Oral family history project aims to capture a generation of stories over Thanksgiving holiday

High school students have an opportunity to discover and share their life and family histories over the upcoming holiday via the ambitious Great Thanksgiving Listen initiative, sponsored by StoryCorps.

Through the project, students are encouraged to record a conversation with a grandparent, older relative or community member over the Thanksgiving holiday through the new StoryCorps app. The goal is to offer participants a chance to discover the history in their own families and lives while honoring their elders through the act of listening.

For those who haven’t heard of StoryCorps, here’s a bit of background. Launched in 2003, StoryCorps is a nonprofit oral history project that’s provided over 100,000 Americans a quiet booth to record interviews about their lives, which are then archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

What makes the Great Thanksgiving Listen different? Well, in one holiday weekend StoryCorps hopes to gather more interviews than it has in the 12 years since its founding. And for the first time, the oral history project will use technology to make it possible for anyone, anywhere to record an interview through the StoryCorps app.

StoryCorps app screen shotsThe free StoryCorps app walks users through the interview process, including preparing questions, finding a location, creating a high-quality recording, and uploading and sharing the conversation – with only the use of a mobile phone.

Participants will upload their recordings to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and can also share them through social media. This 2015 pilot is expected to result in an archive containing the single largest collection of human voices ever gathered.

The project is open to everyone, but this pilot is specially designed for students ages 13 and over. To help educators and students take part, StoryCorps has created a toolkit with instructions for students and guidance for teachers on how to merge the project into lessons that address state standards for social studies and history.

You can learn more and sign up for the Great Thanksgiving Listen here, and visit the StoryCorps.me website to listen to previous recorded conversations.