Episode 125 - Handwriting Analysis on Ancestors’ Handwriting

podcast episode Feb 07, 2016

Fisher and David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, open the show.  They anticipate reviewing Roots Tech, the largest family history conference in the world, that is taking place over the weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.  David then talks about a remarkable discovery of remains under a bus station in Harlem, New York!  Just whose remains have been discovered and what is their history in New York?  David will tell you.  David then talks about another discovery in Yorkshire, England involving Roman gladiators.  He’ll share the incredible numbers and what has been learned from these recently found remains.  Black History Month is in full swing, too, and David shares a special database related to African-American ancestral information from NEHGS.  Fisher then fills in David on a unique app he found that allows any face to be placed over yours in photos or videos.  You can even put your ancestor’s face over yours and then tell that person’s story!  Hear what that app is.  David also shares news about an exciting new audio app coming from MyHeritage.com.

Fisher then visits, for two segments, with Nancy Douglas, a handwriting analyst with WriteMeaning.com.  Nancy explains the various regions of handwriting and what they mean in learning about someone’s personality, and how she got started in this field.  In the second segment, Nancy then reveals information on several of Fisher’s ancestors based solely on their handwriting samples. 

Then Tom Perry talks preservation, and how to know about the formats of your current media, and how you can convert them for long term preservation.

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

Transcript of Episode 125

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 125

Fisher: And, Welcome to another edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com!

It is Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out, and this of course is our Special Roots Tech Edition! It’s going on while Roots Tech is happening, and if you’re not familiar with that, Roots Tech happens to be the largest family history conference in the world! Something like twenty five thousand people converging on the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City Utah, right now.

If you’re listening to this, no matter where you are, you can follow along and hear some of the talks, see some of the classes by going to RootsTech.org, they’ve got streaming video going on there all the time, so check that out, and then next week we’re going to tell you about some of the things we’ve learned, new technology, some of the things happening in some of the classes some of the exciting directions that family history is going in.

But right now in the studio with me, my good friend from Boston, Massachusetts, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert.

How are you David? Good to have you!

David: I’m doing great! Well we’re going to have lots to talk about next week with Roots Tech, but I have some other exciting news for our listeners with Family Histoire News.

Fisher: All right! Where do we start?

David: Well, we’re digging deep right into the old bus station at 126 Street, in Harlem.

Fisher: Well that’s right in the heart of Harlem, isn’t it?

David: It really is.

Fisher: Wow!

David: They found over a 140 bones from an Old Dutch Cemetery, but this isn’t Dutch settlers, these are African-Americans that were part of the settlement. Probably some of them actually would have been slaves and these are from the 17th and 18th century, and with DNA and all this they found it in this decommissioned bus station that they had speculation there was a cemetery under there and started digging in.

Fisher: Voila.

David: And Voila!

Fisher: Wow!

David: There seems to be a lot of that because going across the pond over to Driffield Terrace, Yorkshire, England, they have now been analyzing over 80 skeletons of Romans that they have unearthed a few years back. 

Fisher: I saw the digital pictures of this and they have each individual Roman skeleton laid out on a table, and you can’t describe it as anything less than creepy.

David: It is creepy. But the results are going to be very exciting. Using the inner ear bone to extract the DNA information and it’s really interesting. You’d think they’re all from Rome, not really. Their descendents are going to be surprised; they’re going to find that they have some descendents that match with people that lived in Wales, and also surprisingly enough one of the skeletons matches with someone from Palestine or the Saudi Arabia area because obviously the Roman Empire stretched all over the place.

The injuries are interesting. It looks like somebody was mauled by a bear or something like that.  And the interesting thing is a lot of them were decapitated. Now was this...

Fisher: I don’t know what that means.

David: I don’t either.

Fisher: They say, they’re all under 45 years old and they’re very strong men, and they were Gladiators is what they are determining with these guys and we’re talking going back now 1800 years, we’re talking about 200 years after Christ. Unbelievable!

