Memorial Day: Mom on the radio

A blogger named Merujo notes that her sister taped a talk her mom gave to the U.S. Air Force Association about her involvement as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) in WW2; it’ll be broadcast today on the radio in a part of Illinois called the Quad Cities area (of which I know not). Later, the station will put a link to the audio up on its site.

For more background, she has a commentary on a radio station (Honoring Women at Arlington) about her mother. I do happen to know that the Veterans History Project is looking for oral histories of Women who served in the military– including WASPS.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 27, 2007 in • Personal HistoryVeterans History Project
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War Records

On yesterday’s Morning Edition, NPR described how opened up a new section of war records. Dating back to the 1600s . Cost to digitize: in the millions. Free access from a few days ago till D-Day anniversary, June 6. (after that, pay) Use this as an opportunity to do some research. Then interview living family about their memories of the people and events whose records you found.

This can be addicting. I found my grandfather’s WW1 draft card. smile

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 26, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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A MiniDisc early adopter reflects on portable digital music trends

[Updated] David Ing at Coevolving writes a post about where portable audio media is going. His perspective is primarily as a listener to music, but he also uses MiniDisc to record.

I’ve been researching audio hardware lately (equipment guide coming soon!) and the footnote of David Ing’s post has a jaw-dropper that needs further research: SonicStage (the software to transfer recordings from Minidisc to computer) has been updated for Windows Vista, but not all capabilities will be provided under the version that works on the new Operating System—the WAV Conversion Tool:

It is also important to note that MD Simple Burner along with CONNECT Player, WAV Conversion Tool and MP3 File Manager will not be supported under Windows Vista [emphasis mine, sorta]

I don’t use SonicStage (have a too-early version of SonicStage for my generation of MiniDisc player), so I’m ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 24, 2007 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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Scanfest this Sunday, 20 May

From 11am Pacific to 2pm Pacific. Scan your photos or documents and chat with other scanners. Let’s meet in Gizmo Project – if you have a USB headset or a microphone on your computer, you can do the Internet route. I’ll set up a conference room. Or you can do the call on the fone route.

There are two ways to get to the conference room:

1. Gizmo Project. The Voice over IP method.
Download the software, set up an account and then enter the conference room. (see movie, below) You’ll need some kind of a microphone.
Dead easiest is using a USB headset.
Dead easiest is using a MacOS laptop (built in mic)
I don’t know about built in mics using Windows Laptops. Do you have one that’s got a built in mic?

If you’re using a built in mic, I urgently recommend that you use headphones. (nab the earbuds from the nearest portable media player) Why? Because I hear myself talk, in my head, then, a few seconds later, I hear an echo as my words come out of your computer speakers ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 18, 2007 in • General
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Studs Terkel receives Oral History award from Rutgers Studs Terkel, 95, receives an award for his efforts to tell the stories of ordinary people.

His drive to honor oral history is part of the reason Terkel, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of more than a dozen books, became the third recipient of Rutgers University’s Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award. Past recipients were Steven Spielberg and Tom Brokaw.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 16, 2007 in • Oral history in the news
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The Ken Burns Effect

Ken Burns, creator of the upcoming WW2 documentary, The War, together with PBS puts muscle behind Veterans History Project. The War begins airing September 23.

Some background: The War tells the story about WW2 from the perspective of four American cities. While Burns was filming interviews with WW2 Vets and participatns, he thought, “Hey! We ought to create a national effort to preserve and capture the stories of those who participated!” Not long into his own efforts to spearhead such an endeavor, he learned of the Veterans History Project. Instead of duplicating efforts, Burns and PBS are joining forces in a combined campaign to encourage people to participate in the Veterans History Project. Expect to see more publicity about VHP in the future.

What is the “Ken Burns Effect”? It’s that pan and scan on documentary photographs that Burns ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Veterans History Project
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While There is Still Time

A Mother’s Day story by a son whose mother recorded her memories as a gift to her son.

“I may have told you this” she would begin, and without hesitating for a response, proceed to retell her mother’s perspective about episodes in my young life from her adult point of view back in another age. I had heard most of it before. I so wanted to hear it again

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 15, 2007 in • Personal History
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End of the Reel for Cassette Tapes

Telegraph, UK: Curry’s, biggest retailer, announces that it’ll stop selling cassette tapes. News story is a sad lovesong to the format used by many a man to woo his woman. [via Practical Archivist] Having just digitized a 1980s-era cassette tape myself, I’ve a fondness for the format.

The High Street chain also predicts that this Christmas will be the last time it sells any hi-fi system with a tape deck included.

