Leaving a legacy with StoryCorps

The desire to leave a legacy calls strongly to many older adults. Perhaps this is of interest to an elder in your family. A legacy does not have to be financial in nature. One way to leave a legacy is to record a personal story and bequeath its insight to future generations.

StoryCorps, a project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, makes this possible. It holds a collection of more than 300,000 recorded conversations. And it wants to hear from our nation’s elders.

The StoryCorps “Connect” project involves 40-minute remote video interviews. This is ideal for a grandchild and grandparent. All that is needed is for both parties to have a computer with a microphone, a tablet, or a smartphone. (Check on the need for technology help beforehand.)

At StoryCorps.org you can find interview tips and suggested questions. At the end of the interview, you can even upload photos with the recording to the Library of Congress. Go to https://archive.storycorps.org/ to open a free account and set up a video interview.

StoryCorps recommends preparing ahead of time. Each person should be in a quiet room, uninterrupted. Figure on four to eight open-ended questions. But if something unexpected and interesting emerges, be willing to switch course.

Questions can run the gamut.

  • What are you most proud of?
  • When did you feel most uncertain and what helped you cope?
  • What do you feel most grateful for?
  • How has your life been different than you imagined?
  • Who was a big influence in your life and in what way?
  • If you could hold on to one memory in your life, which one would it be and why?

This holiday season, consider inviting a young person in your family to uncover a “conversation of a lifetime.” Your loved one may relish the exchange and enjoy contributing to our national archive of American stories.