David: It is. And you know with everybody out there that’s had their 23 chromosomes done and their DNA work, who knows they may have dug up great, great, great, great, great, great, great Grandpa.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well you know we have exciting news in Boston to announce. It’s Black History month for the month of February, and we are always giving out a guest user database at AmericanAncestors.org and the one I want to talk about is the one that we have commemorating Black History month. So if you go onto our site, you can start as a guest user on AmericanAncestors.org and you can find rich content of an African-American study. We’ve gathered up databases that reflect African-American research and whether you’re of an African-American descent or you are a historian and journal and curious to what we have, take a peek.

I tell you, we get some interesting emails but the other day I got a video sent to me from President Nixon, how did you do that Fish?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: That was kind of scary and creepy but I enjoyed it.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right for anybody listening who maybe doesn’t follow us on the Facebook page, there is a new app out and I didn’t even mention it in the page. I didn’t want to spoil it, but I guess I need to let the cat out of the bag. It’s something called ‘Face Swap Live’ its 99 cents you download it on your phone. And you can take anybody’s face and it can be put on yours.

So you know in my case because I do a lot of character voices and impressions and all that. I’d find famous people and I’d put their face on mine with this app and record something. In this case I recorded a thing as Nixon, and sent it on to David but it’s unbelievable. It’s better than a mask it looks like that person is still with us

David: Well you know for genealogists that like to really dig deep into their ancestry and get to know their ancestor, well guess what? Now you can become your ancestor.

Fisher: [Laughs] its true!

David: Get a great photo of Grandpa or great, great Grandpa and scan it and put it right into your phone and with this app all of a sudden voila! You are now talking to your ancestor or as your ancestor or something like that.

Fisher: Well, I was trying to figure out what the application would be for family history with this thing because first of all it’s so much fun you know for parties or just among friends.

David: Yup.

Fisher: It will also swap faces, so if you get two of you in a picture it will swap your face with somebody else’s face and you’ll be on each other’s heads it’s crazy. But when you do this other stuff you can actually record yourself using the face of your ancestor, for that ancestor to tell their own story. Now how cool and bizarre is that? [Laughs]

David: It really is and I can tell you that I’m going to really scare some of my family members in the next coming weeks with this app. When they have visits from people like former co-workers that they didn’t want to hear from.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Or better yet, I have some co-workers back in Boston that might get some interesting messages sent from themselves. Stay tuned!

Fisher: Yes! Those things can happen and again the name of the app is ‘Face Swap Live’ it’s just 99 cents, you just download it onto your phone and it’s right there it’s very easy to use just play with it a little bit and you’ll get the hang of it very quickly. You can download pictures, you can take pictures to use, they have a little supply for you to play with to start with but you can do anything. In fact, I did a thing with the Captain of the Titanic and did an interview with him.

David: It looked a little frosty.

Fisher: [Laughs] it did, he looked very cold.

David: Well, I’ll tell you tech tips are wonderful and next week with everything with Roots Tech, you’re going to hear lots of them. One of the apps that I’m going to be talking about will obviously be the exciting new one by ‘My Heritage’ their audio app that’s coming out. It’s going to be really a neat way of saving your family stories with your genealogy program.

Fisher: Yeah that’s a great way to go anytime you can add audio and video it really brings it alive especially when you can preserve a voice.

David: Exactly. Or preserve a video of someone who really isn’t on a video because the camera wasn’t invented yet Fish.

Fisher: [Laughs] But I love the idea that even if you just have nice photographs you can run the audio over those and mix those together to create a nice presentation. 

David: Wonderful stuff, and let me mention that I’m going to be reporting live for your listeners from Birmingham, England at ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ live in England, coming up in April.

Fisher: Oh that’s going to be fun!

David: It will. It will be nice to go across the pond where my grandfather was from there so I’ve got some genealogy to do as well. NEHGS is doing a tour of London afterwards so I’m sneaking in to do “Who Do You Think You Are’ a little early with a couple of our staff and we can’t wait, and we can’t wait to meet all the people that are attending and get some stories from the floor of the conference live for our listeners.

Fisher: Oh it’s going to be a lot of fun! All right David, I am very excited today because I have shared with our guest Nancy Douglas, the Hand Writing Analyst, hand writing samples of some of my ancestors to see what she can tell me about their personalities and what they might have been going through actually at the time that they wrote these samples. How cool is this, huh?

