About Story Aperture

"Everyone has a story," renowned anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff stated, and these stories "told to oneself and others can transform the world." At the Jewish Women's Archive, we believe that every woman's story matters. Since it was founded in 1996, JWA has collected and shared the stories of thousands of women online and through public programs. But there are always more stories to tell and history continues to unfold; every day we learn about inspiring women whose stories have not yet been chronicled, many of whom belong to underrepresented groups within the Jewish community.

Building on decades of expertise in oral history, and a commitment to amplifying Jewish women’s voices, both known and not yet discovered, JWA created Story Aperture, a robust story collecting project that captures and preserves Jewish women’s stories from around the world.

The name Story Aperture is inspired by Barbara Myerhoff, who described the way a personal story can provide an opening to understand not only one person’s life, but larger truths about the human experience:

"When I grew into the world of words, my life was dominated by a storytelling grandmother, an illiterate woman of European origin, whose passion for storytelling transformed my life. Each day she told me a different story about one of the houses on the hill behind our house. We imaginatively entered each in turn, making their stories into a commentary on our own lives. One day I wept because the kitchen window was covered with frost. I thought there would be no story since we could not see out. My grandmother laughed, warmed a penny in her palm, pressed it against the glass to make a peephole in the frost, then informed me that I had all I needed there. An opening big enough to glimpse the street outside, transformed by this frame, this tiny aperture, providing the sharpest possible focus; the ordinary scene without became a spectacle, separated from the ebb and flow of mundane life around it. It was the first time I clearly understood that something magic happened when a piece of nature was isolated and framed. It was the beginning of some comprehension of the seriousness of paying attention to a selected aspect of one's life or surroundings." (A Crack in the Mirror: Reflexive Perspectives in Anthropology, Jay Ruby, editor. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.)

JWA is grateful to The Covenant Foundation for supporting the launch of Story Aperture.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "About Story Aperture." (Viewed on November 19, 2019) <https://jwa.org/stories/story-aperture>.

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