The cube is a raised, soundproof booth set in the middle of the terminal next to Track 14 in Grand Central Station. Inside, locals and visitors take seats and interview each other, relating stories about such experiences as living life on the streets, being a stay-at-home mom or coping with the untimely death of a loved one.

The recordings are part of StoryCorps, one of the largest oral history projects ever undertaken. The project started last October and hopes to compile 300,000 interviews over 10 years.

“It’s making all of us oral historians, saying all of us can talk to anybody,” said Dave Isay, a public radio producer and the project’s initiator.

The interviews are recorded, and a CD copy is given to the participants. Another copy is stored in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Each week, one of these recordings is broadcast on WNYC, a public radio station in New York City. By next spring, many of the 1,600 stories recorded since the process began almost a year ago will be available on the library’s website.

StoryCorps’ work is based on a Works Progress Administration project in which Americans were interviewed across the country from about 1936 to 1940. Like the recordings StoryCorps is compiling, the WPA interviews are housed at the Folklife Center.

The project is not really about having a piece of oneself preserved for eternity in the Library of Congress, Isay said. Rather, it’s about the experience of being listened to and finding out what you’ve learned during your life.

“I also think people are honored that someone wants to take the time to listen to what they have to say,” he said.

Many people who are interviewed will cry during the session, he said. During an interview last week, an anthropology professor broke down while talking about her father’s rough childhood and the racism her family has encountered during the past century.

Roger Peltzman, a StoryCorps interview facilitator, is privy to plenty of these experiences. Once, he said, an older couple came in, begrudgingly, for an interview. Their daughter forced them to stop by, Peltzman said. But by the end of the interview, the man was crying. His wife said she hadn’t seen him do so in 60 years, he said.

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