When StoryCorps was launched in 2003, the date marked not only the beginning of a new of audio production focused on the intimate conversations that emerge between people who know each other, but also the start of the creation of an archive of voices marked and defined by the transmission of stories and recollections, passed down through generations, between friends, and in the memories of individuals speaking into a microphone in a space created for listening.
Over the years, this archive would grow and expand to include not simply the cadences and tales of our hometown, the city of New York, but also the voices of people from cities and towns across the United States, spanning generations, languages, and experience. The archive was created through the efforts of individual facilitators — who were trained to conduct the delicate task of walking participants through every stage of a StoryCorps interview — and a variety of others: archivists, educators, recording technicians, and more. The archive was a collection of living voices formed and shaped by living practice. Every interview was carefully cataloged and described, with careful attention paid to the topic of conversation, the geographies invoked, and the historical period referenced.
Making the archive accessible to others was always a part of the StoryCorps mission and embedded in our central goals for the project. Over the years, critical partnerships with the Library of Congress, the University of Texas at Austin, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the September 11 Museum & Memorial meant that the stories recorded in booths across the country were disseminated to partners and shared with listeners wherever they sought to find wisdom, history, humor, and, even, themselves.
This month, we make the first step towards making this archive of voices accessible through an intuitive, searchable, online platform. We’ve started by providing you with a new website, designed to make it easier for you to search the interviews uploaded by users of the StoryCorps App. We encourage you to search these interviews by keyword or location or topic, and check in frequently as we add new ways to access these materials that span so much time and experience.