The Siuslaw Pioneer Museum has completed its project of converting cassette tapes from its Oral History project to CDs. These CDs are available for public viewing at the museum’s on-site Kyle Research Library. Copies of the digitized collection have also been donated to the Siuslaw Public Library.
IN THE BEGINNING
It began as an idea to compile oral history from the area’s “old timers” of Florence and the Siuslaw Valley. The year was 1975. A grant from the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Oregon was obtained. In addition, community financial contributions allowed the idea to materialize. Renowned poet and professor, Kim Stafford agreed to take on the year-long project of interviewing individuals from the area. A list of individuals was put together by the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum staff.
With tape recorder in hand, Stafford visited folks throughout the area, in their homes, gardens, or wherever they were comfortable. He didn’t ask a lot of questions. He chose to listen, and allow them to reveal what they felt had been important in their lives and experiences. The museum maintained the cassette tapes and shared copies with the Siuslaw Public Library. And so began the museum’s Oral History Project. As the years followed, additional interviews were conducted by other museum volunteers. The collection grew to more than 200 cassette tapes.
THE CONVERSION PROCESS
Fast forward to 2022 when an effort arose to preserve these recorded conversations as part of the museum’s collection. In addition to preservation, converting the relic tapes to CDs would enhance better audio quality and ease of use. With so many tapes needing repair and the sheer volume of the project, the services of a professional was solicited. Alan Campbell of Alan Campbell Productions of Florence accepted the ambitious task. The conversion required him to listen to each recording in order to stop and repair breaks in the fragile tapes. The project proved to be a silver lining for Alan. He was able to hear his father, Louis’ voice. Louis was a former museum curator, and conducted many of the interviews, which Alan had not previously heard.
Through the financial support from donors Suzanne Korosec, Merilee Mulvey, and Steve Skidmore, the conversion project was realized in January, 2023. The Siuslaw Pioneer Museum is pleased to share with the Siuslaw Public Library, copies of the entire CD collection, along with newer Oral History interviews. These CDs contain first-hand stories and experiences of our own community members, and are available for public review. The museum’s Kyle Research Library is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 to 3 p.m. CDs can also be viewed at the Siuslaw Public Library during their normal days of operation.