Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Family History Specialist Verses A Genealogist -There is a Difference

Over the years, I have tried many times to do genealogy. I went to a few classes and dug out some information.

When I lived in the East, my mother came to visit and we went and toured "family farms" that were still in the family and met many distant cousins.
We toured cemeteries collecting information on long lost family members. A few times I contacted aunts who had documents and pictures from my grandmas estate.

I took them to a copy place and made copies of it all. I took the pictures that she had and made negatives of them and made copies for all my siblings.

That was about the extent of my family history experience before the past ten years. I moved my mom and sorted her stuff several times sorting more each move. 

About ten years ago, I spent the summer sorting about six pallets of papers that my mom had collected over the years.

I spent a month recently sorting all the documents I had hoping and feeling like maybe there was an end to the piles. I hoped I could get the sorting finished and scan them all. Click here to see a post about that.

My family has agreed to help purchase a scanner and I have researched the one I want and was getting ready to purchase it until I found out there were LOTS more boxes.

We brought two carloads of sorting papers and tapes to my house this past week and yesterday, my sister dropped off another box. A few weeks back another sister gave me two more boxes.

I shared with the family that I wanted everything they had so I will never have to do any more after this time. I am hoping that I can be done with it all soon. I feel like a broken record with that but also want to share how I am doing it so that others who have this type of issue can know what worked for me.  

In those two carloads of stuff, there were ten boxes of reel to reel and cassettes tapes. One of my brothers decided to stay at my house as his son needed a car and he was here for a few days waiting for a ride home. He asked if he could help me set up a way to convert those tapes to audio files on the computer.

I pulled out seven different cassette tape players. We used a tape and tested the sound of each player to see which had the best sound for recording. We didn't want any hiss sound in the background.

I labeled each player with a number and was able to make sure which was best. I kept the two best for recording and within the first 20 tapes, one of them broke due to all the fast forward and rewinding as I previewed the tapes. I suggest that you use one of the less quality recorders to do the previewing so the motors don't run out on the better quality

I found two reel-to-reel players at second hand stores and one has actual tubes in it and has a hiss when recording or playing to the computer. The second one was newer but during playback it was so loud the play was muffled.

My brother made a reducer so that we could hear the tapes at a reduced level. The problem being when it was recorded, it was recorded at the higher level, so during play back it was super loud. I would not have known that was the problem had my brother not been there.

I also wouldn't have known that there was such a thing as a reducer had he not been there. After messing with several levels of recording, we were able to figure out how to listen and record all levels on the reel-to-reel tapes. It made it all see "doable" to me.

I had the stuff all over my dining room table and since there are 10 boxes of tapes, I know
it is going to take me years to get through it all. I decided to set up a folding table and put it in one of the kids rooms. I didn't want it all in my living room for years.

The software to transfer over audio is free to get online. Some computer software that comes with the computer could work as well. The one I have tried and like the best is Audacity.

Basically, you take an male to male auxiliary cord and plug one end in the headphone jack on the tape player and plug the other end into the headphone jack on the computer.

Push play on the tape player and then push record on the computer program. If you want to listen to what is being recorded, you need to have a splitter on the headphone jack on the tape player. You either need to listen over headphones or hook up an external speaker onto the splitter.

Always test the sound on the recording before going with the entire recording. If the volume is too high, the sound bars with turn orange at the top sound meter and the playback will be distorted.

There are a few tricks that I learned while working on it. If you have to turn a tape over, you can hit pause on the recording software and turn over the tape and then hit record again once the tape is turned over.

Since the reel-to-reel tapes are so old and had been packed up over and over, some edges had been distorted and when they were playing on one of the reel-to-reel players the tape was getting caught on the pinched edges and causing a warping on the playback or recording.

The way I fixed this was to put a few of the non-listened to tapes on top of the one playing. Before that, I was putting my hand on the one playing keeping it from lurching. By putting some of the reels on top, the weight kept it from lurching but even then, you need to "babysit" it.

I have to say that copying and listening to each tape  takes forever and after doing two long marathon session, I am averaging about two tapes per hour. I listen until I find something to record and then record but I am doing two channels at the same time on the reel-to-reel and one or two cassettes on two different machines and have two computers hooked up to record.

Some say it isn't worth it to spend the time listening to them all but during my first session doing this, I found the most adorable news interview of my mother as a national beauty queen when she was visiting a state to crown their new state winner. It was SO fun to hear her being interviewed and I can now put a link to that in her book!

I also have heard many tapes my mother made to her parents when I was little and have gotten to hear myself a few times as well as my siblings being simply cute!

I know that not everyone will appreciate all that I am doing. But, I know that my mother in her realms above will be grateful as she sacrificed to make those tapes. I have to say that I have gotten to appreciate my mother so much more by listening to her share her life in those letter tapes. She was one busy and wonderful mother of 8!

I never do genealogy but I have to say, at this point in my life, that I am probably someone who could be considered a "Family History Specialist" as I know all sorts of ways to do family history.

I feel I will be blessed by getting through all this stuff. I just hope I can get through it sooner than later! Have a BLESSED Day!

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