The history of Summit County got a little richer as hundreds of people came to the Akron-Summit County Public Library in downtown Akron to record oral histories of their lives.
With the help of a $20,000 grant from Akron Community Foundation, the library brought StoryCorps, a nationally renowned oral history project, to Summit County and giving people the chance to recount important moments in their lives. The interviews were collected and preserved to give future generations an oral portrait of day-to-day life in Summit County.
"A lot of the things you read about in history books are about the big names, the important people," said Special Collections Division Librarian Cheri Goldner. "(StoryCorps) records the memories of everyday people; it’s a more populist approach to an area’s history."
Originally created in 2003 and featured on National Public Radio, StoryCorps has recorded the stories of tens of thousands of people across the country. These stories are archived in the Library of Congress and are available for the public to listen to on the radio and online.
In Summit County, the recordings are archived in the main library’s Special Collections Division, where they can be listened to in full on CDs. Excerpts of the interviews, as well as transcripts, will later be available online at www.SummitMemory.org. All participants also received a free copy of their interview on CD.
By allowing people to record their personal stories, StoryCorps goffered Summit County a unique opportunity to create a compelling collection of its history, Goldner said.
"Voices aren’t usually recorded in historical records," she said. "You can pull a book off the shelf and read about something, but hearing someone’s voice and hearing someone talk about their experiences is something that’s lacking in most historical (accounts). You don’t get the everyday perspective about things."