StoryCorps' 'Great Thanksgiving Listen' Encourages Holiday Conversations

by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang /  / Updated 
David Andrako / Courtesy of StoryCorps

StoryCorps is launching “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” this holiday by sending high school students, and others, across the country to interview a grandparent or other elder — questions like “Who is the most important person in your life?” and “Of what are you most proud?”

"With The Great Thanksgiving Listen, StoryCorps hopes to capture the rich diversity of a generation of American lives,” Colleen J. Ross, director of marketing and communications of StoryCorps, told NBC News. “As always, we are especially committed to honoring those whose stories might otherwise be omitted from the historical record, and to reminding people, through the collection of voices we will document, that every life matters equally and infinitely."

StoryCorps is an oral history project that has collected 65,000 stories from 100,000 participants since 2003 using sound booths and mobile studios. However, with the newly developed StoryCorps mobile app, the booth is no longer needed. Now anyone with a mobile phone can record an interview and upload the audio to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

For those family members who do not speak English, StoryCorps told NBC News that stories can be recorded and uploaded in any language, although the instructions in the app are only in English.

“In this time of great disconnect and division, we hope the Great Thanksgiving Listen will prove a unifying moment for the nation,” Dave Isay, StoryCorps’ founder and president, said in a statement. “Together we will collect the wisdom of a generation and archive it for the future, while at the same time reminding our grandparents how much their lives and stories matter.”

Previous StoryCorps initiatives include The Griot Initiative to collect African American stories, The Historias Initiative to collect Latino American stories, and OutLoud to collect LGBTQ stories.

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