Recording Family Memories at the Library

About twenty years ago I took a microphone and cassette recorder and sat down with my mom and grandmother to ask them questions about their lives. My mom talked about when she was a child and witnessed her house burn down in the middle of the night. My grandmother talked about her marriage to my Grandfather, how he was always so fun loving and how she wished she had not been so serious during that time. (He died early, leaving her with a twelve year old still to raise.) It’s on my “To Do” list to convert that analog tape to a digital file so my kids can hear those voices.

It’s easier now than ever to record these precious family memories.  Anyone with a smart phone has a portable recording device with them at all times.  It’s our goal to help patrons take advantage of this technology with the Record Your Life Story program, happening September 7th at Russell Memorial Library.  Patrons will learn how to download and use the free recording software Audacity.  We will also demonstrate the app which allows people to record and save their interviews on their own “community” online.  Interviews saved with the app are also archived online at the American Folklife Center at the United States Library of Congress.

We will continue the program throughout the fall by offering a series of recording sessions. Library staff will facilitate the recording of a thirty minute interview patrons conduct with a family member.  Patrons will be provided with a set of potential interview questions beforehand and will be given a CD recording of the interview when it is done.  Our goal is to archive these interviews in our own CPL Community on the website and to expand the project to include other stories of historical interest to the Hampton Roads area.

Staff Recommendation: Save Me, Kurt Cobain

The year is 2006. Nicola, aka “Nico,” is coming up on her fifteenth birthday. Thanks to a cumulative set of circumstances involving a Ouija board, a ferry ride, and the discovery of her mother’s stash of vintage CDs, Nico comes to believe that former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain is A) still alive, and B) her real father.

When I read the premise for Save Me, Kurt Cobain, my first thought was, “Wait, what?” My second was, “I need to read that immediately.” Because, having grown up in the 90s myself, with a stash of CDs I’m starting to realize might be considered “vintage” now, this story is both outlandish and familiar in ways I did not expect.



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Oral History – Everyone Has a Story

The Chesapeake Genealogy Enthusiasts met on November 9, 2015. Some attendees shared photographs along with memories. Kevin Clement presented the lesson, “Oral History.”

Oral history is a field of study where professionals collect systematically the testimony of living people about their personal experiences. Even though it has been argued that only trained professionals can conduct legitimate oral history, it is important for families to collect and maintain the oral memories of its members.

Families should consider preserving their own memories. My grandfather used to tell marvelous stories of his time as a missionary in Africa. I have shared a couple of these stories throughout my life, but I am positive that I do not give the tales the same flair that my grandfather had given them. How grand would it be if I had an audio or video recording of him telling these stories so I could replay the recording over and over again and hear his voice? It is too late since my grandfather passed away in 1978, but it may not be too late for others. Look to your relatives still living and begin recording their memories. More importantly, do not fail to record your own memories for future generations.

Graduation photo of my grandfather, Frank Manning, missionary and storyteller.

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Star Wars Reads Day!


Are you ready for Star Wars Reads Day? Wait… you haven’t heard of it?! Well, tell you about it, I must!

A year ago in a Library far, far away we celebrated Star Wars Reads Day. It is an international celebration of literacy. This is the one event where the Imperial troops and Rebel forces come together for the sake of spreading the intergalactic importance of reading. Come join us at the Russell Memorial Library this Saturday, October 10 from 10 AM-1 PM, as we celebrate the strongest force of the galaxy… literacy.

Check out our schedule of events for the day!

Read, you must!