Episode 142 - Minnesota Man On His Visit With Last Surviving Civil War Soldier / Joshua Taylor of New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Talks New York City Research

podcast episode Jun 06, 2016

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  Fisher shares an email from a listener who learned she shares ancestry with both David and Fisher's wife, Julie. The note included a bizarre observation about that family. Catch the podcast to find out what it was!  David then talks "Roots," the new version of the old Alex Haley series from the 1970s.  Catch his take on the remake. Fisher and David then talk nuclear bunkers. (One's for sale in England.) Fisher reminisces about his family's bomb shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some handwritten records dating back to the Roman era in London have been dug up. David will tell you all the details, as well as share his Tech Tip and another NEHGS free guest user database.

Fisher next visits with Joshua Taylor, best known as one of the hosts on the PBS Series "Genealogy Roadshow." Josh is also president of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. Josh talks about New York records and his vision for a 21st century NYG&BS. If you have New York ancestry, and so many people everywhere do, you'll want to catch this segment.

It's a long distance call to the road next as Fisher visits with a Minnesota native who once visited with the last surviving Civil War vet back when he was a Cub Scout in the 1950s. Robin Hoff shares his memories of that experience and also talks about his own Civil War vets as he and his wife Mary enjoy a genealogy road trip that has already covered over 3,200 miles!

Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, then joins the show and talks about a strange legal dilemma in answer to a listener email. Imagine taking your videos and films to a big box store for digitizing only to learn they own the rights to the copies they made for you! What does Tom think of this practice? Is it defensible? Be sure to catch the podcast!

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

Transcript of Episode 142

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 142

Fisher: Hello genies across the fruited plains! It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Nice to have you along! And this segment of the show is brought to you by 23AndMe.com DNA. Very excited today to have Josh Taylor on the show. And many of you probably know him from the PBS program “Genealogy Roadshow.” He’s one of the hosts there and he wears many hats.  And another one is, he is the head of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and this is a society that struggled a lot recently. so many people across the country in the south, in the west and in the midwest, you’re going to want to hear what Josh has to say about what he’s doing to revitalize the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. So I’m looking forward to that conversation coming up in about eight minutes. Later in the show we’ll talk to a Minnesota man who as a Cub Scout had the opportunity to visit with the last surviving veteran of the Civil War. Unbelievable story, looking forward to talking to Robin Hoff later on in the show. But right now let’s check in with my good friend the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert.  How are you David?

David: Hey, things are great in Beantown. How are things with you Fish?

Fisher: Awesome! And by the way, we got a little note here about something we talked about a few weeks back.

David: Oh okay.

Fisher: And it’s from Barbara Bessie Campbell, and she said “I was listening to your show and am surprised to hear that your wife, my wife, and David Allen Lambert are both descendents of Tristram Coffin of Nantucket Island, he’s also my ancestor.”

David: Sure.

Fisher: And she said, “I dreamed of visiting Nantucket one day, and in 2007 we were actually able to go.” She said. “I found a lady who gave tours on the island in her van, so we signed on. I told her I was a descendent of Tristram Coffin, and she said that she was 6th generation Nantucket so we were probably related.” And then she said, “A lot of the Coffins are sort of crazy. That’s why they say don’t marry someone with your same ancestry on the island!” [Laughs]

David: Ooh! Well that gives new meaning to keeping it in the family!

Fisher: Yes!

David: I can say that my family was only on Nantucket for that one generation. The daughter married and lived on the mainland. So any insanity in the family cannot be attributed to my Coffin genealogy at least!

Fisher: [Laughs] There you go.

David: I’m generally not a couch potato but I can tell you when I was a kid, I was. Back in 1977 as an 8 year old I sat fixed to the TV as “Roots” graced the television. Now this has happened again, a redo of Roots has been on the History Channel, started Memorial Day and went on last week, and I was fascinated. It’s a redo of it and of course Alex Haley’s full of surprise when he looked Roots influenced so many genealogists, as I’m sure probably captivated you as well.

Fisher: Oh absolutely, watched every episode of it back in the day.

David: I was fixated with those southern bells from Virginia and North Carolina, and of course the heart wrenching stories of slavery and it really kind of brings history alive.  My hats off to new genealogists that are inspired once again by what Alex Haley put forth almost 40 years ago now.

Fisher: Isn’t that incredible? Hey, did you hear this story by the way, out of Mistley, England? If you would like to own a cold war era nuclear bunker, there’s one on sale there for 1.6 million dollars!

