Episode 140 - Genealogy Roadshow's Mary Tedesco on Italian Genealogy/ What Does Fisher's DNA Match Really Mean

podcast episode May 23, 2016

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  Their "Family Histoire News" starts with the story of a World War II vet in his 90s who had a reunion with a man he rescued from Dachau concentration camp at the end of World War II.  You'll want to hear their story.  Then it's talk about hair... long, beautiful HAIR!  It was Thomas Jefferson's.  And it has sold at auction.  How many strands?  What did it go for?  We'll tell you!  America's oldest veteran has turned 110.  Who is he and where did he serve?  Listen to the podcast.  David's Tip of the Week concerns school photographs, but wait til you hear what Fisher did with some of his father's.  And of course David shares another NEHGS Tip of the Week.

Mary Tedesco of the PBS series "Genealogy Roadshow" then joins Fisher to talk about their third season!  Mary will tell you about what they're up to on the show this year, and give you a little history of how she came to be one of the hosts.  She'll also share some tips on Italian genealogy and a great story about her Italian grandmother.

Next, Fisher shares a genealogy breakthrough he just had after decades of effort.  It was capped off with a DNA match to a sixth great grandparent couple.  But Fisher is concerned that a match from that far back is something less than a confirmation.  Enter Paul Woodbury, DNA analyst from LegacyTree.com.  Paul and Fisher discuss the math behind when a match is most significant and when it's not so much.  How significant is Fisher's match?  Don't miss this segment.

Then Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, visits talking about the importance of knowing who your end users are going to be when deciding how to digitize your materials.  He'll explain why it can affect how you choose to format your materials, and how much money it's going to cost you!

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

Transcript for Episode 140

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 140

Fisher: You have found us! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show 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.  Great guests this week! Excited to have Mary Tedesco on the show. She is one of the hosts of “Genealogy Roadshow.” And the new season has begun and we’re going to get caught up on what cities they’re visiting this year, maybe get a little hint of some of the stories that they’re going to share with us through the course of the season. Good stuff coming up in about nine minutes. And then later on in the show we’re going to have Paul Woodbury back.  You may recall he’s a DNA expert and just a week ago or so I had a little breakthrough after only, oh, thirty some odd years. And as a result of that breakthrough I added the names of some ancestors to my tree and wound up with a DNA match to the ancestors that I had connected to.  Now the question is... how significant is a DNA match when you get back to, say, a sixth great grandparent level?  Does it really make a difference in solidifying your research? We’re going to find out about that from Paul later on in the show.  But right now it’s time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts, and my good friend David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, how are you?

David: I am doing great! It’s a nice sunny day here in Beantown and I’d say spring has definitely finally sprung. There’s a lot of news in the world that you know kind of want to change the channel, and kind of sad and depressing but I must say that the most heart wrenching story in the longest time with a historical twist.  I don’t know if you heard about Sid Shafner? He’s 94, he was part of the American army that went in and liberated about 30,000 holocaust prisoners from Dachau concentration camp in southern Germany in 1945.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Well this story is amazing! The video is online where he meets with a 90-year-old gentleman by the name of Marcel Levy. Marcel was only 17 at the time, and he embraces this American vet and tells him that he’s basically responsible for him being alive, his children, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. I’ll tell you the old saying “Bring a tear to a glass eye.” This one is definitely worth the watch.

Fisher: Yes, I agree.

David: Being a child of a World War II veteran I know the emotional attachment we have with this generation that we’re losing more and more every day. But this is just a really great story.  And I want to tell you, the next time that you go out to get your hair cut save a few strands of it because it might be worth some money some day.

Fisher: What?!

David: Yeah! Well have you heard Thomas Jefferson when he passed away 14 strands of the former president’s hair were saved by the doctor and these were just sold off at auction for $7,000, which comes down to about 500 bucks per strand.

Fisher: 500 bucks a strand. You know it’s a shame too because unless they pulled it out through the roots there’s no DNA to be had from that hair as I understand it.

David: And that’s a shame because he was dead it probably wouldn’t have hurt very much.

Fisher: No! Exactly!

