NY Times to open up old archives

(upated) The news story as others see it: The paywall’s coming down. But this little tidbit about old, old archives caught my eye:

In addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain.

Score!!! I’m reading letters from around this time. Stories about my grandmother appeared in the NYTimes. There’s gotta be other stuff that’s just plain interesting that’ll appear.

UPDATE: Here’s a press release that discusses the fate of stories between 1923 and 1986: “Archives for the years 1923 - 1986 are available to be purchased in single or 10-article packages.”

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 17, 2007 in • HistoryMemorabilia
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Some thoughts about interviewing my Dad

I want the post of my Dad’s story to stand on its own, and reflect on the interview process, here, separately. The thought which looms so large over any other: An interview is probably the single most concentrated way to bring out a ton of “I never knew that” revelations. Especially if the interviewee is a parent. It’s one surprise after another about a person whom I’ve known all my life.

I suppose if I were to look at it statistically, the concentration of surprises per time spent would be pretty dense. In a 2.5 hour conversation, I heard, oh, 8 to 10 “wow!” things. So that comes out to 1 shocker per 15 minutes of interview. YMMV. (My shocker ratio could be way off; when I transcribed the portion I included in the last post, I didn’t listen to the entire interview, so my “Total Surprises = N” count is not accurate.)  There were several snippets from Dad’s youth—a protracted illness, stories of learning Morse code and learning to use firearms, swimming in high school and mathematical prowess in the Navy—those were there all along, but didn’t come up in the day-to-day ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 15, 2007 in • Do it: YourselfInterviewing
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Father’s oral history about, well, a digital tool

This past spring, I interviewed my dad, with the Veteran’s History Project in mind. Dad was in the Navy, going to school on a ROTC scholarship, and serving in and around the Korean War. We paged through a scrapbook that his Mom kept for him, and he told me stories about the pictures and items therein. The stories from that interview session mostly concern his beginnings in the Navy. I asked him a question to clarify a term he used about his training, and he told me two related stories about his work in the Navy. (oh, and digital, in this case, refers to fingers, not bits)

I wanted to clarify something he mentioned earlier. I asked, “When you said ‘the physical aspect of naval training’ and that was when you were talking about navigation… when you say ‘physical aspect’ what [did that mean]?”

Well where you learn how to use a sextant, how you use a bearing circle, how to determine the direction—the ship’s compass, and the various aids to navigation that you would have. You could use your sextant to determine the altitude of stars, but first you had to learn how to identify the stars.  I still have a sextant; people don’t tend to use those anymore because of the advent of the global positioning system. But I still have the sextant, and can operate it. ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • GenealogyPersonal HistoryVeterans History Project
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The Carnival of Genealogy goes wine tasting

Just went to the local wine and cheese bar in town. While discussing the merits of one particular Zinfandel with the proprietor, we began to speak about the art and task of writing. He let slip the word “genealogy” and I buttonholed him later to ask him if he had a family war story for the Carnival of Genealogy. I hope he sends it to me in email tomorrow. This will be an honorary blog entry inspired by “a quality floozy of a Zinfandel wine” and a tale of an ancestor in Civil War times. If so, this post shall be updated with great details. Civil War stories. Peppery California Zinfandels. Who knew?

Here is a brief synopsis about Tom Dugan’s ancestor, Peter Whelan. He wrote this email—from memory; he wasn’t where he could access his notes— telling me about Peter Whelan’s involvement in the Civil War.

