For years I have enjoyed the excerpts from StoryCorps interviews on NPR’s Morning Edition. The audio interviews of everyday people, by everyday people, have always captivated me. I wasn’t aware of the story behind StoryCorps until I read Listening Is an Act of Love, by Dave Isay.
The inspiration for StoryCorps was the idea that the stories of ordinary people are worth preserving. The radio, TV, and internet are filled every day with glamorous or sordid tales of celebrities and politicians, yet the meaningful events in the lives of lower-profile individuals go unrecorded. StoryCorps has changed that. The result is stories that impact on the interviewer, the interviewee, and those of us lucky enough to hear the recordings.
StoryCorps locations now include a permanent booth at Ground Zero and three mobile studios that travel the country. Each session consists of 40 minutes in a small recording studio. At the end of the session, one CD is given to the interview participants, and one CD is stored in an archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. What a wonderful treasury of stories.
There is background information, but the book consists mainly of stories separated into these categories: Home and Family, Work and Dedication, Journeys, History and Struggle, and Fire and Water. The recorded recollections are transcribed for the book, and the stories are wonderful—filled with joy, love, pain, suffering, and other details of everyday life.
You can listen to stories from the StoryCorps archives. The website also contains information on scheduling your own interview.
P.S. Evidently there are additional titles in the series that contain more stories. Look for All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps, Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, and Listening Is an Act of Love: Notes on Ten Beloved Stories and How to Record Your Own.