Episode 121 - A Visit With Karen Batchelor, The First African-American Woman to Join the DAR!

podcast episode Jan 11, 2016

Fisher opens the first new show of the new year with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  They exchange unique family history resolutions.  Fisher then reveals his first research adventure of the new year... his childhood home is on the market in Connecticut, and photos of the exterior and interior are shown with the listing.  Fisher talks of the fun of finding decades old photos to show side-by-side with how those areas of the home look today. David then tells of a centuries old find beneath a Scottish school yard playground.  You won't believe what has been dug up!  Likewise, in Virginia, a foundation hole for a new hotel was being built when something awesome was found.  You'll enjoy this one too.  David also reveals the release of new World War I records from the British Archives that might include information on your American "Dough Boy" ancestor.  He also has the first new free database of NEHGS for guest users.

Then, Fisher spends two segments with Karen Batchelor, the first African-American woman to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Karen says she didn't think that would be such a big deal in 1977... but in fact it was!  Hear her story.  She'll also talk about some of the incredible discoveries she's made in her 40 years of research covering slaves, slave owners, Puritans, and pioneers.  As she says... "I want them ALL!"  She's a guest you won't want to miss.

Then Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com shares his "Five Steps for Scanning and Storing."  As always, it's great advice from the "Preservation Authority!"

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

Transcript of Episode 121

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 121

Fisher: And Welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com

It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out, and it is so exciting to be into a brand new year. David Allen Lambert is on the line with me from Boston, from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  He is the Chief Genealogist there. David, have you got any resolutions for this year?

David: Well, first off I want to wish you a Happy New Year from Beantown, and of course I do! One I keep on stopping and starting over my 40 plus years in this planet is to keep a journal. So I think I want to combine my Tech Tip with this journal and my new year’s resolution because I don’t care if you talk into a commercial program like ‘Dragon Speak’ and record your journal, or you tape record it or you write it with crayon on the back of a piece of paper.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: These are helping for future generations.

Fisher: That’s right.

David: I embrace technology like everybody else does but I’m still trying to find a place to read those five and a quarter floppy disks, or better yet the old ones back in my early school days, those 8 inch disks.

Fisher: Oh boy!

David: Anything you put on those, if you don’t move the media to something else, you lose it. So hopefully this written journal when I record what I had for lunch, my great, great, great grandchildren will look at it and think my dietary needs were suitable. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, yes, that’s assuming they can read handwriting at that time right?

David: I hope so. That’s a conversation for another day in its own right.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well you might want to do it in block letters.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: Just think about that.

David: I’ll type it and glue it in. So what’s your resolution for this year?

Fisher: I’m going to put the finishing touches on my mother’s biography this year. I was working on it all last year, didn’t quite get it done, holidays caught up with me, and so I’m excited to get that done. And speaking of which, I’ve got some new pictures that I’m going to be able to include in that.  My childhood home went up on the market here just recently. My parents built it back in 1958. We were in it for twenty years and then the next people were in it for 33, and these folks were in for 3.

I don’t know if he got transferred out or whatever but he’s selling the place. So as a result, the real estate agents have gone through the house and taken photos of every room plus the exterior, and they are all online.

 So I’m able to take a virtual tour of my childhood home that my parents built and I’ve actually gone through and found some pictures from back in the day and put them side by side with pictures of the rooms of how they look today, some of them are very different and some of them are very much the same. It’s very cool.

David: Oh that’s excellent! It’s a shame you can’t get there with a camcorder and do a virtual tour for us of the whole thing while it’s still on the market.

Fisher: That’s a good point. I’d like to be able to do that. But you know, time and distance.

David: Oh that’s for sure. Well you know taking distance into consideration, for our family histoire news, I’m going to dig into a Scottish story. Underneath a school playground they have found the remains of a pirate.

Fisher: Woah!

David: Yeah the forensic analysis of these bones, radiocarbon dates back to the 16th or 17th century New Haven, which is now part of Edinburgh, Scotland, which was a fishing village. They found the remains of a gentleman that would perhaps have been a pirate or some scoundrel because it’s near where they used to gibbet pirates and other criminals.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, the bones are arranged in such a way that it wasn’t a burial like in a cemetery but sort of just discarded into a shallow grave. So the kids are very excited about this.

