Digital History year in Review

An abcedary list: Digital History Year in Review.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 29, 2006 in • DigitalityHistory
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Genealogy as Graffiti

Thought provoking: Genealogical Graffiti and the Personalization of History, on the blog Drawing Parallels, written by a student of public history named Kris. It’s a surprising meditation on the nature of graffiti (art done outside the “mainstream” and outside “established channels”) and genealogy, which is, I guess, looked at askance by public historians.

When I asked a few friends where they saw history in their everyday lives, most responded with the same answers: Museums, monuments, old buildings, television. When I asked these same questions to family, I received another answer that has come up several times in Donald Spanner’s Archives class – Genealogy.

To me, genealogy seems like a natural corollary of social history. At its outset, social history sought to tell the historical narrative of those who had not previously been included. Genealogy seems much the same, as family members seek to understand their own history. In less than one hundred years, we have gone from a bottom-down approach of history, to a bottom-up one, and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • GenealogyHistoryPersonal History
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Molly MacDonald’s Top Ten List

Oral History Top Ten: It’s a list of interviewing tips, learned from experience. Here are two faves, go there to read ‘em all

Don’t wait for two months before listening to your interview, even if it is over 2 hours long. There may be some good stuff in there you want to use!

Two months?? How about two years!? I assume that doing an interview with a family member is far less formal than an interview as a public historian. But I’ve BTDT w/ a family interview. There’s a fleeting moment, during the interview, when I think, “Oh, I’d like to know more about that subject” and even before I write down a cryptic note to follow up on it, the person launches into another area, and then I’m taken elsewhere. Fortunately, while listening later, I remember the follow up topic. So, well, it behooves me to listen to the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 23, 2006 in • Interviewing
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Holiday Gadgets I’d want if I were just beginning

The fun of watching the portable audio gadget market is that there’s always something new. So the decisions on what to get if you’re starting from zero are different today than if you were deciding 6 months or a year ago. It’s also different to decide when starting out fresh than when you’ve got other gear that you want this item to work with. If I were starting out today with a few hundred bucks burning a hole in my pocket and a desire to interview my relatives about their lives, what would I buy?

I’d try to get a recorder that had the essentials: Ability to record directly to WAV file format (uncompressed CD-quality audio or better; MP3 is compressed and lossy), quick transfer to computer, easy to setup and start recording, and, if possible, a decent microphone. Oh, and all for a price that won’t kill me.

The price of your main gadget is not the final “when the smoke clears, how much will I spend?” price. You have two (maybe three) items to add to it: The price of media (if it’s flash memory), and the price of microphone. And batteries. When I bought my portable recording kit, I went for a small disk-drive based player and recorder (20GB capacity). The money I saved not having to buy flash memory cards I turned around and plunked into a higher-quality microphone. No matter what gadget you look at, you’ll always spend a little extra.

Portable Recorder

But if I were starting from scratch, right here, today, I know what I would buy: The Zoom H4 Handy recorder (of course, I say this ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 16, 2006 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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Holiday Shopping at Library of Congress

Here are some way-too-cool items that you can buy from the Library of Congress gift store. You can spend a good amount of time browsing through all the offerings (I have!). Recordings, maps, photos, clothing, books, posters, and much more.


image A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings

Since 1928, Library of Congress fieldworkers have gathered thousands of American folksongs in farmhouses, prison barracks, and schoolrooms across the nation. Researchers traveled the back roads of the Delta, the Appalachians, and the Great Plains using battery-powered disc-cutting machines as they ventured beyond the grid of rural electricity. Here are 30 of the greatest performances from the legendary Library of Congress recording series.

Here’s a list of all the other folk recordings available... What a tremendous array of recordings from various places and sub-cultures. See anything that matches where your family ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 10, 2006 in • AudioGeneralPersonal HistoryPhotographs
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Saving Home Movies from Disappearing

David Pogue in the NYTimes on the troubles of moving old media formats to newer ones. Home movies proved to be the tough one: He tries the old methods, and finds them lacking, he pays good money for the pros to do it, and finds that lacking (beautiful quality, but only to VHS tape and not DVD?!?). It’s a good discussion about a personal attic-archivist problem. And I want to go digging in my own notes somewhere for a service that will convert home movies to DVD format.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 04, 2006 in • Longevity
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