Episode 139 - Extreme Genie Seeks To Become An English Earl / Glen Meakem of Forever.com On Prioritizing Preservation Projects

podcast episode May 16, 2016

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  In “Family Histoire News” Fisher and David talk about the recent story of a couple in their 70s that just welcomed a new child into the family!  How and where?  You’ll have to listen to the show. David then talks about a 111 year old woman with more grandchildren than years on this earth.   Fisher and David will give you the math.  A famous English ship has been found… right under our noses… scuttled in New England!  Listen to find out whose and what ship it was.  MyHeritage has come up with a new tribal history program.  David fills you in on the details of this important initiative.  Plus, catch David’s Tech Tip, and the NEHGS free database of the week.

In segment two, Fisher visits with Forever.com founder and CEO Glen Meakem about what he views as the important process of prioritizing what is really important to pass down and how you’re going to do it.  It’s an important conversation with many points you’re going to want to consider and act on.

Fisher next visits with Joshua Arlin Collins, a Texas man and Extreme Genie in every sense of the term.  Joshua has been seeking his ancestors for some time and in the process learned that he may be qualified to fill a vacant Earldom!  Could he one day be the star of a reality version of Downton Abbey?  Hear what Joshua found in his research and how he plans to claim his place among the aristocracy of England!

Then, Preservation Authority Tom Perry returns to talk about preserving paper.  What paper should be kept and how, and what paper should be scanned and tossed?  Tom will give you some great thoughts on everyone’s great challenge… how to collect without collecting too much!

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

Transcript of Episode 139

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 139

Fisher: And you have found us! 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.   On the program today we’re going to talk a lot about preservation. In fact we’re going to talk to the CEO, the creator of “Forever” which is the website where you can actually save things, kind of like an insurance company, for like 150 years.  He’ll tell you more about that and talk about some ways that you should be thinking about inventory and preserving your family heirlooms.  What to keep, what to get rid of. Glen Meakem will be here in 8-9 minutes.  And then later on in the show we’re going to hear from a Texas man whose been doing his research.  He’s 27 years old (something like that) and he’s found all these “gateway ancestors” which are people proven to be linked to royalty and nobility, and he has discovered an open Earldom back in England.  He’s going for it. He wants to be an Earl! We’ll tell you about his journey, let him tell you all about that, coming up later in the show it’s going to be a lot of fun. But right now let’s get caught up with what’s happening in “Family Histoire News” with our good friend David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: Hello David, how are you?

David: Hey, everything is great here in Beantown Fish, how are things with you today?

Fisher: Awesome, thank you sir! What do we have?

David: Well I’ll tell you, there’s some really interesting Family Histoire News, and it really deals with some older folks.  I think you may have heard the story over in India, where a lady at the ripe old age of 72 with her husband of 79...

Fisher: Yup.

David: ... through In Vitro Fertilization, has given birth to a healthy baby boy!

Fisher: Yes! I mean this is like biblical, it’s crazy!

David: It really is! The thing I find very interesting about it is that if her child waits as long as she did and her husband to have a child; they’re going to have to live to be super centenarians to have grandchildren.

Fisher: Yup, oh yeah.

David: And that leads me to my next story... in southern Turkey, where there’s a sweet lady at the age of 111. She’s been a widow for over 30 years.  But via her eight children she has 120 grandchildren. Now let’s look at the math there!

Fisher: [Laughs] I could do the math very quickly, that is an average for all eight children, of fifteen kids each, which is insane.

David: How do you keep track of them all?

Fisher: I don’t know. Birthdays must be a nightmare.

David: Oh my goodness. But I’ll tell you what a.... I mean it’s almost a grandchild for every year she’s lived plus 9.

Fisher: Yup.

David: That’s amazing.

Fisher: That’s true.

David: I think my grandmother at 80 had 20-30 grandchildren at that point of time and they thought that was a lot.

Fisher: Sure. It is.

David: But 120, goodness.

Fisher: 120 is insane.

David: Hopefully she doesn’t have to knit sweaters for all of them.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well you know, getting back to New England, from sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida, one of the trips that people always talk about, “Why don’t we have a conference in Hawaii?”  And that leads me to our next story. Captain James Cook whose vessel “The Endeavour” went to the Great Barrier Reef, and went to discover Hawaii.

