SAVE IT! | Mechanics' Institute

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How to collect, communicate, and share family and community life stories

Are you thinking about collecting and preserving life stories in your family or community in an organized way but don’t know where to start? As the pace of life in this millennium quickens, using oral history to preserve family and community memories is more vital than ever. This one-day workshop will help jumpstart your project by focusing on the two most important aspects of oral history projects: the art of the interview and the art and technology of presentation. 

Learn how to: 

  • conduct a good interview  
  • select and use the right equipment 
  • identify your project goals and plan your interviews to realize them 
  • produce excellent final products: good audio/visual materials and clear, readable texts
  • apply newly acquired skills to package and preserve your oral history work in a beautiful book, or in a creative audio/video or web-based creative project

There will be ample time for individual questions and help. In order to provide adequate individual attention, the workshop is limited to the first 15 signups. During the workshop, we will focus on both instruction and practice and work in large and small groups.

Registration closes on November 2.

For more information about workshop content, email

For each class, we reserve the right to cancel at any time and issue a full refund. If you are unable to attend your class, please email at least ten days prior to receive a refund.


Basya Petnick has studied and practiced oral history for twenty-five years. She is the founder and owner of Books & Lives, a San Francisco company that produces oral history and memory projects for families, communities, and institutions. Petnick directed San Francisco Ballet’s 75th Anniversary Alumni Memoir Project and served as consultant and planner for the Tibet Oral History Project, which was requested by the Dalai Lama. For eight years, she served as co-director of the Legacy Oral History Program at the Museum of Performance + Design, using oral history method and practices to document dance, music and theater in the Bay Area. She has published both poetry and prose and is a member of the Oral History Association. Find out more about Basya and her work at


Members $75
Public $100
Register now ›
4th Floor Meeting Room
Taryn Edwards - 415-393-0103
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0101.

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