David: Getting back to veterans again I couldn’t let this go by without wishing a happy 110th birthday to America’s oldest veteran, Richard Overton, who actually attributes his longevity to his chain smoking cigars.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: A splash of whiskey in his morning coffee and a steady diet of catfish, butter pecan ice cream.

Fisher: Oh!

David: I tell you, I would say that I could live off of butter pecan ice cream, catfish isn’t bad, don’t smoke cigars, not much of a drinker.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But I tell you something’s working for him. This veteran was with the 1887 Engineer Aviation battalion in World War II. This all-black military unit started up as a 1942 and he was stationed as a corporal in Hawaii, Guam and Iwo Jima. And he was a skilled sharp shooter, so happy birthday Mr. Overton, many more!

Fisher: Wow!

David: Well you know digging into history is one of my loves. I love genealogy and I love archaeology, and I think if we dig deep enough we’ll find our ancestors one way or the other.

Fisher: It ties in!

David: It really does. And while they were building a train station extension over in Italy they found an old Roman barracks.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Right near the Coliseum, and it housed Hadrian’s Praetorian Guard, and it[s a hundred meter hallway with over 39 rooms and many of them were detailed Roman mosaic floors.  And that’s amazing to think that it’s just been there all that time.

Fisher: That is just absolutely incredible.

David: Well you know speaking of things that have been there all that time. I was going through some of my late father’s belongings and I happen to cross a school photograph and Dad unfortunately wasn’t archival minded if you know what I mean.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: A piece of it has silver masking tape to hold it together.

Fisher: Ooh.

David: And this group picture is in great shape except for the picture of good old George Lambert who has a circle in pencil around his head because he wanted to mark where he was probably when he was a child.  I love school pictures! It’s the only one I have of my Dad. In fact it’s the only one of two pictures I have of him as a child.  You must have some of your mom and dad that you’ve come across.

Fisher: Oh well absolutely! And it’s interesting because a few weeks ago you brought up reaching out to schools to see if they had old yearbooks.

David: Correct.

Fisher: And I did this. And I actually called my Dad’s elementary school which is still an elementary school in Bogota, New Jersey. It was actually built in 1909 I think.  And so I called to ask how old their pictures might be that they had or yearbooks and they say said, oh they didn’t have anything like that.  I said, “Well you know I have pictures of my Dad’s classes from Bogota from the early to mid ‘20s, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade. The 3rd grade pictures are actually marked with the names of all the classmates.”  She said, “Oh! Could you scan those and send them to us?”

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: And so we did and I just heard back from them that they’re setting it up as a display at the school!  So hopefully some of the descendents of some of these kids will get to see their parents in these photographs from way back 90 some odd years ago!

David: That’s really great and it just kind of leads to the Tech Tip. If you have school photographs from when you were a kid, identify the people in the picture because you never know, you could be giving a genealogical clue to somebody down the road. I mean many of the ones of me back in the ‘70s and the ‘80s, I know who they are. Will my kids know? No.

Fisher: That’s right.

David: Well at NEHGS we always have a free guest user database, this week is no exception. So on AmericanAncestors.org sign up for a free guest user subscription and you can get Caribbean, birth and baptisms from 1590 to 1928.  Marriages from 1591 to 1905 and deaths and burials from 1790 to 1906. I’d say, I’d like to go there and actually do the research myself.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But this is a nice way to actually visit the Caribbean from home.

Fisher: All right David, thanks so much. We’ll talk to you again next week!

David: Take care, my friend.

Fisher: All right and later on in the show we’re talking about DNA, the significance of DNA matches. How much do they matter when you get far back?  And coming up next we talk to Mary Tedesco from Genealogy Roadshow on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, in three minutes.

Segment 2 Episode 140

Host Scott Fisher with guest Mary Tedesco

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And I’m very excited, it’s the first time I’ve gotten Mary Tedesco to come on the show.  She is of course of one of the hosts of Genealogy Roadshow. And the new season is underway. It’s the third season. It’s exciting. This is a new opportunity for you!

Mary: Absolutely. It’s a pleasure to be here, and on my second season of this wonderful show, Genealogy Roadshow.

Fisher: Well, for those who aren’t familiar with it, Mary, fill people in on what you do and how it works, because it’s a great program.

Mary: Great. So I’m one of the three hosts of Genealogy Roadshow, along with, of course, Kenyatta Berry and Joshua Taylor, which I’m sure that everybody knows.  Well, Genealogy Roadshow basically is the acclaimed PBS TV series that features participants from around the country with unique family claims and histories.  So we also get to have a lot of fun researching these, along with our research team and collaboration with our producers.  It’s just a really great time. We have a great season in store for you. I know many of your viewers probably saw the episode last Tuesday we have another great one for you this week.

Fisher: Right. Now you were in Albuquerque last week, and you’re off to, what is it, Miami this week?

Mary: Sunny Miami.

Fisher: Tough work.

Mary: [Laughs]

Fisher: You know I worked in Miami at one time in my life, and it is a lovely place.

Mary: It was a fantastic place. Rich with culture. We have some great stories for this week. One of my stories... a lady came to us and she wanted to know whether she was related to Pocahontas. Just to give you an example.

Fisher: Ah! And was it a DNA thing? Or how did this work?

Mary: Well, Fish, I can’t tell you how we did it, yet.

Fisher: [Laughs] You’re holding back on me! You’re holding back on me. Come on, give me something. Throw me a bone, Mary!

Mary: Just a little bit. Well, let’s just say that other folks that may have similar claims to Pocahontas or another historical figure may be able to benefit from this in terms of research technique and other things.  And is this Florida woman related to Pocahontas? Well, you’ve got to tune in on Tuesday.

Fisher: That sounds like an interesting episode. You know, that’s the thing that’s so fun about genealogy... it doesn’t matter if it’s your ancestor or not, because you can relate to the stories, and then you can learn from the research techniques to apply to your own efforts.

Mary:  Exactly. As a host on the show Genealogy Roadshow, I learn a lot about new documents myself because, as genealogists we’re always learning.  And we hope of course, that the folks at home can also benefit from seeing new document types or new research techniques or different ethnic groups.  It really rounds us out and makes us all better genealogists, which is something that I really love about this show.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. And we feel that here too. A lot of people benefit from the stories of other people’s ancestors on Extreme Genes, and it’s a lot of fun.  So do you actually ever get involved with DNA testing on Genealogy Roadshow?

Mary: Yes, Fish. Though some of our stories this season and past seasons do incorporate DNA into the stories and sometimes use it as a technique to solve the family mystery at hand.

Fisher: I’m really looking forward to seeing the show. What other cities are you in this year?

Mary: In this season we’re in Albuquerque of course as you saw, Miami this coming week. Houston, Boston, Providence, Los Angeles, and we have an episode, Fish, with some of our favorite stories from the past couple of seasons.

Fisher: That sounds great. You’re going to be all over the place.

Mary: Coast to coast, Fish, just like we like it.

Fisher: Let’s talk about how you got in the show, Mary. This is an unusual thing. I mean, you’re a genealogist, as are Kenyatta and Josh. What brought this whole thing together and how did you become a part of it?

Mary: It’s a great story actually. So, the first season of course, as folks know there were two hosts, Josh Taylor and Kenyatta Berry. So for the third they were looking for a third host to be part of the show. And I’m very honored and flattered of course to say that Josh and Kenyatta recommended my name to interview to be a part of the show.  So basically I auditioned for producers and PBS executives, and I was invited to join the show as one of the three hosts.  And not a day goes by that I don’t realize and understand what a wonderful decision that was, and I’ve never looked back. It’s been a great experience and a pleasure to be honest.

Fisher: Boy, what a great opportunity for you, that’s right. Now you’re an Italian specialist in your research. Tell us a little about that.

Mary: That’s correct. So Fish, I run a research firm called Origins Italy. Now we specialize in Italian and Italian American genealogy research.  So we deal with cases like dual citizenship. Like folks needing documents or assistance getting dual citizenship.

Fisher: Sure.

