Vermont Folklife Center

Family Storytelling

The word “storyteller” brings to mind a dramatic speaker who holds listeners spellbound with a compelling tale. But in truth we are all storytellers. When we talk to people about our own experiences, relate the actions of others, or describe things that occurred long ago, we are telling stories.

The Vermont Folklife Center documents stories of everyday life through field research -- by encouraging people to talk about themselves, their histories, and the things that they know and care about. All of the books in our Children’s Book Series are based on stories that we recorded through this research process.

To stimulate your thinking about the role that storytelling plays in your own life, we’ve selected a few excerpts from our archive. The selections below explore family history, personal memories, and the celebrations of everyday family life.

Remember that this is just a sampler. There are thousands more stories in our archive, and we’re sure you have many to tell as well.

 
Mali Keating

Mali Keating, whose family is Abenaki, tells the epic story of her grandparents’ migration from Odanak to Keene, New Hampshire.

listen online | download audio

 
Gussie Bostwick

Gussie Bostwick Levarn, now in her eighties, remembers Saturday night baths on their Starksboro hill farm.

listen online | download audio

 
Bonnie Stewart

Bonnie Stewart, Pittsford village librarian, recounts the incident that caused her son Liam to reconsider the Easter Bunny.

listen online | download audio

 
Nina Hulst

Nina Hulst, who grew up on a Vermont farm in the 80s, recalls her family’s special way of celebrating their favorite holiday.

listen online | download audio

 

For 16 family history storytelling ideas, check out the following selection from the book A Celebration of American Family Folklore.