Salina Public Library will record and archive nontraditional, personal, oral histories from residents of Saline County.

“StoryCatchers: Recording the Stories of Our Community” is inspired by StoryCorps, a national oral history project. Equipment for StoryCatchers was purchased with a grant from the Earl Bane Foundation.

Smoky Hill Museum is a partner on this project.

How Do I Sign Up?

The library is looking for community members to share their stories about Salina and Saline County.

Typically, an interview will be recorded using digital audio equipment. Interviews will be conducted as a conversation in which the interviewee is asked questions by someone they already know. With the permission of those being recorded, the library will keep copies of the recordings and publish them online, or use portions at community events. The person telling their story also will receive a copy of the recording on CD.

Sign Up

What to Expect

A StoryCatchers interview is 40 minutes of uninterrupted time for meaningful conversation with a friend or loved one.

What are the questions you want to ask and the memories you want to preserve? No matter how well you know your storyteller, a little preparation will improve the quality of your interview.

4 basic steps

  1. Welcome – The facilitator will provide some background information about StoryCatchers, explain his or her role in the interview process, and answer any questions you might have.
  2. Prep – The facilitator will walk you through the paperwork, which asks for basic personal information such as name, address, and ethnic background.
  3. Sound Check – Once you and your recording partner are ready to proceed, the facilitator will make sure you are positioned well for recording and check the audio levels.
  4. Recording Partner – Use your prepared question list, but remember they are just suggestions to get you started. Trust your instincts. When you hear something that moves you, ask more questions. Sometimes your storyteller will need “permission” to explore a certain topic; you can simply say, “tell me more.” Feel free to ask questions in whatever order feels right, and don’t let them constrain the conversation. Relax and let the conversation flow.
    • Look at your storyteller’s eyes, not the microphone. Stay interested and engaged.
    • Be yourself; you can laugh or even cry with your storyteller.

Recorded Stories

Mike Mattson
Kathy Mastin
Sandy Winters
2016 Smoky Hill River Festival
Harley & Fred Elliott

About Heritage ’76

In 1976, Salina celebrated the bicentennial of our nation. To mark the anniversary, Sally Lambert and Mary Jarvis led Heritage ’76, a project design “to preserve the historic past and to celebrate it through education, research, art, music, photography, and publications.” (The Salina Journal, July 6, 1975).

As a part of the Heritage ’76 Project, a Bicentennial Oral History Committee was formed and tasked with collecting oral histories of older residents by recording their stories on audio cassette tape. The Salina Public Library has housed these tapes for many years. In 2019 the library obtained a grant from the Kansas State Historical Records Advisory Board, through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, to prepare to digitize these and other local history audio cassette tapes.

You may click on the button below to see the description of the tapes that resulted from the 2019 grant. If you are interested in listening to these tapes you are welcome to come to the library to do so. In 2020 the Salina Public Library will pursue a second grant that will enable us to complete the digitization of these audiotapes so those interested will be able to listen to them on our website.

Oral History Conversion Project

The oral history recording of Raymond I. Hagler was part of Heritage ’76. To accompany the StoryCatcher project, the library has made Hagler’s interview available below:

Kansas Stories of the Vietnam War

In 2018, Salina Public Library was one of 12 organizations that partnered with the Kansas Humanities Council for a statewide oral history project that collected the personal stories of Vietnam veterans. Collected oral histories were submitted to the Library Congress’ Veterans History Project in Washington, D.C.


Additional Resources

Learn more about the program that inspired StoryCatchers