David: Sounds exciting.

Fisher: Yes! So we’re going to do two full segments with her today. We’re going to talk about how she can actually help you know the personality of your ancestors through their hand writing and then and then another segment talking about my particular people. I haven’t told her anything about them, then I will share what I know about them with her and see how much of these stories match up.

That’s going to be coming up in about three minutes, so stay close on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 125

Host Scott Fisher with guest Nancy Douglas

Fisher: And, you have found us! America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com

My name is Fisher, the Radio roots Sleuth, and I’m very excited to have on Nancy Douglas. Now Nancy has a website called WriteMeaning.com, which has to do with analyzing the hand writing of your ancestors, and I’m sure there are other uses for this as well Nancy, but I’m certain that’s one of the emphasises that you like to place on what you do.

Nancy: Yes. That’s correct Scott.

Fisher: Now, how long ago did you start this whole thing?

Nancy: I started this when I moved to Utah, from 2007 and I moved in across the street from a woman whose best friend was a handwriting analyst, and I’ve always had a fascination with handwriting ever since I was little. I remember people by their handwriting and this girl had a series of courses that she offered and I took those classes and then I apprenticed with her for 4 or 5 years.

Fisher: Wow!

Nancy: Through that process I realized it could be one aspect of the services that I provide would be to provide personality profiles for people who happen to have ancestral writing. So it’s been something that has been very well received and successful.

Fisher: Now, you left Utah, for California some time back and you set up business there. What kind of applications have you applied other than the family history side of it?

Nancy: It’s for living people. Just general personality profile, personality insight. From a work perspective I offer employment screening for people who are looking for employees with certain personality traits. I can help them screen the people who have applied for those positions and get people into positions who most closely fit the profile of who they’re looking for. That’s been very successful as well. It’s an excellent way to make sure that people get fit into the correct position and it reduces employee turnover. I can also do team building, something similar to the ‘Myers-Brigg Type Indicator’ but using handwriting, where handwriting will reveal to your co-workers more about who you are and the ways that you can work together when you have this personality profile.

Fisher: Now, I was talking to a friend of mine once who was dating somebody she knew, she actually had his hand writing analyzed by somebody who actually does this work for criminal cases where they can actually determine if somebody has a past. Now, do you do things like that?

Nancy: I don’t do specifically forensic analyzing, that’s what that’s called when you do that for the court system. There certainly are many analysts who have this what they specialize in. but I do, do compatibility screening so whether it’s a business partner, if you want to make sure you’re going into business ‘will we be compatible as partners?’ or if it’s someone who you’re looking to have as a life partner. I can do compatibility screenings and talk with the people about the traits in each of their personalities that would be beneficial or not.

So in addition in this day and age of online dating and online profiles where you really don’t know somebody, it’s a good idea to get an idea of who they are and their handwriting is very revealing about that. So if you’re doing online dating and you really want to know, send me a sample of their writing and I can tell you if you if you should just run as fast as you can or if you should stick around. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] That is amazing. Well this has been very fun to talk to you about as we set up this interview because I did send you some samples of some of my ancestors handwriting for you to take a look at, just go ahead as to which ones you think are most interesting from the top and we’ll kind of go through them.

Nancy: Okay. That will be fine, I want to get this little bit of quick background on areas that we look at with someone’s handwriting.

Fisher: Sure.

Nancy: Just so your listeners have an idea. We look at the slant of someone’s writing and that is based on what is called the upper zone letters. So in the handwriting there are three zones... the upper zone, which will be for example an ‘l’ or a ‘t,’ lower zone letters, for example ‘g’ or ‘y’ and middle zone letters, ‘i’ ‘m’ ‘n’ those types of letters.

Fisher: Sure.

Nancy: And each of those zones has something to do with your personality; so upper zone letters represent everything going on in your head:

  • Your philosophies
  • Your ideas
  • Your creativity
  • Your imagination
  • And your intellect.

