The Telling Takes Us Home

A Celebration of American Family Stories

Welcome to the American Family Stories project and an engaging new podcast series titled The Telling Takes Us Home, a Celebration of American Family Stories

In 1995, award-winning storyteller and radio journalist Joe McHugh set out on a quest across the United States to record people telling their family stories, the kind of tales that get passed down within families and organizations that tell us who we are and where we come from.

These stories also celebrate the bedrock relationships that often exist between the generations: the lessons we learn from a mother or father, from a wise grandparent or eccentric uncle or aunt. They might not be action-packed Hollywood-produced stories but because they arise from lived experience they have a unique kind of staying power. Like vitamins for the body, family stories can help strengthen our emotional and psychological immune system so we can better fight off the dis-eases of cynicism, despair, conceit, and fear of others and of the future that plague us in this modern age.


Each podcast is approximately forty minutes long and features from seven to eight stories. Stream them online or download them to listen to later. And if you enjoy these podcasts, make sure to tell your own friends and family—they might enjoy them too.

Crisscrossing the country from the Northwoods of Wisconsin to the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, from the historic gold rush towns of California to the bustling streets of Chicago, from windswept plains of Texas to the granite hills of New Hampshire, he met with people who shared with him stories about what it was like to leave Europe, Africa, and Asia and to come to America in hopes of finding a better life. Joe recorded stories about working on farms and in coal mines and factories, about seeing the first automobile or airplane, about rescuing a cherished heirloom or musical instrument, about the daily struggles to survive dust storms and the Great Depression, about confronting and, in some cases, overcoming racial prejudice, about serving in the military, about lawmen and outlaws—stories that taken together help tell the American story with an authenticity and passion often lacking in text books.

Listen to the Podcast