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bleusblue2

recording family stories

bleusblue2
3 years ago

I've often thought about recording some of my relatives' reminiscences. I'll be visiting next week and I suddenly realised that this would be a good time to do it. But I've never thought about HOW I'd do it. The last time I recorded anybody I used a cassette recorder. Maybe they have something now with a format that i could upload to my computer. Have you done any recording lately? Any recommendations without a huge learning curve?

Comments (30)

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    There are smartphone apps that will make your phone an audio recorder. Best to choose one that will save into a file format that's universally compatible, like MP3. Take the files off the phone, put on a PC, and then do a backup or two.

    Before going to the trouble, be sure there are people in your family who would be interested in having oral histories. Your family could be quite different from mine but I know none of my kids would have an interest in something like this. Questions from them about my wife or my earlier years in life, the lives of their grandparents or earlier ancestors are never asked and don't seem to be of any interest to them. I'm not offended by that and maybe this reflects that they are their parents' children, my wife and I similarly have little interest in such things.

    If you do, great. It's something that's easy to do.


    bleusblue2 thanked Elmer J Fudd
  • yeonassky
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    What a wonderful idea. Good luck and try not to stress about it. It might not come out perfect. But then things in life seldom come out perfect. Just interesting. :-)

    For myself and DH there is some interest in family stories and history.

    From time to time questions come up that we wish our parents were here to answer.

    My children similarly ask about this and that particularly about family traditions and what goes in things that we cooked for them.

    Also health-related questions come up. It's important to know whether parents have had this or that illness. We can plan to avoid that illness if it is possible.

    I believe it was Angelina Jolie who had a double mastectomy due to family history of breast cancer. Knowledge is power they say.

    bleusblue2 thanked yeonassky
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  • bpath
    3 years ago

    I was going through some papers and found an interesting tidbit, and I'm so glad I was able to ask my dad about it. It was from his grandparents' life, and it would have been a shame to let that vanish. There's a funny generation-skip in who wants to know what about "the olden days". Often it's the great-grands who want to know, but if their parents didn't want to hear the stories, they are lost. My dad was the repository of family stories for his side, and now I'm going to try and take up the reins.

    I've taken to, when I'm chatting with a relative on the phone, jotting down their little tidbits on a legal pad (I doodle anyway while I'm on the phone), then typing them into the computer later. It's kind of fun.

    One thing you might find is different people's interpretations of the same stories. My mom's twin sister's daughter recorded some of her stories. At the twin's funeral, mom was reading the stories and offered to "correct" them. Her niece said "no way, write your own recollections!" My mom remembers things very differently, and they were twins! And things like, mom and her twin were the oldest and grew up with kids joining the household. But those younger kids grew up with older siblings leaving the household. Very different ways of experiencing the same family.

    Sorry, I can't help you with recording techniques, I'm a pen-and-legal-pad user myself lol

    bleusblue2 thanked bpath
  • nicole___
    3 years ago

    I own a very small Canon camera, with video and audio. Then I upload to utube. You can make the video private or public. Also FLICKR has a free account that will take videos.

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  • nickel_kg
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I'll be investigating smartphone app's too --- thanks for the suggestion, Elmer.

    DH has one aunt, no one else from that generation is still with us. She has a display cabinet full of family items and she's the only person in the world who knows their histories. I doubt that she wants to be video-ed, but would probably consent to having her voice recorded. None of us are getting any younger, so I need to push this project along.

    bpath, I'm sure you thought of this but what about printing a copy of her twin's stories for your mom to work with -- unless the "corrections" upset the family? you and your cousins might need to tread carefully, why upset anyone at this point.

