Monday, October 22, 2012

Oral History How-To

This past weekend I attended the biennial meeting for the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA), held at St. Olaf College. One of the day's break-out sessions was a panel discussion about a new joint project between Sons of Norway and NAHA. The project aims to capture the oral histories of post-WWII immigrants.

One of the panelists for this session was Joe Hoover, digital technology outreach specialist in field services at the Minnesota Historical Society. Viking writer Sarah Asp Olson interviewed Hoover earlier this fall for her article, "Oral History How-To." Here are some tips Hoover shared for recording in the 21st century:

Get Smart. Smart phones are a convenient and effective way to capture oral histories on the go. Add handy (and inexpensive) apps like FiRe 2 for audio and FiLMiCPro for video, and you’re all set to record anywhere.

Mics Matter. To give your recording quality a boost, use a good microphone. While high quality versions can run up to $200, Hoover has found good ones in the $5 to $10 range. “The one thing you will need is an audio input adapter,” he says. “If you just plug the mic into the iPhone it won’t record.”

Digitize. Say you recorded your grandpa two decades ago when no one had heard of an Mp3. Hoover recommends taking those tapes and converting them to a digital file format. “It actually can be very easy,” he says. “With the right cabling, you can set up the output into your laptop.”

Comfort Counts.
“I highly recommend finding a device that you’re comfortable with,” says Hoover. After all, if you’re intimidated by the technology, you may choose not to pursue the interview in the first place—a far worse tragedy than a couple crackles or pops. 

Check out Hoover’s blog for more tips and specific recommendations. And learn more about taking and archiving oral histories in the November issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

1 comment:

city said...

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