Mayer & Sohn
What you would have asked a beloved if you had the chance?
Oral histories provide people with decades of experience behind them the opportunity to reflect on their lives. They also offer loved ones the chance to identify questions they might not have been able to ask before.
What are oral histories for?
Our goal is to provide a structured and comfortable space to allow your loved one to share their narrative about how their life has unfolded, including necessary but often-neglected social, cultural, and political context. We pull from the field of critical family history1 to ask deeper questions about one’s ancestry, situating a life within an analysis of wider relationships of power.2
What we offer & our process
- C0nsultation with relevant loved ones via phone or email to discuss background information and objectives for the oral history process
- Flat-fee (base-rate $50/hr), decided upon by both parties at start of process. Varies based on expected number of interview sessions, needs of the participants, desires for the final product, and expected level of editing.
- Comprehensive, specific, and tailored questions spanning from birth to the present
- Open-ended interview
- Flexible dates, times, and lengths of interviews (allot 30 minutes to 3 hours per session, depending on interviewee’s conversational stamina)
- Flexible number of interview sessions
- Personable, caring, and inquisitive interviewer
- In-person or distanced recording technology
- Custom audio editing by Sam H. Mayer, musician & sound engineer
What you leave with
- Archive of the full oral history interview saved in a physical or digital/cloud format
- List of topics covered in the interview, with minute-marks
- Final product: 1-2 hours of lightly-edited and spliced interview content, including an introduction and conclusion, that is manageable and easy to share
Lily Meyersohn is a researcher and non-fiction writer with several years of experience in formal and informal open-ended interviews. She is interested in thinking and writing about memory, intimacy, and family history. Above all, she loves to ask questions and is fascinated by other people’s lives, minds, and relationships.
In 2019, Lily conducted an oral history with her grandmother, Marylea Meyersohn. These interviews became the inspiration for an Audible Original piece, Exit Interview With My Grandmother, which included excerpts of recordings with Marylea. Outside of her family, Lily has experience interviewing people of all ages, including on sensitive topics like physical and mental health & sex. She has interviewed and worked with elderly people, people with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders, and people experiencing illness.
Why use a studio?
Apps like StoryCorps have already worked to democratize the oral history experience by allowing anyone with a smartphone to record and archive meaningful conversations. But StoryCorps isn’t for everyone. We streamline the process, tailor the conversation, tease out nuance in every story (even ones repeated so many times you thought you knew them by heart), and ultimately create a more thoughtful and distilled final product for everyone involved. And remember: not all interviewees are actually so comfortable having sustained, frank conversations with someone with whom they are very close! The studio thus operates as a respectful but removed third-party to any painful family drama or difficulty.
lilymeyersohn [at] gmail [dot] com