Minnesota Local History

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Advice and help with building history capacity.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Mitson House Museum - Canton Historical Society

By: Joe Hoover | June 26, 2012
While the Canton Historical Society is one of Minnesota's newest historical organizations, the Mitson House Museum has been around since the 1970's. Along with the Canton Depot, the Mitson House Museum is undergoing changes with the community's renewed interest in their historical assets.



Minnesota African American Museum Grand Opening, Minneapolis, Minnesota

By: Joe Hoover | June 6, 2012
After many years of planning and fundraising the Minnesota African American Museum opened its doors on June 1st, 2012 Minnesota now joins the 44 other states that have a museum dedicated to African American history. The Museum is housed in the 128-year-old historic Coe Mansion in Minneapolis' Stevens Square Neighborhood. The museum's first exhibit, devoted to the history of black baseball in Minnesota, and its effect on the Upper Midwest.



Beltrami County Historical Society - Bemidji, Minnesota

By: Joe Hoover | May 23, 2012
Beltrami County History Center is  located  in the restored 1912 Great Northern Depot. As the video shows, the museum maintains both long term exhibits and some shorter term rotating exhibits developed either in house by the Beltrami County Historical Society or statewide traveling exhibits.  These frequently changing smaller exhibit allows visitors something new to see when returning to the museum.



Firefighters Hall and Museum

By: Joe Hoover | May 15, 2012
The Firefighter's Hall and Museum, in Northeast Minneapolis, is dedicated to preserving vintage firefighting equipment as well as running a research library and a meeting hall for area firefighters.

The museum which features fire trucks,  fire engines and rescue equipment going back over 100 years also provides interactive exhibits as well as fire safety training for children.



Saint Louis County Historical Society

By: Joe Hoover | May 8, 2012
Saint Louis County Historical Society, much like the Minnesota Historical Society, is a full service history organization. In addition to its own exhibits on lumbering, mining, and many other locally significant stories, SLCHS operates Veteran's Memorial Hall on behalf of the Saint Louis County Commissioners. Civil War veterans began Vets Hall, which like SLCHS also started in the Saint Louis County Courthouse. SLCHS has won national awards for a number of its exhibits. The expertise shown in the video is shared with affiliate history organizations throughout Saint Louis County. The reuse of the Duluth Union Depot, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as a cultural center of many local organizations has preserved the historic use as a community gathering space.



Swift County History Museum

By: Joe Hoover | May 2, 2012
The Swift County History Museum is located on the west edge of Benson off of U.S. Highway 12. The museum features artifacts that depict the history of Swift County. Many of the artifacts are displayed in period room settings – dining room, living room, bedroom, general store, church, school, etc. The museum also features decade exhibits for 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.



Tri River Pioneer Museum

By: Joe Hoover | April 20, 2012
The Tri-River Pioneer Museum is the only building built to be a museum in Red Lake County. As the video shows very well, it is a fairly typical local history museum led by a very dedicated group of volunteers who have sacrificed much in order to make the history of the Plummer area much more accessible.



Grant Workshop with Access Philanthropy

By: Joe Hoover | Funding | April 17, 2012
Full day grant workshop at the Blue Earth County Historical Society with presenter Steve Paprocki, President, Access Philanthropy.

This is a combined podcast with all four sessions for a combined length of 4 hours. Watch the presentation or download the audio.



MHCG: Planting the Seeds of the Green Revolution

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | April 3, 2012
On site review of the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants funded project with Elisabeth Kaplan, Head, University Archives & Co-Director, University Digital Conservancy, University of Minnesota Libraries. June 17, 2011.

The University of Minnesota Libraries received funding support to digitize the records of the principals of the Green Revolution, the worldwide collaborative effort to expand food crop production that traces its roots to the University of Minnesota in the first half of the 20th century. The project’s centerpiece is the Norman E. Borlaug Papers, which are complemented by the collections of his colleagues and mentors, including Elvin C. Stakman, John Gibler, and Helen Hart, and the Plant Pathology departmental records, and are frequently used by students, faculty, and independent scholars.

University Archives selected approximately 58 boxes of materials directly related to the Green Revolution for digitization. These comprise a variety of formats including photographs, correspondence, field notebooks, and other materials. With this project, University of Minnesota Libraries expanded use of the Green Revolution collections by creating digital surrogates of the materials, delivered via a web-based, publicly available, full-text searchable database.

The University of Minnesota Libraries received funding support to digitize the records of the principals of the Green Revolution, the worldwide collaborative effort to expand food crop production that traces its roots to the University of Minnesota in the first half of the 20th century. The project’s centerpiece is the Norman E. Borlaug Papers, which are complemented by the collections of his colleagues and mentors, including Elvin C. Stakman, John Gibler, and Helen Hart, and the Plant Pathology departmental records, and are frequently used by students, faculty, and independent scholars.

University Archives selected approximately 58 boxes of materials directly related to the Green Revolution for digitization. These comprise a variety of formats including photographs, correspondence, field notebooks, and other materials. With this project, University of Minnesota Libraries expanded use of the Green Revolution collections by creating digital surrogates of the materials, delivered via a web-based, publicly available, full-text searchable database.

