Collective Intelligence

Nelle B. Stulle Library of Congress uploads 3000 photos from its archives to Flickr for all the world to tag.

I whiled away a bit of time last night adding tags to photos. At first, I thought, Oh, there’s nothing to add. But then I discovered that there were tags I could add. (in the process, I discovered that there are two ways to spell bandolier/bandoleer, the criss-cross belt worn on the torso that holds ammunition. Who knew?)

Pilot, LOC image I’d love to see more tags added by those who know fashions and can name the style of jacket, or hat. I mean sombrero and bowler I know, but what about the type of caps worn by boys in 1910, or the style of jacket lapels or decorations on a woman’s dress? And tho I found much to admire in outfits worn by people, I certainly didn’t want to add stylin’ as a tag.

Dorothy Knight at Wyoming launch Edw. Gardner shoots pool ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 17, 2008 in • HistoryPhotographs
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Snow Hill, Maryland: Oral History Workshop January 24

January 24, 1pm. Free to public. A workshop to learn how to do oral history at the Snow Hill Library.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 13, 2008 in • Do it: Learn How
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Express Scribe: Free transcription software

New (to me): Express Scribe, software to transcribe audio. Cross platform, Windows and Mac. Works with key commands or keyboard pedal. Worth looking into. Linked post says to watch out for all the upgrade offers: This free software is “bait” to get you to buy other stuff.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Transcription
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Whoa. Still here?

Hello, again. It’s been a busy week. More posts to come.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Housekeeping
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The face Dad always drew on the birthday cakes

the face, thesneeze.comHow to Draw a Face: A Mystery. A son asks his father the story behind the face that Dad always drew on cards and birthday cakes. [via boingBoing] A delightful story in three parts, 60 years in the making. “The only reason the internet exists is for this conversation to be on it!”

My father has been drawing this same ‘face’ on my birthday cards and cakes for as long as I remember. I recently started pressing him for info about this face that he’s been drawing for 60 years and it all unfolded with a completely unexpected and satisfying ending.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 04, 2008 in • Personal History
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Holiday visits: Witness to an Interview

Photo albums are a thing of beauty. I got to witness an oral history interview about a photo album on my Christmas holiday travels. I was the silent third party, operating the equipment, and asking the occasional question to pull out a few more details. Son brings Father a photo album, put together by Son’s Mother. The album was discovered after Mother’s death. It covers the time in Mother’s and Father’s early life together, before the kids were born, and before the Mother and Father’s divorce. Father is the only one alive who can describe what’s going on in the photos. Here are a few observations I made about interviewing with photo albums.

Photos are a fabulous memory trigger. When sparking a conversation about someone’s recollections, how do you get to the well of memories inside a person’s mind? Questions may trigger… they are words to tap that well, but that recollection-well still resides inside the person’s mind. Pictures are external triggers. They bring back the memories for the interviewee. Plus, being external, the interviewer can make his or her own observations about what’s in the picture, and use them to elicit more information. “Tell me about the car” or “Look at the uniform you wore! When did you get that uniform?” or “Whose house is that?”

Interviewing over photo albums For The Record.  It’s wholly ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 02, 2008 in • InterviewingMemorabiliaPhotographs
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Year out, year in

image A year ago, I wrote an overly ambitious set of goals for the year. I knew at the time that it was overly ambitious. I go back and read it and cringe at some things. And say hooray over some others. My resolution for 2008 is more modest…. it’s illustrated at left, and explained later on, after I review the planned and unplanned accomplishments of the past year.

Goals accomplished (in one form or another)

  1. Interview Dad. Yep. Did that in 2007. On more than one occasion. Even transcribed a bit from one interview here. And pondered what happens during an interview, too.
  2. Digitize a certain cassette tape recorded the morning after Great-great-Uncle Frank’s Hundredth Birthday party. Did that. It was actually recorded in 1980. CDs have been distributed to immediate family, one cousin, and —as of a few days ago—a first cousin twice removed (Grandpa’s cousin). This last point is cool. I also know the birth order and names of all family members of that family.
  3. Letter scanning. I originally set out to scan and digitize them. Decided fooey, forget ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 01, 2008 in • Personal History
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StoryCorps appointment—yeehaw!

In the last few days, I did what I wanted to do two years ago– book an appointment on the traveling StoryCorps booth. My brother and I booked two back-to-back appointments for the StoryCorps booth for a Saturday in January at MacArthur Park, Los Angeles. We’ll each interview one of our parents. I am so stoked.

Two years ago, I receive the weekly email updates for StoryCorps. I followed their progress of the West Coast booth… and the year ended in San Francisco. No new place or date was announced. Then it was the holidays, and I turned my mind to other things. After returning from the mental sojourn, I discovered that StoryCorps was in the general LA area, and all times were booked, sorry. This time around, I got in on the appointment-booking day (first attempt was 5am before starting another leg of the families holiday roadtrip adventure). They weren’t taking bookings at 5am, but they were later that day, when I was in the presence of Mom and Dad and Bro4. Bro4 and I each got on the fone ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 31, 2007 in • Oral History ProjectsPersonal History
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Contents of attic seeks family

In New Zealand, discovery of a suitcase full of memorabilia. Family sought– Mr. Gale or Alma Ansin. [via Megan’s Roots World]

The suitcase, filled with family photographs and personal letters, was found last Friday by builders working in the attic of Caleb Fryatt’s Tweed St home.

