Slaves In the Family

I’ve mentioned it previously, but having just finished reading it, I have to mention it again: Edward Ball’s Slaves in the Family. It’s history, memoir, oral history; a re-telling of American History through the events of one slave-owning family in South Carolina. I found more: a 30-minute radio documentary (Sept 28,2000 episode, scroll half way down. Real Player). The documentary was produced by David Isay (what a coincidence! Isay is from Sound Portraits productions; he’s founder of the StoryCorps Project).

An excerpt from the book’s beginning. Reading group guide.

Edward Ball interviewed: PBS Newshour upon his book winning the National Book Award
The Paula Gordon Show. Radio interview. Summary of interviews, short (3:25) audio excerpt (no transcripts or full audio file, alas)

CNN: A Warrior in Scholar’s Clothing

I’m trying to put a finger on what it is about Slaves in the Family that’s so striking: Certainly the history of the United States as told through the thread of a single family both fascinated and illuminated. It’s been a long time since I studied the American Revolution, when I did, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New England were where it’s at. Those southern states? Not so ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 30, 2006 in • Personal History
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An IV bag, tubing, piano felt, windsheld wipers and tape deck

Or… why you take your old tapes to the pros. Marie O’Connell guest writes at Richard Hess’s Tape Restoration blog on audio tape restoration. Restoration Tips & Notes | Wet playing of reel tapes with Loss of Lubricant. This is one about what to do when tapes don’t respond to baking. Bizarre? Well, yeah, sorta. It’s the arcane art of audio tape restoration. The description alone made me want to stand and cheer at the sheer ingenuity.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 27, 2006 in • Restoration
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Louisiana State University April 2 Open House includes Oral History

Sunday April 2, 2-5 pm at T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History: presentations about and from the oral history collection, which has over 2500 interviews. 2theadvocate news story; LSU Libraries Special Collections Page

Named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who was a pioneer in the scholarly use of oral history, the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History has collected more than 2,500 interviews to date.  On April 2, staff will speak about the center’s projects, such as documenting the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, the experiences of Vietnamese refugees who relocated to Louisiana, and the center’s upcoming project working with the Pointe au Chein Tribe.  Presentations will start at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Visitors will be able to talk with community members who participated in these projects, listen to interviews, and learn about how oral history preserves life stories that would otherwise ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the news
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Revive, Rebuild, Renew, Record!!

Humid City and New Orleans Oral History Project are two blogs associated with the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. There’s some audio posted at the latter site—first Mardi Gras, post-Katrina.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Online Oral History CollectionsOral History Projects
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Oral History in the news for week ending March 25

Roundup of news stories about Oral History this past week. From Dam builders to Dancers to Latino Vets, to US Senators… From Maori in New Zealand to Bangladesh to Appalaicha to Native Americans of Nevada.

  • CA Gold Country Exhibit for Folsom Dam at Folsom History Museum (from now till July, 2006) features oral history interviews of people who built the dam.  “We’re going to have an oral history booth where people can pick up a phone and listen to a clip of one person we interviewed who worked on Folsom Dam,” (I just read a biography of Wm Mulholland, who built the Aquaduct from Owens Valley to Los Angeles, so the memories of dam-builders intrigues me mightily!)
  • Rest in Peace, Doris Jones. Jones founded the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, to provide dance training for others; she was denied training due to race. She lived to 92 and won awards and was featured in an oral history at ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the news
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Learn How in Portland, OR April 27, 2006

Two introductory workshops will be held the first day of the Pacific Northwest History Conference, April 27-29 [PDF file]. Each workshop costs $50; admission to main conference is not required. I’m inquiring whether conference fee is required if you wish to attend workshops only. At Doubletree Hotel on Multnomah Street in Portland.