Fisher: Right.

David: This vessel has pretty much been discovered. The vessel was renamed at the time of the Revolutionary War, and was called, “The Lord Sandwich” for obvious reasons, for Cook discovering the Sandwich Islands, later Hawaii.  This vessel, along with about a dozen others, were scuttled by the British that were entrenched right in the harbor there in Newport.  The Americans were coming in, the French were helping out and they thought that this military move might block the harbor.  Well since 1778 the Lord Sandwich, the former Endeavour has rested on the bottom of the harbor in Newport.

Fisher: Wow!

David: They’re now looking to discover, do some archaeology. It’s amazing to think a vessel that famous is right here in little old New England, in the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island.

 Fisher: That’s incredible.

David: Well you know, I’ll tell you backyard history is something that I was always interested in.  Digging for bottles in my backyard and playing on the swings, but here’s something to think about for our genies out there on Extreme Genes.  Have you ever thought of what your backyard looked like?  Well some of us have a snapshot here and there. Draw a little blue print on a piece of paper, sketch out where your swing set was in conjunction to your garage.  So maybe you didn’t have a garage, maybe you had a barn or a chicken coup, or whatever out buildings you had.  So when you bring your kids or grandkids back there you can have a two dimensional map that they can see and show where everything is using your photographs, your stories and a map.  So that’s my fun little family tech tip for today.

MyHeritage.com is a new recent development that I think people will be excited about. They have an initiative to go globally to create tribal histories.   This is called, “Tribal Quest.” They want to record family histories of tribal people living in remote locations around the globe, and preserve their stories for future generations.  And having taken anthropology in college, I think this is a wonderful embrace...

Fisher: Oh yeah.

David: ... of both anthropology and genealogy. So my hat’s off to MyHeritage.

Fisher: Yeah that’s a great project I’m looking forward to seeing the results of that.

David: You know, I didn’t tell you the funny story that happened to me while I was in my ancestor’s family church in Brereton cum Smethwick, in Cheshire.  I photographed all the gravestones, all the moral inscriptions and of then of course brushing off dust and all that. I needed to use, as they say in England, “The toilet.”

Fisher: Yes.

David: So I went in to find the washroom, and up on the wall I didn’t see a sign, I saw a gravestone.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Directly above the toilet.

Fisher: No! [Laughs]

David: They re-piped a toilet over a tomb from 1715. And above it says, “Here lieth Mary Farrington.”  And I’m thinking to myself, “Well that’s a true final resting place.”

Fisher: Ah! [Laughs]

David: The NEHGS VitaBrevis.org, which is our NEHGS blog, we’ll be featuring it in the next few days, so stay tuned for that.  And speaking of NEHGS, every week we have a free guest user database and this week is no exception.  We’re offering in conjunction with FamilySearch.org, North Carolina death records 1931 to 1994 just go to AmericanAncestors.org   Well that’s all I have for you from Beantown this week Fish, and I will sign in with you next week and give you some more exciting Family Histoire News.

Fisher: All right, thank you David. And you can follow David on Twitter of course @DLGenealogist, and we’ll see you then my friend.  And coming up next, we’re going to talk to the CEO of Forever, in about three minutes, talking about his vision of preservation. Of course as you know “Forever” is the company that can help you to preserve all your stuff digitally for generations on end.  It’s kind of setup like an insurance company. I’m looking forward to our visit with Glen Meakem, in minutes.  And then later in the show we’ll talk to that Texas man who wants to be an Earl in England because he thinks he can!  That’s all ahead on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 139

Host Scott Fisher with guest Glen Meakem

Fisher: You know I got this very strange email from a cousin of mine about four or five months ago saying, “Hey! Here’s grandpa’s chair.  We were thinking of throwing it out. Would you like to have it?”  And that’s kind of a dilemma we often face when it comes to preservation of heirlooms, do we really want that, or do we not?  Hey, it’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, along with my good friend Glen Meakem.  He is the CEO of Forever.com, one of the sponsors of our show, and Glen, always a delight to have you on.  That’s quite a dilemma isn’t it sometimes? Trying to figure out what to keep and what not to keep when it comes to preservation?

