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5 Ways to Celebrate the National Day of Listening

Simple Ways to Honor Those Who Have Touched Our Lives

Friday, November 29, 2013 is the sixth annual National Day of Listening.

Each year, Story Corps asks all Americans to set aside an hour on the day after Thanksgiving to interview a friend, loved one or community member about their lives, and to record the interview using recording equipment that is readily available in most homes, such as computers, smartphones, tape recorders or pen and paper, along with StoryCorps’ free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide.

While your loved ones are gathered for the holidays, why not sit down with an elder and learn more about their lives and their memories of those who came before you?

In so many ways, listening to elders gives voice to ancestors. Elders hold the stories behind the documents we gather in our family history research - the stories of how our ancestors lived, the challenges they faced, the family traditions they passed along to us.

The National Day of Listening is a great time to gather and preserve the life stories of loved ones, but there are many ways to celebrate the holiday. Here are five suggestions for how you can participate in the National Day of Listening:

1. Interview a friend, loved one or community member

Interview a friend, loved one or community member about his or her life, and record and preserve the interview. Then you can share who you interviewed on Story Corps' Wall of Listening.

To record your own National Day of Listening Interview:

  • Find someone you would like to interview
  • Create your question list
  • Sit down to record your conversation

StoryCorps has created a free Do-It-Yourself (DIY) interview guide with step-by-step interview instructions, equipment recommendations, and sample questions that is available online.

You can record your interview using equipment that is readily available in most homes—from cell phones to tape recorders to computers or even pen and paper.

By participating in this year’s National Day of Listening, we hope you’ll find that taking the time out to interview someone about his or her life is the least expensive but most meaningful gift that you can give. And you will create wonderful memories to make the holiday season all the more special.

Don't have time for a full interview? You can ask a few questions of elders or other family members who are gathered for Thanksgiving. You may learn new details for breaking through brick walls in your family research.

2. Help Raise Awareness of the National Day of Listening

This year we've created a fab sign for you to share before the National Day of Listening, to help Story Corps raise awareness and encourage your friends to participate. You can grab the sign here and print it out. Don't have a color printer? No problem, you can grab the graphic in greyscale below, too:

Story Corps has chosen "Stories of Love and Gratitude" as this year's theme. You can help raise awareness of the National Day of Listening by snapping your picture with the sign, then sharing it on our Lowcountry Wall of Listening on Facebook.

Then don't forget to share it on your own Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn page with this text: "The National Day of Listening is a new national holiday started by StoryCorps in 2008. On the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks all Americans to take an hour to record an interview with a loved one, using recording equipment that is readily available in most homes, such as computers, iPhones, and tape recorders, along with StoryCorps’ free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide at http://nationaldayoflistening.org/downloads/DIY-Instruction-Guide.pdf."

Here are images you can grab that are the perfect size for sharing on Facebook and Google+:

Voila! You have helped Story Corps raise awareness of the National Day of Listening!

3.Participate in the Lowcountry Wall of Listening on Facebook

We've created the Lowcountry Wall of Listening as a place to share who you will interview for the National Day of Listening, share pictures of your interview and discuss the experience. Come join the conversation!

4.Set aside an hour to record your OWN story
and preserve it for those who are yet to come. Have you ever wished an ancestor had left a journal or some recollections about their lives? You can make it easier for descendants to remember you by recording your own story. You can also bring out family photographs, flip them over and place a caption on the back - a simple way to preserve family treasures for future family historians.

5.Transcribe old family history interview tapes

Do you have tapes of family oral history interviews you conducted in the past, but have not yet transcribed? Bring them out, listen anew and start transcribing. You may find details that will reveal new avenues of research. Don't forget to share the transcriptions with family members as well.

Ways to Share and Preserve Your Interview

There are many ways to share and preserve your National Day of Listening interview:

  • Be sure to share a copy with the person you interviewed, so they can preserve their story for future generations of family members.
  • You can enter your name and the name of the person you interviewed on the Wall of Listening on the National Day of Listening website. When you fill in the Wall of Listening form, you can request a Certificate of Participation. You can also select to share your Wall of Listening entry on Facebook and Twitter.
  • You can share and preserve your interview on our Family Stories page, where you can share text, sound and video recordings.
  • Will you be blogging about your National Day of Listening interview? Send us the link to your blog entry and we'll share it on Facebook and Twitter!

However you choose to celebrate the National Day of Listening, we hope it is a wonderful opportunity to share a special experience with someone who has enriched your life. We look forward to hearing about your National Day of Listening experience!

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