Fisher: Oh I would be too! To know I had a hung pirate underneath my playground, how cool would that be?! Of course you’d be seeing ghost for years right?

David: Exactly. But think of all the great stories the kids are having now.

Fisher: Yes.

David: And everybody this Halloween will probably no doubt dress up as a pirate.

Fisher: Yes, the pirate.

David: Well you know going to the other side of the pond back to America, in Alexandria, Virginia, they’ve been recently digging the foundation for a new hotel and they found one third of an 18th century vessel under the ground that no one knew was there.

Fisher: Wow!

David: The speculation is that this was actually laid down to extend the waterfront in Alexandria, Virginia into the Potomac River, and they found all sorts of bottles and other paraphernalia of the shipping era with it. So, the archaeologists are going to take all the beams up, preserve them and probably put them on exhibit some place.  

Fisher: That’s fun and you know they had that same kind of thing going on at the Southern tip of Manhattan Island, also old ships down there.

David: It’s amazing to think how much stuff lies under our old waterfronts. For sure archeologists keep busy for years.

Fisher: Right.

David: Obviously 1916, years ago, was in the midst of World War I and the first World War I hospital diaries from the national archives in London, England are now online. Now over 247 First World War hospital camp, hospital ships, common list hospital, all these interesting diaries about the lives of patients which may be your ancestor if you have somebody that was over there associated because the Americans were over there helping the Brits early on.

Fisher: That’s right. From late 1917 and 1918, unless they actually signed up and fought as British military people right?

David: Exactly. A lot of the airmen back in the day signed up to fly in both the Canadian and British air force back in the day. Well, I guess that brings us to NEHGS’s New Year’s resolution and that is to help people with their genealogy like we’ve been doing for over a 170 years.

So for the entire month of January if you sign up as a guest user on AmericanAncestors.org, besides just one database that we give every week anyways, we have some extra special ones including the Massachusetts, vital records from 1841 to 1910.

New Hampshire, births, marriages and deaths; births till 1901, deaths and marriages to 1937, and lastly a great database of Vermont, birth, marriages and deaths from the 18th century all the way to 2008. Brought to you by AmericanAncestors.org, just signup as a guest user and try it out and every weekend as you know, I mentioned a free guest database that our listeners can try.

Fisher: Very cool David and you know we’re into the countdown now for Roots Tech, and you’re going to be in Salt Lake City, Utah, I’m going to be in Salt Lake City, Utah, and so many genies from around the world are going to be there.

So we just want to remind everybody. Come on by and see us! You’re going to be at the New England Historic Genealogical Society booth, I’ll be at the Extreme Genes booth, hopefully in the same vicinity, and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

David: It’s great! I hope that maybe we can get some interviews while we’re out there with some of our interesting genealogical listeners. Bring your stories! We’re always hoping to hear about your interesting family members.

Fisher: And coming up next David, I’m very excited about this, our first guest of the New Year, Karen Batchelor; she is the first African American woman to join the ‘Daughters of the American Revolution’ back in 1977.  She’s going to talk about the experience and all of her 40 years of research, some of her favorite stories. It’s good stuff, coming up on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 121

Host Scott Fisher with guest Karen Batchelor

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com.   I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and Happy New Year to you! And Happy New Year to my guest, Karen Batchelor!  Karen, where are you? You're in Detroit, is that right?

Karen: I am, Scott. I'm in Detroit, Michigan. I'm native Detroiter, but I will tell you that being here in the cold midwest doesn't prevent me from reaching out and doing a whole lot of genealogy.

Fisher: [Laughs] Absolutely! And it's a New Year and I bet you you've already found something.

Karen: I have! Actually, I've had three major discoveries and it's only the 5th day of January.

Fisher: Wow! You know, it's interesting, because I know your background a little bit and I know you've been at it for decades. You started before I did, and I started thirty five years ago. And for you to find somebody as recent as a third great, that's a tremendous find at this stage of the game.

Karen: Yeah, yeah. Well, I started...I started doing family history, it was in 1976, it was my New Year's resolution that year, so that's exactly forty years ago, and my son who is now forty, was only a little, you know, a baby, and I wanted to be able to share more about the family with him, and I realized there's just a lot I didn't know.

Fisher: So, off you went on your adventure. And how quickly did you start finding things?

Karen: Well, so this is where you've got to set this straight that this is before the internet.

Fisher: Right.

