Voices of Freedom: A Collaboration with StoryCorps

Publication Date: February 8, 2021

Recording and Preserving Stories of the Anti-Trafficking Community

On National Freedom Day, the HHS Office on Trafficking in Persons announced Visit disclaimer page  the Voices of Freedom initiative, a collaboration with StoryCorps to record, preserve, and share the stories of survivors of trafficking and allies. 

As we continue to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the initiative will collect oral histories through conversations with those who have informed, shaped, and contributed to the successes of the anti-trafficking field over the past two decades. These stories will be preserved in the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center Visit disclaimer page  at the Library of Congress.

We invite survivors and allied professionals to record conversations through the StoryCorps Connect web platform. The StoryCorps Learning and Engagement Team will provide webinars for participants of the Voices of Freedom initiative on March 5 Visit disclaimer page  and April 8 Visit disclaimer page .

How do the interviews work?

A StoryCorps interview is a meaningful conversation between two people who know each other, preserved as an audio recording. You can record with a close colleague, friend, family member, or trusted service provider. With your permission, interviews will be archived with StoryCorps and at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress at the Library of Congress. 

After March 5, you can use the StoryCorps Connect web platform to record your interview virtually. The best week to record will be Connect Activation Week: March 5–11. The platform will be available beyond those dates, but we hope you’ll join the first wave of stories during the official launch. We will provide a sample list of questions to get you started; however, you and your conversation partner will choose what you would like to discuss.

Learn more about the project

Download these resources for additional information:

Check back for more materials as we get closer to the launch on March 5.

Frequently Asked Questions

Program Questions

What is the purpose of the Voices of Freedom Initiative?

To mark the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) and the Administration for Native Americans is working with StoryCorps, a national oral history project, to record and preserve the stories of the anti-trafficking community. From March through July, we’ll collect conversations with survivors of human trafficking and those working in policy and programming to end it. Stories collected during the project, with permission, will be archived at the American Folklife Center Visit disclaimer page at the Library of Congress, and may be distributed as part of broader public awareness and education initiatives. The perspectives shared throughout the project may also be used to inform our future priorities and initiatives.

What is StoryCorps?

Founded in 2003, the non-profit public media organization StoryCorps has brought more than 600,000 participants together — two at a time — to record conversations about their lives. StoryCorps preserves its recordings in its archive at the American Folklife Center Visit disclaimer page at the Library of Congress; its archive is the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered. StoryCorps’ produced pieces are shared weekly through NPR broadcasts, its podcast, and over the internet with its animated shorts.

What is StoryCorps Connect?

StoryCorps Connect is a first-of-its kind platform that enables you to record a StoryCorps interview with a loved one remotely using video conference technology. The audio and an optional still photo from each interview goes into our archive at the American Folklife Center Visit disclaimer page at the Library of Congress.

Is there a guide to recording my Connect interview?

Yes! For an overview, see StoryCorps’ 5 Steps to Recording Your Connect Interview. For more in-depth information, see our Starter Guide.

What should I talk about during my interview?

StoryCorps and OTIP will provide a Conversation Guide to help participants think about what they may want to discuss with their conversation partner. These 40 minutes belong to the individuals sharing their story. Our goal is to create a platform where participants can reflect on the information, experiences, and perspectives that are important to them.

Survivors should always remain in control of how, when, and why they share the personal details of their story and encourage conversation partners to discuss boundaries in advance of their recording. We recognize that an individual’s trafficking experience is just one element of their life, and participants with lived experience are not required to share details regarding their personal history of exploitation.

What support is available for survivors who have a trauma response after sharing their story?

We thank you and honor you for sharing your reflections. We know that sharing elements of your story may be triggering or bring up difficult emotions. Self-care is an important element of sharing your story. Before your interview, we encourage you to speak with your conversation partner about what you are and are not comfortable discussing during your recording. Set boundaries that work for you. After the discussion, we encourage you to build in time to engage in practices that restore and uplift you.

Additional Resources:

  • Crisis Text Line has SMS text lines available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak with a trained crisis counselor.
    • Text: 741741
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a toll-free phone line, SMS text lines, and live online chat functions available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Lifeline has a Spanish language line at 1-888-628-9454 and tele-interpreters offering support in more than 150 languages. Hearing and speech-impaired individuals can contact the Lifeline at 1-800-799-4TTY (4889). 
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline Visit disclaimer page  is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to receive treatment referral and information services (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
    • Call: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) 
    • TTY: 1-800-487-4889
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline Visit disclaimer page  – The Trafficking Hotline maintains a directory of service providers who provide a range of services, including mental health services and other supportive counseling options in your area. You can check out the National Referral Directory Visit disclaimer page  online or reach out directly to the Hotline to get connected, as the Trafficking Hotline may have alternate options not listed in the public directory. Each service provider will have different criteria, processes, and timelines for getting connected to services and the Trafficking Hotline can help you navigate those processes. Setting up an appointment may take some time after the initial referral is identified.

Is there a financial cost to participate?

No, participation in the “Voices of Freedom” initiative is free.

How long will this take?

The conversation itself should last approximately 40 minutes, but we recommend blocking off a full hour to conduct the interview.

The best conversations result from a little prep work:

  • 20 minutes to review our conversation guide.
  • 10 minutes to review suggested questions, make selections, and perhaps write your own.
  • 10 minutes to watch StoryCorps’ 7-minute Masterclass on Interviewing Visit disclaimer page .
  • 10 minutes before the interview to prepare your recording space, use the restroom, grab a glass of water, log in, take a deep breath, and get started.

Can more than two people participate?

