Episode 108 - Owning An Ancestor's Tombstone... Without Stealing It! And Finding Ancestral Photos.

podcast episode Oct 12, 2015

Fisher opens the show with the announcement that the first Extreme Genes cruise will take place in September of 2016!  (See our Facebook page or ExtremeGenes.com for details.)  David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historical Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, joins the conversation with a story about a 16th century shipwreck that is causing concern in Ireland.  He also talks about the new archaeological dig in New York City covering the area of the old New York Seaport.  David also has another free NEHGS database to share and his weekly Tech Tip.

Fisher next visits with Brenda Sullivan of the "Gravestone Girls." (See GraveStoneGirls.com)  Brenda is an artist who can make a mold and perfect duplicate of your ancestor's grave stone!  She'll tell you all about rubbing grave stones, and some of how she creates duplicate stones... but not all.  Might she help you obtain the most unique family heirloom ever invented?

Then, photo expert Ron Fox returns to the show to talk about how his love of family history has shown him what it takes to uncover extremely value historic pictures.  He'll tell you how his techniques can help you locate previously unknown ancestral photos. If you're missing a photo of an ancestor that should be out there somewhere, you'll want to hear what Ron has to say.

Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority, talks about learning to PhotoShop and the significance of "clouds."  What happens if the hosting company disappears?  He'll have the answers for you!

That's all this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 108

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 108

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com.  I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out.  And I am excited about our guests this week! Well, I’m kind of like that every week right? We’ve got a couple of guests who are experts in what they do, and they do some incredible stuff. The first will be Brenda Sullivan with a group called “The Gravestone Girls” and what they do is, they go to 18th century cemeteries and make replicas of your ancestors tombstones so you could have one in your home. How cool is that? Plus, later in the show, Ron Fox, a photography expert.  He will tell you how he finds the rarest of the rare... photos of historic figures and photos of your ancestors. He’s got some great tips on how you can do exactly the same. But right now let’s go to Boston and the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, David Allen Lambert.  Hello David!

David: Hello Fisher, greetings from Beantown!

Fisher: I am so excited because this past week on our Facebook page and at ExtremeGenes.com we have rolled out the plan for our very first Extreme Genes cruise! Next year September 13th through 17th leaving from your neck of the woods in Boston, heading up to Nova Scotia with stops in New England, so we can see some of the historic sites and enjoy the fall.

David: It’s going to be a wonderful time! It’s a great time of the year and some of the lovely cities to visit aside from Boston. I think that people are going to enjoy it. And of course, when we’re not on shore, we’re going to be giving lectures and talking to people about their genealogy, probably some round table discussions. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Fisher: Oh it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m so thrilled that the price is so very reasonable. You’ve got to book it through a place called Columbus Travel, and the contact information is on our website and on our Facebook page. People are already booking their cabins, and so very excited about this, hope you’re going to be joining us next year for our very first Extreme Genes cruise! You know David, I’ve got to tell you I’m a little groggy today because I found out last night that “Newspapers.com” has digitized my mother’s hometown newspaper and I was up until two in the morning going through it. [Laughs]

David: [Laugh]

Fisher: I found my mother’s first marriage announcement and it had a picture of her because she was in Hollywood so it had one of her Hollywood photos. “Miss Olsen Married,” and a full story about all of that. Never seen it before.

David: Oh that’s great.

Fisher: A story about my grandfather building the gate for the cemetery in their town in Albany, Oregon back in 1937. He traded out an automobile in order to do the work because it was during the Depression.

David: Well that’s a pretty good deal. And now does this automobile still reside in your family garage?

Fisher: [Laughs] No. Long gone. The gate’s gone and grandpa is in the cemetery now.

David: [Laughs] Well that’s great. Well you know I’ll tell you there’s all sorts of news and some of the news goes back a long way. People think of the Titanic and all of the lives lost, and of course during military expeditions lives are lost all the time. But going back to 1588 off the coast of Ireland three vessels that were found 30 years ago had an accumulated loss of over a thousand lives. It was during the Spanish Armada and they’re now finding that because of storms things are washing up on the beach. There really is a major concern in Ireland as how to preserve these wrecks that are underneath the waves, and such a valuable part of the history of both Spain and Ireland. You know it’s amazing when you think of something that happened over 500 years ago but trying to preserve that story, and as things wash up on the beach you’re now reinterpreting it one more piece at a time.