Middle zone letters represent those reflect:

  • The day to day
  • The here and now
  • What’s going on in someone’s life,

 And the lower zone letters represent all things physical:

  • Your physical drives
  • Your desires around acquisition of money
  • Your sexuality
  • Your desire for change
  • Level of restlessness

Those types of things show up in the lower zone. So we look at that, we look at the slants like I said, we look at the baseline and we look at individual letter formation and we look at how letters are connected together. Those are just a few of the things that we look at. Those are just a few of the things we look at there are many more things but I just wanted to give a little background to your listeners on that.

So, for you and your ancestors; you sent me basically four samples of writing and the first one I think you said is your second great grandfather?

Fisher: Yeah, actually there are a couple of second greats in there.

Nancy: Okay. So this is the small sample it’s from the Bible of John Hardy.

Fisher: Okay, yes.

Nancy: And, he was a person who was very driven and that shows up in the letter ‘t.’  He was a very restless person, he liked change. He liked to do rigorous things. He had very good leadership skills. At the time of this writing he was feeling a lot of personal pressure.

Fisher: Yes.

Nancy: And he was feeling very squeezed with everything that he had to do in his life at that time. He was very geared towards the physical aspects of life, like I said that lower zone. His lower zone really pops out being much more emphasized than the middle zone and upper zone in his writing.

Fisher: Um-hmm

Nancy: And so, someone whose very driven by material acquisition. Wants to make sure that he’s taking care of himself and his family from a monetary sense, those types of things and that’s also where the restlessness shows up as well. The other thing that jumped up again was he was a very tenacious person and again going back to that drive.  That shows up in the variety of ways that he crosses his letter ‘t.’ So that’s a little bit about that grandfather.

Fisher: All right. Let me tell you a little bit about what I know about him. He was born in the area of Nottinghamshire, England, in the early 1800’s. He was married briefly to a woman who died that young, he lost a child and then he married my great, great grandmother and they came to America. He was what they called a boot-closer and they came to New York City and settled there. And at the time that he wrote that, they had just lost a baby girl and so inscribed this Bible to his wife at that time, obviously in my mind just based on the date, to give her comfort.

Nancy: Um-hmm. Very good, one of the things, this is a photo copy of that so I couldn’t see all the levels of details but it’s interesting that he also appears a little bit tired at this time.

Fisher: Um-hmm

Nancy: The up strokes on his lower zone letters, I don’t know if you’re looking at the sample with me at the same time.

Fisher: I’m not.

Nancy: The up strokes on the lower zone letters are much lighter. The down strokes are easy to make you’re going with gravity but when you’re pushing up against that if you don’t have enough sort of vital life energy when you’re doing that it will show up as much lighter and that’s a typical sign of someone whose feeling tired at that time. So it’s an interesting reflection of what he was writing about.

Fisher: Yes. Okay great, who else do you have there?

Nancy: The next sample that you sent was also out of a Bible.

Fisher: Uh-hmm

Nancy:  Family Bible of the Fishers, and you’d have to look specifically at this, the smaller writing at the bottom of this but what’s interesting to know is that this is a great example of slants. So the person who wrote the top part has a very vertical to reclined slant.

Fisher: Yes.

Nancy: Slants tells us about how you go about making decisions. Are you an emotional decision maker or are you a logical decision maker? People with vertical writing are very, very logical they’re what we call the ‘head over heart people.’ They’re good to have around in a time of crisis, so they don’t let emotions run away with them and they don’t crack under pressure. So who’s that writing at the top?

Fisher: That would be Robert Fisher, who was another second great grandfather and he was raised by a stepfather whose name he took. At least I believe that’s the case, I’ve never been able to prove it but there’s a lot of reason to believe that was the case, and it doesn’t appear that he had much of a relationship with him so I think he grew up being a tough guy emotionally, became very involved with the Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, founded a church there, was part of it. He wasn’t clergy but he was very involved in that and I think he was a very stern father with his children.

Nancy: Um-hmm, I can see that in here. So we do have like I said this vertical writing too interestingly reclined and when you’re writing begins to get reclined its people who withhold emotion.

Fisher: Yes.

Nancy: And so he would not have been a very warm and giving person with other people. In that sense he was very reserved, emotionally reserved.

