine at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on May 5, 2023. By Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Originally aired July 21, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.