November 19, 2018

Holiday project: Here’s how youth can add their family’s story to America’s oral history

StoryCorps and Allstate are encouraging young people to interview their family or community member for The Great Thanksgiving Listen.

StoryCorps and Allstate are issuing a call to teens over the holidays: record an interview with a family or community member. Your story will become a part of America's oral history. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Storytelling is as much a part of the American Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and dressing. It’s the time of year when we come together as family and friends, break bread, and share what makes us grateful. It’s also an opportunity for the younger generation to learn from another generation—aunties and uncles, grandparents, old friends, and even parents.

It’s with this in mind that StoryCorps is issuing a challenge to teens to record the stories of their family and community and contribute to an oral history of the contemporary United States. Allstate has teamed up with StoryCorps for The Great Thanksgiving Listen, which encourages young people to interview their family or community members and learn about their lives. These conversations will be added to the patchwork of hundreds of thousands of personal histories that have been preserved through this project over the last three years.

How to share your story

In order to participate, all you need is a smartphone and a quiet space. Through the StoryCorps App, you can record your interviews and save them on your device, or you can choose to publish your story, which enter it into the StoryCorps Archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Published stories will also appear publicly online at

StoryCorps has published an interview guide for young people that includes tips on how to kick off the conversation and how to encourage interviewees to share their most vivid details. The guide recommends writing down your questions in advance, and then once you start recording, asking warm-up questions like “Where were you born?” and “Can you describe the first time we met?” Listen to an example of a recent conversation, recorded by a young woman and her dad.

StoryCorps creator Dave Isay calls these simple, yet meaningful conversations, “the wisdom of humanity.” By sharing the story of a family member or loved one, you can help Allstate and StoryCorps add to the many voices that make up America.

Read more about The Great Thanksgiving Listen, sponsored by Allstate, and listen to StoryCorps’ archives.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project is an effort by Allstate to highlight, support, and celebrate ordinary people creating extraordinary community renewal.