Karen: Before Ancestry.com or anything like that.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, we're talking about self address stamped envelopes, telephone calls, visits to libraries.

Karen: Carry files, notebooks, and within ten months, I had found a Revolutionary War ancestor.

Fisher: Yes.

Karen: Which was a shock, because not only was I not looking for anything along those lines, but, also as an African American, I just really wasn't looking for anything.

Fisher: Right! Who would have expected that? Now, was it an African American participant in the war?

Karen: No. No. No, I actually have found eight patriots. Of course, I have to do all those supplemental, but none of my ancestors who fought were African, of African descent.   My great grandmother was Caucasian, and she was from Pennsylvania, that…and Scots Irish… as far as I knew and her line was the line where I had my oldest relative, my great aunt Clara. And so, she started feeding me information, and I started searching on that line and I've gone back now to migration ancestors in 1630, Puritans in this country.

Fisher: So, you descend from both Puritans and the slaves?

Karen: Yes! Puritans, patriots, slaves, slave owners and a New England Colonial witch or two.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Karen: [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow! Well, no wonder you never stop. I mean, because the stories are endless. I hope you've written your own family history for yourself and your son.

Karen: Well, actually that is what I'm doing. That is this year. I've committed to myself to get this down, because I've spent what I call, a lot of time in base camp with the facts and the data.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

Karen: And so, if you look at our family history as a mountain, which I do, I call it, 'Story Mountain.’ When you start to climb up to the summit, that's when you get into the stories and you start blending in the facts, the myths, the data and the, you know, cultural and historical timeline.  And so, that's what I do now as business, but I also do it for myself. So, my commitment to myself is forty stories this year on my family.

Fisher: Wow! That's a great goal! Well, let's go back to this a little bit, back to your beginning, because in 1976, you find a revolutionary soldier in your background; you suddenly start to understand your own multi cultural background. You made a decision at that time, which kind of changed things, at least in one major organization.

Karen: Yeah. I decided to apply to Daughters of the American Revolution, and I found some resistance and, I'll be honest with you, I didn't think it was such a big thing, but from what I learned during that time, there had been no other African American women who had actually applied for membership and been admitted.  There maybe was one or maybe two who had African ancestry who came in many years ago. I heard there's one who was of Indian, Native American, Caucasian and African ancestry, but she was the first daughter.

Fisher: Uh huh.

Karen: So, she was the daughter of the patriot. And she came in, in like the 1890s when she was ninety some years old, so, she didn't have to apply. So, this was kind of the big deal, at least to some people out there and I put together my application.

For every fact that I cited in my application, I had at least three pieces of proof. I was pretty meticulous about my research, and I applied and became a member in October of 1977.

Fisher: Unbelievable! And you were the first African American woman to join D.A.R. as a result. And you mentioned you had some resistance. Now what did that entail?

Karen: Well, I only knew of a couple Chapters in Michigan close to me, relatively close, and I approached both of those Chapters which… who will remain nameless… and they were not interested. You had to be invited to be a member.

Fisher: Right.

Karen: No one was interested in inviting me to the party.

Fisher: Nobody would sponsor you!? I can even imagine that! You're such a charmer! My goodness! So, how did this get resolved when you had two Chapters say, "No! We don't want you joining us, Karen Batchelor!" What did you do? Where'd you go?

Karen: Well, I actually had a great friend and mentor, a genealogy mentor at the time, his name was James Dent Walker, and he was head of Genealogical Services at the National Archives in D.C. And he kind of took me under his wing.  He talked to some people at D.A.R. and the next thing I knew, in the middle of 1977, I got a letter from the Royal Oak chapter of D.A.R, which is the Ezra Parker Chapter, and they invited me to be a member and asked if they could sponsor me. And that was really great and I'm still a member of that Chapter to this day.

Fisher: That's awesome! Now, since then of course, that kind of made you a person of some notoriety, I would imagine, within the Daughters of the American Revolution. Have you given a lot of speeches? Have you talked about this a lot or are you just involved in work on remembering the revolutionary ancestors and getting those records together and bringing in other members?

Karen: Well, probably all of the above. When I first became a member, you know, I mentioned it to a few friends, of course I told my parents, but I didn't think it was, I really still didn't think it was that big a deal. And that December, I was approached by a reporter from the New York Times and he wanted to do a story which appeared on the front page of The New York Times. Then, the next day, I got a call from Good Morning America. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow!

