Community-based oral history storytelling & education


Voice of Witness (VOW) is a nonprofit that advances human rights by amplifying the voices of people impacted by—and fighting against—injustice through oral history, education, and advocacy. VOW harnesses storytelling to create space for deep listening and learning from communities as part of broader efforts to dismantle systems of oppression. Through our programming, we work to ensure that:

  • voices of marginalized and silenced communities are documented and centered;
  • students and communities have the tools and training to tell their own stories through oral history; and
  • individuals and institutions use ethical approaches to storytelling.

Why oral history?

We see oral history as a method of storytelling that can democratize history and contribute to narrative change. Sharing first-person stories from individuals and communities—in their own words—can illuminate issues and events in a profoundly powerful way. We believe oral history has the power to build community, heal and support storytellers themselves, and advance justice through education and advocacy.

Explore Our Work

oral history books

Oral History Book Series

The Voice of Witness Book Series documents human rights issues through first-person narratives. We use an oral history methodology that combines ethics-driven practices, journalistic integrity, and an engaging, literary approach. Each project aims to transform harmful narratives by supporting marginalized communities to tell their own stories in their own words.

Education Program

Our education program provides inclusive and culturally relevant learning opportunities through oral history. VOW brings unheard stories and oral history to classrooms, centering historically silenced voices and connecting students and educators with training and tools for storytelling. Our resources and services nurture empathy and develop vital communication, critical thinking, and social-emotional learning skills.

oral history interview

Community Projects & Partnerships

Through partnerships and services, VOW works with communities to teach ethical storytelling practices, develop oral history projects, and create educational resources. We offer expert storytelling and program support to organizations, educators, advocates, and more.

Work With Us

Voice of Witness offers expert storytelling and program support to organizations and individuals. These collaborations emphasize the power of sharing stories and promote empathy, understanding, and action by building strong connections between people and communities. We work with you to develop customized, interactive projects, workshops, and activities, using VOW’s award-winning oral history methodology to advance your mission, amplify community voices, and promote positive social change.

Voice of Witness does incredible work. I have personally seen transformation in people who have been trained and educated by VOW.

Jeff Steinberg
Founder and Executive Director of Sojourn Project

Get Involved

Partner With Us
We offer training and project support for ethical storytelling, oral history, and education. Let’s collaborate!
oral history resources
Explore Our Resources
Check out our free storytelling resources, oral history guides, and lesson plans for inclusive education.
Webinars & Workshops
We offer free and paid workshops on oral history best practices, storytelling ethics, and curricular development.
Ways To Support
We can’t do this vital work without you. Learn about the many ways you can support VOW!

Dive Deeper

Our History

benefits of oral history include education, advocacy, healing, connection, ethical storytelling, narrative change, and community building

Voice of Witness was cofounded by author Dave Eggers, physician Lola Vollen, and author and educator Mimi Lok. Eggers and Vollen established the VOW oral history book series in 2005. In 2008, Lok transitioned Voice of Witness to a 501(c)(3) organization and established its education program and additional services.

Since then, Voice of Witness has amplified the oral histories of hundreds of individuals impacted by human rights crises around the world, including incarcerated people, undocumented immigrants, refugees, agricultural workers, Indigenous peoples, communities displaced from public housing, and many more.

Through our community partnerships and education program, VOW has served tens of thousands of students, educators, storytellers, and activists across the US and globally. Our ethics-driven oral history methodology has been used to train a broad range of organizations and advocates for human rights and dignity, including journalists, attorneys, artists, teachers, and medical professionals.

Our Vision

We envision a future where historically silenced communities’ stories are documented and uplifted in order to create a more inclusive, just world.

VOW’s strategic vision planning in 2022 took place over nine months and involved Voice of Witness staff, board, and our extended community. We created a new strategic vision and implementation plan to chart our growth and goals for the next four years. Taking a deep look at our programs, operations, and culture, we identified areas where we can further embody our values internally as well as externally. We committed to going deeper with our community-led approach in order to make a greater impact through ethics-driven oral history storytelling. Read the vision plan.

Our Values

  • Empathy & Compassion
  • Equity & Dignity
  • Integrity
  • Critical Thinking & Inquiry
  • Collaboration
  • Wholeness

Join Our Newsletter


Next Steps: Sync an Email Add-On

To get the most out of your form, we suggest that you sync this form with an email add-on. To learn more about your email add-on options, visit the following page ( Important: Delete this tip before you publish the form.
Name *(Required)
I want to recieve:(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.