Many oral history stories are lost over the generations, not handed down to later generations. Now one of the largest oral history projects ever undertaken is working to save today's oral histories. The project started last October and hopes to compile 300,000 interviews over 10 years.
StoryCorps is a national project to instruct and inspire people to record each others' stories in sound. StoryCorps will help you interview your grandmother, your uncle, the lady who's worked at the luncheonette down the block for as long as you can remember — anyone whose story you want to hear and preserve.
"It's making all of us oral historians, saying all of us can talk to anybody," said Dave Isay, a public radio producer and the project's initiator. The interviews are recorded, and a CD copy is given to the participants. Another copy is stored in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Each week, one of these recordings is broadcast on WNYC, a public radio station in New York City. By next spring, many of the 1,600 stories recorded since the process began almost a year ago will be available on the library's website.
StoryCorps' work is based on a Works Progress Administration project in which Americans were interviewed across the country from about 1936 to 1940. Like the recordings StoryCorps is compiling, the WPA interviews are housed at the Folklife Center. StoryCorps presently has one recording booth; it is inside New York City's Grand Central Station but hopes to expand to other locations. You can also rent StoryKits: small, easy-to-use recording packages that let you record broadcast-quality interviews anywhere you choose.
You can read more about StoryCorps and even listen to excerpts from many memorable recordings at http://storycorps.net/