Do you have a story to tell? At the Narrative Trust we conduct extensively researched oral history interviews to preserve the histories and life stories of individuals, families and institutions. We safeguard their memories and reflections in books, documentary films and digital archives.

Our Process

We manage oral history projects from concept to completion. The Narrative Trust is a full-service multimedia company, equipped to facilitate all phases of an oral history project to fit our clients’ needs.

Extensively Researched

Even before the first interview, we get to know our clients by deeply researching their past, mapping their place in a greater historical context and talking to key players who have institutional memory.

Priority Driven

We work with our clients to understand goals, stories and audiences. We help determine what the scope of the project should be, how many interviews are necessary and the order in which they should be conducted.

Deeply Explored

We develop themes for the project, and refine a direction for each individual interview. Every interview is focused but fluid—an open-ended exploration guided by a well-informed interviewer.

For the Long Run

We work with our clients to determine the most effective way to use their interviews to preserve their legacy.

Our Services

Our oral history interviews are the foundation for our range of products, tailored to your unique needs.


Films: Broadcast quality documentary films enriched with photographs, memorabilia, historical footage and music

Commemorative Books: Beautifully bound commemorative books with photographs and historical annotations

Digital Platforms: Secure digital platforms for preserving your narrative histories



Tell Your Story, Your Way

We work with private and public companies to strengthen their corporate culture.

Use your history to Shape your Future

  • Pass on core values
  • Preserve a company’s history
  • Strengthen company culture and values
  • Amplify branding, public relations, social media and marketing campaigns
  • Celebrate milestones
  • Honor founders, executives and retirees
  • Enhance training and recruitment materials
  • Showcase films at conferences and meetings

We work with private and public companies to strengthen their corporate culture.

Use your history to Shape your Future

  • Pass on core values
  • Preserve a company’s history
  • Strengthen company culture and values
  • Amplify branding, public relations, social media and marketing campaigns
  • Celebrate milestones
  • Honor founders, executives and retirees
  • Enhance training and recruitment materials
  • Showcase films at conferences and meetings

We work with private and public companies to strengthen their corporate culture.

Use your history to Shape your Future

  • Pass on core values
  • Preserve a company’s history
  • Strengthen company culture and values
  • Amplify branding, public relations, social media and marketing campaigns
  • Celebrate milestones
  • Honor founders, executives and retirees
  • Enhance training and recruitment materials
  • Showcase films at conferences and meetings

We enhance the programmatic, public relations and fundraising efforts of foundations, universities, museums, arts institutions, professional associations and other nonprofits by enabling our clients to preserve and present the narrative history of their organizations.

Institutional Memory:

  • Preserve the stories of your organization’s history in the words of founders
  • Inform presidential and board search committees
  • Pass forward insights and values to new administrations

Fundraising:

  • Acknowledge donors
  • Honor staff and alumni
  • Enrich galas, conferences and meetings
  • Mark commemorative events and celebrate anniversaries

Exhibitions:

  • Enhance audience engagement by incorporating narrative history films into exhibitions and installations

Marketing:

  • Share your organization’s narrative history and culture on websites and social media

We enhance the programmatic, public relations and fundraising efforts of foundations, universities, museums, arts institutions, professional associations and other nonprofits by enabling our clients to preserve and present the narrative history of their organizations.

Institutional Memory:

  • Preserve the stories of your organization’s history in the words of founders
  • Inform presidential and board search committees
  • Pass forward insights and values to new administrations

Fundraising:

  • Acknowledge donors
  • Honor staff and alumni
  • Enrich galas, conferences and meetings
  • Mark commemorative events and celebrate anniversaries

Exhibitions:

  • Enhance audience engagement by incorporating narrative history films into exhibitions and installations

Marketing:

  • Share your organization’s narrative history and culture on websites and social media

We enhance the programmatic, public relations and fundraising efforts of foundations, universities, museums, arts institutions, professional associations and other nonprofits by enabling our clients to preserve and present the narrative history of their organizations.

