Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life
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Featured story: Mandela’s Prison Years

While working on our documentary, Mandela: An Audio History, we stumbled across the only known recording of Nelson Mandela during his 27 years in prison. Hear the story behind the tape on this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast.

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Featured story: Welcome to The Memory Palace

Do you remember the first podcast you ever fell in love with?

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Featured story: Podcast: Matthew and the Judge

Through their diaries, Matthew and Judge Jeremiah tell the same story from two different sides of the bench.

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Diaries We give people tape recorders and help them document their own lives in their own words

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Melissa: 16 Years Later

As an 18 year old raised in the foster care system, Melissa took NPR listeners along when she gave birth to her son Issaiah. Over the past 16 years Melissa and her son have faced many challenges, from eviction notices to her son’s life-threatening medical diagnosis. In her new diary, Melissa chronicles her life as a working single mother, and reveals things about her past that her son has never known.

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Going Home: Cristel’s Diary

At 15, Cristel attacked a classmate with a razor blade. After 3 years of incarceration, she’s being released.

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Portraits Extraordinary stories from ordinary places

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Walter Backerman, Seltzer Man

Once there were thousands of seltzer men in New York City. Today, Walter Backerman is one of the last.

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Selma Koch, Bra Saleswoman

94-year old Selma Koch runs the Town Shop, one of New York’s last old-style bra fitting shops.

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Histories Weaving together oral histories and archival tape to bring the past to life

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Identical Strangers

Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were both born in New York City and adopted as infants. When they were 35-years-old, they met, and found they were “identical strangers.”

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March of the Bonus Army

In 1932, 20,000 WWI veterans set up a tent city in Washington. They called themselves the Bonus Army.

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