Our oral history book series has featured a diversity of voices and issues, including wrongfully convicted Americans, undocumented immigrants, and people living under oppressive regimes in Burma, Zimbabwe and Colombia.

Moving forward, our books will focus on communities impacted by issues of criminal justice and migration & displacement.

Learn more about our oral history book series and how you can apply to develop a project with VOW.


The VOW Story Lab is possible thanks to passionate people like you. Will you join us in supporting in-depth, human rights storytelling?

Become a monthly sustainer,
or make a one-time gift today


Editors: Taylor Pendergrass & Mateo Hoke

America currently holds more prisoners, and more prisoners in solitary confinement, than any other country in the world. Popular perception is that isolation units house the United State’s worst criminals, violent prisoners who cannot be dealt with any other way. In reality, solitary control units are often filled with the most vulnerable prisoners—including the mentally ill, disabled, elderly, transgender individuals, and juveniles.

Though recent research has led to a better understanding of the short- and long-term ways isolation psychologically affects individuals, little information exists on the damage of solitary confinement that reaches beyond prison walls into homes and communities.

The narratives of Six By Ten explore solitary confinement’s far-reaching consequences within the United States. The project begins by asking: Who is impacted by this practice, and how? With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Six By Ten will tell stories that come from all facets of America’s solitary experiment, and offer readers an intimate look at the ways solitary confinement affects individuals, families, and communities throughout the country. Narrators will include men, women, and children who have experienced solitary confinement in the United States, family members of those locked away and unreachable, and prison staff who have worked in solitary units.

Read a Q&A with Taylor Pendergrass here.

Taylor Pendergrass is a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Mateo Hoke is co-editor of Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Editors: Steven Mayers & Jonathan Freedman

According to the Migration Policy Institute, “The number of unaccompanied children crossing the US-Mexico border increased 90 percent between 2013 and 2014.” The total number that crossed the border in 2014 is estimated at between 60-90,000 children. Many of these youth are held indefinitely within detention centers in the United States and sent back to their home countries, where they often face threat of death by gangs, as well as severe poverty.

During the civil wars, all sides committed atrocities. Thousands of refugees fled from Central America seeking asylum in the United States. In an escalating human tragedy many refugee children, who had witnessed massacres and atrocities, were relocated in gang-infested streets of Los Angeles. They developed fierce gangs of their own—18th Street and Salvatrucha—that terrorized the barrios of LA.  Hundreds of gang members were deported back to Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. In impoverished homelands, the gangs have grown into full-scaled crime organizations that have kidnapped, blackmailed, killed and taken over neighborhoods, towns and cities.

Solito, Solita (Alone, Alone) aims to shed light on the ongoing abuses that tens of thousands of child migrants from Central America—particularly from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—face every year while attempting to seek refuge from life-threatening conditions in their home countries. From extortion and the dangers they face hopping cargo trains, to their dreams for the future and the realities of their arrivals, we hope to bring to readers the stories of this largely unheard population of young migrants.

Read a Q&A with the editors here.

Jonathan Freedman is a journalist, author, and educator who won the Pulitzer Prize for editorials advocating for justice for undocumented migrants. Steven Mayers is a San Francisco-based educator and researcher who works with migrant communities as an oral historian and English professor.

Editor: Sara Sinclair

What is it like to be a citizen of a nation within another nation whose dominant social, political, and economic interests are fundamentally at odds with your own?

Native people have been moved off their land, assimilated, and even killed. Meanwhile, narratives in which indigenous peoples are invisible continue to facilitate their displacement. North American historical accounts too often exclude indigenous peoples, treating them as peripheral to the continent’s history. In reality, centuries of policies designed to demolish tribal governments and identities have left Native people throughout the United States and Canada reeling.

The stories in How We Go Home aim to open readers’ eyes to the myriad human rights violations experienced in Indian Country today. Narrators provide insight into reservation life: the connection between people and their ancestral lands; the collective heritage of displacement and forced assimilation carried in the people’s collective memory; and the on-going human rights violations rampant in Indian country. Despite the dire conditions that many Native North Americans live in, these interviews illuminate Native society’s incredible capacity for resistance, for healing, and for survival.

Read a Q&A with the editor here.

Sara Sinclair is an oral historian of Cree-Ojibway, German Jewish, and British descent, and a graduate of Columbia University’s Oral History Master of Arts program.

A partnership with IDEX

Food sovereignty is the right to choose what food we eat, where it comes from, and how it is grown. It is an issue of fundamental rights and autonomy, but our current global food system, dominated by corporate-driven agriculture practices, pushes out small-scale farmers and aggravates our shared climate crisis.

Issues of food sovereignty are often framed by focusing on problems related to food production without offering many productive solutions. The story not being told is that men, women, and youth at the local level are creating ways to transform our food systems for the better. Around the world, these individuals are encouraging sustainable and organic food production methods, organizing to sell their products collectively for fair prices, and lowering costs while improving the quality and quantity of their yields.

Holding Our Ground: Voices for Food Sovereignty will explore lives that exemplify ways that swimming against the tide—for example, supplying and demanding healthy and sustainably-grown food—is possible for us all. Narrators include the leaders of grassroots, community-led projects and movements in South Africa and Zimbabwe, particularly women, youth, and indigenous people. They are not only directly impacted, they are the protagonists of the stories themselves, awakening their families and communities to the promise of food sovereignty.

International Development Exchange (IDEX) is a non-profit that has supported more than 500 grassroots, community-led projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Annually, IDEX’s partners serve approximately 1.2 million people in impoverished communities, including marginalized women, small farmers, indigenous communities, low-income urban residents, sexual and ethnic minorities, and youth.



Sign up for the VOW Newsletter to receive project updates.

If you are interested in supporting a specific project, please contact our executive director Mimi Lok.