Descriptions of Workshops from the Conference Program:

NOHA Workshop A
Introduction to Oral History
Instructor: Brad Williams, Director, Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, Pasadena, California

NOHA Workshop B
History in the Digital Age: Digital Recording and Archiving
Instructor: Doug Boyd, Kentucky Oral History Commission

I’ve attended a workshop by Brad Williams in the L.A. area and the man simply rocks. You’ll learn tons from him. I’ve heard good things about Doug Boyd’s presentations on digital formats; I wish I could speak from personal experience.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 23, 2006 in • Do it: Learn HowDo it: Yourself
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The Art of the Interview (x2)

An intriguing-looking book: The Art of the Interview. Actually there are two books of that title (different subtitles). The Art of the Interview: A Step by Step Guide to Insightful Interviewing by Martin Perlich, and The Art of the Interview : Lessons from a Master of the Craft, by Lawrence Grobel. Even though I found the book(s) by a reference to Grobel’s (Amazon lists Perlich’s book on Grobel’s book page), I like the Amazon reviews for Perlich’s better. Both authors are journalists, and both books claim to give how-to advice, Both tell stories of interviews conducted.

Perlich’s reviewers spoke of his book in more glowing terms. But they also offered intriguing nuggets of their own…From a guy who hired him way back, (“Local boy makes good”).... to the tension between structure and formlessness to artistic creation that is the interview itself…

The author, Martin Perlich presents the interviewer begining with a blank sheet of paper or glob of clay and it is his/hers task to create the Mona Lisa or drop the ball, so to speak. The end product becomes a work or art; hence the title. The book gives some very practical advise on how to prepare for and conduct a good interview. the elevation of the ordinary and everyday, and how interviewing ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 22, 2006 in • Interviewing
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Tangled Roots

For African-Americans, genealogy is harder. “‘The major difference is as a white person you won’t be looking for your people as property of somebody else,’ said Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, a genealogy researcher…” Oral History is an important key. And sharing research—whites with blacks and vice-versa.

This article sparked my attention, because I’m reading a book called Slaves in the Family, by Edward Ball. Ball is the descendant of the plantation-owning Balls from South Carolina. He examines the history of his slave-owning, in his family, breaking familial taboos (one cousin told him, “What you are doing can only cause trouble!”) and breaking new ground in uniting current-day African-Americans with records of their forbears.

Here’s a short excerpt from the book where Ball visits the elderly Katie Roper and her two 40-ish daughters, Delores and Charlotte. Katie is the granddaughter of Bright Ma, a Ball family slave. Edward Ball shares information from the plantation records with ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 21, 2006 in • Personal History
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Blog after my own long-now heart: The Ten Thousand Year Blog

A weblog on longevity: The Ten thousand year blog. Because Digital Lasts Forever…. or five years, whichever comes first. Topics: archiving, records preservation, digital records, digital longevity, and on and on. Like I just said… can someone 100 years from now access recordings you make as easily as I can read those letters from the 1920s and 1930s? ….I gotta skedaddle right now, but I’ll be back to surf deeper into David Matteson’s site.

P.S. What is the long now? It’s the long view, the 10,000-year view. When everyone was talking about all the programming needed to fix the Y2K problem, Long now was talking about adding a 0 in front of the current year to fix the Y10K problem. So this year is 02006. Go to the Long Now Foundation site for more. I first heard the “forever/5 years” quote from Stewart Brand’s book, The Clock of the Long Now.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 18, 2006 in • DigitalityLongevity
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It’s not a recording, but it brings the history home

San Diego Union Tribune: Rancho Buena Vista High School holds USO Show and Oral Historians Day, hosting 95 veterans of World War II (wow!) to tell about their experiences in three 50-minute sessions. The students dressed in 1940s era clothes and put on USO show for the vets.

The veterans’ presentations, spread across campus in three 50-minute sessions, drove home history lessons that students had read in books and heard in lectures.

“This gave me a new perspective,” said Tyler Cottrell, a student who was Vielhauer’s guide for the day. “It made it very real for me.”

[...] “They are two generations coming together, separated by almost 60 years,” he said. “The students get real-life accounts of the war that’s different from textbooks, classroom lectures or videos. Our veterans really enjoy talking to the students.”