Institutional Memory:

  • Preserve the stories of your organization’s history in the words of founders
  • Inform presidential and board search committees
  • Pass forward insights and values to new administrations

Fundraising:

  • Acknowledge donors
  • Honor staff and alumni
  • Enrich galas, conferences and meetings
  • Mark commemorative events and celebrate anniversaries

Exhibitions:

  • Enhance audience engagement by incorporating narrative history films into exhibitions and installations

Marketing:

  • Share your organization’s narrative history and culture on websites and social media

We capture the essence of families and individuals through our filmed interviews and living memoirs. Celebrate and commemorate milestones with the gift of a personal oral history.

Personal biography:

  • Tell family stories, honor your ancestry, relay life lessons and core values you want your descendants to know and understand about you

Ethical Wills:

  • Leave a positive legacy by illuminating intentions behind personal bequests and passing on traditions and beliefs to future generations

Family business and foundation history:

  • Preserve and share your family-run company or foundation heritage, core principles, future objectives and cornerstones of success

Collection documentation:

  • Capture the history of and inspiration for your art collection and valuables that will be passed down to future generations

Family Home:

  • Room by room, record the appearance, history and memories of significant events that took place in your family home

We capture the essence of families and individuals through our filmed interviews and living memoirs. Celebrate and commemorate milestones with the gift of a personal oral history.

Personal biography:

  • Tell family stories, honor your ancestry, relay life lessons and core values you want your descendants to know and understand about you

Ethical Wills:

  • Leave a positive legacy by illuminating intentions behind personal bequests and passing on traditions and beliefs to future generations

Family business and foundation history:

  • Preserve and share your family-run company or foundation heritage, core principles, future objectives and cornerstones of success

Collection documentation:

  • Capture the history of and inspiration for your art collection and valuables that will be passed down to future generations

Family Home:

  • Room by room, record the appearance, history and memories of significant events that took place in your family home

We capture the essence of families and individuals through our filmed interviews and living memoirs. Celebrate and commemorate milestones with the gift of a personal oral history.

Personal biography:

  • Tell family stories, honor your ancestry, relay life lessons and core values you want your descendants to know and understand about you

Ethical Wills:

  • Leave a positive legacy by illuminating intentions behind personal bequests and passing on traditions and beliefs to future generations

Family business and foundation history:

  • Preserve and share your family-run company or foundation heritage, core principles, future objectives and cornerstones of success

Collection documentation:

  • Capture the history of and inspiration for your art collection and valuables that will be passed down to future generations

Family Home:

  • Room by room, record the appearance, history and memories of significant events that took place in your family home

Our Work

We produce video and multimedia projects that hold significant value for institutions and families, today and tomorrow. Here is a sample of some of the recent projects we’ve worked on.

Chronicling Histories

TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Defining Core Values

OLIVER WYMAN

Celebrating Milestones

PRIVATE CLIENT

Enhancing Exhibitions

NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM

Bestowing Ethical Wills

PRIVATE CLIENT

Preserving Company Histories

GIANT EAGLE, INC.

Conveying Life Lessons

PRIVATE CLIENT

Creating Archives

NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY LIBRARY

Capturing Culture

THE KITCHEN

Sustaining Legacies

PRIVATE CLIENT

Our People

We assemble a customized team for your project from our roster of professional producers, researchers, interviewers, videographers, transcribers, audit editors, video editors and designers.

Melanie Shorin

FOUNDER AND INTERVIEWER

Melanie Shorin has conducted hundreds of narrative history interviews over the last ten years. She has brought forth the stories of musicians, artists, educators and scientists, and chronicled the life experiences of leaders in the fields of government, business, law and philanthropy.

Melanie interviewed survivors of and witnesses to September 11 for Columbia University’s September 11th Oral History Narrative and Memory Project. Her work was published in the book After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 2001 and the Years that Followed. Melanie also served on the advisory committee for a Columbia University guidebook to the teaching of the principles of interviewing trauma survivors. She presented at the 2010 Oral History conference, “Times of Crisis, Times of Change,” and at the 2017 OHMAR Conference, “Oral History & the City.”

In addition, Melanie serves on the Board of Trustees of the Moth, the internationally acclaimed nonprofit storytelling organization. She is also on the Hunter College Foundation Board of Trustees and chairs its Integrated Media Arts Committee. Melanie began her career as a journalist, writer and producer.

