26 May 2008
A Must Read or Just Do
Listening Is An Act of Love
From Publishers Weekly
Four years ago. StoryCorps set out to record an oral history of America with the voices of everyday people. This book is a collection of the most compelling excerpts from more than 10,000 interviews recorded, compiled by StoryCorps founder Isay, a radio documentary producer and MacArthur fellow. And they are compelling. Each one captures a moment in time—historical, emotional or personal—that make us who we are.
As simple stories of humanity, each one has its own potency, with themes of family, love, dedication and struggle. In one of the most emotionally wrought stories, a father sits down with his daughter and remembers her late mother and older brother, who both died of cancer within months of each other.
To gather the stories, StoryCorps provides a facility, recording equipment and a facilitator, then waits for people to invite loved ones, friends, grandparents to sit down for a 40-minute session. A copy of the tape is filed in the Library of Congress, and parts have aired on NPR. As Isay says, "I realized how many people among us feel completely invisible, believe their lives don't matter, and fear they'll someday be forgotten."
You don't need to wait for NPR or Isay to come calling. Here is an Oral History Questionaire that will help you to start gathering family stories to preserve for later generations. It is a start and keep the recorder handy as the easy questions can sometimes lead to the funniest or most poignant stories.