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  • eld6161
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    .....or maybe it can be taken with a bit of humor.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtZ8fNfGRwA

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  • marylmi
    3 years ago

    I had a small recorder at one time that I used for my husband's doctors appointments after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It plugged in the computers USB port if I wanted to save it to the computer or I could just play it back to listen without using the computer. I can't remember if I bought it at Wal-Mart or sent away for it but it worked very well. I also took it to record my brother when he played his violin or whatever he was playing that particular night. I wish I would have thought to record my mother years ago when she would tell stories about her childhood. I bought a journal for her but she never did write anything in it.

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  • acraftylady
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Grest idea. I can record on my smart phone, there is an icon that says HD recorder. You can still get a tiny recorder at Wal-Mart and it hooks to the computer to upload. You can still get a full size cassette recorder at Wal-Mart. I am considering a tiny recorder as I want to go on some ghost hunts to capture some sounds. If you have a digital camera with video that might be nice to have video and audio. Mary

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  • bleusblue2
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Thank you everybody for these thoughtful comments!

    Thanks Elmer -- I have to squeeze in time to do some research about which app to get. I could use my camera video -- I think there is a 15 minute limit -- it might be nerve wracking -- but yes, why not try it with a friend before I go?

    My goal would be to transcribe these oral histories, to have both versions. For instance I want to document one relative's achievements here in America. He simply has no ego. Someone once asked him what he was working on and he said "Oh a very interesting garage down on fourth street." Well the "garage" was part of an iconic and historical building and he was in charge of the whole project. He knows wonderful details about what they found while researching the building. I will write it out to keep. He doesn't have children and doesn't think about his legacy.

    As for family members -- younger relatives that we meet at funerals (!) ask questions about the family history and say, we should get together. WEELLLL my siblings and I aren't going to live forever. We are the only ones who know the stories. One sweet lady who is married to a cousin's son has been doing "research" -- and the "facts" she comes up with on Ancestry or wherever are skewed. She doesn't follow through though once she knows the answer.

    Since I find the stories so interesting and important I know there will be somebody someday who will feel the same. I wish i knew more. The person who cares about our ancestors' lives has probably not been born yet. I want to put down what I know.

  • bleusblue2
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    yeonassky

    ....< > From time to time questions come up that we wish our parents were here to answer.

    Isn't that the truth? In one moment, it's all gone, the stories they told and the detail you never thought to ask about! Ridiculous but fascinating details

    Youtube has some wonderful interviews made in the beginning of the last century with people who were almost 100 years old.

    bpath Oh Sophie

    Her niece said "no way, write your own recollections!" My mom remembers things very differently, and they were twins!

    Isn't it interesting that siblings can describe two different families? But your story takes the cake -- twins yet!

    acraftylady

    Grest idea. I can record on my smart phone, there is an icon that says HD recorder. You can still get a tiny recorder at Wal-Mart and it hooks to the computer to upload. You can still get a full size cassette recorder at Wal-Mart.

    Your message just came in while I was writing -- I'll check that out too! Cassette recorder is the easiest but I do like the idea that I can upload to the computer. Maybe this is the same one that Marylmi used.

    nickel_kg

    I'll be investigating smartphone app's too --- thanks for the suggestion, Elmer.

    DH has one aunt, no one else from that generation is still with us. She has a display cabinet full of family items and she's the only person in the world who knows their histories.

    Oh, I'd be sitting with her in front of that display cabinet, even taking pictures of the items. Well, I say that, but how may hours do we have in the day!



  • acraftylady
    3 years ago

    That will be a nice thing. If you live near where ancestors are burried consider taking photos of the graves and uploading the info to find a grave for future generations in case someone is searching. Mary

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  • bpath
    3 years ago

    Nickel, sadly my mom is no longer able to express those memories. She has forgotten that she hates milk, and now asks for it all the time. But I do have the story of why she never liked it. Maybe she’s forgotten that part. It’s funny how, when I talk to her 10-years-younger sister, I get completely different views on the same thing than what I always heard from Mom.