Fisher: All right. We’re going to take a break and when we return we’re going to talk more with Nancy Douglas, the handwriting Analyst from WriteMeaning.com and she’s going to look at some of the signatures of, shall we say, one of my more colorful ancestors, when we return in five minutes on America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes, and ExtremeGenes.com

Segment 3 Episode 125

Host Scott Fisher with guest Nancy Douglas

Fisher: You know, a radio person once asked me if there was really enough material out there to talk about on a family history radio show every week. Well now on our third year of Extreme Genes, I think he knows the answer, and this visit with ancestral handwriting expert Nancy Douglas is a perfect example of how many different aspects there are to talk about.

So before we get back to the analysis of the writing in my 19th century Bible, let me ask you this Nancy, can you tell male from female hand writing?

Nancy: No. And that’s one of the interesting things about handwriting analysis; it’s a very neutral way to see someone because you don’t know if they’re male or female. There are masculine tendencies and traits and feminine tendencies and traits so you sort of just make a guess but really it’s just a guess.

Fisher: So my guess was that, on that Bible the top handwriting was male and the smaller hand writing at the bottom was by a female.

Nancy: It could be or not I really couldn’t tell you.

Fisher: Okay.

Nancy: Honestly there’s no indication. Now you’ll notice that the bottom writing slanting more to the right.

Fisher: And smaller.

Nancy: Yes it’s smaller but I wasn’t sure if there’s more information here. She or he, the writer had an area that they had to fit the writing into so I’m not sure I mean it is smaller but I don’t know if it’s an accurate reflection of the size.

Fisher: Okay.

Nancy: And the size of writing does absolutely say something about people as well. The interesting thing that I’ve noticed on this writing that I saw is the lower zone, the lower zone letters have what is called the ‘dumping stroke.’ What that means is people who feel extremely overwhelmed at the time of the writing and they just really need to get rid of responsibility and the writing is downhill and I think their health was not very good when they were writing this.

Fisher: Okay.

Nancy: Downhill writing is a sign of someone who is either extremely fatigued, not feeling well or emotionally depressed, and there’s other signs of this writing that shows there is a lightness like a lack of vitality, a lack of life vitality this time. But it’s also a person who had been balanced, very clear thinking but they were feeling overwhelmed at the time of this writing.

Fisher: Now see I believe that’s the widow of Robert Fisher, who wrote that. I don’t know for a fact because I don’t have any handwriting to compare it to but she would have written it just analyzing when the dates and when the hand changed within the Bible. There were five different people that wrote in this Bible. This was later in her life probably in her 80’s that she wrote this. Now all this seems to fit beautifully.

Nancy: Yeah. Yeah and then the last sample that you gave me is a series of signatures of your great grandfather. Is that right?

Fisher: Yes. Great grandfather Andrew (Fisher) the fireman and his wife Jenny.

Nancy: Very interesting and the thing that grabbed me right away was that she signed her last name like his. In particular where the word breaks so she does ‘F’ and a break and then ‘i- s.’ Then a break, then ‘h-e-r.’ And she does that very similarly because that tells me there is a level of maybe tradition in there following her husband.

Fisher: Okay.

Nancy: She is an interesting person. Both of them had a very similar slant. Which might have made them hard to be around because their slant is what’s called ‘very inclined’ which means a high level of emotional decision making, and so people who have that kind of a slant introduce a lot more emotion into their decision making and they can tend to overreact when faced with a crisis they don’t handle that too well and I mean, he’s a fire-fighter. That’s very fascinating to me.

Fisher: Yes. There’s a lot more to him too. [Laughs] Keep going.

Nancy: Yeah.  He also has these very interesting hooks on his capital letter ‘A’ and those hooks are something that shows that he was hooked on something in the past or something he couldn’t let go of, and he also has a hook on the end of his letter, on the letter ‘r’ and that hook in its best form can be someone that’s very tenacious and worst form, someone whose extremely opinionated and could be sometimes cruel and sarcastic with others. So that was very interesting to me both of those hooking. He was a very analytical person, he had a great deal of personal pride, and he could be very sensitive to criticism.

