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The New Jersey Historical Society to Participate in Historic Initiative to Collect and Preserve African-American Stories


From March 29 – May 5, The New Jersey Historical Society and StoryCorps will collect oral histories from African Americans for StoryCorps Griot. The StoryCorps Griot Initiative is a yearlong project to gather and preserve the stories of African-American families. This collection of oral histories will help ensure that the voices, experiences, and life stories of African Americans will be preserved and presented with dignity. Special emphasis will be placed on the stories of World War II veterans and those involved in the Civil Rights struggle.

The Griot (pronounced gree-oh) is part of an old West African storytelling tradition and a role of great honor. The Griot acted as a living repository of births, deaths, marriages, and noteworthy events of the community. The Griot acted not only as an archive but was also responsible for passing on oral histories, customs, and traditions.
For the Griot Project, a StoryCorps StoryBooth will make stops in several major cities around the country to record the stories of African-American families. At the Griot StoryBooth, participants will record their stories in pairs where one person interviews the other. The stories will be preserved for future generations at the American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress and at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Griot segments will also air on the NPR program “News and Notes.”

You can participate here at the New Jersey Historical Society on Saturdays from March 31-May 5. Please contact Rebecca Carr to make a reservation at (973) 596 - 8500 x224 or rcarr@jerseyhistory.org

StoryCorps is a project of nationally acclaimed organization, Sound Portraits Productions. For more than 10 years, Sound Portrait Productions has collected the stories and struggles of unheralded Americans. StoryCorps opened its first recording booth in New York’s Grand Central Station in 2003. A second booth was opened in 2005 at the site of the World Trade Center. Two mobile StoryBooths have visited more than 50 towns in 38 states.

The New Jersey Historical Society, founded in 1845, explores New Jersey history through exhibitions, publications, and programming. The Historical Society is located at 52 Park Place in Newark, just one half block from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The Historical Society is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free of charge. The Historical Society is completely accessible to persons with disabilities.

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