Fisher: And what is washing up on the beach by the way?

David: Oh there are such things as a rudder, to a vessel, a cannonball, there were timbers and all sorts of small artifacts. And I mean the other thing is you get the people that are beach scavengers looking for souvenirs, and metal detectors and all of that. Trying to protect that so it’s not lost under the context and of course you know there are three vessels, which one did it come from? So there’s all sorts of concern with that.

Fisher: Right.

David: And you know some archaeology is not just under water but now it’s underground. And speaking of things with vessels and whatnot, many of the early ships that came into New York City docked in what is now the South Street Seaport and most of that is underground.  11 acre site, and they’re doing archaeology right in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, finding traces of the colonial seaport of New York City, which of course has expanded a little.

Fisher: Yeah a little since then. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] So that’s exciting stuff that people are digging into, no pun intended. Well for my Tech Tip, this is part two continuing from last week where I told you that I was going to try out the Next Generation genealogy site builder. Remember, I said there’s a software out there you can host your own family tree site?

Fisher: Right.

David: It’s exciting stuff. It has so much capability, it allows you to put in things like a timeline, a relationship chart, you can keep track of the gravestones you did, so Billion Graves and FindaGrave. You can have your own little mini family version of that. You can put on charts and you can have people log into your site. So it’s really cost effective at $32.95 and it is great! It basically allows you to start from scratch building your family tree on whatever software you use or upload a gedcom, and then you upload all of the files that they send you to a webhosting site and voila! You now have your own website and you can customize it anyway you like. I’m just starting to do it so I might have some follow up down the road, but very satisfied and definitely give it a 10. If you want to find out more their website is www.tngsitebuilding.com and I’ll also put the link on Extreme Genes as well as the @DLGenealogist on Twitter. And the NEHGS guest user database of the week is Costa Rican baptisms, marriages and deaths from the 18th century to the early 20th century. Simply become a guest user at AmericanAncestors.org and you can try this database for a week, as well as many others that we’ve put on and every week we change it up. And we’d like to give thanks to FamilySearch.org for another collaboration with this wonderful database.

Fisher: Good stuff David! Thank you so much, and we’ll talk to you again next week.

David: Well, signing off from Beantown until next time Fish.

Fisher: And coming up next, she’s a lady who will make castings of your ancestors’ tombstones so you could have an exact replica in your home. We’ll talk to Brenda Sullivan of the Gravestone Girls, coming up for you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 108

Host Scott Fisher with guest Brenda Sullivan

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And just a couple of weeks ago, David Allen Lambert from the New England Historical Genealogical Society, was telling me about his trip to Syracuse, New York for the recent genealogical conference there covering New York records. And he ran into Brenda Sullivan. Brenda is one of what is known as the “Gravestone Girls.” And Brenda is on the line with me right now from Worcester Massachusetts.  Hi Brenda, how are you?

Brenda: I am well. How are you?

Fisher: Awesome! You know I was going to your website to look at what you do, and I am so impressed with it.  I’ve got to ask you first of all, well I guess we’ve got to explain to everybody what you do, and then I’ve got to figure out what got you started in this.

Brenda: Okay. Well, I can tell you what Gravestone Girls do. We are cemetery artists and educators. We do a number of different things related to cemeteries and gravestones. So I lead cemetery tours. I teach gravestone rubbing classes. I lecture on cemetery art, history and symbolism. And I also create sculptured art pieces from the faces of old colonial New England gravestones.

Fisher: Yes, you do. In fact, I was seeing on your website, GravestoneGirls.com, you can actually reproduce somebody’s ancestor’s grave stone, for them to have in their very own home. How cool is that?

Brenda: It’s a pretty great job, I have to admit.

Fisher: [Laughs] Now when did you start that?