Peter Whelan was born about 1842 in Co Leitrim, Ireland.  He arrived in the US with his parents in about 1852.  He grew up in Warwick, RI.  In 1862 (around 20 years old), he enlisted in the Army at Providence, RI.  He fought in multiple battles in Maryland and Virginia during the next two years.  In one of those battles, he was shot in the head.  He survived and was eventually transported to a hospital in West Philadelphia, PA.  He lost the use of one eye from the bullet would and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 14, 2007 in • Genealogy
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Podcamp So Cal and Podcast Expo

I just signed up for Podcamp, Thursday Sept 27. Ontario California. That’s the day before Podcast New Media Expo begins (Sept 28, 29) I’ll do a presentation on the Veterans History Project for Podcasters. Nothing like a deadline to get some motivation going. Oh, and that means I should revive my feebly-begun but hey I can start again anytime podcast.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Veterans History Project
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Listen & Type: A good transcription tool

I downloaded Listen & Type last night. It’s a handy transcription tool for Mac OS (Shareware. $15. 20 days’ tryout time). I’ve mentioned it before. But oh, it bears mentioning again. (Later today I’ll post the results of that transcription session). It takes a few minutes to adjust to after launch, but then you’re up and runni– er, typing.

When you first launch Listen & Type, an Open dialog box appears, directing you to open a sound or movie file. (Listen & Type works with any media file that QuickTime can work with.)

imageOnce you locate and open your media file, a new window appears, with playback controller and a small button labeled “Front.” Here’s the part that makes the app both tricky and wonderful: The window with the sound file floats above other windows on your screen. Once you click anywhere on the screen after it first opens, the Listen & Type window, though floating on top, is not the “active” window. Open up any text editor and that window is active. You can type to transcribe the speech while using a set ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • AudioAudio: SoftwareTranscription
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The Samson Zoom Handy 2 is shipping

The Samson Zoom Handy H2, the new portable digital recorder, is finally shipping. Street price just under $200. This is a combination of low-cost and high-quality (recording uncompressed audio in WAV files). I just heard from someone who ordered it –the person sounded very happy thus far. I’ll see if I can get more of a report.

You can use the Zoom Handy H2 as a standalone recorder, or else use it as a USB microphone and plug it straight into your computer to record onto your hard disk drive. The portable method will allow you to record for a good while; The Zoom H2 Handy will take the newer type of 4GB SD flash memory cards (its older sibling, the H4, takes only 2 GB)

Check out the equipment store for with other equipment and supplies for recording and preserving spoken word stories.

Related: Earlier post about Zoom Handy H2 with description

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 05, 2007 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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The new Genealogy Carnival is up! Myths and Lore

The theme: Family Myths. The host: Craig Manson, at GeneaBlogie. Many entrants. Go. Click. Read.

The next edition of the Genealogy Carnival will be held right here on this site. The topic ties in with a noteworthy documentary coming September 23 to PBS—“The War,” by Ken Burns. “The War” tells the story of World War II through the lives of ordinary men and women from four American cities. For the mid-September Carnival, tell any story about a wartime event or soldier in your family (no need to limit it to World War II or America).

Submit your story here by September 15th

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 04, 2007 in • Genealogy
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NOT from the Isle of the Lewes

My dad went to the local highland games, wandered the clan tents. Looked at the names of the septs. Aah, MacLeod has a whole Lewis side to it. Dad’s middle name is Lewis, it’s a family name that comes from his mother’s side of the family. Lewis, yep. That’s it. So I’m a MacLeod, my dad says. From Lewis part of the clan, from the Isle of Lewis, or from MacLeod of the Lewes. My dad joins the clan society. Even takes the whole family along to Scotland back in 1982 to something called the Clan MacLeod Parliament, to meet Chief John MacLeod of MacLeod. Nice, fun story. But it misses an essential thing or two.

image It does not miss tartans or kilts. Nope, Dad loves to wear the yellow MacLeod of Lewis tartan. Also known as The Bumblebee tartan, or the “Loud MacLeod” as you can see here at left (good shot of shirts, parents’ faces, not so much. Hence pixellation.)

image It does not miss the trip itself, which made quite the impression on them and on us. We went to Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, seat of the Clan MacLeod. (And yes, he wore the other tartan, the MacLeod of Harris tartan.)

I’ve danced on the gunyard. Climbed both of MacLeod’s tables (mountains with flat mesa-like surfaces). I even created a certificate—on paper plates (we do what we can with what we’ve got)—for those few of us ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 01, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal History
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