Glen: It really is Scott. It really is a dilemma. It basically is an organizing issue, how organized are you and have you spent the time to prioritize what is important.   

Fisher: You know I would think really pretty much anything could be considered family history or an heirloom or memorabilia. Depending on how you view it.  I had a mother that saved everything. And thank goodness she saved all these old photographs and all these old papers and letters.  I mean I’ve got an amazing archive that she left. But in the process, she left a lot of stuff that we had to dump, in a big way.  Because she couldn’t settle exactly on  what we would be interested in or what she wanted to get rid of. She couldn’t get rid of certain things.

Glen: Yeah, it’s a problem because you really do get lost you know, the trees get lost for the forest, right?

Fisher: Right.

Glen: Maybe I’m not saying that right, but you get the idea. I think one of the steps in organizing family memories is to say, and this is true whether you’re looking at photos, or videos, or documents, and other things too, you’ve really got to say what’s an A priority.  What is really important? What is really a B or a C? And then probably over time as you get older, you pass away, your family is going to get rid of those Bs or Cs anyway.  And if you’re not organized they going to throw away some As by accident. 

Fisher: Yeah.

Glen: So it really does help to lighten the load and really have the important things organized well.

Fisher: Yeah. You think about some of the things, I’ve got some old photo albums that go way back from my Mom, but most of the pictures we have in photo albums typically, come in groups.   I mean it’s the same picture several times over. And they’re physical so you’re going to have to make a decision because our kids and grandkids aren’t going to live in that world anymore.

Glen: And it’s true. Even digitally you know, of course at Forever, people can save all their family photos and documents and soon videos.  But even there is the digital world you have tens of thousands of photos and there’s a lot of things that are repeats, people do get lost in all of it.  And maybe there’s a series of thirty photos of an event, you don’t just actually want to throw all thirty or twenty nine of the thirty and only save one.  Because sometimes telling the story is really nice.  It’s nice to see you know, six photos in a row that’s going to tell a story.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: But it’s much more valuable to actually tag photos and actually describe what they are.  And one thing that’s great is the technology really allows that, “Okay, here are the people in the photo, and here’s the story behind that photo.”  And all of that can be captured, and then becomes metadata associated with that photo in the digital world.  In the physical world, this is the difference between a lot of families have photo albums where they look at the photos and its two generations old and they say, “We don’t even know who these people are.”

Fisher: Right.

Glen: And that’s because somebody spent the time to put these photos in an album, but they didn’t spend the time to write the captions and tell the story.  So that, put into context is so important in memory keeping.

Fisher: Well I think you’re absolutely right. The other aspect is there’s a certain historical value in some pictures.  For instance, if you had a military person in World War II, and maybe there are too many pictures in there, but how do you ever throw those away from the war itself?

Glen: Yeah. One of the advantages of digital storage is that you can save a lot of stuff.

Which is great, but you know it’s interesting like going back to again, my company, one thing we do for people is, we allow different levels of access.  And this is an important concept I think generically for any kind of preservation you’re doing is, What are the photos that are really family only, that are personal?

Fisher: Yeah.

Glen: Or what are the things that may be really personal to you, I think that some people have diaries, and some people have personal documents, that deep in their gut they don’t want to throw away.  Because you may think you know, I may want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to have access to this.  But sort of fifty years from now or eighty years from now they might want to have the family in the future have access.   We have a notion and idea that you can keep things private and then release them to like a friends and family level of sharing in the future.   But then you have other things that you want to be public. So I’ll give you an example, I have a customer who is a wonderful man named Jack Snider. He’s ninety one years old.  He is a veteran of World War II. Specifically, he was a young marine on Iwo Jima. So he was in combat.  Of course for those people who are not military experts, Iwo Jima the island. The Japanese island close to Japan.  The Americans went in and invaded, the American Marines, in February and March of 1945. And this was where Mount Sribachi was, where the Marines famously lifted the flag.  So that famous picture of lifting the flag. So my friend Jack, whose ninety one years old, actually saw them lift the flag.  He wasn’t one of the flag raisers in the photograph, but he actually saw that flag being lifted.

Fisher: Wow.

