A that’s a statement of one of the reasons I haven’t been around here as much. Oh, and I’ve been working on other things, too. This’ll change, at least for this week. Flurry of posts to come.
Personal history meets TV Sci Fi legend. Leonard Nimoy explains how the Salute came to be. In this YouTube video by the Archive of American Television, Nimoy describes how it came from Jewish tradition. [via Laughing Squid]
Recent news stories that caught my eye from Austin TX, Lewiston NY, San Diego CA, Washington DC. Capturing stories of aging Mexican-Americans, Archival treasure-trove at Odd Fellows lodge, call for Washington DC secretaries, and the dwindling number of holocaust survivors.
Austin, Texas: Austin history project aims to preserve voices of elders.
Mexican American Oral History Project held a workshop this last weekend to train people to conduct interviews. Interviews will be conducted throughout the month of May. The article opens with a nice description of “the problem” that these oral histories seek to solve:
Many of us have parents and family who are entering the twilight of their rich lives. They have stories to tell — tales of bedazzling beauty and joy, of profound loss and heartache, of the mundane moments that fill the in between. They bear witness to history.
Among Mexican Americans, that history usually gets passed along orally, says Gloria ...Read More
Thuds, the Ridge, and 100 Missions North. Air & Space Magazine, Smithsonian. On the weekend of April 4 & 5th, I was in Arizona to attend a wedding and to interview my uncle for the Veterans History Project. Among the many things my uncle did in his Air Force career was to fly F105s as a fighter pilot, flying 5 more missions than the required 100 missions into North Vietnam that completed a tour of duty.
My uncle mentioned that the latest Air & Space magazine had an article on the F105s. I found the article online; hence this link and post.
Other things my uncle mentioned that the article does not:
The tires would last for two flights. Takeoff, land, takeoff, land, change tires. That plane was so heavy on takeoff—what with fuel, external fuel tanks, and the ordinance they had on board, the plane was heavy at takeoff—50,000 pounds. Sometimes they had to rolling at 300 mph before the plane got airborne. Landing, the plane was 25,000 or 30,000 pounds. (I’m reciting the weights from memory; I’d have to go back and listen to get exact figures, but the point is takeoff weight was close ...Read More
At the Southwest Oral History Association conference. This is my links in progress list of sites mentioned here. This post will continue to grow throughout the weekend as more sites get mentioned.
The Oral History on the Web Room on Friendfeed mentioned at the breakfast session (I created it, have a post in draft here, but not yet posted, w/ more explanation) but still. Go see it.
King High Remembers Martin Luther King Jr High School does an annual event of interviewing veterans. Sunday morning, we heard from the teacher, Mr. Corona, who founded the project.
The Eastsiders. A documentary produced by Eighth and Wall.
William Beverly spoke about the project, and showed clips from it.
This is a documentary celebration of the Eastside neighborhood of Los Angeles, down ...Read More
Am currently working hard to prepare for Friday’s “Birthing Digital” workshop at USC for the Southwest Oral History Association conference. What equipment am I bringing? Here’s a list.
YES, you can still sign up! (late fee waived!)
- Two Mac Laptops to demo and test all the direct-to-computer tools
- USB mic
- 2 USB Audio Interfaces: Edirol’s and M-Audio’s
- No wait, make that three. Creative Lab’s EEMU USB Audio Interface
- iPod Nano and Belkin TuneTalk, plus Belkin GoStudio. Or, everything you wanted to know about turning your iPod into an audio studio (or quick, stealthy recorder)
- M-Audio Microtrack II Portable Digital Recorder
- Samson’s Zoom Handy H2 Portable Digital Recorder*
- Marantz PMD 620 Portable Digital Recorder*
- LiveScribe Pulse Pen
- Possibly a Tascam portable recorder
- My own portable recording kit, as written about here
*A couple of these will be for sale, (very) gently used, in about 3 weeks’ ...Read More
Reliving History My hometown paper, Daily Pilot’s cover story on my rival high school’s project bringing sophomores and World War II veterans together to share stories of the past.
Today, I’m visiting at a hospital near the home where I grew up. I go downstairs to the hospital lobby to post an update to a private family-only blog post about a certain hospital patient’s progress. (No wi-fi in the rooms, yes wi-fi in the first floor lounge) There in the lobby are copies of today’s paper. Shouting at me on the front page is a story about how students from my rival high school—Corona del Mar—has a project where students interview World War II veterans.
“History comes alive for the students through this project,” [Corona del Mar community service specialist Denise] Weiland said. “For the veterans, tey get appreciation for their service and they realize that people ...Read More
This 3.5 minute video (direct YouTube link; embedded below) is an interview with Hugh Talman, a photographer with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He muses on his act of photographing the aftermath of Katrina. The curator who was planning to visit the area asked him, “What would you photograph?” His reply: “you’d photograph the evidence of the power of Katrina. I don’t style myself as photojournalist, but it turned into having photojournalistic aspects to it.” The video shows some of his photos. Most striking: photographs of an object where it was found (in its full post-Katrina context), versus the object photographed the way Talman normally works with objects, shot in the sanitized setting of a photo studio. What a contrast.
