I made numerous audiocassette recordings of the older members of my family. These tapes contained precious recollections of the past, explanations of family connections, stories, songs, and the cadence of regional accents. After buying an alligator clip mic from Radio Shack, I was free of the noisy cassette built-ins, and made wonderfully clear recordings of my grandmother and others.
We've all had experiences of cassettes being devoured while playing by an errant pinch roller and take up. We know about pre- and post-echo on cassettes. We also know how unbearably tedious it is to random search on a cassette. MiniDisc made all of this obsolete. I dubbed these precious cassette recordings to MD. Each change of subject that Grandma made became a new track with title. Most of the discussions about MD revolve about music. This is as it should be, but MD can also serve to document a family's history in a way that may be less intrusive than videocams, and done far more conveniently than by audiocassette. After a while the mic is forgotten, and rich conversation rules the day. My grandmother in particular (who lived to be 100 years old) was always pleased that someone cared to hear and to record the stories about her fascinating life.