[...]The portability of the format moved out of the living room and on to the street. In 1989, helped by falling prices of hi-fi systems, 83 million music cassettes were sold in the UK. This fell to 53 million in 2000, and just half a million in 2005, according to Understanding & Solutions, a market research firm.

Last year only about 100,000 of the items were sold. However, this figure excludes audio books and blank tapes, which still attract a small, loyal fan base, with four million blank tapes sold last year and 1.5 million audio books.

I’ll have ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 09, 2007 in • AudioAudio: HardwareLongevity
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Oral History as A Narrative Form

Interview with Chuck Palahniuk, whose new book, Rant, is a story that uses oral history as a narrative device. I’m glad that this interview expounds on oral history and documentary as a narrative device. This was what I most wanted to know from a local appearance of Palahniuk that I nearly made it to. Happy to see it in print here.

DF: Can you tell me why your newest book, Rant, is written in an oral history format?

CP: Pretty much all of my books find some non-fiction form and use that to tell some over the top incredible story.  [Movies such as] Citizen Kane, Fargo, and The Blair Witch Project tell really over the top elaborate stories but are being made believable by using non-fiction forms and Rant is basically using a nonfiction form; which is the oral biography.  I’ve been in love with this form [of storytelling] and I love these kind of books such as Edie [by Jean Stein] about Edie Sedgwick. It just occurred to me this would make a great form for a novel. If you don’t have to allow transition, you can ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Books
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Audio Equipment: USB audio interface

A small USB audio device – sometimes referred to as an external sound card or USB Audio Interface – is a good way to get audio into your computer… and out of it, too. Usually, getting audio in is the greater challenge, so I’ll concentrate on that. The USB devices tend to be versatile, too– accepting a microphone, a line-in, and maybe an optical connection, and providing a line out (or headphone) connector to export sound.

In the last week, I used two different USB devices to get audio into the computer. Yesterday I used my boyfriend Doc M’s M-Audio Transit USB connector to import and digitize a cassette tape (the tape deserves its own post). A few days before that I used my Griffin iMic to connect a microphone to my computer in order to talk to a friend using Gizmo Project – a Voice over IP (VoIP) application. I could have used that same setup to record directly into the computer– what I was doing was getting sound from the microphone IN to the computer in order to send that signal over the internet to my friend so we could chat.

These are devices that convert the signal from analog to digital. Sound enters the device through an analog connection (an audio miniplug). The device converts the sound to digital audio and delivers the digital information to the computer through the USB port.

First, an introduction to the devices themselves, and then how I used each one. Though I used these with Macs, they work on Windows, too. Doubtful that they work on Linux.

The devices:

Griffin iMic.

It’s a lower-cost, low-frills basic USB audio interface. Street price is just under 50 bucks. Plug one end into your USB port, and the other end will accept a couple of mini-plugs. For sound IN, either a line-in or ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 06, 2007 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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An Old School Mystery

It’s amazing what you find when you search the web. One day I happened to go poking around through the old, old, archives of MIT’s school newspaper. My grandmother graduated from there in 1920. A while back they scanned old copies of the paper and uploaded pdfs and text that was generated from an auto-OCR process. Yes, I found my grandmother in the pages of the paper. In fact, she worked on the paper, so her name is on the masthead/credits. One story, though, surprised me. I hadn’t heard anything about the events described in it from any family member. I found out about a significant traumatic event my grandmother went through… by searching on the web.

The Tech, the MIT newspaper, ran a front page story in its issue of April 2, 1919.

This is the first story:



Electrochemists Are Victims of Automobile Accident in Governor Square Last Sunday Evening


As a result of an automobile accident in Governor Square last Sunday evening, two Technology students, Joseph Coleman Deyette ‘20 of Portland, Ore-,gon, and -Miss Florence Fo-ler ‘20 of Billings. Montana. are now in the Commonwealth Avenue Hospital in a serious condition. The accident occurred as, the couple, returning home from Boston, were crossing Commonwealth avenue in front of the Hotel Buckminster. An ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 02, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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Oral History of El Toro base

KPCC ran a story yesterday about Cal State Fullerton gathering oral history of the El Toro Marine base in Southern California. It’s near where I grew up, so it’s local history for me. How nice after having just gone to Cal State Fullerton’s campus for an oral history conference to hear the Center for Oral and Public History make the news. Too, I liked hearing the perspective of the one student who’s a marine. Semper Fi. [link goes to page with Real Audio link, story is ~3+ mins long]

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 01, 2007 in • Oral history in the newsOral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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