Tag Archives: Oral history

Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project – Part 2

Here is the second installment of our student assistant written blog entry about our Mine Memories Oral History Project.

Part two out of two:

 

After we figured out how we could best set up our interview space, we were able to start recording interviews. Of course, I was nervous, but at the same time I was excited to hear what our interviewees had to say about their experiences. Our first interview went smoothly, there were no interruptions and next to no unwanted sounds on the recording. Our first interviewee was a historian, so it was really very interesting hearing things from both his personal and historical perspective. Our next interviewee, who actually worked for a local mining company, provided a completely different point of view on the time.

 

We have interviewed seven people so far, and no two stories are the same. It has been an amazing journey, hearing all of these different perspectives on the same topic, and a topic that has had such a huge impact on the local region. Hearing people tell these stories is one thing, but to hear them and to realize how huge of an impact working in or around the mines has caused in their lives, is kind of mind blowing.

 

The other day I was walking down along the portage by the Portage Lake District Library, and saw a mural of what Houghton could have looked like back in the mining days. There were also depictions of one of the mines that I’ve heard so much about and an image of a possible housing situation for the miners. It was incredible to be able to point out what I’ve heard during the interviews and be capable to look at these images and tell some of the stories that I’ve been hearing. It has been an incredible opportunity to work on this project and with all of these wonderful people, I can’t wait to come back from my summer break and continue working on these interviews.

 

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.


Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project

This is the first of two articles written by one of our student assistants, Andrea Dubs, who is working with us on the Mine Memories Oral History Project as our Audio Technician. She is responsible for much of the recording that we do during our interviews and refining audio files for clarity.

 

Part one out of two:

 

I have been working with the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections as a student assistant for a little over a month now, and I must say that it has been quite interesting. Even though I’ve only been here a short amount of time, I feel like I’m part of the family. Everyone is always smiling and has a happy greeting for you when you walk in. I am currently working as the audio technician on the Mine Memories Oral History Project.  This project is really very interesting, listening to people telling their stories and realizing that it is their history has had a huge impact on me.

 

When I first joined this project, I had no idea what to expect. I was in new territory but I was also prepared to learn new things. As the audio tech for this project, I had to first learn how to use the recorder that had been purchased. The recorder we are using is a Zoom H5. I watched several YouTube videos and skimmed through the user manual to work out the best ways to use the equipment in an interview setting. After learning how to use the recorder, I learned how to edit audio files in Audacity, a free open source audio editing software. To do this, I watched several tutorial videos.

Andrea Dubs,  editing audio files with Audacity
Andrea Dubs, editing audio files with Audacity

After familiarizing myself with the Zoom5 and Audacity, I started to think about how we would be using the recorder specifically in an interview setting. I worked out the optimal location for the recorder so that it could pick up the both  interviewee and interviewer voices. We started asking questions such as: how can we minimize the effects of people tapping on the table? How can we minimize drastic sound shifts caused by coughs or sneezes? How can we equalize voices that are speaking at very different volumes, so the audio recording is easier to listen to for researchers?

 

In order to answer these questions, Sawyer Newman (Communications and Research Assistant), a graduate student volunteer and I sat down to record several mock interviews. In these interviews, the interviewee and interviewer did different things that could occur during the actual interviews. For example, they did some table tapping and covered their mouths with their hands or spoke particularly loudly or softly.

The Archive's Zoom H5 Handy Recorder
The Archive’s Zoom H5 Handy Recorder

From these tests, we were able to determine the optimal location and input volumes for the recording equipment, which gave us a good idea about how much space we would need to conduct an interview. We also determined that we should use a muffler over the microphone, and place the recorder on a tissue box or stack of newspapers in order to minimize the effects of distracting sounds, such as tapping.

Stay tuned for the second installment, which will be posted later this week. 

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.


Mine Memories Oral History Project Update

We are currently in the thick of the interview portion of our Mine Memories project. The Michigan Tech Archives’ oral history team has successfully completed interviews with six community members and has another interview schedules in the upcoming weeks. There are many more who have expressed interest in participating, though there is still room for more participants.

Even more work has been going on behind the scenes, as we transcribe and digitally process the resulting audio files from our interviews.

Keep an eye out for more blog updates about this project – as well as an upcoming student assistant’s accounts of working on the team.

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

ohg flyer 12-4


“Oral Histories and Archives” Talk to be Held at the Calumet Public Library

The Friends of the Calumet Public Library is sponsoring a presentation next week by Sawyer Newman, Communications and Research Assistant at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections.

During this talk, Newman will discuss the value that archives can have as active members of their respective communities and the benefit that oral histories add to archival collections. The talk will utilize examples of oral history from the current Mine Memories project and other oral history collections held by the Michigan Tech Archives.

The talk will take place on Wednesday, April 6 at 6:30 P.M. at the Calumet Public Library (located on the C-L-K campus, 57070 Mine Street, Calumet). The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission. 

 

Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection
Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection

Mining Memories Project to Start this Winter

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is pleased to announce that its staff will be initiating an oral history project this winter. This project, funded in part by the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, aims to collect first hand accounts from Copper Country mine workers and their families in an effort to preserve local mining heritage.

Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection
Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection

 

Why are we doing this?

The Michigan Tech Archives has hundreds of cubic feet of mining company records within its collections but does not have nearly the same bulk of primary source materials characterizing mine workers and their families on a personal level. By reaching out to individuals who have stories to tell about the mines, the archives will give people agency over their own local history and will capture memories that would otherwise be forgotten.

Personal accounts of working for the local mines and of living in the local mining community will add so much to our historical narrative

Do you have a story to tell?

If you have worked for a Copper Country mine, or were close with a family member who worked for a mine, we would love to schedule an interview with you. We will be interviewing 15 people between January and May 2016.

Interviews will be scheduled for 45 minute blocks in the Michigan Tech Archives. The interviews will follow a predetermined set of questions, but will allow for freeform discussion as well. If you are interested in participating, but are not able to travel to the Michigan Tech Archives, please let us know. We may be able to set up another centralized location for interviews within our community.

Further Questions?

If you would like to learn more about this project or would like to schedule an interview, please email the archives at copper@mtu.edu or call us at (906)-487-2505.