For the next month, an Airstream trailer will be parked on the sidewalk outside Boise’s City Hall. It’s the mobile recording booth for the national oral history project known as StoryCorps. The mobile studios travel the country collecting people's stories.
The first person to share her story at the Boise booth was Marilyn Shuler, a long time Idaho human rights advocate. One of the stories Shuler told was of touring the Aryan Nations compound just after it was closed down. The white supremacist group had long shut the world out of its north Idaho stronghold.
“I just felt like I was in the presence of great evil,” she says. “It was just a horrible feeling, I had to go back to my hotel and take a shower. And I’ve never had that feeling before or since.”
Shuler says it was important to talk about the Aryan Nations because the fight against it was a defining human rights struggle for Idaho.
“Idahoans were concerned that we be branded falsely as a state that was full of people who had such extreme racist views,” she says. “It was a big part of living here up to a decade or so ago.”
In the StoryCorps booth Shuler also told her friend Marcia Franklin about living with the effects of polio.
“Polio is a disease that hopefully will be something that you only read about in history books.” Shuler says. “And so I think it will be interesting for people to know what it was like when a 10-year-old child had polio in an epidemic in the 1950s.”
Shuler says she was thinking about the archives at the Library of Congress where all StoryCorps interviews go. She wanted to tell stories that would be valuable to researchers in future generations who use them to understand our time.
The StoryCorps booth will be in Boise until July 6. The first two weeks are already booked, but Tuesday morning at 10:00 reservations open for the second two weeks.
You can hear StoryCorps interviews from around the country during Morning Edition on KBSX 91.5 every Friday morning.
If you participate in the project, we'd love to see your photos and hear your thoughts. Tweet us @KBSX915 with the #storycorpsboise. Or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio