The Commons, traditionally, is for community-building, where the action takes place. Here, it is the same, and where all the stories of all kinds are stored and can be searched, read, and commented on. Think of the Commons as where you come to engage with and learn from others, through the stories that are shared.

The Commons is like a tree of many branches, each with a different theme or topic from life’s possibilities. This is where the whole site becomes more interactive, vibrant, and alive, with people coming and going, spending time together in the Commons, and going much deeper into the meaning of stories in their lives. This is where we experience the human family as one, where we can search the stories, and hang out to interact with others around all things stories, through these formats and forums:

  • Commons Benches

    • A place to claim as your own in the Commons, your home page, or place to sit down, take it all in, and have all your stories in one place.

  • Commons Café

    • Where meaningful conversations about telling stories that matter take place; stop by, have a chat with others about the power and value of personal stories.

  • Commons Happenings

    • Events, meet-ups, and news about all things stories.

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Featured Stories

Canray Fontenot

Canray Fontenot, Black Creole Fiddler and National Heritage Fellow, was 76 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994. This is how he describes the interview: “After I had arranged to meet him, it took me a few tries to locate Canray’s cottage off the beaten path in St. Martin’s  Parish, the heart of Cajun country in southwestern Louisiana. […]

Arbie Williams

They say I was born in Mayfield, a cottage somewhere. I met my grandmother, Dad’s Mamma, I met her about twice in my whole life.  I was a little girl and I remember meeting her, and then about when I was 12, an’ my Daddy came back from East Texas, I remember going to see her.  I met her that […]

Inez Catalon

I don’t remember my grandfather.  All I know is what my mother told me.   She never had too much to tell, because I don’t think that she really remembered much about him either.  One thing she told me, she said, “You see that picture? That’s exactly him, everyday. He would stay dressed up every day.  And that hat he’s wearing, […]

Natividad Cano

https://folkways.si.edu/interview-with-nati-cano/latin-world/music/video/smithsonian https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/natividad-cano Natividad Cano, Mexican American Mariachi Musician and National Heritage Fellow, was 61 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     My birth, the delivery was normal, other than being very poor, in my hometown.  There were no stories about when I was born, except that my grandfather and my father used to work in the fields, […]

Eppie Archuleta

https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/eppie-archuleta Eppie Archuleta, Hispanic Weaver and National Heritage Fellow, was 72 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     My Grandpa was a great weaver. He was one of the first weavers in Chimyon.  They were all weavers there and all his kids were weavers and contractors.  They were great weavers, my Dad was great weaver too.  […]

Marie McDonald

  Marie McDonald, Hawaiian Lei Maker and National Heritage Fellow, was 68 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     I was born in Hawaii.  I am half Hawaiian.  The other half consists of Scotch, Irish and Dutch.  My father is from Pennsylvania, but early in his life, his family moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, and he is […]

Vanessa Paukeigope Morgan Jennings

  https://docarts-cms.s3.amazonaws.com/asset/video/video-000234-1372699750.mp4   Vanessa Paukeigope Morgan, Kiowa Regalia Maker and National Heritage Fellow, was 42 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994. This is his background to the interview: “As I arrived at her home, on the highest spot of the plains surrounding Anadarko, Oklahoma, I knew that with such a commanding view for so far in so […]

Sister Mildred Barker

  Sister Mildred, Shaker elder and National Heritage Fellow, was 92 years old when interviewed by Ann Waldren in 1989. This is Ann’s background to the interview: “Sister Mildred Barker is the oldest member of the oldest Surviving Shaker communityin the world. The Shakers call it Chosen Land at Sabbathday Lake, New Gloucester, Maine. Sister Mildred’s life span covers over […]

Recent Stories

Marilyn Monroe Said It

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Kevin Locke

On my Dad’s side, his Dad died when he was little. I think his Mom lived to be quite elderly and used to visit here occasionally. On my Mom’s side, I do remember my Mom’s Mom, but not too well. My Mom’s Dad passed away probably when I was five years old. I did not have much contact with my […]

Genevieve Mougin

I started to work in a factory when I was about fourteen years old.  Well, I quit school about fourteen.  I worked on my lace just off and on.  I didn’t thing it was going to be that important because when I was working on small pieces at Bendix, I thought to myself, “it’s a lost art.”  I didn’t think […]