David: Hey! Well that’s a nice little summer place!

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: Now did you have one of those when you were a kid? You’re from that duck and cover generation, aren’t you?

Fisher: I am. And actually yes, when we had the Cuban missile crisis when I was growing up in Connecticut, my dad and a neighbour, we lived in the back woods.  They actually ordered in a big oil tank, each of them, and so we actually buried them out in the woods with sand on top and a crank inside to bring in fresh air through a filter. We had wood floors that you could lift up and stored all... I bet you our food is still there from the 1960s!  It was a great adventure for a little boy to see all this and say, “Hey we’re going to be in here and everybody else is going to be dead!”

David: Oh no. [Laughs] You know, I’ll tell you we’re losing our World War II veterans, and sadly Melvin Rector who was one of the gunners from the famed Memphis Belle did a tour back to England and as you probably saw on the news sadly he passed away touring all the sites that he helped defend over 70 years ago.

Fisher: Right on the site of one of the places.

David: Yeah.

Fisher: It’s unbelievable.

David: It really is. Brings a tear to your eye thinking he made it all the way back over there and you know he survived it. Also across the sea, there’s been some recent archaeological work done on Queen Victoria Street in London, the new site for the headquarters for Bloomberg and they have discovered 410 tablets dating back to the Roman era from about 65 to 80 AD.

Fisher: Wow!

David: It’s the oldest hand written reference that exist for London and on it, it says in Latin, “Londinio Mogontio” a Celtic personal name that was carved into this piece of wood.  These little tablets were fixated with bees wax and before this recent discovery only nineteen such tablets had been ever discovered in London. So this is amazing. I mean think about the little posted notes that we leave around our office.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And all of a sudden a mud slide came in and they would discover wonderful things like, “Hey, it’s time to do the Extreme Genes show.” Then they’d try to figure out what Extreme Genes was.

Fisher: Right. Yeah. And this guy’s name is on it, that’s incredible.

David: It really is. So if you want to relate it to Mogontio in your family tree. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah might be a little treat there for you.

David: Exactly. My Tech Tip is kind of an anniversary gift if you will. My grandmother and her first husband, she was married twice, were first married in September 1916 and it dawned on me it’s a 100 years ago. And I am now reassembling all of the genealogy notes on all my grandmother’s descendents from both those marriages, gathering the pictures up and putting together a PDF file with as many genealogies of the descendents. And on her anniversary I’m going to send it to all of those who are interested. But in the meantime I’m going to contact them through social media, on the phone, maybe even get a summer family reunion going. And then in 2018 I’ll do the same thing for my paternal grandparents. So a grandparent anniversary gift that you can share even after your grandparents are gone.

Fisher: Love it.

David: NEHGS as you know has guest user databases all you have to do is go to AmericanAncestors.org we have a real great surprise which is a tie in with our good friend Josh Taylor in New York G&B. We are putting all of our New York databases for free for guest users for the month of June. Having just got back from Albany New York, I can say that it’s nice to be able to direct people to sources that we have right here at NEHGS. Well, that’s all I have from Beantown, catch you next week.

Fisher: All right. Thanks so much David, talk to you then!  And coming up next we are going to talk to the chief executive officer of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and host of the genealogy roadshow Josh Taylor coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Segment 2 Episode 142

Host Scott Fisher with guest Josh Taylor

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, and this segment is being brought to you by Roots Magic. And I’m very excited to have on the phone a guy I’ve gotten to know a little bit over the last few years, who’s got quite a track record in the field of family history. His name is Josh Taylor.  He used to work at NEHGS years ago. He is the current president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, he’s one of the hosts of Genealogical Roadshow, and he recently took over the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, an organization that’s very close to my heart because of many of my associations with New York City and my ancestry there. I’ve actually been published in their Record several years ago.  Josh Taylor, welcome to Extreme Genes!

Josh: Hey, thank you for having me, and happy to be here!

Fisher: You know, sometimes I look at your resume Josh, and it’s like you are four people!

Josh: [Laughs] Well, I believe in getting involved. It’s one thing that I love about the genealogical and the family history community, there are so many opportunities to volunteer and to sort of share talent, and also to learn a lot.

Fisher: Well, there’s no doubt. And you know, the learning never ends, a look at the growth of the industry over the last ten years, and the benefit to so many people who are listening right now who may just be getting started. Let’s talk about NYG&BS. Now, this organization has been around for... it’s coming up on 150 years here soon, right?

