The idea is simple—great conversations start with good listening.

Listen to Everyone’s programs emphasize listening closely to people’s stories of the past and then sharing ideas and experiences with one another.

Oral history dialogue programs are ideal for museums, libraries, historical societies, community groups, schools, adult homes, science and nature centers, and other cultural institutions. They are a great way to bring people together to make connections between past and present and to have civil and productive conversations about contemporary issues.

What you will find on this site

This site includes fully-designed programs, including audio material, transcripts, slides, images, and how-to guides—everything you need to implement the programs in your community. We also have how-to guides for creating your own programs using the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s archive of oral histories or your organization’s oral history archive.

Listen to Everyone offers two types of dialogue programming. Our Community Dialogues use oral histories to bring community members together to discuss important issues. Adult Home Dialogues are one-on-one conversations that share oral histories to engage adult home residents in conversations about contemporary issues.

Click here to see a full list of Listen to Everyone’s oral history dialogue programs and choose one that is right for your community.

What are dialogue programs?

Dialogue programs are simply facilitated conversations among groups of people. The primary goal is collective learning—participants in a dialogue program learn from one another rather than from a lecturer or expert. Listen to Everyone’s programs alternate between listening to audio selections from oral history interviews and discussing participants’ experiences and perspectives on the past and present.

Our programs follow the dialogue model of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. We have also been inspired by Humanities New York’s “Community Conversations.”

What can dialogue programs do for individuals and communities?

  • They offer people new methods of communicating and understanding each other.
  • They provide a way for people to express their ideas productively.
  • They allow experts and non-experts to discuss topics on equal footing.
  • They may inspire active citizen participation in social issues.
  • They use the power of history to help people feel more connected to social and cultural issues that affect them.

More information 

For more information on dialogue programs, you are encouraged to contact the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, which provides training in dialogue methods for members. In addition, the Smithsonian has put together a helpful instructional handbook on dialogue, which you can find here.