She was right. In the end, it is all about the stories, and there is no better time of year than the holidays to make note of family stories and, maybe, even make a plan to take part in one of the largest oral history projects ever attempted at StoryCorps.
So far, more than 60,000 people have recorded life stories for posterity, including Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono recently. These moving stories typically play out as conversations between two people who have a personal connection. The possibilities are pretty much endless. For example, you might choose to record the life story of a teacher who inspired you, a friend who amazes you, or a family member who has a tale worth telling about when they grew up, how they came to the United States, how they met their significant other, their time in the service, or some achievement or unique experience
Once you have a story line in mind, the best way to make sure it is included in the archives is to visit the StoryCorps website to make a reservation for your recording session. If there isn't a location near you, you can download their Do-It -Yourself Instruction Guide (although your interview will not be archived) or for a fee you can rent a StoryKit. Check the website for a variety of other alternatives.
To get ready to make your recording you can listen to podcasts to get inspired, use their handy list of tips or download the iPhone app . If you have been able to make an appointment, on the day of the interview you will go to a designated recording station. There you will go through about ten minutes of prep, do a sound check, and you'll have about 40 minutes for the interview. A facilitator will be there to help, but not to ask questions. What makes a good interview is the real-life conversation between the storyteller and the interviewer.
After the interview is over the facilitator will give you a copy of the interview on CD. He or she will also explain the release form, which allows StoryCorps to keep one copy and send another to the archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Finally, the Facilitator will take photos of you and your interview partner, both together and separately. These photos will be included in the archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
For more on StoryCorps, where the motto is "every voice matters," check out their website or look for their bestselling books Listening Is an Act of Love and Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps. You can also sign up for their weekly newsletter.