Brownie Ford

I’ve been most fortunate in life. I don’t have any formal education above third grade and I’ve managed to keep it together, get along with everybody, and most people, I’d say 99% of them have treated me right. I guess it’s a kind of “give and take” proposition.  What is more, if I promise somebody I’ll be there, I’ll be […]

Richard Hagopian

I remember one set of grandparents.  My maternal grandparents.  They had come to America early.  They had escaped the massacres or the genocide of the Armenian people.  But my father’s people were almost, I would say, seventy-five percent lost in that time period. The only people that I knew from my father’s side was his older brother and an older […]

Canray Fontenot

Canray Fontenot, Black Creole Fiddler and National Heritage Fellow, was 76 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994. This is how he describes the interview: “After I had arranged to meet him, it took me a few tries to locate Canray’s cottage off the beaten path in St. Martin’s  Parish, the heart of Cajun country in southwestern Louisiana. […]

Doc Tate Nevaquaya

My grandparents were deceased when I was born.  As I grew older, my interest was in my culture and history.  I understand that my grandfather on my father’s side was a Medicine Man.  They called him Old Man Nevaquaya.  People would tell me about him.  He was a blind man.  My father was born in a teepee, and he had […]

Arbie Williams

They say I was born in Mayfield, a cottage somewhere. I met my grandmother, Dad’s Mamma, I met her about twice in my whole life.  I was a little girl and I remember meeting her, and then about when I was 12, an’ my Daddy came back from East Texas, I remember going to see her.  I met her that […]

Inez Catalon

I don’t remember my grandfather.  All I know is what my mother told me.   She never had too much to tell, because I don’t think that she really remembered much about him either.  One thing she told me, she said, “You see that picture? That’s exactly him, everyday. He would stay dressed up every day.  And that hat he’s wearing, […]

Natividad Cano

https://folkways.si.edu/interview-with-nati-cano/latin-world/music/video/smithsonian https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/natividad-cano Natividad Cano, Mexican American Mariachi Musician and National Heritage Fellow, was 61 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     My birth, the delivery was normal, other than being very poor, in my hometown.  There were no stories about when I was born, except that my grandfather and my father used to work in the fields, […]

Mary Gabriel

https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/mary-mitchell-gabriel Mary Gabriel, Passamaquoddy Basketmaker and National Heritage Fellow, was 86 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     My mother gave me away when I was two years old to my grandparents. She just didn’t want me.  Even as I grew up and older, she still don’t want me.  But my grandparents loved me.  I think I […]

Eppie Archuleta

https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/eppie-archuleta Eppie Archuleta, Hispanic Weaver and National Heritage Fellow, was 72 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     My Grandpa was a great weaver. He was one of the first weavers in Chimyon.  They were all weavers there and all his kids were weavers and contractors.  They were great weavers, my Dad was great weaver too.  […]

Adam Popovich

https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/fellows/adam-popovich Adam Popovich, Serbian-American Tamburitza Musician and National Heritage Fellow, was 76 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1985.   The enthusiasm, and the same environment that I had as a child are not prevalent now.  So many diversifying activities, and different kinds of music can take a teenagers thoughts, and feelings, and judgments away in different directions.  […]

Marie McDonald

  Marie McDonald, Hawaiian Lei Maker and National Heritage Fellow, was 68 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994.     I was born in Hawaii.  I am half Hawaiian.  The other half consists of Scotch, Irish and Dutch.  My father is from Pennsylvania, but early in his life, his family moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, and he is […]

Vanessa Paukeigope Morgan Jennings

  https://docarts-cms.s3.amazonaws.com/asset/video/video-000234-1372699750.mp4   Vanessa Paukeigope Morgan, Kiowa Regalia Maker and National Heritage Fellow, was 42 years old when interviewed by Robert Atkinson in 1994. This is his background to the interview: “As I arrived at her home, on the highest spot of the plains surrounding Anadarko, Oklahoma, I knew that with such a commanding view for so far in so […]

Sister Mildred Barker

  Sister Mildred, Shaker elder and National Heritage Fellow, was 92 years old when interviewed by Ann Waldren in 1989. This is Ann’s background to the interview: “Sister Mildred Barker is the oldest member of the oldest Surviving Shaker communityin the world. The Shakers call it Chosen Land at Sabbathday Lake, New Gloucester, Maine. Sister Mildred’s life span covers over […]

Harry Sky

  Rabbi Harry Sky was 66 years old when interviewed by Hal Marmelstein in 1990. Here is Hal’s background statement to the interview: “Harry was a highly regarded Rabbi at a Portland synagogue for nearly 30 years. He retired recently and his retirement ceremonies were widely covered in the local media. Harry is still very active, in good health, and is […]