Karen: They wanted me to come in for an interview, which I did. And it was in newspapers all over the country and around the world, but of course you won't see those online so much, because the internet wasn't around, but if you go into a site like Newspapers.com, there's hit after hit after hit.

Fisher: Sure.

Karen: And so, even as recently as a couple of years ago, I was a Final Jeopardy question. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Really?

Karen: Yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: It doesn't get much better than that!

Karen: I know, but I guess learning about genealogy the way that I did and it becoming my passion, as you know, that tends to happen to some of us.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Yes, it does.

Karen: I love to spread the word, so I have over the years given a lot of presentations. I've taught people about genealogy, because it's really about wanting to know more about who you are, and your ancestors are just part of that bigger story.

Fisher: That's absolutely true. Let me ask you this; did you get some negative feedback from the African American community that you are now part of what was predominantly a white organization?

Karen: Yes. There have been people who have asked me, "Why would you even want to be a member of that organization? They’re racist." Yes, they did have a very negative reputation for years because of the Marian Anderson incident and my mom was actually in D.C. in college when that happened.

Fisher: Ah!

Karen: But, I guess, I have never been one to listen to everything that others say, and I chart my own course and I like to think that that's my legacy from my, you know, many generations of pioneer ancestors. So, I just keep on trudging along.

Fisher: Yes, you do. You basically just take people one at a time for whoever they are, not in groups.

Karen: That's correct. I mean, I have ancestors who were slave owners, and you know, the reality is, I think you have to take your ancestor as they come, you know, the good, the bad and the ugly and I do that, because they're mine.

Fisher: That's right.

Karen: I want them all! I'm sorry, I just want every last one of them that I can find.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Karen: [Laughs]

Fisher: I'm talking to Karen Batchelor. She was the first African American woman to join the D.A.R. back in 1977 and attracted a lot of attention for it at the time and as you can tell, she's still quite the passionate genie that so many of us are, and we're going to continue this conversation if that’s all right, Karen, because you have so much to talk about, I know, in your forty years of research that you might want to share with people.

Karen: Yeah, you might have to pull the plug! [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] I don't know about that! We will continue with more, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 121

Host Scott Fisher with guest Karen Batchlor

Fisher: And we are back! America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com

My name is Fisher; I’m the Radio Roots Sleuth, and I’m talking to Karen Batchelor, better known as the first African American woman to join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) .

We spoke quite a bit about that in our first segment, but Karen I want to talk about all the different stories you have found on all your different branches through all your different cultural backgrounds that you’ve discovered.

During the break you were telling me you descend from the witches, you descend from the early Native Americans, talk about some of the different people that you’ve run across that mean a lot to you.

Karen: Well, there are a couple. One is my great-great grandmother, Charity Anne, who was a slave. She was in Georgia, and the slave of her son, who was white, was my second great grandfather, and that couple had sixteen children together, all of whom survived slavery.

The youngest was my great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Parker, and while I don’t agree obviously with the notion of slavery and the stories of what it did to our collective culture, all very sad.

Fisher: Right.

Karen: But I do have a copy of the Bill of Sale, where my great, great grandfather bought my great, great grandmother from his father’s estate when the father died right before the Civil War. So I thought they were a pretty interesting couple. He never married anyone else. They lived together as man and wife, and I thought they had a lot of courage.

Fisher: Yeah [laughs] I would say that‘s an understatement. Where did they live?

Karen: They were in Harris County, Georgia, which are the very rural areas outside of Columbus.

Fisher: Right.

Karen: And that’s where both of my dad’s parents came from there, and they came up to Detroit when Henry Ford put up those flyers that said ‘Work in the auto factory for five dollars a day’ and they came up here then in 1917.

Fisher: Wow! A lot of folks left the South during that era, didn’t they?

Karen: Yeah, they did. But also on the other side, I have some really very interesting Puritan ancestors. I have done a lot of reading, I’m not just a genealogist, I’m also a history nerd.  

Fisher: But you can’t do one without the other because there is no context otherwise.

Karen: Exactly! I’m all about the context, so if I’m researching Puritan lines, then I immerse myself in learning about Puritan society, culture, and I even did historical presenting here at Greenfield Village and Dearborn, Michigan, and I worked at a colonial farm so I dressed in colonial garb.