Fisher: I believe all these things, absolutely! He was into politics; he actually ran for office at one time, he did not make it. He was a merchant with his brother but he was the junior merchant between the partners, and he had.... shall we say a lot of relationships. [Laughs]

Nancy: Okay. Interesting, interesting he was definitely a talker as well. He leans on the letter ‘d’ he leaves the belly of the ‘d’ open from the stem which indicates someone who liked to talk, and in many of these samples there’s a lot of what I call ‘pressure points’ which means that he was feeling like he was under pressure when he was writing these. There’s a very sharp angular quality in his writing which can indicate him being not in particular warm and fuzzy with other people.

Fisher: I think that’s true too. He was also the head of the Veteran Fireman’s Association, for the retired guys at one point. So we see a lot of newspaper quotes from him, he was very talkative.

Nancy: Interesting. Yeah and he also was an intuitive person. The way that he breaks up his letters in his name, they’re not connected. If you go back and look you’ll see that he writes the ‘A’ and then there’s the ‘n’ and then there’s a space, then he puts the ‘drew’ together and he does the same in his last name too, and when you have those disconnects in the writing it means that you are someone who rather than being a person who has to logically step through step by step by step you’re more of an intuitive seeker, so you think about many things at one time and can’t put puzzle pieces together.

And then, in contrast to that, your great grandmother Jennie, she was a softer person, softer than him, she probably had to be a counterpoint to his sort of sharpness. She was a cultured woman, I wondered if she might have been a musician, she had a great imagination and she was much more open and friendly to other people than Andrew was.

Fisher: Yeah, one story about them got passed down in oral tradition that came through my family that one day a neighbor came to Jennie in New York City, this would have been in the 1880’s probably, and said “I saw Mr. Fisher come home in the great cab last night and assisted into the house. Was he ill?” and she said “No. He wasn’t ill. He was just dead drunk!”

Nancy: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] so you know, I can see the softness of her just accepting the situation and I can see the hard living of this man, very interesting.

Nancy: Yeah. So that’s just a little bit about your folks, and when I do an analysis depending on how big my sample size is I should say it could take me a day’s work to actually…

Fisher: Oh I bet.

Nancy: … go through the writing and really understand. There’s a lot of variation, a lot of subtlety, it’s a science and it’s crossed referenced as a science in the Library of Congress. But there’s also a level of art to it, it’s classified under the same system as psychology is, so there’s bold aspects to that. So when I look, I almost inhabit the person and really try to get a sense of who they are and the feedback that I get from folks… nobody gives me free information because I never want that, I always get post information and its really exciting to see how stories match up and particularly if there are still ancestors who are alive who knows the person that I was analyzing. So that’s always fun to see.

Fisher: Well, all the folks you talked about lived and died in the 19th century. So it’s very fun to get that insight that you couldn’t get any other way.

Nancy: Right exactly, and the interesting thing is you can see in your own self are there personal traits that you inherited and that will show up in that person’s writing.

Fisher: Right.

Nancy: and that’s always a fun aspect of this as well.

Fisher: Well, this is great stuff Nancy, thank you so much for your time, your insight, fascinating! I know listeners are going to want to know more about this and they can go to your website WriteMeaning.com, all your contact information is right there, and by the way for people who have been listening to this segment who want to see these samples of the hand writing, I’ll have them posted on our Facebook page so you can check it out.

Nancy: Okay that’s sounds great. Well thank you Scott so much for your time! I appreciate that.

Fisher: All right, great stuff. Nancy Douglas from WriteMeaning.com, and coming up next Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority joins us to answer a couple of great listener questions about digitizing old photo albums and why a flash-drive works showing a video in a computer but not in a high def. TV, find out what Tom’s got to say about these issues coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 125

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

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

It is Fisher here the Radio Roots Sleuth. It is preservation time with our Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com

Hello Tommy,

Tom: Hello, it’s wonderful to be here again.

Fisher: Yes! And we do have a question here that has been emailed to [email protected] It’s from Lisa Sorensen. It doesn’t say where she’s from but Lisa asks “I’m interested in having a very old photo album digitized, two old albums actually. Do you work with very old photos and what would the cost be to have this done?”

