Preserve Your Family Stories This Thanksgiving with StoryCorps and Adobe Spark

The Thanksgiving I learned how my grandmother would set fur traps every morning on the way to school in rural Missouri, I wished I had a recorder in my hand instead of a spoonful of mashed potatoes (or maybe one of each). She was a stoic, fairly private, woman so the tidbits and anecdotes that would slip while cooking or around a dinner table were always the key ingredients of the holiday—and some of my most cherished memories.

And I know many can relate. Tuning into the incredible stories and personal histories that our loved ones carry is one of the most powerful ways to savor the day and preserve memories forever. That’s the spirit behind the Great Thanksgiving Listen, a program launched by StoryCorps to encourage young people to interview an elder over the long weekend and in so doing, preserve priceless family memories that will help create an oral history of the United States. Interviews from the Great Listen become a part of the StoryCorps Archive at the Library of Congress. To date, more than 75,000 interviews from high schoolers in all 50 states have been preserved as part of the program.

Help Create the Largest Collection of Voices Ever Gathered

This year, Adobe Spark is partnering with StoryCorps to help participants bring their interviews to life with beautiful visual enrichments. Storytellers can highlight memorable quotes, offer historical context, and showcase favorite moments from their Great Listen using Spark Post, Spark Page, and Spark Video. What’s more, teachers are making this powerful initiative part of their curriculum and students from participating classrooms who use Spark to amplify their stories will earn extra credit on the assignment.

Educators: Download the extra credit lesson plan

Here are some examples and ideas for how to use Spark to enrich your Great Listen.

Ideas for Post
Post is a great way to share memorable quotes or nuggets of wisdom, or photos of your interviewee. It could also be a fun way to invite listeners inside the interview process with photos from the interview itself. Remix a StoryCorps-themed template below or create your own from scratch.

Ideas for Page
Spark Page is a great place to explore facets of your interview that you only had time to touch on in the audio, giving your listeners greater insight into the context and history of your story. For instance, you could offer historical photos and information about the town in which your interviewee grew up, or photos from a particular experience your interviewee mentions, or you could use the space to showcase a family tree.

One of our favorite examples for how to use Page to support a multimedia story comes from eleven-year-old Naomi Silverman, who set out to learn more about her departed great-grandmother, Rita, as part of an international roots research contest called My Family Story. She used Spark Page to give readers the inside scoop her process, providing information on the contest itself, why she chose her great-grandmother as a subject, and how she fared in the awards department (she won!).

Adobe Spark Page

Ideas for Video
Video is a wonderful way to incorporate audio from your interview with photos, text, and other visual elements to capture the best of all media worlds and create a powerful immersive experience. To give you an idea of some of the ways you can use it, we turn again to Naomi Silverman. Naomi created 10 sequential videos to tell the story of her great-grandma, Rita. Each video explores a different facet of Rita’s life by way of historical documents and photos with narration from Naomi herself. One of our favorites (and an idea that could work well for the Great Thanksgiving Listen) is this video collection of Rita’s mom Gertie’s most memorable sayings:

Consider taking your favorite part of soundbite of your interview and putting visuals to it or narrating why you found it memorable. Your Storycorp interview will likely be long–and that’s great–but for Spark Video, the most impactful ones tend to focus on just a couple lines of copy. You could take a sentence or two and find images to paint a picture, look thorough family albums and mementos, take pictures or video of your interviewee or even turn to stock imagery to bring it to life.

Ready, Set, Listen!

Getting started is easy. First, download the free StoryCorps app and browse their library of heartwarming and inspiring stories to get your creative juices flowing. Then flip through their pro tips for conducting an interview and getting the best sound quality possible. And then peruse their list of expert sample questions to find a few that you’d like to include, or find inspiration and write your own. And voila, you’re ready to record!

Resources for Participants
Getting Set Up with StoryCorps
Interview Tips
StoryCorps Online Archive

Resources for Educators
StoryCorps’s Great Thanksgiving Listen Lesson Plan
Extra Credit with Adobe Spark
Download the Extra Credit Lesson Plan