Brenda: I grew up in Massachusetts. The oldest part of the country. We have these old burial grounds in every town and all over the place. And I grew up in a family that was interested in art and history. And my mother and grandmother dragged me to the family cemetery on a very regular basis, to take care of the family plots. So my mother, in trying to keep a five year old occupied, taught me how to rub gravestones as a method of keeping me out of her hair while they were working.

Fisher: Ah, good thinking.

Brenda: Yeah, well, it worked. And it kind of went a whole lot further than anybody ever expected.  Like I said, we’ve got these ancient places all over the place, so it’s easy to run into them, and it’s easy, particularly back then, to travel around with your art supplies and do gravestone rubbings. And they did a lot of them, and years go by, have all these pieces of paper. And they had just a couple of favorites that I really liked. Favorite gravestones. And I wanted something more tangible. I wanted something three dimensional rather than the two dimensions I was getting from doing the gravestone rubbings. I think they would frown upon it if started removing them from the cemetery and taking them home.

Fisher: Yeah, that might be true.

Brenda: So yeah, I didn’t want to take that chance. Leave them there for others to enjoy as well. I used my art history education and my background in small antique restoration to develop a process that I could safely take into the cemetery. To collect the image and then take home the replicate.

Fisher: And replicate in 3D. And so people can have their ancestor’s tombstone in their own home. It’s incredible. Do you actually end up painting it or do you color it in a certain way to make it look more realistic? How do you do that?

Brenda: I do. The material is a pottery plaster. They are cold poured in and air cured in my mold. When they come out, because they’ve got that plaster based to them, they are white. And it’s a multiple step process of finishes, to get them to look like slate or like sandstone, or like marble. Like their original.

Fisher: So there’s a real art to that, isn’t there?

Brenda: Yeah, there is. So it takes me a bit of time for sure.

Fisher: And how long have you been doing this now?

Brenda: I have been a full time gravestone girl for the last four years. But gravestone girls as an entity, has been in existence for fifteen years. It’s a hobby that ran amok is what happened.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, I’m very impressed by how you’ve taken some of the art work from the old tombstones and you’ve actually made them into small trinkets that people can have as well. Talk about some of those.

Brenda: Yeah. In the collection that we have, that I sell at the arts and craft shows, I do wholesale, and also they’re available at the website. We’ve got about a 140 images in the collection. All from colonial New England gravestones. The oldest one in my collection is from a gravestone dated 1691.  And I actually have a very old symbol of a winged hourglass in the collection that comes from a gravestone that dates to only 2006.

Fisher: Really?

Brenda: What a nice dichotomy to see!

Fisher: Yeah [laughs]

Brenda: Winged hourglass is also the logo of the gravestone girls so it was very fitting.

Fisher: Oh, absolutely perfect. So, how many people buy these things? How often do you get an order for something like a full tombstone of an ancestor?

Brenda: The special commission pieces come periodically. I average, maybe one to two a month on the special commissions like that.

Fisher: Wow.

Brenda: Certainly when we head to the genealogical conferences, and in front of a lot more people, I plant the seed and then we talk and they might even come back months or years later and we work on a project.  I just recently finished a project for a woman in Kansas who has an ancestor here in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, that she wanted replicated for her daughter.  Because the mother and daughter team are doing the family genealogy together, and she commissioned me to do it as a surprise for her daughter who lives in Chicago, and this is the daughter’s seventh great grandfather.

Fisher: Wow! And it goes back to what era?

Brenda: The death date on the stone I believe is 1741.

Fisher: Oh, that’s excellent. That would be just so much fun.

Brenda: Yeah, it’s a really beautiful piece.

Fisher: Now do you ever have people who are concerned that you might cause some damage to these centuries old stones?

Brenda: Yes. That’s the first thing that people are concerned with. They also want to know the gravestone rubbing we do or even the replicating that we do, isn’t that illegal. We shouldn’t be touching the stones. I tell people that, I will teach you how to rub gravestones all day long. There’s nothing “illegal” about it here in Massachusetts, and I’m speaking only for Massachusetts. Any place else, you should check your local laws. But to do a gravestone rubbing, is to create a document of that stone at a particular point in time. They do change. They get biological growth on them. They have trees fall on them. They sink. They break. Unfortunately, they get vandalized.

