Oral Histories from Norwegian-American Historical Association

The Norwegian-American Historical Association recently engaged Saving Tape Media Conversion to digitize an archive of oral histories recorded to audio cassette in the 1990s by author and academic Odd Lovoll. NAHA archivist, Kristina Warner describes the project as follows:

The Odd Lovoll oral history digitization project started in 2020 when the Norwegian-American Historical Association’s archivist created a call for its members to “adopt-a-cassette” after Lovoll donated over 70+ oral interviews. This call encouraged members to help preserve an important record of Norwegian-American history, and to make the materials of a longtime NAHA editor, author, and professor at St. Olaf College available for future generations. These oral histories capture the work of Lovoll and Terje Joranger as they toured the United States to interview Norwegian Americans and culminated Lovoll’s book: Promise Fulfilled: A Portrait Of Norwegian Americans Today.
The project captured stories of Norwegian Americans from New York to Washington, and captured a variety of stories from individuals with different backgrounds. Some exciting interviews include former Vice President and Second Lady, Walter and Joan Mondale, and actress Celeste Holm from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! Since 2020, NAHA has been working with the St. Olaf History Department to create internships for students to get hands-on experience in processing, indexing, and cataloging these oral histories. For many students, this is their first experience with archival material and oral histories. Once these oral interviews are completely indexed, they will be made available on our archives catalog: naha.omeka.net.
The Norwegian-American Historical Association is located on the St. Olaf Campus in Rolvaag Memorial Library. The NAHA archive includes materials from every state and province, telling the stories of thousands of individuals, institutions, and businesses that make up the Norwegian diaspora. The Odd Lovoll oral history archive as presented to Saving Tape was a series of standard audio cassettes. The Saving Tape team reviewed and repaired the tapes as necessary, then transferred from analog signal to high bitrate digital audio files. During that process the audio signal was “normalized” to insure maximum frequency saturation of the resulting digital file. Each file was then trimmed to  isolate the desired content and labeled according to the naming convention specified by NAHA. The entire file portfolio was delivered to NAHA via electronic transfer using Google Workplace. Saving Tape will continue to back-up the archive on Code42, as they do on all projects.

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