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Our Story

Ray Hicks performs at an early Festival, credit Tom Raymond, Fresh Air Photographics

A Jonesborough journalism teacher and his neighbors rolled an old farm wagon into Courthouse Square and, around that wagon, told stories. The Festival was modest, but something happened that sunny October day that has forever changed our culture, the tradition of storytelling, and this Tennessee town.

Recognized as the world’s first public event devoted exclusively to storytelling, the Festival ignited a renaissance of storytelling throughout America and the world.

In 1975, two years after the first Festival, the institution that would one day become the International Storytelling Center was founded—propelling this growing cultural movement for over 40 years.

In 2002, the newly-built Center campus was opened. A three-acre facility in downtown Jonesborough just a stone’s throw from the site of the first Festival, the Center is the first facility anywhere in the world devoted solely to the tradition of storytelling.

Now, as ISC approaches five decades of the international storytelling revival, ISC is launching a new and important vision — A Story in Progress

Storyteller Jerry Clower, photo credit David Cortner

The History of ISC

Learn how it all began over 40 years ago in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

Our Mission

ISC’s Mission

Improving people's lives around the world through the power of storytelling.

Doc McConnell's Medicine Show, credit Fresh Air Photo

ISC’s Vision

Our vision is a better life, a better world, through the power of storytelling.