Thanksgiving Project Promises to Preserve History

How would you like to hold a great event as part of your Thanksgiving celebration that also preserves your own family history? That is the hope of a project called The Great Thanksgiving Listen by StoryCorps. StoryCorps is a non-profit dedicated to preserving family stories and over the past 12 years they have recorded more than 100,000 such stories and archived them in the Library of Congress.

They have developed a free smart phone app and are now working with high schools to spread the word about the event, which encourages students to interview their grandparents or other elders. The app helps users select questions and record and then upload interviews to the StoryCorps archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The organization hopes that “The Great Thanksgiving Listen,” along with other similar initiatives, will allow thousands of memories from people who are underrepresented in traditional archives to be saved.

The StoryCorps app, which launched in March, is important because it goes beyond capturing snippets of information. The app not only helps facilitate interviews by suggesting questions, but also uploads recordings directly to the Library of Congress, making StoryCorps accessible to people who live far away from its booths.

“If we can pull this off, it will create a very powerful and important bottom-up history, history through our voices, through our family’s voices and stories of the last 75, 80, 90 years of United States history,” StoryCorps founder Dave Isay said. “I hope that’s what comes out of The Great Thanksgiving Listen.”

Isay says the goal of the Thanksgiving weekend project is to record as many interviews as StoryCorps has collected so far. “We’ve recorded about 65,000 interviews … and we want to double it,” he says.

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