Tom: Oh absolutely! You bet. We do photo albums. You know photo albums are really generic it’s like saying photograph. There are different kinds of albums, I’ve seen ones with the garrets types in them, I’ve seen ones that have the old glass plates, and we’ve seen ones that are torn, that are faded, all kinds of things. It’s going to depend on what condition your photos are in, how old they are, if you want any changes with them.

For instance we had someone who brought in a photo album that we were digitizing and then they called us and said “Hey, my mother’s just passed away we need a good photo for the obituary and my favorite photo of her is the one with her and me at my wedding. However I’m in the picture too and I don’t want to be in an obituary and if I just cut myself out I’m going to have to cut off her shoulder and it’s going to look really bad. What can you do?”

So what we did, we actually had our artist go in and remove him, rebuild her shoulder and then it looked just like it was a single picture, it looked wonderful.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: It’s just amazing what you can do with apps, what you can do with PhotoShop, and different kinds of software. So the biggest thing is to figure out exactly what you want. If you want them just digitized and you want to do all your work with them, it’s pretty inexpensive to do photos whether you have us do it or a reputable place close by, you just make sure that wherever you get it done that they do it in house.

I hear all kinds of horror stories where somebody sends them off to India or something like that to save some money, there’s no way I would do that. There’s no way, so try to find somebody local. If you are going to ship it, I always tell people make sure you double box everything and put a label on both boxes just in case the worse case happens. We’ve been doing this for over 40 years and fortunately we’ve never lost anything in any transit one way or another and you might want to go back to one of our older episodes that are available on the podcast, a free podcast where we tell you actually how to make a box, the best way to do it.

Fisher: Yes. That’s right, that’s a good point, and you know when they use the term ‘old,’ an old photo album. What does that mean? You know maybe to Lisa, old is the 1960’s.

Tom: Oh absolutely.

Fisher: To me it’s the 1920’s and maybe to somebody else it’s the 1870’s.

Tom: Oh yeah exactly! We have people call us all the time and say “Oh I’ve got this film; it’s so old can you still transfer it, it’s from the 70’s?” and it’s just like “Okay.” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: I mean we have stuff that’s playing in our store for instance that’s back in the old black and white days, the early 1900’s where you see these 1920 Model A Fords drive past.

Fisher: Really, you actually went and digitized some of those?

Tom: Oh yeah we’ve got them playing in our store. The customer gave us permission to play them. We had people that had to want to colorize black and white, we had people that want to go and take outlaws out of their home movies. All kinds of things just like this photo album.

Fisher: Wait a minute. You can actually colorize black and white home movies?

Tom: Oh absolutely!

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Oh yeah it’s not cheap and I wouldn’t do it. I mean I’ve got some old black and whites that my dad shot and I wouldn’t want to colorize them because that changes the whole thing. Just like some of the old ‘I love Lucy’ movies I watched them when they were black and white. I don’t like seeing them in color.

Fisher: Right. No I agree with you. I don’t like it for instance when they colorize something like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: It’s not right.

Tom: Right. Because you’ve got to understand when that show was done and they cast it and they got the costume directors etc. they knew it’s going to be in black and white so they used colors that looked good in black and white. They would complement each other not clash. When you take those and turn them into the colors that’s not what the producer had in mind, that’s not what the continuity people had in mind, and to me it’s just not comfortable.

Fisher: Right. But you can do it! I mean that’s the fun part.

Tom: Oh absolutely! We had a customer that has an ex-son-in-law, we had to edit him out of all the photo albums, we edited him out of all their movies, everything. So you see this water skiing and he was at the back of the boat so you see this water skier and just as it gets to him we’d have to cut, this time-lash thing is kind of lost. If you can imagine it we can do it.

Fisher: That’s absolutely astonishing! All right, we’ve got another question coming up, we’ll take a break. We’ll be back in three minutes with more from Tom Perry on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 125

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: You know I don’t know why Tom, we get people who write in and give us their name but not where they’re from and then other people who tell us where they’re from but not their name. [Laughs]

Tom: [Laughs] Exactly. That’s the case...