Jessica Wiederhorn

CO-FOUNDER EMERITUS, ADVISOR

Jessica Wiederhorn is the former Associate Director of the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University (now the Columbia Center for Oral History Research). Among the projects she supervised were the oral histories of Columbia Law School alumni, the Institute of Psychoanalytic Research and Training, as well as the September 11th Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, comprised of more than 600 interviews. During her tenure, she ran the Office’s world-renowned Summer Institute.

Previously, Ms. Wiederhorn was Manager of Academic Affairs at the Shoah Foundation, founded by Steven Spielberg to interview Holocaust survivors and witnesses. There, she conducted interviews and reviewed hundreds of Holocaust testimonies, providing guidance and coaching to interviewers worldwide.

Ms. Wiederhorn earned her MA in cultural anthropology from Columbia University, and has taught at Cal State LA and Northridge, as well as Santa Monica College. She has conducted interviewer-training workshops at universities, historical institutions, and for community groups. Ms. Wiederhorn speaks widely on oral history method and theory, and has presented academic papers throughout North America and Europe. She has co-chaired the Oral History Association’s annual meeting, and chaired its Nominating Committee and International Committee.

Her case study, “‘Above all, we need the witness’: The Oral History of Holocaust Survivors,” was anthologized in the recently published Oxford Handbook of Oral History.

Susan Gilman

PROJECT MANAGER

Susan Gilman is a skilled manager with more than fifteen years of experience conceptualizing and executing a host of diverse projects. She has worked in a broad range of industries from a regional restaurant chain to major investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and RBC.

Her projects have ranged from researching and implementing a multi-state licensing and permitting process, to managing the marketing of equity and debt offerings, to supervising a lobbying campaign for legislative change. Susan brings the highest level of dedication, organization, determination and diligence to her work. At the Narrative Trust, she administers all projects, interfacing with clients and managing all logistics.

Susan holds an MBA from NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and a BA in Economics from Hunter College.

Elizabeth Dobell

RESEARCHER

A former fact-checker for The New Yorker, Elizabeth is a graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe and Harvard Law School. She also worked as a lawyer for the Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York. She was born and raised in New York City, where she still lives, and is the author of a blog about her family’s history.

Christine Doudna

INTERVIEWER

Christine Doudna began her career as a journalist and her interviews have appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, The Village Voice, Elle, Redbook and others. She has edited two books, The Ballad of John and Yoko and Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction. She has consulted for non-profits and served on several non-profit boards.  Since joining the Narrative Trust in 2013, Christine has conducted interviews with business leaders, artists, educators and a multitude of private citizens.

Karen Stein

INTERVIEWER

Karen Stein has conducted hundreds of interviews as a journalist and as part of her work on oral histories, interviewing artists, cultural and business leaders, and a wide array of professionals.

Her writing has been published in books and several magazines, including The Wall Street Journal Magazine, New York Magazine, Architectural Record, and The World of Interiors. She was Editorial Director of Phaidon Press for nearly a decade. Currently, she is Executive Director of the George Nelson Foundation and a member of the faculty of the Design Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is on the board of The Architectural League of New York and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas and served on the jury of The Pritzker Architecture Prize from 2003 through 2012. A graduate of Princeton University, she was awarded a Loeb Fellowship in Environmental Studies by Harvard University.

Cameron Vanderscoff

Interviewer

Cameron is an oral historian and educator with a versatile project portfolio. He has worked and consulted widely in the U.S. and in countries across three continents, including his ongoing work on conflict resolution and capacity building with Okinawa Memory Initiative in Okinawa, Japan.

He has worked on oral histories for media icon Tina Brown, the University of California and on a range of projects with Columbia University, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the University of California, the Apollo Theater, and many other institutions. He has completed many personal and family memoir projects, community history projects, and other narrative ventures. He served as the director of the Summer Institute of the Columbia Center for Oral History, and as the co-chair of the 2017 Oral History & The City conference.

In addition to his field experience, Cameron holds an MA in oral history from Columbia University and two BAs from UC Santa Cruz.

Our work upholds the best practices of oral history.

Exceptional quality, trust and confidentiality are at the core of what we do.

Whether we’re producing a personal biography or creating a book, we value and protect our clients’ privacy.

Please contact us with any questions you may have or to learn more about our process.

Contact Us