History

StoryCommons traces its origin back to 1988 and the founding of the Center for the Study of Lives at the University of Southern Maine by Robert Atkinson. This was created as a research, educational, and service unit of USM with a mission to celebrate individual lives and strengthen community bonds by bringing people of all generations together to share life stories. It was also known as  the Life Story Center and Life Story Commons.

Over these years, it recorded and preserved an archive of life stories of people of all ages and backgrounds (now part of the Maine Memory Network of the Maine Historical Society). It also served as a meeting ground for all people interested in learning from each other’s stories, offering public forums, stage readings of life stories, and conferences that promoted intergenerational and intercultural communication and understanding by encouraging dialogue that examined the benefits of storytelling and personal narratives.

Life Story Commons was originally founded upon the beliefs that: a) every person has an important story to tell about the life they have lived; b) stories shared between multi-generational and multicultural groups become teaching tools by which we can gain a greater appreciation of both our commonalities and differences; and, that c) sharing our stories helps us to recognize that we are all members of the human family.

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