Mary: And also we really include in-depth Italian American and Italian research projects. And what I mean by in-depth, Fish, is that we go fly to Italy and we get to the bottom of the story.  We not only concern ourselves with names and dates, but we dig into other records like notary records, military records, etc. to really paint a full picture of your ancestors.  So it’s a pretty unique approach, but we try to go so far beyond names and dates to really tell the whole story, something that I’m so excited about.

Fisher: You know that’s really true. If you don’t get the stories, then you really can’t know the ancestor, and you know, you can’t love them. That’s the bottom line, right?

Mary: Exactly.

Fisher: There’s no relationship to be had with just a name and a date. You have to dig. How long have you been doing this?

Mary: So, I first got exposed to genealogy just about ten years when a colleague loans me a login to a big name genealogy site. Now of course I’ve since gotten my own login very soon after that.

Fisher: Well, that’s good! [Laughs]

Mary: [Laughs] I need to practice by that. And then I was exposed to these early records in my research like passenger lists from my grandparents.  That really inspired me, Fish, to want to know more, to explore more. And at the time, ten years ago, there weren’t a lot of resources for Italian genealogy so I was self taught.  And I went out there. I went to Italy to dig up records on my ancestors, which is a great way to learn.

Fisher: Isn’t that funny how we’ll go about this work you know, which so involves helping other people how to find their roots and dig up these stories.  And then, when we want to take a break, we research our own doing exactly the same thing as a respite.  

Mary: Exactly. Those of us whose passion is also their profession have got to keep ourselves in check.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Mary: Because it’s really easy to just get carried away. I know you and I were talking about that on the phone recently, but when we get fixated on an ancestor, we cannot stop, you know.  Us genealogists - we genealogists are up until two or three in the morning trying to track down an ancestor. Pretty normal stuff I would say. Wouldn’t you?

Fisher: Oh yeah. My wife was out of town visiting grandkids in Nebraska and we were having rain all through the weekend, so I was just – it was great, the cat was away.

Mary: Right. Right, and the mice, they danced….

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, it was a great time. All right, so let’s talk about some of the things you found in Italy, and what people could actually expect to find if they went over there and attempted to do some of the things you’re doing.

Mary: So, the church and the city hall are great places to delve into your Italian genealogical research first. Now with the city hall you can find birth, marriage, and death records, and also some demographic records.  And you can write to the city hall from home. From Italy.  You can start tonight in your pajamas which is pretty exciting!

Fisher: Nice. By the way, how far back do those births, death, and marriages typically go?

Mary: So it really depends, Fish, where your family is from in Italy. So for example, in Calabria, which is in southern Italy where my grandfather was from, civil records start from the early, early part of the 1800’s.  Whereas if you’re up in Rome for example, Italian civil registration would start in 1871 when that area became part of Italy. So you have to look to history first, Fish, in order to determine where those records begin. So before civil registration, there’s also church records which could take your family back into the seventeen, sixteen, or even fifteen hundreds.

Fisher: Wow! And that’s typical?

Mary: That is pretty typical. Now, of course, there are records that are missing. That were destroyed either by natural disaster or war. But until you have that information that’s missing, you can assume it’s there and then confirm with an email or a phone call to that local repository, and I’m sure they’ll be able to stir that up for you.

Fisher: Well, and of course, anytime you take a genealogical trip you’ve got to do your homework beforehand, because your real currency on a trip is time.

Mary: Exactly.

Fisher: And you want to spend as much of it at home first getting ready and figuring out where you’re going to go and what you’re really looking for and trying to accomplish some of that before you get there.  You talked a lot about some of the stories that came out of the record, what other records might yield some great fruit?

Mary: So some other records in Italy to be aware of are some notary records, which could usually be found at the Archivio di stato system.  Notary records could have things like marriage contracts between a couple or land transaction, things to help you paint a picture of the socioeconomic status of your family.  You can also find military records which are great. Now, Fish, on military records, Italian military records, you could find potentially a physical description of your ancestor.  Including height, hair color, nose, etc; it’s a pretty fascinating thing.

