Possibly Educational

Family History for the Storyteller

This is a series on finding your niche in doing family history.

I recently came upon a gold mine of audio cassettes containing memories and stories from one line of my family tree. These tapes had been languishing in a box at my grandparents’ house for years and years, and I wanted to give them new life and make them more accessible to the rest of my family.


Importing the audio into a computer is actually a surprisingly low-tech process. Basically all you need is a cassette player and a cord with normal headphone jacks on both ends. I lucked out and found my cord at Ross for $4, but the cheap ones are about $5 on Amazon. And you don’t need anything fancy.


You plug one end into the headphone slot of a cassette player. I used a stereo I’ve had since I was a teenager. You could probably find a cheap one at a thrift store if you don’t have one hanging around.


The other end goes into the input slot on a computer. Be warned that the mic slot doesn’t work nearly as well.


Then I started up a free audio editing program called Audacity. First I made sure the input (the drop down menu to the right of the little mic icon that says default) was set to the right setting. This will vary depending on your computer, so you may end up trying a few things before you get the right one. Then just hit the record button and press play on the cassette player. When the tape is over, click the stop button. Trimming it up a little is pretty intuitive–click and drag to highlight the parts you want gone, then hit the delete key on your keyboard. Just remember to click the stop button first, otherwise nothing will happen. When you’re done, click File then Export As, then set it to mp3 (or whatever format you prefer) and save. Easy as that!

From there you can burn it to a CD, put it on a flash drive, share it with family on Dropbox, etc. You can even put audio files on FamilySearch, but use care if the audio goes into detail on people who are still living, or if the people talking are still living.


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