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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 5, January 29, 2006, Article 5

NUMISMATIC ORAL HISTORY SAGA

Dick Johnson writes: "I want to do oral history. I want
to call numismatists, or people who have specialized
numismatic information and interview them. But nothing
is easy.

We have unlimited long distance calling for our telephone
service. Great! I can talk for hours. All I need is a tape
recorder hooked up to the telephone. Two aged tape records
sit on the top shelf in my office but provide only intermitted
service so off I go shopping for an industrial strength
telephone tape recorder.

Froogle leads me to exactly want I want -- record, dictate,
transcribe -- all in one machine made by Sony. Even has a
foot control for playback transcribing. $140 more than what
I had budgeted, so I print the specifications and picture
and off I go to Radio Shack. No, they don't have anything
like that in stock. Salesman punches some keys on the cash
register (I never understood that!) and says the chain
doesn't carry it.

So I order it off the Internet and it arrives the next day.
Unpack, assemble, only to learn the telephone recording
adaptor is not included. I can not hook up the telephone
to the recorder without it. I contact the dealer I bought
it from. No, they don't carry it. Sony, how could you sell
a product that is incomplete?

Back to Radio Shack. Salesman taps keys on cash register
again. No, they don't carry it. They tried to sell me a $3
suction cup to connect telephone to the recorder. In my mind
I know that's not going to work.

Urgent call to son-in-law in Minnesota who is the family
electronics guru. Email details what I need. He installs
very high-tech video display systems all over the world.
He would know. He searches the Internet and makes some calls.
Finds company in Silicon Valley that has what I need, he says.
I call to order, only to learn they no longer stock it but
refer me to another SV firm.

Now it's getting serious. This firm really makes telephone
recording systems. Record all day long from all extensions
in headquarters and a dozen branch offices. They ask me if
my phone is digital. No, I learn its not. (I'm still an analog
guy in a digital world!) If it was, salesman says, you can
hook up your phone to your computer and record the text of
all your conversations right on the computer. But the
salesman was talking in a language I really didn't understand
and I can't even describe here. I think I described to him
what I need and I ordered what I think will work. Nothing
is easy today.

All I want to do is record numismatic interviews. So if I
call you and say, "This is Dick Johnson in Connecticut. I'd
like to ask you some questions. Mind if I turn on the recorder?"
You will know I got hooked up."

[This is a great project idea.  Too much information is
lost to history because it never gets recorded.   Periodically
the ANA has a project to collect oral history, and I'd be
curious to know who all has been interviewed so far, and if
and how these tapes are cataloged in the library index.

And here's another question.  We all know who the "A-list"
of interviewees are.  Who out might be a little less known
to the general collecting public, yet has a wealth of numismatic
history to relate?  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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