Fisher: Hmm.

Brenda: But to do a properly executed gravestone rubbing with a little bit of attention before you go out there, some reading and maybe a class with, oh I don’t know, maybe like the Gravestone Girls. To do it properly is a completely inert process. If you think about these objects being out on the landscape 24/7 for two, three hundred years, in all that nature has to throw at them.

Fisher: Yeah.

Brenda: To do a gravestone rubbing is a non-invasive process. If it’s done safely, and it creates something that shows what that stone looks like at a particular point in time. Because they do change on the landscape.

Fisher: That kind of makes a portable monument, then really, for the person who does the rubbing.

Brenda: It does. Absolutely. It’s relatively easy to do this. A little bit of background work that should be done. And just some common sense that needs to go in there with it. Because I certainly have seen restoration projects, or cleaning projects, or even just people trying to read stones, they’ve done some pretty incorrect things. I’ll go as far as to say dumb things.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Brenda: If there had been some thought process executed ahead of time, it wouldn’t be a problem. And because people have gone out there on their own, unprepared, and some processes have caused damage. That’s what caused the people that oversee these old tombstones, to say “No, no, no, you can’t do this”.

Fisher: Yeah.

Brenda: We absolutely prohibit everybody from doing it.

Fisher: So, you said that you’ll actually show people all day long how to do rubbings, but you won’t show them the other way to do the castings, right?

Brenda: Right. You know the tagline ‘I’m a professional, don’t try this at home?’

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Brenda: That’s what this is. The joke is, that I certainly don’t need the competition. But really, I do have an education in doing restoration and doing the subsequent casting and mold making. The process that I have draws on the materials available from the restoration, and art conservation industries, I developed a process that I could safely take into the cemetery to collect the images. And because of that, it’s proprietary.

Fisher: Sure.

Brenda: And everybody doesn’t need to be running out there doing it.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right.

Brenda: Certainly, if you do it incorrectly, if you go “Oh, I’ll just go take some material.” People think simple things like clays or epoxies or other kinds of things, “Oh, it should be real easy do.” But they don’t necessarily take the next step and think about, “Hey, if I slap this on the face of a gravestone, and maybe it doesn’t come off.” Or what I see happen more often when people try to do cleanings or do their own castings, or like I said, trying to read the inscriptions, they use materials that they then rinse off and then think “Oh yeah, I don’t see it anymore. It’s gone.” But its actually left behind chemicals that stay on the face of the stone and haven’t been neutralized and go on to cause damage..

Fisher: Yeah, that makes sense. Now let me ask you, how far do you wander to go to these graveyards for various images?

Brenda: Anywhere anybody asks me. But really, with genealogists and the family historians that I do these special commissions for, they’re usually located outside of the New England area. I certainly have had local people as well. But they’re tracing their ancestors to this part of the country because this is the oldest part of the country.

Fisher: Right. And that’s what you prefer to do, right? The oldest stones.

Brenda: Yeah, for a number of reasons. The iconography that are on those stones, the winged skulls, and the hour glasses, and the father time, and the crossbones, and the hearts, all of these very obvious literal symbols of the 17th and 18th century, are here in this part of the country. Because they’re the earliest symbols used on gravestones at the time, based on the social and religious belief system of the time. So once you move outside of the New England area, the end of the seventeen hundreds and into the eighteen hundreds, that iconography is no longer pertinent to the community of the time.

Fisher: And so the stones, then, aren’t as artistic, is that what you’re saying to a great extent?

Brenda: The iconography on them changes, the geological material changes, and around here, they’re going to look different. But yeah, I guess to put it down, they are just not necessarily as artistic.They’re certainly not as fanciful in their imagery as they are from the colonial period.

Fisher: Where do people put these, by the way, in their homes?

Brenda: I have a good number of folks that hung them inside.They go up over doorways. They go up over fireplaces. On mantles. Depending on how big the pieces are. I have a couple in West Virginia that I’ve done three pieces for, both for his and hers. They’re a retired couple traveling around doing their genealogy all over the place. And they’ve got sort of their own little family graveyard in the living room!

