Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

Audio History Project

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

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Willie McGee and the Traveling Electric Chair

Bridgette McGee is unearthing everything she can about her grandfather’s life – and his death.

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Miss Subways

Beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, the Miss Subways contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl.

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Remembering Robben Island

Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada served more than 2 decades in prison alongside Nelson Mandela. Kathrada died this week, at the age of 87.

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Busman’s Holiday

The story of William Cimillo, a New York City bus driver who snapped one day in 1947, left his regular route in the Bronx, and drove his municipal bus down to Florida.

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The Working Tapes

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. Our new series, “Working: Then & Now” is now on NPR and The Radio Diaries Podcast.

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Ballad for Americans

How a ten minute operatic folk cantata managed to unite Democrats, Republicans and Communists.

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Claudette Colvin: “A Teenage Rosa Parks”

What makes a hero? Why do we remember some stories and not others?

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A Guitar, A Cello, and The Day That Changed Music

November 23, 1936, was a very good day for recorded music.

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The Two Lives of Asa Carter

Asa Carter and Forrest Carter couldn’t have been more different. But they shared a secret.

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The Chamizal: A Town Between Borders

When the U.S. and Mexico chose the Rio Grande as an international border, they didn’t expect the river to move.

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Working Then and Now

In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel recorded more than 130 interviews for his bestselling oral history “Working.”

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Burma ’88

25 years ago, university students in Burma sparked a countrywide uprising. They called for a nationwide strike on 8/8/88, a date they chose for its numerological power.

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Segregation Now, Segregation Forever: The Infamous Words of George Wallace

On the 50th anniversary of Wallace’s inaugural speech as the Governor of Alabama, Radio Diaries tells the story behind those infamous words, and the man who delivered them.

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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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The Gospel Ranger

Outside the Appalachian mountains, his name was barely known. But Claude Ely influenced some of the pioneers of rock & roll.

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The Last Man on the Mountain

In the 1990s, Arch Coal began mining Pigeonroost Hollow. Now Jimmy Weekley is the last person left there.

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The Square Deal

George F. Johnson was the owner of the Endicott Johnson Corp. — at one time the country’s leading shoe manufacturer — and one of the nation’s leading welfare capitalists known for his labor policy, the “Square Deal.”

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Strange Fruit: Voices of a Lynching

“Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for a tree to drop. Here is a strange and bitter crop.” -Abel Meeropol

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