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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 2 series: Series I: E-mail Submissions to the National Story Project, 1998-2001; Series II: Mailed Submissions to the National Story Project, 1999-2002.
This collection contains over 5,000 submissions to the National Story Project, a program that aired from 1999 November until 2001 July on National Public Radio's Weekend All Things Considered. The collection primarily contains printed e-mail submissions and letters received through the mail. In addition to the stories, some participants sent cassette tapes or CDs of themselves reading their stories or performing music to accompany the submission. Also included are books, photographs, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and other materials either meant to verify their submission as true, add context to their submission, or to show other formats that their submissions had appeared in previously.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); National Story Project Archive; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
No additional materialexpected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Ellen Reece, Pratt 2011 5/24/2011.
Finding aid written Ellen Reece, Pratt 2011 04/15/2011.
2011-05-25 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
The National Story project began in 1999 after American author, Paul Auster, read a selection from his novel Timbuktu on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. Auster was asked to return to the program by its then host, Daniel Zwerdling, to perform another reading at a future date. Auster answered with the conditional response that he would be willing to return, but only if he could read other people's stories and not just his own.
The National Story Project began taking submissions from listeners in 1999 October through both e-mail and mail. The guidelines for the stories were that they had to be no more than three pages in length and that the submissions relayed a true event. The selected stories would then be edited or rewritten, if needed, by Auster and his team. The National Story Project aired on Weekend All Things Considered the first Saturday of each month from 1999 November until 2001 July and during that time received over 5,000 submissions from all over the United States on a wide variety of topics and from people of varying ages, gender and backgrounds.
After the National Story Project ended, Auster selected his favorite submissions and compiled them for a book entitled I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project. The collection was published in 2002 by Picador, a Macmillan Publishing imprint.