It’s the last quarter of 2010, and soon we’ll be celebrating the New Year. Time flows slowly when we’re young. We can hardly see it pass, and each skipped stone leaves enormous changes on the surface. As we age, the shallow stream deepens and flows more swiftly, until finally the broad river of our lives runs at a speed we can’t swim against, and you and I must go with the current and rise with the tide.
As each year turns, it’s natural to look back as well as forward. Now is the time to think about saving a moment in time, and preserving your family stories. StoryCorps is a non-profit that records 40 minutes of a loved one’s life and stores it in the Library of Congress. (You also get a professional-quality CD for your own archives.) Perhaps you’ve heard a StoryCorps oral history recording broadcast on NPR, which is the broadcast partner for this non-profit and edits selected stories for the air.
Dad makes the beans for the Universalist Church supper in Rumford, around 1968. I would love to have his voice on tape, talking about cooking for a crew in the woods.
There are permanent StoryCorps recording booths in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta where people can reserve an hour to record their own stories, or visit “on record” with a loved one, with the help of a technician.
Obviously, that’s not even as close as Boston for us Mainers, so maybe you can consider renting a Story Kit Program. For $200 (which includes shipping both ways), you get professional recording equipment for 7 days, and two 40 minute memory cards. (For $20 each, you can rent two additional cards.) You can set up a “studio” and record your loved ones, and perhaps even split the fee with other family members or friends who want to share the studio time. You ship the equipment back, and soon receive a CD of each recording, plus the knowledge that the recording is also now part of the Library of Congress’s collection.
If your loved one suffers memory loss, you may be eligible for a free recording session.
StoryCorps also sends an Airstream trailer studio out to different cities. Perhaps you can get a local organization to sponsor a StoryCorps visit, and record the elders in your town? Learn more in the question section.
If a StoryCorps recording is out of your comfort zone or budget, get a simple tape recorder. You can still get ideas for questions and interview formats from the StoryCorps site. Make it a New Year project to get a much-loved voice on tape, and record a story for history, for your family or for a wider stage.