I learned how to cook over the harth and all that, but it was a harsh time. So it makes me, as I read and learn more about my Puritan ancestors, like, what they went through to be here was amazing.  So, long story, I know that I come from very strong stuff. No matter what line you go on, I came from the survivors, and that gives me a lot of strength as I go through life.

Fisher: Boy, I bet that’s true. So let’s talk about the person that you had that escaped from captivity, amongst your Puritan ancestors back in the day.

Karen: Well, her name was Hannah Dustin, and she was from New Hampshire. She had just had a baby, and maybe the next day or two their farm was attacked by the Native American tribe in the area and of course remember that Puritans were always land grabbing from the Native Americans, so I guess at times I can hardly blame them for wanting to lash out and grab their land back.  But Hannah was captured with her infant and with a servant, her husband. And I think she had like seven kids at the time, they escaped. She was taken on this track, and at some point, more than a hundred miles away from her home, she hatched a plan with another captive and in the night they killed all their captors.

Fisher: Whoa!

Karen: And then because there was a bounty on her scalp, she went back and scalped all her captors, and went back to civilization as a heroine. The thing about ancestors, you take the good, the bad and the ugly, so she’s a survivor, but I don’t like her message.  But that was Hannah Dustin [Laughs].

Fisher: Wow! And this is all stuff you found over the last forty years?

Karen: Yeah. But what’s interesting when you talk about Native American and growing up and the African American community, I always heard that we had a lot of Native American ancestry and I was always pretty proud of that. Well, when I finally got around to doing a DNA test, and I’ve got a couple now and they’re both consistent, I have 2% Native American heritage.

Fisher: Just 2%?

Karen: Just 2%. I have 54% West African; well of course, most of the slave trade came from West Africa. It was the closest to the ocean, and then I have 42% or so northern European.

Fisher: You are very much split.

Karen: Yep, yeah.

Fisher: So that also suggests to me that you also have more European ancestry in some of your other ancestors other than your great grandmother who you knew about.

Karen: That’s correct. Well, my grandfather, my maternal grandfather was from Bermuda and he was a staunch British citizen.  So I know that his heritage was mixed. And my slave side, they were all mixed. They all show up as Mulatto and the ones I knew, talked about the older ones. You know they were kind of like “Yeah, they were all very light.”  So yeah, there’s a lot of mixed, but I’m an American, and I like to think at this point that I’m more American than apple pie.

Fisher: [Laughs] I can’t argue that with you at all, Karen! Did you find some stories back there that have caused you some pain?

Karen: Well, you know the whole thing about the witches, the witch hunt thing that has caused me some. I spend a lot of time researching, not so bound by the time, and the notion of how someone could be accused of witchcraft and this was very early on. They were like the second, third, fourth, people to be executed in this country.

Fisher: That’s right.

Karen: So how did this happen? How do you have a society where someone can point a finger at you and then all of a sudden you lose your life? So that has troubled me a lot and I actually would love to one day veer off my genealogical path and write kind of a historical fiction novel about this phenomenon and this couple.

Fisher: I have no doubt that you can do it. How have your children and grandchildren taken to this?

Karen: [Laughs] Well, my son is forty now, and he’s interested, but he has young kids and both of my grandchildren are of mixed race. So I hope these stories that I put together and share with them, because I think kids and adults learn better through stories so I’m not going to bore them with showing them the family tree that makes my son’s eyes roll back in his head.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

Karen: But I want to share the stories that make them proud to be all of the things that they are, because I am.

Fisher: Karen Batchelor, thank you so much for your time and coming on Extreme Genes. It’s been a delight, and I hope you’ll come on again sometime as you make some more discoveries.

Karen: I would love to, Scott, and thanks for all of the stories that you share. They keep all of us genies out here motivated to continue to stay hot on the trail.

Fisher: You know I think that’s the thing, the stories give us the bigger picture and it’s a lot easier than just instructing on every facet of how you go about doing the research, don’t you think?

Karen: I think you are right.

Fisher: Coming up next; Tom Perry our Preservation Authority. He’s going to talk about things you need to do this year whether or not you planning to digitize your old family films, your photographs, whatever it is, he’s got some important stuff to share with you next in three minutes, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.    