Fisher: Okay, Mary, so you know that any time somebody comes on the show, they’ve got to have one killer story for us. So what’s yours?

Mary: So growing up, my beloved grandmother often spoke about her father Mario. And he was from Trentino, Alto Adige, in northern Italy.  So my grandmother mentioned many, many times that her father was very handsome, very tall, over six feet. Photographs seem to confirm this, Fish. She also says that he served in World War I for the Austro-Hungarian Army. Now remember, northern Italy, this part of northern Italy was part of Austria at the time.  So I said, I’m a genealogist, I need to go and prove this.  I need to see how tall Nono Mario actually was.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Mary: So I tracked down my great grandfather’s military records from Innsbruck, Austria and discovered that he was, how tall? How tall? Just 5.5, Fish!

Fisher: 5.5! Well no wonder he survived. Nobody is going to hit that little guy.

Mary: Exactly. Exactly! So I brought this information home, I reported it to my family members, and my grandmother in her classic Italian accent, “Oh really? He seemed a lot taller to me!” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] I love it!

Mary: You know, I still have an aunt, Fish, that doesn’t believe this. You know and I’ve shown her the original records and she says well it might be wrong, you know. Such is the power of family law.

Fisher: Right. Such is the power of family law. Yeah, that can’t be right, you know, because my aunt told me! Oh my goodness. Well, Mary Tedesco, it’s been a delight having you on, and I’m excited about the new season of Genealogy Roadshow. It’s on PBS Tuesday night, eight, seven central, right?

Mary: Correct.

Fisher: And I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with this time.

Mary: Thank you so much, Fish, it’s been a sincere pleasure to be on.

Fisher: And coming up next, it’s a personal story about a breakthrough on one of my lines, and DNA match that may confirm it. But how reliable is that match?  We’ll talk to DNA expert Paul Woodbury next, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 140

Host Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: In the course of your research, you have had a DNA match, how significant is that really?  Hi, it’s Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And I just had a breakthrough a couple of weeks ago. My wife was out of town. I stayed up late just researching in my underwear till the middle of the night on a sixth great grandparent.  Somebody I’d had a long struggle with. She had married her husband in Vermont in 1765. And the question was where did she come from? Whose family did she belong to?  She died at age seventy seven in 1816, late 1816, pretty much placing her directly into 1739 as a birthday. Well, there was only one person named Olive Hill born in 1739 in that area. And she was born to Asa Hill and his wife Sarah, in Sherborn, Massachusetts. Way to the east, the eastern side of Massachusetts, 160 miles away from Pownal, Vermont, where my Olive Hill married her husband Josiah Noble.  So I had a real difficult time saying, "Well this must be the same person. Because how do you get them in the same neighborhood at least to get married?"  Well a little traditional research yielded that Asa started moving west. He fought in the French and Indian war. He was wounded. He escaped from a fort. I mean all kinds of great military stories going on there. And as a result, he was awarded the land grant for 200 acres in what they now call “The Berkshires,” Washington, Massachusetts.  And that actually took him and placed him and his family halfway between Olive Hill's husband where he was from in Southwick, Massachusetts and Pownal, Vermont.  She was now just thirty miles away. And so it seemed to me pretty obvious when you look at the population charts from back around 1739 when she was born, there were only 900,000 people in the entire country at that time, which is roughly the population of Delaware today.  So I put this father and mother combination onto the chart as parents of Olive Hill, and some grandparents and the like, just to see what happens with DNA matches.  And wouldn't you know it a few days later, in came a DNA match for a seventh cousin under “Asa Hill!”  The father, Asa, and mother Sarah.  And so the question came up, "Well, how significant is this in proving that this is the correct relationship?"  So that's why I wanted to get my good friend Paul Woodbury on. He's a DNA analyst for LegacyTree.com. Hi Paul, how are you?

Paul: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me, Scott.

Fisher: I was going through all the math here over the weekend. Spent a lot of time mapping out how this works.  And I guess it’s kind of interesting when it comes to DNA matches. When we start out, the first four, five generations, there aren't that many couples. For instance my second greats… we all have eight second great grandparent couples, right?