Mr Fryatt is hoping to find relatives of the person who owned the case and has appealed for them to get in touch.

He first found out about the suitcase on Monday when he received a phone call from Peter Gooding of Renovation Masters.

Mr Fryatt said he was amazed to find what it contained.

“The stuff in there is just incredible. It’s a very interesting find,” he said. “Once you start looking through it, you don’t want to stop. It’s pretty addictive.”

Among the letters and photos are military buttons, death certificates and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 23, 2007 in • Memorabilia
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Daria’s first interview

Daria tells about her first interview experience. She found this website, learned about (and then bought) a Zoom H2 Handy recorder, and told me how it worked out. I asked her some more questions. She answered them. Read all about it.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 22, 2007 in • Interviewing
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Oldest WW1 Veteran Dies

[UPDATED] J Russell Coffee, 109, one of 3 remaining WW1 Vets, died. (See also Toledo Blade story). Born 1898. This is not the WW1 Vet I mentioned recently from a NYTimes article.

Coffey had enlisted in the Army while he was a student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement. He was discharged a month after the war ended.

His two older brothers fought overseas, and he was disappointed at the time that the war ended before he shipped out. But he told The Associated Press in April 2007: “I think I was good to get out of it.”

Born Sept. 1, 1898, Coffey played semipro baseball in Akron, earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught in high school and college and raised a family.

He delivered newspapers as a youngster and would read the paper to immigrants, his ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 21, 2007 in • Veterans History Project
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Marantz PMD620 Review


Oryoki’s First Impressions of the Marantz PMD620 (plus responses). It seems as though the preamps are better than expected.

The preamp specifications Marantz publishes for the PMD620 are similar to the specs of the PMD660 recorder.  This is not a good sign, because the PMD660 is (correctly) criticized as having relatively high self-noise and poor performance when recording loud material.

However, in my brief tests the PMD620 sounded better than the specs might suggest.

The built-in mics are adequate.  They have a somewhat better sound when you point the top of the mic at the subject, holding the recorder as if it were a TV remote control.  The sound is thinner and brighter when you point the front or back of the recorder at the subject (this points the top of the recorder and the mics at the ceiling).

...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 20, 2007 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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Thou shalt not send media to Veterans History Project through U.S. Postal Mail

Side view of a CD that arrived to the Veterans History Project via regular US Post Office mail. When you send your submission, use a commercial delivery service, says the Veterans History Project. Otherwise our screening procedures will obliterate your submissions. I saw dramatic proof of this at the Oral History Association annual meeting in a presentation from the Veterans Health Administration and Veterans History Project.

Talk about Warp Speed! Here’s another view of the damaged disk. This is also a cautionary tale about making sure that you create more than one disk. Redundancy is good. Oh, and make a backup, so you have a second copy. Did I say that redundancy is good? Yep. Thought so.

Top view of a CD that arrived to the Veterans History Project via regular US Post office mail.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 19, 2007 in • Oral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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CDs and DVDs: Tons of good info

The Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs, A guide for librarians and archivists. Found while researching the layer-cake sandwich of materials in an optical disk. Disk structure page. Did you know that the top side of a CD-R is thin and fragile? I mighta mentioned it before, but this underscores it, in a big way.

Also of note: the tests for aging and shelf-life of CDs and DVDs that you can burn yourself is that their pre-writing shelf life is limited to some 5 years or so. By all means, stock up, but don’t stock up too much.

Gold disks are the best. But that’s a topic for another post.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • ArchivingDigitalityLongevity
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Y2K Retrospective

I write this entry for the Carnival of Genealogy on the 107th anniversary of my grandfather’s birth. The theme for the current carnival is Y2K and the new millenium. Though I could mention the “party like it’s 1999 events” – and shall even do so – what happened in the new month of the new year that began with a 2 and not a 1 – is something that affects my life, this site, and even this carnival to now.

(Y2K itself took place at the recently visited cabin, the one that survived the Slide fire. On new year’s eve, it snowed, and the trip up the mountain was a slow, slidey trek. I came with friends. My parents came up later. The Y2K bug manifested itself in my dad’s carbide cannon that would not fire—turns out the water into which the carbide pellets were dissolved to create acetaline gas was, in fact frozen. On the Thanksgiving visit—interspersed with trips down the street and in the village to survey burned down cabins from the fire, I looked over the cabin log book. The books of entries of cabin visits that stretch back to 1968 are the only items truly worth saving from the cabin. ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 15, 2007 in • Personal History
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