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  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I've never used a smartphone recording app but I suggest when sitting down for a session, first do a few 30 second test intervals to make sure the volume setting and the microphone location are suitable to produce the volume level you want. I know they work well, all of you have probably seen impromptu interview sessions with various people in the news where you can see the reporters holding up their phones to record what's being said.


    Another approach is to use a PC (laptop for portability), with the built in microphone or an external one. I think PCs have a native audio recording program/app but if not there are plenty of free ones. For more sophisticated audio handling and editing, I use Audacity, which I think is the acknowledged leader in this software space and the most widely used for audio editing, podcast production, music recording, etc. It's free.

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  • maifleur01
    3 years ago

    Those completely different views are often why if someone places notes on sites like Ancestry they do not match what was related to you.

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  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    3 years ago

    We tried to get my grandmother (born 1902) to write down memories of her childhood, family history and stories. She did sit for an recorded interview with my cousin which is the most we ever got from her.

    As I talk to some of my older relatives (3rd generation here), they know little to nothing about the family history. I think part of that stems from the immigrant generation (1st and 2nd) not wanting to revisit the "old country" much, and another part is that history was too immediate - and nothing to do with "major" events - to seem to have any significance worth passing down -- which I think also may be why so many of us really weren't curious about such things until we hit our 50s.

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  • marilyn_c
    3 years ago

    How I wish I had written down the family stories that my mother told me.

    There is a guy ( at least one....probably more)....in Houston that has a business called Legacy Films, and he interviews and films people's stories and memories

    I wrote The Story of My Life, on another forum, and copied it and added it to my notes section of FB. I shared it with my daughter and some friends, but I basically have no family and my one daughter has no children. So when I am gone, very quickly no one will remember me or have any interest in my story, but it was very reflective and somewhat cathartic to write it all down.

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  • bleusblue2
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    I went to the Mall tonight. Walmart had a recorder but it didn't have option to upload to the computer. The Source (used to be Radio Shack here) had this: Olympus ws-852 Voice recorder. I came home and looked it up, under the term "easy to use", read some reviews, and it looks like it will do for me. In any case it's the only one I saw here. It is 57.99 CAD on Amazon -- I think it was more at the Mall. It's the Canadian dollar -- so low against the US dollar! For 25.99 you can buy an Olympus attachment enables telephone call recording.

  • bleusblue2
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    marilyn_c


    I wrote The Story of My Life, on another forum, and copied it and added it to my notes section of FB. I shared it with my daughter and some friends, but I basically have no family and my one daughter has no children. So when I am gone, very quickly no one will remember me or have any interest in my story, but it was very reflective and somewhat cathartic to write it all down.

    ~~~~

    "no one will remember me or have any interest in my story"

    marilyn -- i hope that isn't true. I think there are archives that document our period. I once met an archivist who was shocked that anyone would throw away a letter (I told her a story about that) and I got the idea that there are places that keep the stories of our times. People who wrote down simple things like "what I ate today" were actually recording valuable information for future historians. I'm sure it isn't simple but if your friends on Facebook share it that's already one step ahead.

  • maifleur01
    3 years ago

    Sadly for many including myself what Marilyn wrote is true. Many only have distant relatives and by the time they die most of the people they knew have preceded them. How many on here have resigned themselves to their family simply cleaning out where they live to either a charity or dumpster. While writing down things sounds good few are going to even look at it other than to decide to toss or recycle. That is just life when you are older.

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  • acraftylady
    3 years ago

    The little tapeless recorder I always see at our walmart uploads to a computer and I think it's the one you posted. Maybe they are not carrying those anymore. Friends daughter bought one to take notes in class an upload. I want it for ghosty stuff other wise I can use my smart phone which has a large memory card in it to store files. Good luck with your project. Mary

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  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    "I can use my smart phone which has a large memory card in it to store files."

    No need to have a large memory card for recorded audio files of people speaking. A sampling rate that's 2x overkill for speaking, like say 128 kbs, uses just a shade less than 1 MB per minute. So 90 minutes of speaking would be less than 100MB, a drop in the bucket for a smartphone with gigabyes and gigabytes of storage, with or without a memory card.