Glen: And he was in combat for twenty six days. And he was just a Marine.  You know he wasn’t some senior general, and he didn’t win the Medal of Honor, but he had experiences on that island, in combat against the Japanese that any historian of World War II in the future would find interesting I think.

Fisher: Sure.

Glen: I don’t have time to get into the details, but in his Forever site, what he’s got, his World War II story that is going to be publicly available so that anybody can search and find it.  And see all the photographs and the documents and also the video he’s recorded. The personal story he’s told.  All that’s going to be publicly searchable, publicly available, but then he’s got some family memories with his children and grandchildren that he doesn’t want the public to be able to see.

Fisher: Sure.

Glen: He wants that to be friends and family only. So these kind of things, when you’re talking about confidentiality, as well as sharing, but sharing to the right people at the right time. It’s really important.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I think that’s a great advantage we’re going to have moving forward in the digital world. Well, let’s talk about that inventory of personal assets. How do you think a person starts?

Glen: I think a person should start in the real world with a piece of paper and say, “What’s really important to me? What are the things I want to save?” And I will tell you, going back to your funny thing about your cousin and the chair. Most things are not furniture.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Glen: My dear mother, my poor father passed away three years ago and my mom is still adjusting to that, and she’s downsized and she’s moved to a smaller home and she’s got this like furniture from a family room in the old house that she has in her garage.  And she has these ideas that while my brother, who’s younger than I am and has a younger family, if he moves to the area, he may want this.  So she’s keeping all this stuff in the garage.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Glen: And its like, “Mom, please, it’s called Salvation Army. It’s called Goodwill, there’s people who need that.”  And guess what? My brother Bruce is never going to use that stuff.  So I think that taking a kind of a realistic eye towards your physical stuff and saying, “You know I’m not sure these old clothes are something anybody really wants, or this old furniture or whatever.”  But to your point, I think the photos and the letters, and diaries, and journals, and videos, these are really, really valuable because they tell the stories.  And they capture what it was like in that time. And I think putting energy into saving that stuff is really, really, really valuable, really, to any family.

Fisher: And see to me, I think something like an old VHS tape would be a high priority because of the fact it’s going to deteriorate faster than the old letters or the diaries or whatever.

Glen: Yeah.

 Fisher: So to me the high priority is starting with that. The video, the home movies that fade away and old photographs as well.

Glen: I think a lot about this. I mean yeah, digitizing is important, then of course wanting people to understand is that even in the digital world, and this VHS is such a great example.  Because we all understand because we all used to have VHS tapes, and now you can’t play them.

Fisher: Right.

Glen: Many, many people you know have a shelf full of VHS tapes that they can’t play.  Even if they have a VHS player, they don’t dare put the VHS tapes of family memories, in the player because it might eat the tape, right?

Fisher: Yes.

Glen: And of course, there’s been a whole transition in file format. Now it’s DVD. But now it’s even Blue-ray DVD. But the thing is that everybody should get their VHS tapes digitized.  And there’s many, many services that do that, including if you go to Forever.com, we send you a FedEx box, you send it in. It’s very reasonable. We can digitize all that for you.  The big thing is that over time, even the file formats are going to change. So the computers in twenty years or thirty years from now are not going to be able to read today’s digital file formats.  So even once you’ve digitized, if you really want to save family memories, you need to think about how things are going to be maintained and digitally migrated to new file formats over time.   And this is where people need to start to think about, “Oh, if I really want to save the family memories, I can’t just have a two terabyte backup drive in my closet.”

Fisher: Right.

Glen: And expect that that’s going to do the job. No, I really need to think about a professional service that can help, not just me, because we’re only going to all be here on this earth so long. And we get sick and tired and bah bah bah bah. What I need to be thinking about is a professional service.  A professional institution that can keep those memories for me over a very long period of time, and of course, that’s what the Smithsonian Institution does for national memories.  Frankly, that’s what FamilySearch and other institutions supported by the Mormon Church do for some families according to what they are prioritizing.  There’s other institutions like Forever.com that are dedicated to, you know, helping families professionally save their memories for a very, very long period of time.  And it’s important if you want your stuff to be there for your grandchildren or your great grandchildren or great, great grandchildren.  One thing I tell people is you don’t need to curate your life. You don’t need to save and share memories for God.   God knows every thought you have. He knows what you’re thinking. He knows the whole family history. But your grandchildren don’t. Your great grandchildren don’t.  Your great, great grandchildren don’t.  If you want the family history, if you want the struggles, and the trials and tribulations, and the great victories when the family overcame those struggles...  If you want all that saved and you want to teach those values and teach those beliefs, and pass along those memories, you got to do it. And we believe in that.  And that’s one reason I started Forever.com