Paul: Exactly.

Fisher: And I placed mine at the average time of birth, somewhere around 1815. So roughly I'm thinking, okay, nine million people in the country at that time.  But some of my couples may not have been born within the country, right?  And of course of the nine million people in America in 1815, only some of them lived in the area that my people were from.  So bottom line, though if you had a DNA match for one of your eight second great grandparent couples, that's pretty significant because it’s a very small number of couples out of a very, very large population.  As you go back of course, we see this thing double every generation until you get to what I've been talking about, 128 couples at the sixth great grandparent level. So the odds of actually finding a match get better and better the further you go back, except that we all don't inherit the same DNA from the same ancestors.  And some ancestors, we don't get any DNA at all, right?

Paul: Exactly.

Fisher: So the question is… how significant is this DNA match that I found in confirming the paper research that I've done?

Paul: Well, I think the key in this is that you are incorporating this DNA match as part of your traditional genealogical research. That is, you're using it to confirm information that you've been able to ascertain through your own traditional research. It's important that as we're evaluating some of these more distant cousins and some of these more distant matches that we need to evaluate their entire family trees for other possible origins of that shared DNA.  Another element that you mentioned briefly is that eventually there will be a point in our own family trees where we will not have inherited significant amounts of DNA from many of our own ancestors.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: And we kind of call it the difference between genetic trees vs. genealogical trees.  And at the point of around seven to eight generations is where your ancestors begin to fall off of your genetic tree.  Around 10 generations you're only going to inherit significant portions of your DNA from about half of your ancestors.  So it’s important as you're evaluating some of these more distant matches that you also make sure that you have genetic matches for the intervening generations.

Fisher: I guess the idea is… what you're saying is… it helps to prove that there is some DNA flowing from that far back, right, because we don't obtain DNA from everybody?

Paul: Yeah. And DNA is not going to skip generations.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Good point. So it’s amazing, though when you crunch the numbers on this… I mean, what the population of our country was back in the day. Like in 1650, we had all of 50,000 people here.  That's about the population of today's Northern Mariana Islands.

Paul: Yeah.

Fisher: In 1740, we had what is today the population of Delaware. And in 1770 just before the Revolution, 2.1 million, which is today's population of New Mexico, so in a really small population but they're spread out. So we're not even dealing with populations that large. And then of course, many of the people in the population of that time were children or single individuals or even couples that didn't have children, right?

Paul: Exactly. And so because of that, we really want to make sure that we analyze all of the entire tree for each match to make sure that they don't have other lines of their ancestry from the same small pockets of populations.  So that we can lend greater credence to the fact that this common ancestral couple that we have identified for this distant cousin is most likely the common source of that shared DNA. 

Fisher: Right. Only in the most recent generations going back to, say second, maybe third great grandparents, are those DNA matches exceptionally significant, yes?

Paul: Yes.

Fisher: When you go back beyond that, then it gets more and more challenging to really place significance on it.

Paul: Yeah. And part of the challenge of that is, that with the closer generations we have distinct levels of DNA sharing that we expect for different levels of relationship. But once you get back to the level of fourth cousin to fifth cousin, sixth, seventh, eighth cousin… you know, an eighth cousin may have exactly the same chance of sharing and given amount of DNA as a fourth cousin.  And so it’s a little bit harder to say, "Yes, this is the common ancestral couple that gave us this DNA."

Fisher: Yeah, it’s fascinating to try to put this all together and figure out, "Okay, here's a person who shares some DNA with me to some level. And we share this ancestor on this chart, but is that really important?" Great insight as always, and always great to have you on the show!

Paul: And let me add before we go that these genetic cousins that are more distant can be significant for your research.  But it may be necessary to identify additional cousins that are also shared in common that also have the same segments of DNA that you share in common.  And if you don't have those, then it could be a good idea to begin searching out additional descendants of that ancestral couple to see how they fit into the known network of genetic cousins that you've already established.

Fisher: He's DNA analyst Paul Woodbury, from LegacyTree.com. Thanks, great advice, Paul.

Paul: Thank you.