Fisher: [Laughs] She’s Brenda Sullivan. The Gravestone Girls. GravestoneGirls.com. You’re doing great work Brenda. Love the art. Just blown away by what you’re doing. Thanks for coming on the show!

Brenda: Thanks for having me. It was great sharing this with you and everyone out there.

Fisher: And coming up next, I’ll talk to Ron Fox, a photo expert, who has made discoveries that have made history. And he’ll tell you how you can have similar experiences as you pursue the photographs of your ancestors. That’s coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Segment 3 Episode 108

Host Scott Fisher with guest Ron Fox

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.  And it seems like today we're just talking to people who're doing amazing things, extraordinary things, and making extraordinary finds as well. And providing ways to enrich the family history experience a little bit. And one of my friends who we haven't had on the show in some time, Ron Fox is on the phone from Salt Lake City, Utah.  Hi Ron, how are you?

Ron: I'm well, Scott. And you?

Fisher: Great! And you know, I was thinking back to some of the experiences you've had in tracking down photographs of historic figures, political figures, religious figures. You make discoveries that few, if any people ever find. And I thought we'd talk about that a little bit today.

Ron: Sure.

Fisher: About how people can have that same experience within their own families. Let's start talking about how you got into this. Because you haven't been doing this your whole life, but you have over the last ten years or so been really digging deep to find rare photographs.  What do you do? How do you do it? What's you technique?

Ron: Well I think that your listeners could have the same experiences that I have. I've actually made it to where I made it very profitable for me. But on the other hand, I've done it because of my love for family history. So, give you a couple of examples. I go through daguerreotypes and ambrotypes on eBay every day, but I have my search terms out there with family names. And so you can find things that pop up that people, say in Chicago or Denver or Boston might find progenitors photograph that was actually written on the back or pinned into a daguerreotype case of a relative.  And I've had a great time. Sometimes when I find something and I purchase it off of eBay and I find a relative who's very active in genealogy. I'll contact them and send them a photograph. I did that just yesterday with a descendant of a Cyril Call who actually migrated to Utah.  And this photo was unknown to the family. And I just picked it up in an antique store.  And what was really fun about it, if I put it on my Facebook page to tell people you know, "Here's a tintype. No name on this picture," less than a half an hour later a woman emailed me back and said, "Ron, that's my fifth great grandfather and that's an unknown photograph."

Fisher: So you're talking about people from your area who can actually see these things. And they kind of follow you along and you kind of create a search team then really, because you couldn't identify without them and they couldn't find the picture without you.

Ron: That's absolutely correct. And what's fun about it is, you put these different little tidbits of information, like "Okay, I purchased this in Chicago." or "I purchased this in..." and it also leads people to, "One of my family went through that town." And it's really great. But eBay… by putting in the search term of your family's last names. And of course if it's Smith, it's more difficult. But these things will pop up every few days and you know, you may get lucky with respect to finding an earlier and unknown daguerreotype.  You've had your own experience of getting as many as nine daguerreotypes coming from a treasure trove that you discovered.

Fisher: Yeah, just a year or so ago. Well, let's talk about this a little. How many daguerreotypes do you search through when you get these matches on eBay each day?

Ron: Well, I go through the entire listing of daguerreotypes and they average about eighty to a hundred per day.

Fisher: New ones?

Ron: Yes.

Fisher: Wow!

Ron: Uh huh, new listings. Now many of those listings are done more than once. But still you go through those and you do get a bingo every once in a while. I've had one that was through eBay that I found that I purchased for less than couple of hundred dollars. And it was an important figure in the LDS Church. And I received a better than six figure compensation from that photograph.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! And so you're going through then roughly 2500 images a month.

Ron: Yeah.

Fisher: So we're talking somewhere around 30,000 a year?

Ron: Yeah.

Fisher: And how many years?

Ron: Actually, I'll bet you, you double that figure and it's probably more accurate.

