August 28, 2011


PITTSBURGH, PA – The Social Voice Project (TSVP) is an educational non-profit organization specializing in high-definition archival and creative audio recordings of people’s life stories.  TSVP wants to reach out to local humanities and social science teachers to promote and celebrate the art and science of personal narratives and oral historiography. 
Life stories are personal histories—unique accounts of lived experience.  Educators across disciplines have long understood the pedagogical usefulness of first-person narratives and their instructional use has been effectively applied at all levels—from elementary to graduate school.  Teachers often use such stories as starting points toward creating and understanding what is sometimes referred to as authentic texts.  Such expressions can range from the typical “what I did on my summer vacation” writing assignment to a structured interview with a local WW II veteran.

August 19, 2011

New from StoryCorps: Frank Kovac

“I built my own planetarium in my backyard.”

interview photo
Deep in the North Woods of Wisconsin, some 230 miles north of Milwaukee, sits the world’s largest rotating-globe planetarium.

It’s the brainchild of Frank Kovac, a former paper mill storeroom clerk, who built this roadside attraction in his backyard. Entirely homemade, the project took nearly a decade to complete.

Frank’s planetarium is one of only four of its kind ever built, the oldest dating back nearly 400 years.

At StoryCorps, Frank spoke about how his lifelong fascination with the stars turned into a project of cosmic proportions.


August 12, 2011

New from Story Corps: George Robinson and his daughter Katie

interview photo

“He put his hands on my face like he was trying to feel was I really his son.”

George Robinson’s parents never married, and growing up, he never knew his biological father. But he always wondered what his dad was like — especially when he went to the doctor for his yearly physical.

“On the form, they would always ask you information about the illnesses that your parents had,” George says. “But I could never tell anything about my father, and I used to make stuff up.”

It took more than 40 years for George to find his father, eventually tracking him down on the internet. Turns out, his father never knew he had a son. At StoryCorps, George told his daughter Katie about finally meeting his dad.


August 11, 2011

New from Radio Diaries: THE LAST MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN

Jimmy Weekley, 71, shown here with a friend, says that when he was a kid, there were more than two dozen homes in Pigeonroost Hollow, W.Va. "But right now no one else lives in this hollow except me, James Weekley, and the coal company."

In West Virginia, people say that in the old days, communities turned into ghost towns when the coal ran out. Now, they turn into ghost towns when mountaintop mines move in.

Jimmy Weekley has lived in Pigeonroost Hollow, West Virginia for 70 years. He worked as a coal miner, as did his grandfather, father, uncles, and sons. And like most West Virginians, Weekley saw coal as the economic lifeblood of his community. Then in the 1990s, Arch Coal moved into his area and began work on the Spruce Number One mine. It was one of the largest mountaintop removal mining sites ever proposed, and it was virtually in Weekley's backyard. Almost overnight, Weekley became an unlikely anti-mining activist.

Over the last decade, Weekley has watched his family and neighbors take buyouts from Arch Coal and leave the area. But Weekley refuses to sell. Now he's the last person remaining in Pigeonroost Hollow.