Using your iPhone/iPad to Record Oral History

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | March 12, 2012
Using an IPad to record Oral Histories
Modified image Wikimedia Commons.


First let me admit this is not the last word on using an iPhone to record oral histories, it is just an attempt to get the dialog going, secondly you may notice the obvious omission of other mobile devices such as Android for use in recording. Omission does not mean that they shouldn't be used, they may be perfectly acceptable however the one nice thing about iPhone and iPad is that both the hardware and operating system are made by one manufacture making comparisons and quality control simpler.  I encourage others to post results they may have had using other mobile devices for oral history interviews. Lastly much of the content was excerpted from the testing and excellent work of Jeff Geerling. Check out his site if you are interested in even more in-depth information.

What a difference a couple of years can make in technology. Prices go down, megapixels and device and app quality go up.  While an iPhone/iPad might not offer all the quality control that an expensive camera or recording device can do for a large organization like the Smithsonian especially when they might be looking at reuse of the interview in a national exhibit, for a smaller museum/organization not only is using an iPhone/iPad acceptable but probably better than many of the magnetic video and audio recording devices that they were using in the past.

Key points to remember:

  • When recording, turning off Wi-fi may help to prevent background noise/feedback.

  • Turn on Airplane mode on your iPhone to prevent calls during a recording session.

  • Battery Life - make sure to fully charge your device or that it is plugged into a power source.

  • Storage - if you are going to be using your iPhone or iPad for recording video oral histories you never can have enough storage. Think about getting at least 32GB.

  • An iPod Touch can be used for recording audio but should not be used for video as the lens quality records at less than 1 megapixel.

  • I recommend using iPhone 4 and iPad 2 and above.

  • These are meant as suggestions not set in stone guidelines.

  • Having proper lighting and a recording environment still are important.

  • Technical specs for iPad and iPhone


AUDIO RECORDING APP


For a recording app you might want to look at FiRe 2 from Audiofile Engineering.

The basic interface is fairly simple to use but it does have advanced features you can tap into like a variety of metadata standards, format conversion, and time markers and uploading to Dropbox or your own FTP server.

VIDEO RECORDING APP


You can just use the Built-in camera that comes with the iPhone/iPad/iPod it handles different audio inputs, but without much configuration or level control, and no monitoring.

For a more fully featured camera app check out FiLMiC Pro, unfortunately it also has no audio controls.

MICROPHONES


While an iPad, iPhone, iPod is great to record on, their built in mics are not good for recording high quality audio. The biggest thing you are going to need is a good mic. There are many many different kinds of mics out their here are some suggestions:
•RadioShack 33-3013 Electret Condenser Lavaliere Microphone
•Crown Sound-Grabber-II Conference Microphone
•Audio Technica PRO88W-R35 Wireless Lavalier System
•Sony WCS-999 Wireless Microphone System
•Rode VideoMic Shotgun Microphone
•There are many others...

However, for all these mics you will need an Audio Input Adapter for your iPad/iPhone/iPhone - See the next section.

AUDIO INPUT ADAPTER


With an iPhone you will need an audio input adapter for most mics.

RECORDING AUDIO WITH TWO MICROPHONES - IPOD/IPHONE


You can use a simple option and get a Monster iSplitter and plug a lavaliere microphone into each side. (Don't forget to use an audio input adapter with it)

GuitarJack Model 2, into which you can plug a stereo input source (or two microphones that go one in left, one in right channel). You can also use 1/4 inch Input without an adapter.

RECORDING AUDIO WITH TWO MICROPHONES - IPAD


With an iPad in addition to recording with the headphone jack, you can also record with the iPad's Dock Connector to record two tracks (stereo) with one mic to the interviewer and one mic to the interviewee.

You'll need to have the USB adapter from the iPad Camera Connection Kit

And then, you'll need one of the following USB interfaces to translate analog inputs to the USB connection:

And finally you will need one of the following apps to support multi-channel recording and mixing

OTHER OPTIONS



  • For out-of-the-box options for recording sound, here is one high-end and somewhat expensive solution: iM2
    (this does come with it own free app you can download from iTunes)

  • ...and one amazingly cheap and surprisingly useful solution: Flexible-mini-capsule-microphone


TRIPODS, MOUNTS AND CAMERA STABILIZERS


Tripod Mount


In order to attach an iPhone or iPad to a tripod you are going to need a lot of rubber bands and duct tape or you can try one of these solutions. Their are several solutions available.



  • Snap Mount For iPhone 4/4S - Unfortunately they are currently having a problem keeping up with demand and are out of stock.

  • Movie Mount for iPad 2 - I have not had a chance to try out  iPad Mounts yet but I like this one because of the ability to add a mic/lens/light to the mount.



Tripods


Almost any camera tripod should work with the above mounts, however, I do have one recommendation that I have found compact and useful especially the tripod because of the magnetic feet which allows you to mount it on most metal surfaces.

iPhone Camera Stabilizer


While this might be a terrible solution for using oral histories it is great if you are recording while you are walking on a tour. One big drawback - there is no mount for a mic and I have found it quite impossible to balance the camera with a mic attached.

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