Fisher: Really? Oh, because you're going through more specific things as well.

Ron: Yeah.

Fisher: That come up with those matches.

Ron: I'm following photographers as well. And that's another thing, your listeners can actually pinpoint photographers by either location, by putting in the location there.  Because many photos, especially later 19th century photos all had like Jefferson, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, they would have the city mark in it.

Fisher: Yes.

Ron: And people who list, they will list photograph unknown, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And so a lot of times, that will direct you to photographs.

Fisher: And you can also do this for things other than daguerreotypes. You could do it for cabinet cards. You could do it for cartes de visite. But when you can narrow it to a small town, for instance, my wife's hometown is Crawfordsville, Indiana.  And so if you can put in the family name and Crawfordsville as a search term on eBay, you could wind up having something pop up that you've never seen before.

Ron: That's very true. And I'll give you another great example.  What is happening within our government and our society is that people are investing in these large collections that are held within institutions such as Universities or Historical Societies within States.  If they have glass negative collections or if they have hard photos, they are scanning them at tremendous rates. I know that, just for example in the state of Utah, they've gone from thirty thousand about three years ago now to over seventy five thousand photographs and identified photographs on their websites. So just think of the numbers!  I know that for example FamilySearch has gone over a million photographs that they have identified. Ancestry.com and many of the other firms also have. One of the richest collections are their photographic collections. So it’s really great.

Fisher: Isn't that amazing? And you think about that and it's becoming more and more available online. So you can do what, Google searches for that?

Ron: Absolutely. But there's some that you have to go into the, for example the state history website, and then go in and mine that in that specific engine, because they may not have everything on the web. So if you go for example to West Virginia, Minnesota, there are state historical societies. And then also very important, for example, I'm familiar with the University here, has over 2 million photos.  They've only digitized maybe a hundred thousand, but they have over 2 million photos. There's a lot of collections where these collections will say they are from a particular town or city.  And then from there you might have to go there, but there's so much on the actual web. And it's increasing exponentially.

And then I wanted to tell you about one other that a good friend of mine, Set Momjian, from Pennsylvania found a number of years ago. He was going through an antique store in Boston and picked up a daguerreotype that he just saw was a gathering of people outside. Took it home, left it on his desk for a number of months, maybe even a year. And then he looked at it and saw that this was a stage set. And there was one black American standing in the front of group and everybody else was seated. And there were people in their top hats and parasols in front.  And then he sent it off to this mausoleum and found out it was Frederick Douglass speaking at an abolitionist meeting in 1841 in Boston!

Fisher: Oh!

Ron: And since that time, that photograph has been considered one of the ten most important photographs in American history. And it was actually offered by, I think it was Oprah Winfrey, who had offered him a million dollars for the photo, but he wouldn't sell it.  It's in the National Portrait Gallery in this mausoleum there in D.C.

Fisher: Isn't that something! What did he pick it up for, do you remember?

Ron: Well I think it was thirty bucks.

Fisher: Thirty bucks. [Laughs] I mean you talk about a treasure trove. You know, you're right about all the different resources that are available out there. I found, through a Texas University, a photograph of the New York City Volunteer Firemen on a trip west in 1887.  And it didn't have anything to do with the location that the photo was taken in. It had nothing to do with New York City. They just happened to have this photograph.  They digitized it, they referenced it online, and I found it that way. And it was a great piece for me to add to the history of my great grandfather who belonged to that group.

Ron: That is true.

Fisher: Ron, thanks so much for sharing your time and your expertise. And I look forward to hearing about your next big success.

Ron: Well thank you and have a good day. And keep digging!

Fisher: That's right! [Laughs] All right, and coming up next, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority, answering another listener question, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 108

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: You know I’ve got to tell you, when we started this whole preservation thing, when we started Extreme Genes back in 2013, I was just wondering, how much stuff could we possibly cover in preservation till we’ve covered the whole thing, Tom?