    At a very suitable rate for a simple voice recording, like 64kbs, 90 minutes would be less than 50 megs. About the size of 10 smartphone digital photographs.

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  • acraftylady
    3 years ago

    Sone people don't get phones with large internal storage. I have a lot of internal storage but prefer to have all my files off the phone and onto a memory card besides my online back up. That way if my phone suddenly dies I just pop out the memory card into the new phone. You never know with these devices what can happen. Mary

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  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    You can also experience an internal power surge when charging a phone or the same can happen from a battery malfunction and all digital files in the phone can get fried. Whether on internal memory or an SD card. Dozens of other mishaps are possible too, including failure of the SD card or internal memory themselves, that's not an infrequent problem. Just last week I experienced a dead SD card that refused access. Thankfully, I don't keep just one copy of anything important on SD cards.

    You can't rely on any storage on a phone. Important files need to be taken off and stored elsewhere for safe backup. The more important the files, the more backup copies in different locations are warranted.

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  • acraftylady
    3 years ago

    I have 4 back ups of important things, over kill probably. Mary

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  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    That's good. But then how much storage is on a phone or a supplemental card in the phone doesn't matter and that was my original point to you.

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  • jemdandy
    3 years ago

    Below is a link to a site that will give you a sampling of what is available in sound recorders and features to look for. Apparently, most of these will fit in your hand and the recording is stored on memory cards. Some devices have storage on fixed internal memory with optional additional memory on removable memory cards. The MP3 format seems most popular. Whatever you choose, make sure there is an easy way to copy the files to another device such as your computer.

    As Elmer J Fudd mentioned, there are apps available for some smart phones to store sound. Depending on features, these may record video, sound, or video plus sound. The limitation is battery life and storage size. Some phones support removable memory cards.

    If you record a serious amount of material, investing in a good computer application for converting speech to text will be valuable. Realize that these speech to text converters are not fool proof and will produce inaccuracies. Proof reading, correcting, and editing for clarity is a must, however, quickly getting a first draft on paper will shorten the chore of converting the transcribed material to text.


    https://www.lifewire.com/best-voice-recorders-to-buy-4063101

  • bleusblue2
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    maifleur01

    Sadly for many including myself what Marilyn wrote is true. Many only have distant relatives and by the time they die most of the people they knew have preceded them

    ~~~~

    Yes, despite my hopes that some memories will be saved. I have the same problem -- no children and only one niece who couldn't care less. Still my cousins have children and I hope to pass the memories to them.

    Twenty years ago a friend, an artist, passed away without a single relative to mourn her. I tried hard to get some remnant of her story documented somewhere. It failed and now I have my own stories to rescue!

  • bleusblue2
    Original Author
    3 years ago

    Jane and Jemdandy I enjoyed your posts.

    Jemdandy -- I did look up the site and read some of the reviews. But I decided to limit my research -- sometimes I drive myself crazy. About five years ago I walked into a hardware store and put a cordless kettle without looking anything up and it has been perfect all these years. So when I find myself digging deep and wearing myself out I try to remember buying that kettle.

    That said -- i went back to The Source and got the WS 852. The web reviews called it "easy" and that's what it is. I have been practicing with it. Nothing to it. The negative reviews were about things I can live with -- unless it burns out. It's so intuitive! About ten years ago I bought one of these mini recorders for my husband and it was just so complicated he never used it! Each time I tried I had to look in the manual and finally gave up. How I wish he was here and I could give it to him to use. It takes AAA batteries -- takes a memory card -- I think 4 gigabytes -- I should look into that. Has internal memory. I'll be meeting the relatives soon ...

    Thanks everybody for giving me your ideas!

  • blfenton
    3 years ago

    Enjoy your visit. Maybe you'll discover some ghosts in that family closet.