A large-scale oral history project, StoryCorps puts two people who know each other well — a husband and wife, a father and son, longtime co-workers — in a recording booth, giving them 40 minutes to have a real conversation, the kind that digs beyond the mundanities of life to unlock the powerful stories we each hold inside. So far, 100,000 Americans have participated in StoryCorps. All the digital audio files go to the Library of Congress; some are made available on the StoryCorps website, others are broadcast on NPR and still others are animated into shorts. While StoryCorps began in a small soundproof booth in New York’s Grand Central Station in 2003, it has grown into the largest single collection of human voices ever recorded.
While “story” is in the name, Dave Isay, the founder, sees StoryCorps as primarily about listening. “Listening is generosity,” he tells us. “Listening to someone else closely is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to another human being.”
We are pleased to be sharing some of StoryCorps stories on ViTRINE in 2015. Meanwhile with the festive season around the corner, why not make your own stories with your friends and loved ones at the dining table, by following Dave Isay’s recommendations of asking 10 questions to deepen ties with your relative or friend seated next you.
1. What are you grateful for?
2. What are you proudest of?
3. What’s been the happiest moment of your life so far?
4. What’s been the hardest moment of your life, and how did you get through it?
5. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
6. How would you describe yourself as a child? Were you happy?
7. Who has been kindest to you?
8. How do you want to be remembered?
9. If your great great grandchildren could listen to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
10. If you could honor one person in your life — living or dead — by listening to their story, who would that be, what would you ask them and why?