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] And it never ends! It’s constantly changing. Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. It’s Fisher here, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority.  Tom, last week of course we were talking about how people can restore old photographs and then create new albums with the pictures looking completely different than they did say back in the 70s as they were fading away and deteriorating. And we got into this whole thing about where we want to preserve things permanently. Stop saving things on USB drives! They’re the cheapest things in the world, they could be destroyed. And you talked about some new places and new things that are coming up, and you even mentioned off air something about Apple.

Tom: Oh yeah absolutely. Apple’s got some cool things that are coming out. We’ve always talked about Apple’s Cloud, we’ve talked about Dropbox’s Cloud, we have a Cloud, we took kind of what we thought was the best of everything and it’s “Lightjar.” And you can go to “Shop.TMCPlace.com” and go and read about it, it’s a great place to store your stuff.  In fact, we were talking off air also about the cruise that we’re going to be doing next year, and we’re going to have those Kodak scanners which you mentioned in last week’s show actually on the cruise. So if you have a lot of these satin photos that you just can’t get to scan right.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

Tom: Bring them with you and we can take care of them. Plus, we’re going to have Photoshop classes to teach people how to take some of the old photos, daguerreotypes or whatever, we want to show you how you can preserve these and make them better.  Now some people definitely don’t want to bring photos on the ship, that’s fine.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Bring them in to us, scan them yourself, do whatever you want to do, but bring your disks with you, bring your laptops as well and we’ll show you how to preserve them, how to make them better, how to restore color, how to cut out outlaws out of your photos do whatever you want to do with them.

Fisher: [Laughs] I’ve done that. I had to do that for my cousin. He had the previous wife, there’s a whole beautiful family group shot together and it’s like, “Okay, she’s got to go.” That’s actually kind of fun to cut out the outlaws!

Tom: Oh it is. In fact, we even talked about that in the past. We’ve done people where they’ve shot some 8mm film and as they were water skiing they pan passed the outlaw, and then we had to take those pictures out without destroying the picture. So you can do anything and we’re going to teach you on the cruise how to do a lot of these really fun things. So get your pictures, make sure they’re on drives, don’t expect to be on the ship and use your Wi-Fi or your internet, because internet is really poor quality on a ship. Make sure you bring a hard drive or bring it on a disk with you. Don’t rely on the internet.

Fisher: Yes. It’s very expensive on these cruises too very often.

Tom: Oh very much so.

Fisher: We don’t want to go there, so you can bring that disk on the ship then you can do some work on them right there in Tom’s class.

Tom: Right, exactly. And even though the cruise is only five days long, don’t bring 1,500 photos you’re not going to have time to do that much. Just bring your favorite photos, ones that need the most work and we can start on those. Show you how to do it. As you mentioned, then take this knowledge you’ve learned on the ship, take it home and then do it yourself in your own time.

Fisher: All right. And I want to get back before we go too far with this, and talk about these Clouds. You mentioned you’ve got the new one the Lightjar.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: We’ve got Apple, and my question is what happens when people preserve things onto these clouds and then for some reason the company goes away. Apple for instance disappears, what happens to all the material that’s on those clouds that they’ve been selling?

Tom: You know that’s a really good question. Like you look at a company as big as AOL was at one time and now they’re still around but they’re not even a shadow of their former selves.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So what you want to make sure is, whatever cloud you use that they’ve got a thing set up like a cemetery, because cemeteries, even though most of them are privately owned, they have to buy this huge bond so just in case they go south you know your plots are still there everything will be taken care of. People you’ve already buried, they’ll always be taken care of, they’ll be manicured etc. The same thing with the cloud storage make sure that they’ve got a bond setup so for some reason if they go out of business, that somebody else will come in and take them over. Because a bond is established to make sure that this is going to last forever. So the new company will take over they have to have a bond as well, and so forever and ever and ever, your clouds are going to be taken care of. Anybody can set up a cloud, you can set up a cloud at your own home if you want to which is kind of scary in case you have a fire, you want to make sure if you do your own cloud, if you’re like say in Alabama, have somebody else that’s in Boston or something that has the same cloud. In fact in the next segment we’ll go into a little more detail on that.

Fisher: All right coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History show.

