Storytelling is as ancient as mankind. Cave dwellers left their stories in carved pictures. Elders that kept the stories alive held a sacred place throughout the world. For centuries, storytelling passed on the values and history of cultures and communities. The storyteller was teacher, historian, mentor and entertainer.

Technology, however, brought new ways of sharing information and stories. Beginning with the printing press and continuing through the advent of radio, television and computers, storytelling was relegated to the children’s department of the public library and the early education classrooms. People lost touch with power and importance of stories.

In 1903 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Dr. Richard Wyche organized the National Story League. For 16 years, Dr. Wyche served as president. Interest in storytelling grew and leagues were organized locally throughout the country. The National Story League was organized to revive the art of storytelling, and is the oldest organization of its kind in the country.

In 1973, an ordinary man living in the small town of Jonesborough, Tennessee saw an opportunity that brought economic development to his community, through storytelling. Jimmy Neil Smith organized the first National Storytelling Festival and attracted about 60 people to his unique event. Over subsequent years, the annual festival has grown and now brings thousands of people to Jonesborough the first weekend in October.

Smith founded the National Storytelling Association in 1975. From that group came the International Storytelling Center and the National Storytelling Network. Storytelling has experienced a worldwide renaissance as people rediscover the power and place of stories in everyday life. 

In 1988 J.G. Pinkerton, through the Connecticut Storytelling Center, launched "Tellabration!" as a state-wide celebration of stories. Today, Tellabration! is a world-wide event held annually the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Storytellers and listeners gathered on every continent (except Antarctica) to celebrate storytelling. The event now falls under the auspice of the National Storytelling Network in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

Today, people of all ages and walks of life are enjoying the many applications of storytelling.


Story Telling

Marianne Stein, Story Teller and President of the Beaches League of Story Tellers

Friends of Beaches League of Storytells
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