Fisher: Well, nicely said. I don’t think anybody could say it better. Thanks so much, Glen, for coming on.  Glen Meakem. CEO with Forever.com.  And coming up in five minutes, We’ll talk to a Texas man who’s found that he descends from nobility, and that there’s an actual open earldom that he might be able to claim!  How’s he going to do it? We’ll tell you, coming up on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 139

Host Scott Fisher with guest Joshua Arlin Collins

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And I always love hearing from people who are enthusiastic about what they're doing in their family history research.  And I don't think I've ever run across anybody who's quite into the things that this man is, Joshua Arlin Collins. He's in San Antonio, Texas. He's on the line with us right now. How are you, Josh?

Joshua: I'm doing well. How are you, Mr. Fisher?

Fisher: Great! You got into this pretty early. You’re in your twenties still. I'm amazed what you found; fifty-two gateway ancestors. Explain to people what gateway ancestors are.

Joshua: Well, a gateway ancestor is just a very, very well documented ancestor in the genealogical community that has enough documented research that carries them back to a royal forebear, such as a king or a queen, from one of the many kings and queens throughout Europe.

Fisher: Right.

Joshua: So a gateway ancestor is just somebody that genealogists could actually see in a family tree and instantly know “that's a gateway ancestor. I know this person is going to lead me back to Edward I or Edward III.”

Fisher: So you have quite an interest in the royal families of Europe apparently, Scotland, Spain, France, England.

Joshua: Yes sir, most certainly.

Fisher: But fifty two gateways!? I mean that is an unusually high number. That's incredible!  And you sent me an email and you mentioned that you found that you just kept going back to this one family. And they go way back, I mean a thousand years. Who are we talking about?

Joshua: Well, we're talking about the de Veres of the Earldom of Oxford. So the de Vere family actually received their first title of the Earldom of Oxford in 1156.  It was actually granted to them by the Empress Matilda. It wasn't later confirmed until about 1177 by King Stephen.   He was the one who actually had this signet stamped charter that officially made them the Earls of Oxford.  It is actually considered one of the longest standing titles, because by the time it fell dormant in 1703, it had been in existence for well over six centuries.

Fisher: That's incredible. Now you descend from the de Veres how many times?

Joshua: I descend from the de Veres twenty one different times through six different core families.

Fisher: Wow! And I would say by the way, most people who are listening to this show who are of European descent probably have a de Vere descent line, right?

Joshua: That's very true. It’s almost of one of those situations of where about 150 million Americans have at least one line to royalty. It’s just a consideration of, can you prove it? Can you document it?

Fisher: Yes, that's the hard part. And you've been hard at work doing this.  And so I see you got into Burke's Peerage, and talked to the assistant, to the head of the Crown Office and the College of Arms. How long have you been doing this?

Joshua: I first started contact with the College of Arms in 2014, September, with just a general inquiry through their inquiry site, and actually began a conversation with the Windsor Herald, Mr. William Hunt.  We kind of discussed, and when I first actually reached out to the Windsor Herald, I only had at that particular time, four lines that I had found at that point to the Earldom of Oxford and the de Vere family.  After about six months of correspondence with him, you know, he told me to go back and do some more research to see if there are any other additional lines.  I'm actually kind of glad I took his advice and did so, because that actually allowed me to find the other seventeen additional lines that I had.

Fisher: Okay, so this is where it really starts to get interesting. So you know you have all these lines from nobility, and then you discovered that there's a dormant title out there, the Earldom of Oxford.