Segment 4 Episode 121

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: It is preservation time at Extreme Genes, America’s Family’s History Show and ExtremeGenes.com

It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He is our Preservation Authority, and Tom this week, ‘Tom’s 5 steps for scanning and storing.’ That’s a lot of S’s

Tom: It is. It is.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: We have been getting so many emails asking questions about these. It’s really simple whether you’re scanning or storing you basically have the same steps. Some people think “Hey, I’m not ready to transfer my items yet or I’m going to do it later so I don’t need to worry about it, let me leave it in the box where it is right now.”

Well, that’s not a good idea because it could be getting more contaminated. So whether you’re going to transfer right now, you’re done transferring it, or you’re going to transfer it in a while, you really need to do these steps.

First off, you’ve got them in the box where they are right now whether it’s the attic, the garage, underneath your bed wherever it is.

Fisher: And you’re talking photographs or videos?

Tom: Yes!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: We’re talking everything.

Fisher: Everything, all right.

Tom: Heirlooms anything that you have, you want to take these steps. Even if it’s something that’s never going to be scanned, just things that you’re storing like dad’s old pocket watch or something.  The first thing is, I can almost guarantee you whatever box it’s being stored in is not a good box. Sometimes you open these things and you find that there has been rats or mice that have gotten into them.

Fisher: Hmm.

Tom: And hopefully they haven’t damaged anything which is another whole segment which we’ll do on a future day. So what you need to do is, you need to take this original box and pretty much you’re probably going to throw it away because it’s probably dirty. If it’s an heirloom box, a wooden box that you can clean it out and reuse it.

You need basic five storage boxes, okay? So you want to go through these things so that you don’t have some items that are in pristine condition and then have other items that are really dusty and can contaminate your pristine stuff.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So what you want to do;

  1. You have your original box where everything is in it.
  2. Then you want to have what we call a sorted box.
  3. Then you have a cleaned box.
  4. You have a scanned box.
  5. And a storage box.

And you want these in different parts of the house if you can so you don’t contaminate your items. So first thing you want to do is open up funky boxes that are dirty, they probably haven’t been stored right.

You want to take those and get all your items sorted, put your film together, your video tapes together, your photos all in separate boxes so that they’re not all mixed up because there’s going to be different ways to transfer them, different mediums, different ways that you want to store them.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Okay so first you do that. Now, that you’ve got them all sorted take one item at a time whether it’s your video tapes or your photos or your slides. Take one box and take it into a different area and clean it. There’s all kind of tips on the internet how you can clean things.

Fisher: Now, you’re talking about dirt or mouse turds or what?

Tom: Everything. Everything. Now some things you can do yourself. You know DIY projects, some things you don’t want to touch. For instance if you have something that has spilled onto one of your negatives, those things you’re not going to want to clean off yourself because there are too many ways to damage them.  Some people don’t understand the emulsion side from the non emulsion side. You never want to clean the emulsion side. People are going, “Well which way is this?” and it’s sometimes hard to explain.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: So the best thing to do, take it to a professional whether you want to send it to us or find somebody in your area that is professional. Not somebody working out of their house but somebody that has this as a business, they know what they’re doing.  It’s not like your brother “Oh I’m sure I can clean that up.” And they could ruin your images. So things like this you’re going to want to set in a separate box. As far as just getting dust off, you can use those air dusters but be very, very careful.

When you’re dusting with an air duster you want to make sure you’re holding the can still, preferably on a counter and you’re moving the item in front of it. You’re not moving the can, because what happens, the compression type of chemicals they have in these can become very, very cold, and if you ever aired something you see the white stuff start coming off, that’s freezing now and that could permanently damage your negatives, your film, your video, anything.  So hold the can still. So you want to hold the can still and move the item in front of that so you’re not moving the can around and don’t shake it. If it starts turning white, stop immediately because that can actually freeze your emulsion and cause all kinds of problems.

Fisher: Wow.

Tom: So the best thing I usually use is ‘Camel hair brushes’ because they won’t hold the dust and they’re really good at cleaning and they’re really, really soft and any good art store will have them for you and you can also get them on Amazon or eBay.

Fisher: That’s right.

Tom: So right after the break we’ll come back and give you some more ideas of what we’re going to do.

Fisher: All right. That’s just step one.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: More to come in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 121

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back on America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com

 It is Fisher here with Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, and we're talking about Tom's five steps of scanning and storing and we've been going through them.