Fisher: You've got to love the science of family history these days. Love that DNA.

All right, coming up for you next, of course preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he's our Preservation Authority.  And we're going to talk about the importance of knowing who your end users are going to be when you decide how you want to digitize your materials.  It’s going to save you a lot of money, so listen up.  It’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 140

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, and it is Preservation Time. Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, is in the house.  And Tom, we were just talking off the air here a few moments ago about people who come into your store and they don’t really know the end game of what they’re trying to do in terms of digitizing.  And I’m sure this happens in places all over the country, and they wind up buying a Cadillac when really all they need is a Mini Cooper.

Tom: Oh that is so true! I mean it’s like buying a car, a lot of times when you go to buy a car they say, “How much do you have to spend?” not “What are your needs?”  And we’re just the opposite of that. We want to find out what somebody’s needs are, and whether you send stuff to us, bring it in to us or use one of your local players.  You need to be careful because some people will charge you as much as they can get away with, and there are a lot of real good honest people out there that will do what’s right.   But you want to make sure what, like you used the word “endgame,” is going to be. And that’s a perfect word.   What do you ultimately want to do with all your slides, your photos, your old reel to reel audio, your film/ video all these kind of things? What do you want to do with them?  Let me give you an example. We had a gentleman come in the other day that had probably about two or three dozen VHS tapes and he wanted them all on BluRay.  BluRay is a little bit more expensive to do than DVD and MP4s and so we tried talking him out of it saying, “Hey, you know we’re happy to do BluRays for you if that’s what you want, however DVDs are going to be just as good.” Because when you’re working with something that’s already electronic like a video tape or an audio tape, whether you go to BluRay or whether you go to MP4s or DVD whatever, it’s not going to change the content.  The only reason you go to a BluRay is because you want to go to BluRay, there’s no reason for it.  If you go with DVD you accomplish several things. It’s going to cost you less, they’re going to be done faster they’re going to be more compatible with friends and neighbors, and relatives that you’re going to send them off to.  And you’re not gaining anything at all. Some people say, “BluRays have the ability to play better.” That’s true.  However, if you have a BluRay player and you play a DVD in it most BluRay players will up-convert your videos anyway.   So if you have, whether it’s an old Disney DVD, whether it’s a VHS that you’ve turned into a DVD, if you play it in a BluRay player it’s going to actually look better than if you played it in your old DVD player just by the up-conversion that it does for you naturally.  So I mean, if somebody says, “No, I want BluRay, period.” That’s fine. However, we want to educate people, let them know, “You might not need BluRay.”  So if your only interest is to get your VHS or whatever, (I’m just using VHS as a generic term almost), to get your items preserved.  If you’re just going to want to email them to people you’re not going to make a whole bunch of copies, then I’d suggest you go to MP3s or MP4s, because they’re small enough.  But they’re really good quality that you can actually post them up on your Facebook page, you can put them in Dropbox or whatever kind of cloud device you want to use and get people to link to it.  You can actually email them, they’re small enough and then they have access to them immediately. They don’t have to wait for the disk. Some people you know actually want to have a physical disk and that’s fine.   A lot of the older generation they want to have that physical disk they don’t understand, “When I download this to you know, my thumb drive, and I plug my thumb drive into my TV.” They don’t understand that. But if everybody in your family understands technology, just go with MP3s or MP4s and it’s always nice to have a backup as a CD or a DVD because as we say on almost every show, we always recommend you have everything, all your memories backed up on a disk, whether it’s DVD or CD or an MDisk or BluRay, you have it on your hard drive and one or two Clouds.  Whether you use Google Cloud, whether you use LightJar, whether you use Dropbox, it doesn’t matter; you want to get up in at least one Cloud and possibly two.  And if you don’t have a ton of stuff you can usually get the free ones that’s good you know, for so many like maybe a terabyte or such.  And if you have a whole bunch, it’s not that much more expensive. I mean, we use tons and tons of that and we pay $100 a month for you know, a lot, a lot of stuff, and after the break we’ll go in and talk a little bit more about how you can best determine what you need.  