Joshua: Yes sir. And that was really one of the biggest things that kind of struck me was not just the sheer amount of nobility that I had that was in the family, it was just really the fact that, "Wow, this was actually dormant!?" And when I went in and looked at the fact that it had been dormant for, well now it’s been dormant for about 313 years.  And started looking into the case proceedings as to why it was still dormant. It started to make sense as to why it was.  I started researching case notes, basically from the original creation of the title all the way up to the last Earl, including cases all the way up until the 1980s.

Fisher: So you've now decided that you want to actually go after this dormant title, for yourself?

Joshua: Yes sir, I have.

Fisher: So you want to be the Earl of Oxford.

Joshua: That's the idea behind it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Joshua: That’s what I'm actually attempting to do.

Fisher: So Joshua, what would happen? Let's just pretend for a moment, we'll get into more of this… about how it's done… in just a second. Say you are the Earl of Oxford, what does that bring to you? What do you get from that?

Joshua: There's a lot of different things. Just because you get the title doesn’t necessarily mean that you are entitled to any lands or estates or anything of that.

Fisher: Ah.

Joshua: There's actually quite a great deal of individuals who have Earldoms or Viscountcies that actually hold regular day jobs.  Many of them are doctors, lawyers, dentists and different things of that nature. So just because they received a title doesn't necessarily mean that they've received any inheritance with that title.

Fisher: So you don't see yourself starring in a Downton Abbey or anything down the line?

Joshua: Oh no, no, no!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Joshua: I mean, don't get me wrong, I mean, there's a lot of questions to the Earldom of Oxford question, because of the fact that its actually one of about twelve titles that was created, and anyone that actually had a third pence clause.  This third pence clause is actually something that allows the Earl to receive the third penny of every Pound taxed in the particular shire that they were the ruler of.  So it’s a very, very rare clause to see in charters as far as Earldoms and different titles are concerned. As a matter of fact, after about 1380 there are only six titles created since that time that even had a portion of the third pence clause.

Fisher: Wow! So there could be money in this then?

Joshua: There could be. There could be a dormant trust. I'm also aware of a few leases that were signed about five to ten years before Aubrey de Vere, the twentieth Earl passed away in 1703.  And his leases range from anywhere between seventy to eighty five years as far as lease terms, so I know that those lands go into a stewardship after a certain point of time, that's actually held by the crown.   And I'm also pretty sure that the Duke of St Albans has some other lands that are in stewardship as well.

Fisher: So how do you go about applying for this? And we're kind of running tight on time, so just give us the short version Josh.

Joshua: Well, the short version is very simple. What you have to do is:  A: You have to have a case. You have to have the ancestry. You have to have the documentation in order to prove it.   I can't actually do the declarant page myself. I actually have to have someone who is in connection outside of the line of descent to the title actually declare me a viable person for it.  Then it has to go through the Crown Office. They review it. They make a determination on whether or not the Lord Chancellor should approve it or whether or not he should decline to determine any claim made.  With my particular case, that's exactly what's going to happen is they're going to decline to determine any claim made due to the manner of descent, that the questions are guarding the manner of descent.  That actually goes to a committee for privileges at the House of Lords and they have to review the case.

Fisher: [Laughs] Now does it hurt that you're an American?

Joshua: Absolutely not!

Fisher: Doesn't matter?

Joshua: Absolutely not. I actually had a conversation with the Viscount, Torrington. He is actually the head of the Hereditary Peers Association in the United Kingdom, which is just simply a form they cite for Hereditary Peers.  And you know, I asked him that exact same question. And you know, he told me, he said, "As long as you are paying close attention to the process and you're trying to respect the due process of the inheritance of the title bestowment.  The fact that you're an American has absolutely no wake or no bearing on whether or not you get the title."

Fisher: He's Joshua Arlin Collins. He wants to be the Earl of Oxford. Josh, good luck with this thing!  And you've got to go fund me page to help you with this too, which is incredible. GoFundMe.com/ancestry-fun.  Best of luck to you my friend!

 Joshua: Thank you so much Mr. Fisher. And I greatly appreciate you having me on your show. I really enjoyed it.

Fisher: And coming up next, we'll talk to Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com.  We're going to talk about preserving physical papers and how to do it.  And then if you don't want to keep them, what's your alternative? It's coming up for you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 139

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: I love talking about preservation, because it really helps assure that a lot of the things we've gathered and collected on our ancestors over the years is going to stay in the family.  Hi, it's Fisher here with Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  And its preservation time right now with Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com.  Hi Tom, how are you?