Yes. Connect can be used by up to three participants.

Can kids use StoryCorps Connect?

Due to the potentially sensitive nature of information shared through the Voices of Freedom initiative, all participants must be over the age of 18.

What if I want to record multiple conversations?

You are welcome to record conversations with different individuals throughout the course of the project. In fact, we encourage it!

Can I record my conversation in languages other than English?

Yes, conversations will be preserved in whatever language they are recorded. StoryCorps does not translate interviews after they are recorded.

Does the video get preserved?

No. Only the audio is preserved and available on our site or at the Library of Congress.

Connect will capture 5 screenshots from your video feed. These screenshots will appear alongside the audio recording. However, you can delete these photos or replace them with ones of your choosing. The lead participant can do this once the interview is loaded into our system, usually around 30 minutes after pressing “Save to Archive.”

What if I record a conversation but decide that I do not want it archived anywhere? 

Consent to archive your conversation is given after you finish your recording. If you do not want it archived, do not sign StoryCorps’ general release form. This means that you and your conversation partner are the only ones who will receive a copy of the recording. The recording will not be shared with StoryCorps, OTIP, or the Library of Congress.

What if I want my conversation archived but do not want it shared publicly? What are my options?

After you stop recording and sign the general release form, you will decide how your recording will be displayed on StoryCorps’ Online Archive. You may choose one of three privacy settings. It is important that you and your recording partner discuss and agree on a privacy setting:

  • Public: Your interview and related information are available to anyone on the web. 
  • StoryCorps Community: Your interview and related information are available to anyone with an account on the StoryCorps Archive.
  • Private: Your interview and related information are private, visible only to you. Private interviews cannot be added to public communities. If your interview is currently part of a public community, selecting this option will prevent people in that community from viewing this interview.

If you are considering sharing publicly, you may want to be mindful of the personal or identifiable information that you provide about yourself and others during your recording. If at any time you wish to change the privacy settings for your interview, you can log into the Online Archive and adjust them.

I forgot to add the FreedomVoices keyword to my interview. How do I edit?

Follow these easy steps to add the FreedomVoices keyword to your interview:

  1. The interview’s account owner logs into their account at the StoryCorps Online Archive.
  2. Click the user avatar button, found at the upper right-hand corner of the Archive page.
  3. Click “My Interviews and Profile” (top option in the dropdown).
  4. Scroll down your interviews page to locate the correct interview; click into it.
  5. Press “Edit Interview” in the set of buttons located on the right-hand side of your interview record
  6. In the metadata form, scroll down to “Keywords” (you can also press “Keywords” in the left-hand navigation bar).
  7. In the “Keywords” field, enter FreedomVoices.
  8. Scroll to the bottom of the metadata form; press “Save to Archive”.
  9. Done! Your changes should reflect on your interview record within one hour.

Can I provide a copy of my recording to other organizations or institutions?

Yes. As user-generated content, the conversation’s participants hold copyright to the recording and can share it as they like.

StoryCorps' terms of use and privacy policy grant StoryCorps broad rights to:

  • Use the interviews and any content uploaded by users in our programming;
  • Share interviews and any content uploaded by users with our third-party partners without limitation, including the Office on Trafficking in Persons, the Library of Congress, and community organizations;
  • Use the interviews and any content uploaded by users for research and other purposes.

I don’t like the screenshots. I’d like to upload different photos. May I? Are there any restrictions?

Yes! Once your interview finishes syncing, you can open the interview record, delete the screenshots, and upload photos of your own. You may upload any photos for which you hold copyright or have explicit permission from the copyright holder to attach to your interview record. You may also choose not to include a photo.

Screenshots are taken of the participants sporadically over the course of a StoryCorps Connect interview. Participant photos are considered an important part of the StoryCorps Archive and are included with the interview when it is published to archive.storycorps.org, with your permission.

Can I make clips or excerpts from my own recording, or include parts of my recording in a podcast?

Yes! You can make clips or excerpts of your own recording or include parts of your own recording in a podcast. If sharing on Twitter, tag @StoryCorps and @ACFHHS to join the conversation!

Can I make clips or excerpts of someone else’s recording, or include parts of someone else’s recording in a podcast?

No! You do not hold copyright to anyone else’s recording and therefore cannot use it to create derivative works. If you are interested in using someone else’s audio, you’ll have to contact them to obtain permission. StoryCorps cannot provide you with participants’ contact information.

Technical Questions

I’m having technical difficulties. Where do I go?

View step-by-step instructions and a video in StoryCorps’ Connect Help Center Visit disclaimer page .

Email clientsupport@storycorps.org to receive fast, dedicated technical support, or EndTrafficking@acf.hhs.gov to receive program support.

Where am I supposed to put the “FreedomVoices” keyword?

In the “Keywords” section of the interview metadata form.

After the interview, the lead interviewer (the one who initiated the chat room) will press “Stop Recording” then “Save Interview to Archive.” They will then complete an interview metadata form, which includes a keywording section. Enter “FreedomVoices” (no space) in the “Keywords” field. For more information on keywords, check out Keywording 101.

My interview is taking more than 30 minutes to sync. What’s going on?

At times of huge activity, interviews may take an hour to sync.

Can I record on an iPad or other tablet?

Yes! Connect integrates with iPads and other tablets.

A friend of mine can’t view my interview / I can’t find their interview. Why?

The interview may be set to Private. Encourage anyone who’s comfortable doing so to set their interview to Public. For more information on privacy settings, check out Archiving 101.

Private interviews will not appear in public communities. You must be logged in to the online archive to view an interview set to Community.