The event began at Rancho Buena Vista High School when a former student, whose grandfather was a Pearl Harbor survivor, approached the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the news
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Baltimore Oral History Conference next week

Yo, Baltimore-area people! Oral History Conference March 23 and 24. Special beginner session March 23. Held at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum for Maryland African American History and Culture, in Baltimore, Maryland. (assuming there’s space available—I’ve only just inquired, will post update when I hear back, you can go to both conference and beginner session for $95)

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Do it: Learn How
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Podcast 1 - Introduction

Podcast 1: Family Oral History Using Digital Tools. 20 minutes. A few clips of my interviews with Grandpa. More about that visit. Plans for future podcasts. [podcast feed link]

Show notes: When I visited with my Grandpa, I blogged it at 2020Hindsight at A Lake George Diary.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 17, 2006 in • Podcasts
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Preparations (and lessons) for podcast #1

Preparations underway. The podcast is mostly finished. I’ll need to set up a specific feed, and upload it its “final destination” –, I hope. Re-learn old stuff (Everything takes longer than you think). Learn new stuff: What’s that curve? How can I make it go away? It’s DC offset , which happens when recording on portable digital media–in this case, an iPod. New stuff will find its way into a lengthier explanation here at a later date.

It’s all a matter of working with digital audio, to be sure. There’s a happy overlap for podcasters to apply their equipment and skills to family history. But there are differences, too.

When doing a family history and thinking about the final output, I mentally apply the 80-year test: Will this be readable and findable 80 years from now? Why 80 years? well… if you see that small stack of letters in the sidebar, those are from a family attic. Postmarked in the 1920s and 1930s. 80-plus years later, I can read them, after a bit of puzzling out handwriting qualities. What about the person 80 years from now?

When doing a podcast, I’m taking a cue from one of my audio heroes, Doug Kaye ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 16, 2006 in • Housekeeping
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San Francisco Earthquake, 100 years on

(updated) San Francisco: 5:12am, April 18, 1906. The quake. The big quake and fire. Lots of historic commemoration taking place in San Francisco for the 100th anniversary, as Frances Dinkelspiel (the great great granddaughter of the then-president of Wells Fargo Bank) notes on her weblog. She tells the story of waiting two weeks after the fire to open the bank’s vault, to let the temperature subside down to normal.

Frances notes all the places where there are exhibits and special commemorative events. (Update: I inquired, and alas, she has found no voice recordings of relatives recalling stories from that era.). I’m located 400 miles south of San Francisco, and right now I’m wishing to visit all the places, and to see which of the archives have any recorded recollections. The Bancroft Library at Berkeley has a whole bunch of personal narratives.

UPDATE: Why yes, there are oral histories as part of the exhibit—สล็อตออนไลน์ ได้เงินจริงThis Berkeley Daily Planet article describes items on display at the Bancroft Library (including descriptions from its oral history collections). Also, some some earthquake film footage ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 15, 2006 in • History
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Rumors of a new minidisc coming soon

Engadget proclaims, MiniDisc lives! Hi-MD MZ-RH1 said to be coming soon, noting a discussion at’s forums about “how a rumored third-gen HiMD recorder that may be just around the corner.” The unit is “aimed solely at the live recording enthusiast” which, well, is good news for field recording, or oral history.

Here’s more from the post on that kicks off the discussion thread:

Rumors that it includes:

PC/Mac compatibility. Support for USB 2.0, Costs near $275-325USD (349Euro), Line in, mic in, headphone out, Aluminium body

Assumptions and speculation:

- Easy and nonrestrictive upload of any recorded tracks due to advancements in Sonicstage 3.4, which it will ship with.
- Adjustable mic sensitivity (as the levels are clearly displayed via unit).
- Ability to charge via USB, like second generation Hi-MD units.
- Ability to record in all of the new ATRAC3plus bitrates, e.g. 192kbps + 352kbps and PCM (wav)
- OLED display (clearly displayed on picture).
- Uses NiMH gumstick ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 11, 2006 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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