Fisher: ... with this next question. Hey, it’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, with Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, answering questions about preservation.

This one’s from Santa Ana, California, asking about flash-drives and he says if you plug it into the back of his computer everything’s great. But if you put it into a flat-screen TV, nothing... what’s the story with that Tom?

Tom: Okay there can be several different things there. We had a customer the other day that actually stopped in our store and she said “Oh, I’ve got this flash-drive, I need these photos.” I take it and look at it, and what it is, is actually a USB adapter with a Micro SD Card into it. So she just thought it was a normal flash-drive but it’s not, it has a removable SD card in it.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So there’s all different kinds of things out there but the way they work the normal cliché so to speak is all the same.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: So what you need to do is know what format it is, a lot of times we ask people when they call in or write in, what format are your files? And they go “Huh?” so what you’ll want to do is take whatever kind of format you have, whether it’s a USB drive, whether it’s a disk it’s irrelevant, put it in your computer and if you’re a Windows user for like a PC, what you want to do is once you see the icon on your desktop, you double click on just the icon you don’t want to open up anything inside that.

So that will expand the window and you’ll see all your files. Then you’ll want to go to the top of your screen and tell it to sort by ‘Properties’ that will show you the file name, the file size, if it’s an MOV, if it’s a PDF, no matter what file it is, and a lot of times if you’re going to have us do work or you don’t know even what these files mean. Do a screenshot on your computer and then you can email that to us or have it in front of you when you’re talking to us.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Okay. If it’s a MAC, you don’t have to search under properties. The same thing you put the disk in or USB drive, double click so it opens the folder and then it will automatically on a MAC give you all that stuff generally and then you’ll do the same thing “Oh I have MOV’s, I have AVI’s, I have X, Y, Z whatever they happen to be and there’s all kinds of weird things out there and if you want to research them, all you’ve got to do is the dot (.) Whatever it is type it into Google and it will tell you what it is.

If you don’t want to deal with that give us a call we’ll find out which ones can be transferred to video, what ones are executable files so they’re not really something that you’d want to watch on a DVD, they’re more of a brain to tell something else what to do.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: So once you get those to us then we can figure out “Okay, it’s this size, it’s an MP4.” So you can take normal software like ‘Power Director’ and edit your MP4 or do whatever you want to do with it. You’ll take that file and say “Okay, I’ve got this, this and this.” And I can say okay well you’ve got an MOV, your TV doesn’t play MOV’s, and most TVs only play MP4’s generally.

So the best thing to do is get out your owner’s manual if you lost it just go online, Google it and you can find your owner’s manual anyplace and find out what kinds of format it takes so when you call us you can say “Hey, my TV takes this, it takes and this, or it only plays MP4’s.” so when we transfer it for you or tell you how you can transfer it yourself, you’ll make sure you end up with the correct file that will play on your TV.

If your TV plays Mp4’s and we make you a QuickTime, you’re out of luck and vice versa.

Fisher: Yeah, not going to work too well.

Tom: Exactly. And so now be careful too, we had somebody that came in and had us make 300 flash-drives for him and we needed to find out what format you want it, people are going to be doing this, this, this and this. If you get a big enough flash-drive you can put an MOV on it, you can put an MP4 on it and you can put a QuickTime so no matter which computer or TV they have it will play on all of them.

Fisher: So you need to know some of this information before you get started.

Tom: Exactly. Just like when we teach you when you’re transferring films or videos, what is your end point?

Fisher: We’re talking fundamentals here and its great stuff. Thanks so much Tom, see you next week!

Tom: Thank you! We’ll be here.

Fisher: And that wraps up our show for this week. Thanks once again to handwriting analyst Nancy Douglas, from WriteMeaning.com, for coming on the show and talking about the personalities of my ancestors and she was able to determine it from old Bible records and I’m sure she could do some of the same for you. Hey, and don’t forget next week we’ll be talking about all that’s gone on at Roots Tech. It’s going to be a great show! Talk to you then, and remember as far as everyone knows, we are a nice, normal, family!

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