Hank Cleaveland

Hank Cleaveland was 67 years old when interviewed by Bob Baker in 1996. This is Bob’s background statement to the interview: “Hank resides with his wife in New Sharon, Maine. Hank moved to Maine from New York state where he was born and raised and currently works as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor for Harbor Light Associates. Hank has […]

Gunnel Norland-White

Gunnel Norlund-White, born in Finland, was 64 years old when interviewed by Lynn-Eve Davis in 1999.   I thought I would start with a little bit about the location of my birth and the history that’s influenced our thinking here on the island. Aland is located just above the 60th parallel, about mid‑Hudson Bay, if you think about the north american […]

Gail Merrill

Gail Merrill was 50 years old when interviewed by Tina Aldrich in 1997.   My parents lived in Hanover, Massachusetts. My Father owned his own garage/ repair shop, lawn mower sharpening. My mom was at home and I have a sister who is four years older. I was born in 1947, there was still a lot of talk about the […]

Frannie Peabody

Frances Peabody, who, at age 80, became an HIV/AIDS activist and co-founder of the Peabody House, an assisted living facility, was 86 when interviewed by Cindy Bouman in 1989.   PART I: CHILDHOOD AND YOUNG ADULTHOOD I think it is important to start at birth – I was born where my mother and father came from. I was born in […]

Frances Hale

Frances Hawkes Hale was 76 years old when interviewed by Joyce L. Hale in 2004.   On Wall Street, “It was the worst of times!” and the beginning of the Great Depression. As the fourth of six children, I was born on April 3, 1928 in a midwife home on Narraganset Street in Gorham, Maine. My parents named me Frances Gertrude […]

Frances Kari

Frances Green Kari, a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot and wingwalker, was 72 years old when interviewed by Jean Hardy in 1993. I was born in Marshall, Texas, grew up in Galveston, Texas. Learned to fly in Galveston. I had three brothers, and was the only daughter. I had a twin brother and two older brothers. I was born in 1921. […]

Elizabeth Shames

Elizabeth Shames was 75 years old when interviewed by Beverly Staples in 1990.   My name is Elizabeth Shames. Elizabeth Book was my maiden name and I still use it, because we’re very big library users, all of us, we’re readers. I was born March 12, 1915, in New York City. lt’s really very hard to explain to everybody what […]

Eleanor Durrah

Eleanor Durrah was 73 years old when interviewed by Rev. Samuel Abraham in 1991.   The Road I travelled Introduction I am Eleanor Durrah and I was born on November 28,1928. 1 live alone at 18 Madison Street, Portland. I have three children namely Linda (40), John (39), and Treasa (37). The important stages of my life would be as […]

Elaine Duffett

Elaine Duffett was 75 years old when when interviewed by Deborah Duffett in 1993.   My parents were both born in Bath, Maine. When my father was a young man, he had evidently been going with my mother, but his family all went West and he went with them. He ended up out in Washington state where he had an […]

Elaine

Elaine was 68 years old when interviewed in 1990. She lived in a small apartment in Milford, Maine, the sole guardian of her ninety eight year old father. She is a very small woman, weighing in at barely eighty three pounds whose health appears to be good for her age. Elaine was born, raised and lived all her life in the […]

Dorothy Gunzelmann

Dorothy Gunzelmann was 87 years old when interviewed by Julia Gaskins in 1990.    My name is Dorothy Fitzpatrick Gunzelmann, and I lived at 24 Sherman Street, Cambridge. I don’t remember my grandparents. I remember, naturally, my mother, but I don’t remember my father. My father died when I was two and a half. And I was the youngest of […]

Dorothy Wilson

Dorothy Clarke Wilson was 87 years old when interviewed by Deb Burwell in 1991.   Childhood In my life one thing has usually led into another. Often times it has just happened. I have been very fortunate that way, particularly in writing. I will tell you a little bit about my background. I was born in Gardiner, Maine. My father […]

Doris Conners

Doris Robinson Conners was 82 years old when interviewed by Sheila Gallagher in 1991.   FOOTSTEPS ONE TO EIGHTY-TWO   The Town of Gorham into which Doris Elizabeth Robinson was born on October 30, 1909 was made up of many villages. Communication was limited but the people were bound closely together due to their pride, their interests, and their needs. This […]

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