‘Healthstorian’ travels in vintage camper capturing history of health in Southwest Virginia

healthstorian Southwest Virginia

Healthstorian will soon hit the road collecting an oral history of health and health care in Southwest Virginia. Its debut was at Roanoke’s GO Festival on Oct. 13.

The vintage camper may not look much like a recording studio from the outside, but its goal is to record and preserve health stories of individuals from all backgrounds throughout Southwest Virginia.

Named Healthstorian, the vehicle has been retrofitted as an audio booth and will be traveling to hospitals, clinics, festivals and neighborhoods throughout Southwest Virginia.

“Having spent the majority of my career here in Roanoke as a geriatric psychiatrist and fan of oral histories, I have often been surprised at our lack of documenting the history of health in our valley,” said Dave Trinkle, associate dean for community and culture at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “The mobile StoryCorps camper will go a long way in documenting the history of health care and of the health in our community and neighborhoods.”

Healthstorian was inspired by the highly acclaimed StoryCorps, which debuted in October 2003 with the opening of a StoryBooth in Grand Central Station and has since earned a regular spot on National Public Radio.

The project is the result of a collaboration between the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Carilion Clinic, Jefferson College of Health Sciences, the City of Roanoke Libraries, and several departments at Virginia Tech, including University Libraries and VTStories.

The project is looking for volunteers to help manage the camper when it’s on the road.

Interviews will be conducted with health care providers, administrators, faculty members, students, patients, former patients, and their families, all to gain an oral history of the region’s health and health care. All recordings will be housed in University Library archives. The adventures of the Healthstorian project can be followed on social media.

If you would like to volunteer for the project as an interviewer or technician or would like to suggest a place where it could travel, contact Courtney Powell by email or by phone at 540-526-2588.

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