StoryCorps, a renowned nonprofit organization that records and celebrates the stories of everyday Americans, is coming to Columbia to collect interviews with residents.
Heard and seen weekly on SC Public Radio and SCETV, StoryCorps is bringing its MobileBooth—an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio—to the parking lot between the S.C. State Museum and EdVenture for four weeks, beginning Nov. 18.
Personal histories are recorded in an unusual way. Each participant comes to the mobile recording studio with a friend or family member. They sit across from each other in a small diner-style booth and tell their stories, unscripted, to each other. There is no “professional interviewer” per se, but a Storycorps staff member will be present, often to ask clarifying questions, but otherwise remains silent during the interview. Participants receive a CD of their interview after the session. They also have options to allow broadcast or for their story to be archived in the Library of Congress, but do not have to do either. The service is free, but there is a $50 cancellation fee if a reservation isn’t kept. It is suggested that the experience is not for children younger than ten. Two participants are ideal, though three can be accommodated.
Any and all stories are welcome. Of particular interest are underserved audiences, whose stories may be lacking in traditional histories. Interviews about the Hispanic community (in Spanish, if preferred), the LGBTQ experience (including those prior to Stonewall), remembrances of those lost in 9/11, and those whose lives are impacted by incarceration are also sought as part of special collections. Those with disabilities who are unable to physically visit the MobileBooth can find apps and other ways to record their stories at the Storycorps site online. While StoryCorps does not offer translation services, interviews can be in any language.
Having collected over 65,000 interviews from Americans in all 50 states, StoryCorps has gathered one of the largest single collections of human voices ever recorded. The popular StoryCorps segment is heard each Friday morning on SC Public Radio. Select stories are also animated and shown on South Carolina ETV each week. StoryCorps may also share excerpts of these stories with the world through the project’s digital platforms and best-selling books.
Reservations will open to the public Nov. 3. Additional reservation slots will open on Nov. 18. Reservations can be made by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour, toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting storycorps.org once the Columbia dates open. With participant permission, StoryCorps interviews will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.