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Do It At Home: Record History 

Published April 6, 2020 at 3:06 p.m. | Updated April 6, 2022 at 9:21 a.m.

  • Courtesy of Vermont Folklife Center
Want to preserve a snippet of your family’s experiences during this historic time? Looking for a homeschool project? The Vermont Folklife Center’s Sound Archive project combines both.
As part of its Listening in Place program, the Folklife Center created a way for Vermonters to submit recorded interviews and photos that show what daily life is like during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project seeks submissions of:
• interviews recorded in Vermont or remotely with Vermonters currently living outside of the state
• sounds of everyday life in Vermont during this historic time
• photographs of people who have been interviewed

To jumpstart interviews, the Folklife Center has posted prompts on its website like, Tell me about your daily life now and What are your feelings about school being closed for the rest of the year?
The center also offers tips for recording interviews on a smartphone:
• Use an app to record: iPhones have a “voice memo” app, but other free apps are available.
• Find the microphone on your smartphone and place that near the sound source.
• Make a test recording first.
• Start by saying the month, date, year and Vermont town where you are. Say your name, the name of the person you’re interviewing, and that you’re doing an interview for the Vermont Folklife Center’s “Listening in Place” project.
• COVID-19 precautions include keeping a safe distance, so don’t let others handle your smartphone, and wash your hands and disinfect your phone after you record.

The Folklife Center also offers advice for conducting interviews:
• Listen. An interview is a conversation, not about you.
• Don’t be afraid of silence. Give the person you’re interviewing some space to answer.
• Ask questions that will allow longer answers than a short yes or no.
• Be curious about the person you’re interviewing.
• A parent or guardian should sign in the signature space on the online form, when a minor submits material.

For recording sounds of everyday life, Andy Kolovos, associate director and archivist at the Folklife Center, suggests recording your family playing games or spending time outside. Or ham it up by recording a pretend radio show. Make recordings at home, in the backyard or during a walk in nearby woods. Above all — experiment, explore and enjoy the experience.

Other ideas:

  • click to enlarge Old Stone House Museum
    • Old Stone House Museum
    Calais-based Erica Heilman asks people from Vermont and beyond to send in sound recordings for her podcast, Rumble Strip: Good Conversation That Takes Its Time. Her most recent episodes are audio collages of life in the time of COVID-19.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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