I don't know what step we're on here, Tom, but we've talked about organizing and separating things into boxes. I guess we're up to the cleaning area now, right?  Which is number three?

Tom: Exactly. So, basically you've taken your things, you're cleaning them. We've given you some tips on cleaning before the break. Now, some other things you want to be careful with too is, if you have old VHS tapes or Video 8 tapes, any kind of video tapes that something spilled into, that's something you want to leave to a professional.  We have too many clients that bring us items that they've opened up the case and the springs have gone crazy and they've damaged the tape by closing it together, and the only thing worse than doing that is, not telling your transfer person you're giving it to that you've done that.

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Oh yeah! Sometimes, if you put the case back together very well, they're not going to catch it. They're going to stick it in, and if you've got a spring that's loose in there, it could tear your tape. So, don't think, 'Oh, if I don't tell them, everything will be fine.' Whoever you're taking it to to transfer, even if you're doing it yourself, you don't want to do anything that's been opened. Take it to professional, have them put it back together properly or the best thing to do is just don't open it.  If you already opened it, bring it in to us, bring it in to somebody that knows what they're doing and have them get a new case or whatever it needs to make it right.  Now, if you have dust and dirt and you're scared of doing something, that's fine. Just take it in to a professional, say, "Hey! This has been in storage. It's dirty." You don't want to put it with your good tapes, and one thing that's really bad which we've talked about before, is mold.

Fisher: Oh yes!

Tom: Especially if you're in the southeast.

Fisher: Or the northeast.

Tom: Exactly! Because mold is really, really bad because you can contaminate everything from one bad tape, so don't put it in your VCR and say, 'Oh well, I just want to find out if this is something I want to transfer, because now, all that mold is on your heads. The next tapes you're going to put in, it's going to go on there. You're not going to see it when you first do it, because they're mold spores and they will grow, and they're really, really bad.

Fisher: So, you can actually contaminate your machine with this.

Tom: Oh yeah! It's just like chicken pox.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

Tom: You know, anybody else gets near you they're going to get the chicken pox also. So, what we do, we have a professional machine that we can put it in that cleans those.

What we have done in the past is, we've gone and got a VCR which are hard sometimes to find, but they are still out there. There might even be a combo unit. But all your memories are worth more than a hundred dollars it's going to cost to buy one of these machines.

So, what we've done for clients, they've either brought them in to us or we found them for them. We transfer all the tapes in that machine. So, everything's done now and then we throw the machine away.

Fisher: Oh, good idea!

Tom: So, you don't want to give it to Goodwill or any place like that, because you're giving somebody a time bomb basically that they might think, "Oh, here's a VCR! I want to watch my tapes." And you're just giving them all chicken pox, so to speak.  Okay, now you’ve got everything separated, everything cleaned. Now's the step where you go and you can get it transferred. Now, if you say "Hey, I really want to do this, but I just can't afford it right now. I need to save up some money." Well, that's fine. Still go though all these other steps to get your stuff ready now, so it doesn't deteriorate any more than it already has. Especially slides, negatives and film.

Fisher: And it gets it in your mind too, that, “I've got to get this taken care of” because everything is in a constant state of deterioration.

Tom: Oh, absolutely! So, even though you might not be able to afford this for a year, you've got to save up some money to do it, at least you've slowed down the progression of the deterioration. So, just skip the scan step and go to a storage place, and make sure now that you've done all these steps, you store it right.

I like storing stuff in Ziploc bags and if I have old things from like, electronics you've bought that says, 'Do not eat this', the little silica gels. The reason those are in there, they absorb moisture when the items are coming across the sea in the big cargo ships, so they're great.

If you don't have those, you can make your own. You need some cheesecloth, you need some string and you need some uncooked rice. I put things in Ziploc bags, I put them in the box and that will keep a lot of the moisture out. If you don't know how to make these rice bags with cheese cloth, write me and I'll send you some tips on that as well.

Fisher: All right. Good stuff, Tom! Thanks so much!

Tom: You bet! Thank you.

Fisher: That wraps up our show this week. Thanks once again to Karen Batchelor of Detroit, Michigan, for coming on and talking about her forty years of experience in researching, and the experience of becoming the first African American woman to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

If you missed any of our segments with her today, be sure to catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, wherever you are.

Thanks for joining us! And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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