MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions


Brooklyn, New York | 2013 Award Recipient

Preserving and sharing the stories of our lives

Storytelling is humanity’s oldest form of communication. It captures our cultures, our traditions, and our beliefs. In today’s world of multimedia, celebrity obsession, and information overload, everyday stories about everyday people hold increasing appeal to audiences wishing to connect and learn from each other.

StoryCorps records powerful one-on-one interviews, usually between family members or friends, to hear about their lives, experiences, and perspectives. Often, these individual stories give us insight into the most important issues of the day, from race to immigration, education to equality. Each interview helps everyone recognize the dignity and power in all human lives.

StoryCorps plays a unique and vibrant role in telling the American story. From documenting serious illness in hospices and palliative care centers to collecting the words of post-9/11 veterans, active-duty service members, and their families, StoryCorps illuminates the lives of everyday people and helps us see difficult and divisive issues from a human perspective.

Founded in 2003 by David Isay, MacArthur Fellow and radio documentarian, StoryCorps has provided nearly 90,000 people the chance to record interviews. Each of these stories is collected and stored for future generations at the Library of Congress. Every week, StoryCorps shares excerpts of its stories with 14 million listeners through broadcasts on NPR and engages many others through its animated shorts, books, and popular website.

Through its Griot Initiative, archived at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture, StoryCorps has developed the largest collection of audio recordings by and about African Americans. Now, StoryCorps Historias is doing the same for Latinos in America. And, since 2005, StoryCorps and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum have worked to record at least one story to honor each life lost in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.

StoryCorps will use its $1 million MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions to build its reserve and upgrade its infrastructure, including its digital archive of oral histories.

Grantee Profile: Learn more about StoryCorps

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