StoryCorps Comes to Montclair State

Latino students, and their friends and family members record their stories for sharing—and for posterity

Photo: Mike Peters

Montclair State University student, Angela Almonte (right), with her mother, Margarita Almonte, after participating in the StoryCorp project.

StoryCorps, a national oral history project that records and archives people’s personal stories, recently came to Montclair State University to record Latino students interviewing their friends and family members as part of its initiative, StoryCorps Historias. Five Montclair State students were involved in the project and had their conversations recorded on a CD to take home and share, and also had the option to have it archived at the Library of Congress.

“The intent of [StoryCorps] is to document American life histories,” said Katherine McCaffrey, associate professor of Anthropology and co-director of Montclair State’s Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) program, who arranged for the StoryCorps visit. “There’s a special depository in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress where the stories are preserved.”

Founded in 2003, StoryCorps’ mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of their lives, and StoryCorps Historias is its initiative to record the diverse stories and life experiences of Latinos in the United States.

Because it provides a way for people to connect and to talk about the questions that matter with people they care about, the StoryCorps experience can be powerful and sometimes even life-changing. “It was great!” exclaimed Angela Almonte, one of the student participants, when asked about her recording session. She had interviewed her mother, Margarita Almonte, in Spanish and the experience clearly touched her. “We talked about what she gave up for me and about how much I appreciated it,” she said.

McCaffrey worked with the LALS board to find students who were interested in being a part of the project and successfully persuaded StoryCorp that Montclair State would be an ideal place to find a diverse group of participants for the Historias initiative. Summing up her position, McCaffrey noted that “Latin America is very diverse and our student body is very diverse, so it’s a nice opportunity to have that documented. The students who participated in the project have roots in Ecuador, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay.”

To date, more than 30,000 interviews—involving more than 60,000 individuals—have been recorded and archived by StoryCorp. For those who would like to listen to the stories, there are a number of options available:

See more photos from the interviews.