The Art of Conversation – Studs Turkel Archive

Basically, you need never be bored again.  An immense archive of  the great audio interviewer and social historian and researcher, Studs Turkel, speaking over 40 years with great thinkers, movers and shakers as well as people less famous – has been properly curated and placed online.  This is America, talking to itself, about its hopes and fears in the 20th Century.

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Go to here


You can explore by topic: African-American history and culture, Civil Rights, Comedy/Satire, Dance, Education, Ecology, Film, Journalism, the Great Depression, LGBTQ, Latino Culture and History, Law/Crime/Prison, Music (Blues/Gospel, Experimental, World…..), Pacifists, Poetry, Science, Sports, Religion, Travel and Culture, Vietnam War, Visual Arts, World War 2.

People: Academics, Authors (promisingly, nearly 600 interviews), Critics, Dancers, Educators, Government, Journalists, Medical personnel, Musical personnel, Musicians (nearly 700 interviews), Producers and Directors, Social Reformers and workers. (These are just some of the groups)

or find by keyword.

What’s it all about?

Studs Terkel had an anecdote which summed his work as oral historian and what happened next, well:

“This was the first book, Division Street: America. It was about a public housing project which was integrated but all poor. And I can’t remember if she was white or black. She was pretty, skinny, and had about four little kids running around. The tape recorder was not the ubiquitous tool it is today, not a household object. It was new, and she’d never been interviewed before. The kids were hollering, “I want to hear Mama.”

So I say, “Just a minute.” And I play it back.

She hears her voice. She puts her hand to her mouth and says, “Oh my god.”

I say, “Well, what is it?”

And she says, “I never knew I felt that way before.” Bingo! It was fantastic. To her as well as to me.

That’s what I’m talking about. You hear stuff you haven’t heard before, from a stranger or from someone you know, and you think, “Yeah, I am connected.” I think that’s the goal, the responsibility, the challenge of public radio.  “



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