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

Segment 5 Episode 140

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, we’re doing preservation here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com.  Tom, we’ve just been talking about the challenge of knowing the end use of what you’re doing as you digitize.  And how to save money and how to get the most bang for your buck with what you’re trying to do. How do people determine what their end use it?

Tom: The best thing is to listen to our shows and especially since they’re searchable now with the PDFs.  You can go and type in a topic and possibly find one of our episodes where we have addressed something.  Another way to do it is even if you want to stay local that’s fine, we’re here to help you in any way we can.  Just send your question to [email protected] and say, “This is what I have, this is what my end use is. What should I do?”  And we’ll let you know. And if you want to take it to a local place you know that’s great. We actually want people to support their local people but if you want to send it to us we’re happy to work with you as well.  So basically let’s talk about what we call “Boxes” whether you’re talking about MP3s, MP4s, DVDs, CDs, BluRay, MDisk, BluRay... all these different things.  Look at them as different size of luggage or boxes because they all pretty much can do the same thing. For instance a thumb drive doesn’t care what kind of data you put onto it.

Fisher: Right.

Tom:  You can put audio, you can put video, you can put actually video games whatever you want to put on it. So you need to understand what you want.  The majority of time when you want audio, like old reel to reel tapes or cassette tapes or dictaphone whatever you have, we usually transfer those to CDs and MP3s because a CD you have that physical thing you can save and put away. You’ve got your MP3s you can put on your iPhone, your Android, whatever you want. If you have video then we suggest MP4 and DVD so again, you’ve got the physical disk to hold.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: But then you also have an MP4 that’s on a flash-drive, you can email them, you can distribute them anyway you want real easy.  And then the next step up you’re looking at what we’ve mentioned DVDs and CDs you can put audio on a DVD, you can video on a CD you just limited with the size of the box. So most people when they’re say DVD they thinking video, when you’re saying CD you’re thinking audio.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: So when we’re doing slides and photo we usually do those as JPEGs or TIFFs and so we can put them on a CD, we can put them on a thumb drive, and we can put them on a DVD, and the only thing that determines what we put on them is how much stuff you have.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: You know like if you’ve got a two thousand square foot house, you know a hundred square foot carpet isn’t going to fill your house.  If you have a two hundred square foot house, a thousand feet of carpet is overkill. You need to know what you need.  You don’t need a DVD with four pictures on it because the problem is you’re not filling the whole disk and you say, “Well so what? They’re not that much more expensive.”  However, if someone you’re going with only has access to a CD reader they’re not going to be able to play your DVD, so you want to check on that.  And then BluRays are awesome! They’re a good way to store your stuff, you can get almost twice as much as on a DVD plus there are several sizes of BluRays.  You can get ones that are two and a half terabytes; you can get all different sizes. So you figure out “What my needs are.” Don’t buy the dump truck if all you need is a Ram pickup.

Fisher: So not to confuse people through when you talked earlier about, if you don’t need a BluRay don’t pay $5 extra for it. That’s because it serves a different purpose.

Tom: Exactly!  The only time you absolutely positively want to go with BluRay is if you’re using something optical, like we talked earlier about magnetic VHS tapes there’s no difference.  If it’s magnetic DVD 9 out of 10 times it’s going to be fine for you. And then they also have BluRay MDisks now.

Fisher: I still think that’s the best way to describe all these storage devices Tom, like little boxes or big boxes. Thanks so much for coming on!

Tom: Good to have been here.

Fisher: I cannot believe we are done for another week!  Thanks once again to Mary Tedesco for the PBS series Genealogy Roadshow. They’re back for a third season right now, you can catch it Tuesday nights. Check your local listings for times.  And by the way if you wanted to catch some of the things Mary had to say about Italian research, make sure you check out the podcast through iTunes and iHeartRadio and ExtremeGenes.com.  Thanks also to Paul Woodbury, the DNA expert from LegacyTree.com, for coming on and talking about the significance of DNA matches for ancestors further back than two hundred years. You’ll love to hear what he has to say. Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook. Talk to you next week, and remember as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice normal family!

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