Before I watched the video (and saw just its name—“changes what we remember”), I thought, “Oh, this might relate to photos and memories and how to use photos to nudge or direct memories.” Not so pointed as that. It’s more that a collection of photographs is a kind of memory artifact of how it was. The contrast between an object’s plain (studio) background versus that object in its environment so powerfully conveys the power of Katrina. The two photos of the same object may as well be two different objects. I’m inspired to hunt more carefully when I look at old photographs for objects and their contexts, and the clues they might provide about a person or a time. I’m thinking ...Read More
Twelve collections of online oral histories, described by Kimberly Powell (About.com Genealogy). From stories collected by the Federal Writers Projects, to slave narratives, to Japanese internment camps, the holocaust, war stories from the Veterans History Project, A southern cotton mill, and the southern United States, and Voices of Feminism. [via Pennington Research Online]
From Kimberly Powell’s introduction:
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to find your ancestor’s history preserved online, you can learn a lot about them by reading oral histories of their contemporaries - neighbors, people from the same ethnic community, individuals who had similiar experiences (e.g. same Japanese internment camp), etc. There is no better way to understand the history that you came from than through the words of the people who lived it first-hand.
To her list, I’ll add another one, the Big Daddy List of oral history collections, part of a larger collection of first-person narratives: In the First Person—search results for oral history repositories (60 results) and ...Read More
What do you do after the stories have been recorded? This WaPo story about the Virginia Stage Company, who produces one play a year on a local theme. They develop or adapt the play with material emerges from community dialog. The current production, A Line in the Sand, is about a civil rights struggle fifty years ago as the local community grappled over the question, Will we prevent our schools from being racially integrated? The story hit my radar since the production from two years ago used oral histories from local people who took care of elders to adapt Shakespeare’s King Lear.
This news feature reminds me of the power of the story brought home, and my own sense of wonder at reading or hearing a story that has something to do with me, as opposed to the story that concerns some other person in some other life, whether the ancient Greeks, the renaissance, or some other strata of this society that I don’t belong to.
Those stories of Odysseus, Michelangelo, Galileo, Lincoln are all well and good, but I respond to stories where I can relate… seriously. I remember laughing uproariously at the scene in Adaptation where the voiceover of the screenwriter recites his internal monologue “I need to write something. Oh, I can’t think right now. Should I eat a muffin?” ...Read More
In L.A. Friday, March 27, I’ll be presenting a workshop called for “Birthing Digital: Portable Digital Audio Recorders” for the Southwest Oral History Association’s Conference that afternoon. Location: USC. Register: Cost: SOHA members $35, Non-Members $50, Students $20. (+online registration fees). Short description: When an audio recording is initially stored as bits, bytes, ones and zeroes, it’s called “born digital.” The birthing begins with two people having a conversation. It ends with a digital audio file. This 3-hour workshop focuses on what happens in between. It’s part theory, part show and tell, and part practice using a glorious array of portable audio recorders.
An overview of the most common routes to go from spoken word to audio file. It will provide a framework to understand the myriad portable audio recorders available on the market. There will also be an introduction to some basics of audio, digital sampling, file formats, and concepts that underlie best recording practices.
The Show and Tell:
A look at many of the common portable audio recorders. Recorder types will include portable flash memory, portable internal micro-drives, direct-to-CD, recording pens, components that connect microphone directly to computer, and add-on components that extend functionality of common audio devices such as certain ...Read More
Mementos Help preserve memories. From the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions for helping people with Alzheimer’s cope with the disease. “Alzheimer’s steals away memories, but tangible mementos can help people remember their past.” [via Storycatching, by Pat McNees]
This is a counterpoint to the stance I took during the Q&A article, “I want to interview my parents. Does that mean I think they’re at death’s door?” In the Q&A, I assumed from the questioner’s age that his parents were in good health. But there are those whose parents are not in good heath, and Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia come and steal away what this article calls the tapestry woven from the memories of events in a person’s life.
Alzheimer’s disease gradually robs people of the memories that make up their tapestries. You can help mend these holes by creating a tangible repository of memories — in a scrapbook, videotape or audiotape.
In addition to writing memories in ...Read More
A Gallery of Custom Tape Decks, wherein Jeff Jacobs restores old audio technology as art, via BoingBoing Gadgets. I love the meta-line here. Jacobs restores tape decks, which I think of as tools for restoring (and digitizing) audio. If tape decks are art, then there’s a ton of art at Richard Hess’s audio tape restoration studio! In decades to come, when those machines grow ever scarcer, the BoingBoing post points to another source to find those long-obsolete tape decks of the world: the personal collections of geeks.
From Sen. Feinstein’s office: “Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation to create a Civil Rights Oral History Project, a joint effort between the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress to collect oral histories of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement and preserve them for future generations.” It will be like the Veterans History Project in that it would be a project of the Library of Congress
Just saw word of this from Senator Feinstein via Twitter. I asked how it will differ from the Voices of Civil Rights project, which I wrote about yesterday. The Voices of Civil Rights project is a joint project, where the Library of Congress is one of the sponsors, along with AARP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR).
While I was poking around on the Voices of Civil Rights site yesterday, I had a question to ask them—is the project still conducting any interviews, or is their total populatino of interviews limited to those collected during their national bus tour in 2004. Good question, right? The email address doesn’t work, though: It bounced! Doesn’t need an act ...Read More