Tom: Super duper!

Fisher: And this was great. We were talking off mic here a few moments ago about certain things that we have gathered and collected on our families over the years. And they sit in drawers or they sit in books or they sit in sleeves and we really start to wonder at a certain point, “who's going to want this stuff?”

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: What kind of value are they going to see in it? Is there a way to actually improve the value?

Tom: Oh absolutely! In fact, that's you know an absolutely wonderful topic because I have people coming come in the store that ask us the same thing.  You know, we have people sometimes that are downsizing. They've had this big house; all the kids are gone now.

They want to move to a warmer climate into a condo. What are they going to do with all their old stuff?  So that's a perfect example. In fact, let me give you one here and I know you've got several that we've talked off air about too, that we can talk about.  Like my dad, he had all this old stuff from the Marine Corps and he just got tired of moving it around, keeping it around, never looking at it. It was in boxes, so nobody got to enjoy it.  So he got one of his old Marine Corps blankets and it had stitched in the middle of it you know, “Marine Corps” so he cut that out just bigger than a normal size frame.  Then he got all of the awards he got for shooting and different things in the military and kind of framed it around the USMC, got it in a shadow box, and now it’s hanging on my wall.  I actually inherited it after he passed away. And people talk about it all the time. They say, "Oh that is so cool! That's so wonderful!" And it's really, really neat.  So all the clutter's gone now and I've got it all compressed into a little 8x10 frame.

Fisher: Isn't that great?

Tom: Oh it’s awesome!

Fisher: And you enjoy that?

Tom: Oh very much so!

Fisher: And I had the same situation with my mother. She had these pins from when she in a high school marching band and they were sitting in a little clear plastic box with a note as to what they were.  And they were just sitting in the back of a clothing drawer. And I was thinking, "Who's going to want this? Do I give one to each kid? Do I...? What do I do with it?"  Then I decided, "No, not every kid is going to care so much. Let's keep them all together." And so I did the same thing. I made a shadow box.  I took a photograph of my mother's marching band in Oregon in high school and a photo of her. And put a little plaque in the middle that explained exactly what it was, and had it all framed and now it hangs on my wall at home. And people comment on it all the time. But this is going to ensure that the story stays with the items.  It’s going to ensure that they all stay together. And it has a context as to what they mean.

Tom: Oh yeah. This can apply to so many different things. For instance, if you were a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout and you've got all these different kinds of badges and the little sew on type things, your banderols.  There's so many different ways you can repurpose this stuff and de-clutterize yourself at the same time, by you know getting shadow boxes, getting frames.  Be creative, you know. Go watch HGTV and get some different ideas about how you can put these different things together.  In fact, one thing that I did is, I had just stacks of calendars and airline tickets. And every time I had gone to a concert, I had wristbands.   So I have all this garbage in this box and it’s like, what do I do with it?  I mean, I know it’s there. It’s cool. And there is no way I'm going to throw it away. Well, I've figured out a way I could throw it away.  I went out and scanned everything. Some of the things that were three dimensional I actually shot with my iPhone. And now I've got all these things in a way that I can show people that look cool.  I can put them in frames on a wall; do all these kinds of things, because I'm not really a scrapbooker that glues all these things in. So basically I've made a digital scrapbook.  I can go in and look at these old airline tickets. They bring back memories. And now that they're digitized, I can go in and put tags on them, say “Oh yeah, I remember when we were in Peru! We did such and such. We met this wonderful family.”  This is going to be cool for my kids to read and see and my grandkids you know, way after I'm gone. That they can see these special things that you know, '”grandpa did back in the day.”  And another neat thing about doing them digital, there's a lot of different softwares where you can put them in a digital scrapbook, put them on your Facebook page or your own family website.  Where they can page through them and see all these kinds of things and get the feeling that you had when you originally went there.

Fisher: And throw out the originals if you choose to do so.

