History Services

Oral History

In the last century, oral history made the jump from being passed down by word of mouth to being recorded in longhand, then onto a wire recorder, and later, onto tape and videotape. Many oral historians now use a digital recorder, allowing us to transfer MP3 files into computers for transcription into the written word or as audio recordings that will be transferred onto CDs.

Full Circle Heritage Services conducts oral history projects for government agencies, museums, archaeological contracting companies, or any entity requiring such services. We have the educational and professional background to support such efforts: Beth holds degrees in journalism and English (with a subspecialty in folklore and oral history) and has 30-plus years of experience in interviewing, as well as experience in planning and conducting oral history projects.

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Personal or Family History

Although personal history may not have been known as such until recently, it has roots extending back through the centuries. Journals, memoirs, and biographies would be examples of ancient and recent personal history endeavors.

Every one of us has a story to tell. These stories may have broad appeal, if we are well known. However, sometimes we wish to pass our story on to a limited audience—say, family and friends. Whether your story is marketable or you prefer to contain its reach, a personal historian can help.

Using recorded interviews or a box full of papers and photographs, a personal historian can create an elegant family history or biography, which can be presented as simply or as extravagantly as you desire and as your budget allows. These may cover the life of one individual or several. A personal history or even a business history, which we discuss below, can be as short as one page, or it can be turned into a full-length book. It can take the form of a framed wall hanging recounting an important experience or be placed in a tri-fold portfolio to sit on a table or mantelpiece, as a special gift.

We work with you to make your project as unique as you are. Its complexity or simplicity is for you to decide.

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Business History

Businesses also have stories to tell and histories to be recorded. A written history can help employees and even the public to understand and appreciate the milestones a business has reached and its contributions to the community.

A business history can give new employees important background information to help them place their positions in context. They may gain company loyalty by understanding what went into the founding of the business and how it serves its customers and its town. A business history can also place important facts about a company at its owners’ fingertips and provide accurate details to journalists writing about the company. Additionally, if the company is up for sale, a business history can provide documentation about its track record to potential buyers.

As with personal history projects, business histories can be highly individual. A business operating in a historic building may yield information important to the community as a whole, while a menu-back history may intrigue diners, prompting them to return, again and again.

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Photo Curation & Restoration

Visual images serve public, personal, and oral history in profound ways. They enable us to see our ancestors’ physical characteristics, as well as how they dressed and carried themselves. They help us to understand what seemed important enough to photograph and how people lived. In historic archaeology, photographs provide important clues on the nature of human use of the landscape.

Many people are interested in ensuring that their family photos are not lost and that they are made available to relatives. We can arrange for photo collections to be placed in archives, whether for families or as part of oral history or other research projects. However, typically, we scan and restore photos as digital images and allow clients to place their original photos in a repository of their choosing. Scanned images are generally stored on CDs that can be duplicated for those who want them.

Photographs that have faded can often be restored to near original quality, as digital images. We will repair your scanned photos, remove stains, and repair cracks or tears. Photos with issues beyond our abilities we can refer to the experts.

Curation of photographs goes hand in hand with an oral history or family, personal, or business history project, whether the end result is a book or a CD. Photos also may form an important component in historical archaeology projects, providing visual clues to issues that could only be guessed at without them. Thus, similar services are available to land-management agencies, for whom convenient access to visual images is necessary for their research and reporting.

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Archival Research

Family and business history projects may be enhanced with documents clients do not have. We can search for homestead or mining patents, warranty deeds, or other types of recorded land transfers, bills of sale, or even genealogical records.

These searches may take place in county courthouses, archives, and other institutions, as well as on-line. Dates of marriages can also be tracked down this way, and state governments maintain birth and death records. Similarly, we can often access census and military service records.

We are experienced in Bureau of Land Management/Government Land Office patent searches, through which one may obtain copies of actual homestead patents with properties identified by township, range, and section, sometimes with maps attached.

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Books & Recordings

Let us help you turn your story into an elegant book. We negotiate with printers and binders to get the best price for your hard- or soft-cover book, whether it will be printed, bound, or both. Small runs can be accommodated.

If you are not ready to take that step, or simply want to record the information without creating a book, we will conduct oral interviews and place them on CDs. We use a digital recorder with a memory card rather than tapes to accomplish this.

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Maybe Later

Many people wait to undertake the creation of their personal, family, or business histories because they don’t have the time to devote to them. Unfortunately, many of us wait too long, and the individuals whose knowledge we most want to tap are no longer with us. The possibility of losing a great mind—or simply a mind that knows what we do not—is a subject we may not want to face. Sometimes we do lose loved ones before we think to get even basic facts of their lives: your oral historian knows that from personal experience.

If your stories or those of your family members or business need to be recorded, don’t let the opportunity pass you by. We help those who can’t do it themselves to preserve important memories, whether those memories reside in a shoebox or in the minds of their relatives, colleagues, or themselves.

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