The Benson Collection part of the University of Texas Libraries at The University of Texas at Austin will serve as the research repository for more than 2,000 audio recordings that capture the experiences of Latinos in the United States as part of the StoryCorps Historias initiative.
Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and launched in 2009, Historias interviews follow the model established by the broader StoryCorps project, but with a focus on the nation’s Latino culture. Conversations are recorded between two people most often friends or family members with one person acting as interviewer and the other as storyteller, or with both people interviewing each other. A copy of the exchange is presented to the subject, with additional copies sent to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress as part of a comprehensive StoryCorps archive. Select interviews are aired as part of a regular segment on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
The Benson will maintain the only complete archive of Historias interviews apart from the comprehensive StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress. The decision to place the archive with the Benson Collection grew out of an early partnership between the developers of Historias and the School of Journalism’s Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, whose Voces oral history project focusing on Latino contributions to World War II features a website hosted by the Libraries.
“StoryCorps Historias interviews are a powerful and dynamic resource documenting the history of Latinas and Latinos in the United States through contributors’ own individual and collective voices,” says Charles Hale, director of the Benson Collection. “This important body of historical memory brought together by StoryCorps will support significant educational and scholarly inquiry at the Benson Collection.”
The Benson staff will work closely with StoryCorps to determine how to transform Historias interviews into a world-class resource for scholarship. Once cataloging and digital preservation are accomplished, interviews from the Historias collection will be accessible to researchers on-site at The University of Texas at Austin. There are ongoing discussions regarding possible online access to the collections at a later date.
“The Historias Initiative allows StoryCorps to capture powerful stories from Latinos in communities all across the country,” says Virginia Millington, StoryCorps’ Recording and Archive manager. “Through this historic partnership with the world-renowned Benson Collection, StoryCorps will further ensure that the important voices, histories and perspectives collected through Historias will be heard and celebrated for generations to come.”
The archive is expected to be open for research in spring 2013.
About the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection
The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, a unit of the University of Texas Libraries, is a specialized research library focusing on materials from and about Latin America and on materials relating to Latinos in the United States. Named in honor of its former director (who served from 1942 to 1975), the Nettie Lee Benson Collection contains more than a million books, periodicals and pamphlets, 2,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 19,000 maps, 21,000 microforms, 11,500 broadsides, 93,500 photographs and 38,000 items in a variety of other media (sound recordings, drawings, video tapes and cassettes, slides, transparencies, posters, memorabilia and electronic media).
StoryCorps’ mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, preserve and share their stories. Each week, millions of Americans listen to StoryCorps’ award-winning broadcasts on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” StoryCorps has published three books: “Listening Is an Act of Love,” “Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps” and “All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps” all of which are New York Times best sellers. For more information, or to listen to stories online, visit storycorps.org.