April 15, 2005 (REVISED Yes) National Oral History Project, Storycorps, to Kick Off Nationwide Tour from Library of Congress on May 19
Collected Stories to Become Part of Collections of American Folklife Center
Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940; Joanne Rasi (202) 288-6999
Public Contact: American Folklife Center (202) 707-5510
Contact: American Folklife Center Web Site | Booth Schedule at Library May 19-28 | StoryCorps Web Site
The Library of Congress will host the national launch of the oral history project StoryCorps, created by award-winning National Public Radio documentary producer Dave Isay, with a news conference on May 19.
Two mobile recording booths in trailers will be stationed in front of the Library's James Madison Memorial Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C., from May 19 to May 28, as the first stop in their one-year tour to collect stories of ordinary Americans from across the United States. Interviews with Anthony Williams, mayor of the District of Columbia; Chuck Brown, the father of go-go music; Ben's Chili Bowl owners; and Sue Mingus, widow of composer and jazz bass player Charles Mingus are scheduled for Thursday, May 19, following the news conference.
The oral histories that StoryCorps collects will be given in digital form to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which has a statutory mandate to "preserve and present American folklife." StoryCorps is the first "born-digital" audio collection for the center, the largest oral narrative collection in the nation.
For up-to-date information on scheduled interviews, go to the center's Web site at www.loc.gov/folklife/.
"StoryCorps will provide America with important social documentation on a grassroots, nationwide scale that mirrors what the historic Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Writers' Project accomplished more than half a century ago," said Peggy Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center. "Just as we have preserved and made accessible the WPA recordings, we are delighted to be partners with StoryCorps and to house a new generation of America's stories."
StoryCorps is a national initiative to instruct and inspire individuals to record oral histories and create meaningful personal experiences for the participants. With 2,000 stories already collected during the project's first 18 months through its recording booth at Grand Central Terminal in New York, StoryCorps hopes to collect more than 250,000 interviews over the next 10 years. Traveling to every corner of the United States, the project will be documenting everyday history and the unique stories of grassroots America.
"Over the past year and a half, we've seen the profound effect StoryCorps has had on the lives of those who have participated in the project, and we've seen the power that these stories have had on the millions who have heard them," said Isay. "We believe that listening is an act of love. StoryCorps will engage communities, teach participants to become better listeners, foster intergenerational communication and help Americans appreciate the strength in the stories of everyday people they find all around them."
From Washington, the MobileBooths will set out in opposite directions across the country—one taking an Eastern route and the other covering the Western states. Visits in each city or town will last between two and three weeks, with about 100 interview slots available at each location. This inaugural tour will last one year and stop at nearly 45 cities. A list of the 25 cities in 16 states that the StoryCorps MobileBooths will visit during the first six months of the tour is appended to this release.
In each city where the MobileBooths stop, StoryCorps will partner with a local public radio station, which will air a selection of the local stories and create additional programming around the project. Selected segments will also air nationally on NPR's "Morning Edition."
At each MobileBooth, a trained facilitator will help create a question list and handle the technical aspects of the recording. At the end of a 40-minute session, the participants leave with a CD of their interview. With their permission, a second copy will be sent to the American Folklife Center.
The MobileBooths have been funded by National Public Radio (NPR) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
"We are delighted to be able to sponsor this amazing project," said Jay Kernis, NPR's senior vice president for programming. "StoryCorps makes the statement that the experiences of
everyday people are as important as those of elected officials, experts and those who have achieved a degree of celebrity. Listeners have been moved by the honesty and depth of emotion of the extraordinary stories from the StoryCorps over the past 18 months, and we expect that this response will be even greater as they hear stories from around the country."
"CPB and StoryCorps share the mission to inform, enlighten and enrich the public," said CPB President and CEO Kathleen Cox. "CPB is proud to support this creative and engaging project, which will capture stories that families will cherish for generations."
StoryCorps opened its first StoryBooth, a freestanding soundproof recording studio, in New York City's Grand Central Terminal in October 2003. A second StoryBooth will open this March on the site of the World Trade Center. Over the course of the 10-year project, StoryCorps plans to open StoryBooths—both mobile and stationary—across the country. StoryCorps is a project of Sound Portraits Productions, a nonprofit public radio documentary production company founded by Isay.
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to preserve and document American folklife through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training The center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in the Library in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. The Archive of Folk Culture will be the repository for the StoryCorps collection. More information can be found at www.loc.gov/folklife/.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 to develop educational public radio, television and online services for the American people. CPB is the industry's largest single source of funds for national public television and radio program development and production. As a grant-making organization, CPB funds more than 1,000 public radio and television stations. For more information, go to its Web site at www.cpb.org.
National Public Radio is renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news and entertainment programming. A privately supported, nonprofit, membership organization,
NPR serves a growing audience of more than 22 million Americans each week through more than 770 public radio stations. International partners in cable, satellite and short-wave services make NPR programming accessible anywhere in the world. With original online content and audio streaming, www.npr.org offers hourly newscasts, special features and seven years of archived audio and information.
Sound Portraits Productions, a nonprofit company based in New York City, is one of the country's most acclaimed documentary production houses. Under the direction of MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay, its mission is to tell the stories of ordinary Americans. Sound Portraits has accomplished this goal primarily through the creation of dozens of award-winning radio programs broadcast on NPR's "All Things Considered." Whether on the radio, in print, or on the Web, Sound Portraits is committed to producing innovative works of lasting educational, cultural and artistic value. To hear some of their previous radio programs, visit www.soundportraits.org.
StoryCorps American Tour
May - November 2005
- May 30 - June 13; Charlottesville, Va.
- June 16 - July 2; Morgantown and Charleston, W.Va.
- July 5 - July 25; Columbus, Ohio
- July 28 - Aug. 15; Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Aug. 18 - Sept. 5; Chicago, Ill.
- Sept. 8 - Sept. 26; St. Louis, Mo.
- Sept. 29 - Oct. 10; Paducah, Ky.
- Oct. 13 - Oct. 31; Memphis, Tenn.
- Nov. 3 - Nov. 21; Selma, Ala.
- June 2 - June 6; Milwaukee, Wis.
- June 9 - June 20; Madison, Wis.
- June 23 - July 10; Minneapolis, Minn.
- July 14 - July 31; Bismarck and New Town, N.D.
- Aug. 4 - Aug. 22; Missoula, Mont.
- Aug. 25 - Sept. 5; Moscow, Idaho
- Sept. 7 - Sept. 26; Seattle, Wash.
- Sept. 29 - Oct. 17; Portland, Ore.
- Oct. 20 - Nov. 7; Medford, Ore.
- Nov. 10 - Nov. 28; San Francisco Bay area, Calif.