Beyond the Build

Community Service

Preserving Our History With Story Corps

You can hold onto family heirlooms and look through old photo albums, but there might be something about hearing a family voice that really makes memories come alive.

Last weekend, my daughter Chappell and I participated in a 40-minute recorded interview hosted by our public radio station. If you’re not familiar with NPR’s Story Corps, the idea is that two people enter a recording booth and have a conversation, asking a few questions prepared in advance, with the intent of preserving family history and stories.

You receive a copy at the end, and it’s also cataloged at the Library of Congress for future generations of your family to listen and learn.

I was a little unsure of how things would go, but it ended up being a casual conversation between the two of us with Chappell asking questions about our family, grandparents and great-grandparents along with other things we’ve experienced in life. We covered everything from the tough times our family experienced during the Depression and WWII, to my father and me building a cabin on Lake Burton, my thoughts for our city and some advice for each of my three children. Our allotted time went by very fast, but I know the experience was worthwhile.

The facilitator told me they are continuing around the country, and if you get the opportunity, you might consider participating.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.