Segment 5 Episode108

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back, final segment, Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show, talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. We're talking about the cruise coming up next September out of Boston. And the possibility of having you come on and doing one of Tom's classes about how to fix your old photos, a Photoshop class. And the best way to bring your pictures, the best way to do it of course is not with your thumb drive, but with a hard drive. But there are differences between hard drives and it's important to understand what those are.

Tom: Now one thing I want to point out. My favorite kind of hard drives which have been out for a few years now are the solid state drives. And the reason they're so wonderful is there's no moveable parts in them.

Fisher: Oh they're fast!

Tom: Oh yeah! Oh they're amazing! They're blazing fast!  If you have one as your main drive inside your computer, before you get your finger off the on button, it’s already up, your desktop's ready to rock and roll.  It's just absolutely amazing. And so the reason you want to bring these with you on the cruise is because if they're in your purse because you don't want to ship them in case your luggage gets lost. You can bang them around, it's not going to hurt them because there are no moving parts in them. Where a normal hard drive, they're still pretty forgiving.  However, there is a platter, there is a little reader on top of them. And if you shake them really violently, you can mess them up. And when you bring one on the cruise, bring one of those little, small passport type sized ones. You don't want to bring a great, big, huge hard drive. But bring the solid state drives because they're the best to store. They're really fast. There's nothing worse than you're taking a class and you know, I'm helping you or one of my assistants are helping you and you can't get your thing to load. You're getting frustrated. With a solid state drive, they're going to load really, really fast.

Fisher: Right. And if you do want to bring a portable drive, I suppose you could on the ship, yes?

Tom: Oh absolutely, absolutely! I really recommend you do that. And even though I hate USB drives because they're really, really bad, if that's the only way you can bring stuff with you, than that's fine. Just make sure that's it’s still back home in case something happens to your USB drive. And bring your laptop or another thing that's really, really cool is the new iPad pro that Apple's just released. It's amazing. It's like one and a half times the size of a normal iPad. You can have a stylus. So when you're working in Photoshop, it's really easy to go and fix Aunt Martha who looks kind of green. You can make her look normal again even if she's got jaundice or whatever. You can at least make her look normal. The doc they have with it is just basically a case. So you don't have to worry about Bluetooth connectivity. You don't have to worry about Wi-Fi. And they're really, really cool. If you're really doing a lot of family history and you want ways where you can adjust photos, fix photos, the new iPad Pro is absolutely incredible.

Fisher: So there may be some software that we have to talk about too before the trip.

Tom: Exactly! You know I love Steve Jobs. The things that he has done for all of us are absolutely wonderful. However, he's always had this problem with Adobe. He hated Adobe. He fought Adobe. That's why they never had a lot of the neat programs that Adobe had on the computers. Well, he's gone now and so is that conflict. In fact, their announcements which they had back in...I believe it was back in September. They talked about Adobe and actually had somebody from Adobe come in and show them the new software that's available only on the iPad pro. That will allow you to do amazing things with editing, with retouching photos.  And they're expensive, but it is an absolutely phenomenal device. If you're really into preserving stuff, I'd recommend the iPad Pro, the stylus and the case from Apple, even though it’s a little bit more expensive than other cases, the connectivity of it is absolutely wonderful.

Fisher: All right, that's great stuff Tom. And I'm really looking forward to the cruise because I think there's going to be a lot magic developed right there on the high seas.

Tom: Oh it's going to be a blast. It's going to be so fun.

Fisher: All right. And if you have a question for Tom Perry about preservation, you can email him at [email protected]And you might hear your question answered on the air. Thanks for coming in, Tommy.

Tom: Glad to be here again.

Fisher: That wraps up our show for this week. Thanks once again to Brenda Sullivan from the "Gravestone Girls" who talked about how she actually creates moulds of your ancestor’s grave, so you can you’re your gravestone of your ancestor in your home. Isn't that incredible?! And to Ron Fox, the photo expert who has amazing discoveries almost every day it seems like, with some great advice on how we can have the same experiences that he has had. Thanks for joining us. Remember, if you missed anything of the show or you want to catch a past show, catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio or at ExtremeGenes.com. Take care. We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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