Using the StoryCorps App to Create Oral Histories

TED_SC_2-150x150As Rachel posted a few days ago, the StoryCorps app is a great way for anyone to start creating oral histories. The app is easy and intuitive (so don’t be afraid to jump right in!) but here are a few pointers to get you started.

First of all, you’ll need to download the StoryCorps app and create an account, where you’ll be able to save your recorded interviews even if you don’t publish them online. Once you’ve created your account,  you’ll have two options: Prepare an Interview, or Record and Interview. By clicking “Prepare an Interview” you can create a blueprint for the interview so that when you sit down to record, you’re all ready.

pencil-paper  Creating a Question List

For each interview, you can create a custom set of questions in advance (you’ll be able to access the questions during your interview). StoryCorps has a ton of great prompts, organized by categories (like questions for parents or grandparents, etc), and you can write your own–no matter what, you won’t get stuck in the middle of an interview. Also, you can also build question lists via the StoryCorps website! This is a great option if you are more comfortable writing questions at your computer instead of your phone, or if you don’t have access to the app but still want to take advantage of StoryCorps’ great prompts. A bonus feature? If you build your questions on the website, you can email the final list to your interviewee in advance.

chat  Recording Your Interview

Try to arrange to record your interview in a quiet, private space, where you and your interviewee will be free to talk and the sound will record clearly. Once you are recording, your interview questions will appear one at at time, and you can scroll through them. You can mark the spot in the recording where the question was asked by clicking the thumbtack icon, and mark special moments by clicking the star icon.

cloudFinishing Your Interview

After you stop recording, the StoryCorps App will prompt you to fill in more information, like the title, names of participants, and keywords. You can also create and save excerpts of the interview if there are specific parts you want to highlight. Finally, you can choose to either publish your interview to, or save it to your device.



StoryCorps Pro Tips:

  • Create a custom question list that can be circulated to collect interviews around a  certain theme.
  • Use keywords to tag interviews and make them more searchable once they are published.
  • Use a naming convention (Such as “True Stories: Jane and John”) to better organize your interviews. This will help if you end up with a large collection of interviews, or create a number of interviews around a certain topic.
  • Use StoryCorps as a team: create a single-user account for a group to use to collect interviews.


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