Cyber Solutions: Oral Dilemma

Cyber Solutions: Oral Dilemma

How can I transfer oral history interviews from cassettes into my genealogy software's notes without transcribing them by hand?

Q. How can I transfer oral history interviews from cassettes into my genealogy software’s notes without transcribing them by hand?

A. It sure would be nice if there were a way to automatically transcribe your interviews. Unfortunately, technology hasn’t quite progressed that far. Speech recognition software, such as Naturally Speaking ($99.99 from Nuance <nuance.com>), transcribes your dictation and is much faster than typing. But the program is designed to work with only one speaker, not the multiple voices in a taped interview.

Instead of using interview transcriptions in your software, you can create and attach sound files. First, use a ?-inch stereo mini cable, available at electronics stores, to hook up your tape recorder to the line-in terminal on your computer’s sound card. Then record the sound from the tape to your computer’s hard drive using free software such as Yahoo! Music Jukebox <music.yahoo.com/jukebox> or Real Player <real.com>. Set the software to record the line-in channel, press play on your tape deck, then select Record in the software. Save the sound file in WAV (.wav) or MIDI (.mid, .rmi) format and attach it to a person’s record in your genealogy software. For instance, if you use Family Tree Maker, you’d add the sound clip to a person’s scrapbook.

If you really want to include text versions of the interviews in your software’s notes, though, manually transcribing the conversation is pretty much your only option.

From the May 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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