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: All right, when we come back we're going to talk about preserving papers, newspapers, old letters, anything that you want to preserve for the long haul… coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 139

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority, and Tom, we were talking last segment about how to basically repurpose and package things that you might have cluttering your house.  Whether it’s in old folders or in drawers and making it something attractive and desirable for people to keep, so hopefully future generations will hold onto that, and that got us going into the direction of old newspapers and papers.  And there's some interesting things that you can do with those as well. Because who wants to throw away an interesting old newspaper?  But what do you do with it to display it?

Tom: Oh exactly! There's a lot of different things you can do.  Like you know, you were talking off air about how you can get this special kind of foam core that's made to be the anti acid you know, where you can put your picture on.  They have this special glue; you can put the UV glass in so you still have your newspapers. You can put it up.  Now one thing you want to remember too is how important is that old newspaper? Do you really need that old newspaper or can you just scan it and put it in digital form?  Because once you do scan and put it in a digital form, it gives you a whole bunch of options.

Fisher: Yep.

Tom: You can go and print that back out on what looks like newspaper, but it’s already acid free. You can light a match and kind of burn the edges, give it old time look.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So many different things. Put water spots, because sometimes the infirmity so to speak, and the paper kind of give it some character, and sometimes those things are cool, so you still have that preserved.  If you have a few newspaper clippings, you know its fine to keep them, but I know people that saved entire newspapers. Like when JFK died.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: You know, Dale Earnhardt senior died, these different things. They have all these papers and what do they do with them?  So this is a good way to preserve them, because once you have them digital. And we've talked about lot of times, whenever you're backing stuff up, you want it on a hard drive, you want it on a disk and at least two unrelated clouds to keep the stuff.  And so once it’s there, if you want to go and, like you talked about, make it as a full sized, frame it up on your wall, you can do that.  If you want to put smaller snippets of it on your Facebook page or whatever, you can do those kinds of things. It gives you so many options to get to where you're going.  Before you do any preservation, you need to figure out, "Okay, what's my end goal? What's the finish line? Am I running at 220 or 440?" so you need to know how to pace yourself.  Now that you have your goal, plan it right because you know the old saying “if you failed to plan, you planned to fail.”  So say, "Okay, I want to have this stuff to be able to put on my Facebook page. I want to put it on YouTube. I want to have it on disk. I want to have it on hard drive."  I mean, people have things like recipe cards. I took all my recipe cards from my grandmother and scanned them and put them in a recipe book.  So not only is her handwriting there, we also transcribed it.  So those of us that didn't know grandma and can't read her handwriting, can see the cool recipes she had, but the whole back of it is a little recipe card that she wrote out by hand.  And I don't want to keep this huge box of recipes, because it makes no sense. Nobody's going to go through it.  Somebody touches it and you go, "Huhh, be careful! Don't lose that! Don't spill something!"

Fisher: All right, real quick. Back to this thing about preserving the originals on the foam core that you mentioned. I did this.  I actually had a newspaper from when John Glenn orbited the earth for the first time.

Tom: Wow!

Fisher: And I mailed it to him and he autographed it for me. And so now I wanted to preserve it and display it.  So I took it to a local place where they were actually able to put this newspaper through a heat process that relaxed the paper, because it was all crinkly and even cracked in some places.  It relaxes the paper. And then they're able, using acid free glue, to attach it to a foam core. And now you have it completely flat, perfectly preserved and totally displayable.  So you could put it in a frame and show it with UV glass, to protect it from fading in the future. Although, even with UV it can fade over time depending on the room you keep it in.

Tom: Things like that are just absolutely priceless. And like one thing that you mentioned, is the room that it’s in.  Make sure you scan it also, so you have a digital copy, so maybe in twenty years from now you might have to remake it. 

Fisher: All right. Great segments Tom. Good to talk to you. We'll see you next week.

Tom: Sounds good. We'll see you then.

Fisher: Hey, that wraps it up for this week.  Thanks once again to Glen Meakem the CEO of Forever.com, for coming on and talking about his vision of preservation and what we should be doing and how we should be prioritizing those things we have to deal with.  Also to Joshua Arlin Collins, from Texas. He's the guy that found out he's got an open Earldom back there that he might be able to get.  Will he? We'll find out. We're going to keep track of that story in the months ahead.  Hey, take care. We'll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us.  And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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