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Help out the NYPL and pass the time with this New York City oral history project.

Corinne Segal

March 25, 2020, 1:40pm

Now that I’m more or less confined to my apartment in Brooklyn, I’m more drawn than ever to books and movies about New York—watching them feels like a small way to keep engaging in life here when it feels like life has stopped, at least for the time being.

For those stories’ real-life counterparts, though, I’ve also been checking out the Community Oral History Project, an initiative that the New York Public Library launched in 2013 to conduct hundreds of interviews at its branches all over the city. And you can help! If you’re also cooped up at home and looking for a project, you can volunteer to fix the computer-generated transcripts that accompany the interviews.

The collection is a diverse collage of accounts from various New York neighborhoods and communities; I recommend starting with either the NYC Trans Oral History Project, the Chinatown Legacy Project, or this collection of interviews with potters hanging out at the West Side YMCA.

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