Studs Terkel and oral history
Asking grandparents about their lives
Over on my personal podcast site, I’ve posted recent oral history interviews with my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather. Both grandparents willingly sat down with us—my daughter and I listened to grandpa, and the entire Zuiker clan listened to grandma—and let us record their life stories.
This is the simplest storyblogging thing to do: when you have the chance, listen to an elder talk about their lives, and be ready to record your conversations.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be redesigning this site, offering tutorials and tips on oral history and podcasting, and asking about your own experiences listening to your parents and grandparents.
When seniors write
Researchers at NC State are studying whether diary writing by the elderly can help improve memory retention.
Blogging and journaling
I’ve been invited to be a guest on WUNC’s The State of Things tomorrow. Host Frank Stasio will talk first with Duke Documentary Studies professor Margaret Sartor about her new book, Miss American Pie (reviewed today in the NYTimes). That book comes from her childhood diary.
After Sartor, NPR senior editor Marcus Rosenbaum will talk about his grandmother’s diaries, which he edited into Heart of a Wife: The Diary of a Southern Jewish Woman.
Then I’m up, to talk about how blogging can be like journaling, and how blogs are different than written diaries. I’ll draw on my decade of journaling (from college through my Peace Corps service) as well as my reasons for writing a blog (to practice writing, to record my observations, to share news with my family and friends).
This will also be a good time for me to talk about the StoryBlogging project, a grassroots oral history plus blogging initiative. This effort has been germinating for quite some time, but just this weekend I stumbled upon a perfect occasion around which to organize a StoryBlogging event: at UNC this fall, Playmakers Repertory Company will stage Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, a play based on the bestselling book about Albom’s conversations with a beloved but dying professor. I’m hoping to put together a workshop on oral history and memoir writing for a group of senior citizens and younger bloggers. Stay tuned for more about that.
For tomorrow’s show, listen in on WUNC 91.5 FM (live stream from the website) at noon; the show repeats at 9 p.m.
Crossposted at http://mistersugar.com/article/4151/hear-me-on-the-radio .
A project to emulate
The Blogswana Project has a mission that’s quite similar to the StoryBlogging project, and maybe we can learn from their actitivities:
Blogswana is an effort to practice what we preach. The one-year pilot project will work with a group of about 20 college students from one of the major universities, and provide them with blogging and journalism expertise and guidance. They would commit to a year of “blogging for others.” Each student participant would start their own blog, as well as a blog for their “partner” (the person for whom they will blog). Each partner would be someone who has been effected in some way by the AIDS virus.
Seniors who blog
One of the goals of the StoryBlogging project is to help senior citizens learn how to use blogs to share their experience and wisdom. In the NYTimes yesterday, there’s an article that explores senior bloggers: Elderbloggers Stake Their Claim.
With a breadth of experience and perspective, older bloggers are staking out a place in the blogosphere — a medium overwhelmingly dominated by the young. Perhaps more attentive to grammar and less likely to use cutesy cyberspeak, older bloggers expound on topics as varied as poetry and politics, gardening and grandmothering. According to a recent report by the Perseus Development Corporation, a research company that studies online trends, the Internet is home to approximately 54.3 million blogs, nearly 60 percent written by people younger than 19. Just 0.3 percent of blogs are run by people 50 or older, yet that’s still about 160,000 bloggers.
Tar Heel Tavern #57: Looking Back
For the Tar Heel Tavern this week, I asked bloggers to submit a blog entry that was an example of memoir blogging, or writing about some past mement, event or turning point in your life. Here’s what’s come in so far:
- At More about me, Bora writes about the lessons he learned as a child. He and his brother “learned how to live and thrive under authoritarian regime, and how to subvert it from within. I think that was the most important formative experience of my youth.”
- At Yard Birds, Billy the Blogging Poet explains how a buddy picked up a nickname by staying on his screaming 750 Trident.
- At The Lifestyle Chronicles – Memories, Dr. Marcus Newberry recounts a “a lull in the flow” of an emergency room.
- At Daddy, Zha K writes beautifully about seeing the world: “Children absorb what is around them. They notice everything, especially the minute.”
- At February, Laura recalls a Valentinogram and how it changed her life. “The turning point, for me, was on a snowy, February Saturday in my senior year in high school.”
- At Buttons, I unearth a picture of me at age 2, campaigning for a Congressional candidate.
If you’ve got a post that shares a story from your life, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The StoryBlogging initiative will always be on the lookout for your stories.
Next week, the Tar Heel Tavern moves to … well, looks like we’re still looking for a host. If you’d like to host the Tavern, contact Bora posthaste.