Remembering Stonewall is the first documentary about the 1969 riots that began at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar. Produced for NPR in 1989, this radio program features the oral histories of participants in the conflict and other who were affected by it. David Isay, the reporter, give some background information, but mostly the voices of the informants guide the narrative. I like that the piece doesn’t treat Stonewall as an isolated incident; it situates the event within a historical and social context. The background noise that is meant to reconstruct the atmosphere f a riot–breaking bottles, shouting, whistles–is a little silly, but isn’t overly distracting from the content of the interviews.
The website features both audio and a transcript. This is very important for oral histories (although it could be argued that this is more of a radio documentary than strictly an oral history) because the content of the interviews is searchable, but you also get the benefit of hearing the informants’ voices. Hearing someone’s voice break when she describes the way her fellow lesbians were treated by the NYPD is much more powerful than just reading the words. I would’ve liked to have access to the full interviews with each person, but this is not a scholarly oral history archive. As it is, Remembering Stonewall is a wonderful resource for understanding a recent historical moment.