Where has Martha been lately?
No new posts for what seems like ages…. No, I did not fall off the face of the earth, or get lost in a Slough of Despond (though I’ve spent some time there), or decide to quit blogging — or even taken off for Parts Unknown. I’ve been caught in a tangled web of my own making! The thumbnail version is something like this:
Some of you know that my archive of recordings is already partially in the American Folklife Collection at the Library of Congress. But about half of it is still here at home, because I have to finish digitizing it (so I have copies) before I can send it. AND…the part that’s there is, I would say, virtually inaccessible, because if you look at that page, you will see only the most general information about “what it is”:
- 104 sound cassettes : analog.
- 4 sound discs (CD-R) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
- manuscripts 1 box (11 folders)
Huh? You, looking at that, might ask, “What’s IN those 104 sound cassettes, and how can I find out enough about it to know if there’s anything there that might be of interest to me?”
The information about it is actually all very thoroughly documented in the “box of manuscripts”, and probably also on one or two of the CD-R’s — but how would you know that, or know how to access them? So I’ve recently been in contact with the folks at Library of Congress, and as a result of that correspondence, I’ve been copying all my digitized files onto a small drive to send to them, AND….getting the primary documentation (the “track-by-track” one) transliterated into Latin script, so you can read “Zatvoren Gergin založen” instead of “Затворен Гергин заложен“! You still might not be able to understand it, but at least you can read and copy the letters! (And then, accordingly, I will have to do some re-alphabetizing, because З comes early in the Cyrillic alphabet, whereas Z is at the end of the Latin alphabet!) So many details, so little time. Once I’ve done all that and sent them the drive, I hope they will find a way to put enough of it into the record that a human being who just happens to learn about it, but doesn’t know me from Adam, can have a clue.
And…of course, in the process I have turned up a @#$%-load o’ little problems, or at least questions. Like: since taking them the tapes I took them in 2006, I have photographed the actual cassettes, etc. that I still have at home, so that I have a visual record of what I have as well as the text record that, Martha being after all Martha, varies from trip to trip, and at minimum tends to get pretty complex. The 1988 material (that I’m now finishing up digitizing) looks like this:
But I didn’t take pictures like that for the material I gave them in 2006, included in which are a couple of tapes I didn’t intend to give them, because they’re copies of material someone else gave to me. BUT, I can find some of those at home, but not all. So what DID I actually send them??? Well, my contact there has kindly sent someone to photocopy the physical tapes I did send, and now (after a week and a half of wondering) I do know.
And exactly what paperwork documentation did I send them? I kept notes, that I thought were “definitive”, but 10 years later, those definitive things can become highly debatable! Then there are little details in my documentation, which (having been done over a period of 35 years or so) is not the same for each trip. I won’t even attempt to go into that, because I’d be sitting here all day writing, and you’d have stopped reading!
Anyway, this post is to let you know that I’ve finally gotten that situation roughly under control and definitely underway, so I can come back to writing about the fun part: writing about the material. I even came up with the song for my next “real” post while doing this paperwork stuff, so I hope to get that out soon.