Josh: Yes, 150 years in just a couple of years.

Fisher: And we have to acknowledge the fact that it has had some very difficult times in the last few years, a lot of cutbacks in the organization. A lot of budgeting issues. A lot of materials cut back as well, that were typically shared in the past.  You’ve come on to bring this thing back to the full life and the full status that it deserves. Tell us a little about the history of NYG&BS and where you’re going to be taking it.

Josh: Well, the New York G&B, some of us call the G&B, was set up in 1869 and has been gathering records about New York from that time period. Those collections are now safely housed in the New York Public Library. So it’s still easily accessible for researchers to access, you know, any time you want to come visit New York City, you can look at the records there. But one thing that we’re really focusing on, is recognizing the fact that there’s a little bit of New York in a lot of people all throughout the United States, and in fact, all through the world.

Fisher: That’s right.

Josh: The G&B have a history of being very, very good at gathering records for some of those early New York City families or those sort of colonial Dutch. The influence is there, and I’m looking much more to expand that to make sure whether it’s the New Yorker that arrived in 1630 or 1650, compared to the New Yorker that might have arrived in 1950. All of those stories deserve to be told. And that’s what sort of today’s G&B will begin to offer you.

Fisher: So you’re looking at a much broader range of time spans perhaps, a lot more emphasis perhaps on the 20th century?

Josh: I absolutely mark from the 20th century. Even on the 19th century. And especially looking at how can we curate records for you. How can we provide more and more content, but also become a gathering point for a lot of those stories.  So there’s a lot of work to be done. We have thousands of members now. We’re looking to increase that, but one of the big things we want to do is to make sure that whether you’re living in California, or Texas, or Idaho or wherever you are, that you’ll find some sort of a resting place at the G&B.

Fisher: I think that’s really got to be the goal, because as you say, there’s so many New Yorkers of some degree, all over the country and all over the world for that matter. What’s happening online with it now?

Josh: You know, online, our visual library is now hosted at FindMyPast. They were working to sort of add more and more collections to that. So one of my key goals for the first year or two is to start looking into some of those great G&B collections that are stored up in the New York Public Library, and see if we can find ways to digitize those collections and actually bring them to members. Because the advantage we have through the online resource is that you don’t have to walk into a library to experience the G&B. So we’re working to build a web or digital experience that allows you to take part of the G&B and tell your New York story.

Fisher: Now you’re talking about the Dutch records back in the day, and of course we lost so many of them in that fire in 1911 up in Albany. What has been recovered from that or maybe has been duplicated elsewhere that you might be able to provide people?

Josh: You know, it’s a great question. We’re just finishing work on it, a new publication. It’s an “Authorized Guide ToThe Municipal Archives of New York City,” specifically for genealogists and historians.  And actually, there’s an entire chapter on some of those old colonies and some of those Dutch records. But it really attempts to unearth that and describe a lot of materials there in those Municipal Archives that haven’t necessarily been available for genealogists, or at least not on the forefront of their minds.  So we’re really working to make sure that we tell the story of where those records are. And so in that example the Municipal Archives is the new guide coming out is a great example of some of those tools that will be out there.

Fisher: I couldn’t agree with you more. Last year, of course, we were both back for AJ Jacob’s “Largest Family Reunion in the World.” And of course I had to take time to the Municipal Archives and research some of my ancestors, and what I was really excited about was they were able to provide for me the firemen records of New York City from the 19th century. And these are not really readily available anywhere. I tracked down an old listing from the 1950s of what they were supposed to have had, and somehow they dug them up and they were absolutely priceless. They were gold. And I communicated with the head of the New York Archives, the Municipal Archives that these things need to be digitized. And he was very cooperative and I would assume, he’s probably working very close with you as well?

Josh: Yeah, what we’re doing is in sort of full cooperation with the Municipal Archives. We’re very glad to have their support. Our team is there, and every time they discover new records, they share it with us. So we’re working to get everything compiled in this publication. So it will be a great first step, I think, in unlocking the door to a lot of those records that are sitting there.

Fisher: Give us an idea of some of the things that you found out about that were there that just made you go “Hmm”.

Josh: You know, actually, the firemen’s records that you brought up. [Laughs] One thing that sort of look at this giant list of things, there’s also all sorts of records about bodies in transit.

Fisher: Yes [Laughs]

Josh: ...which are fascinating!

Fisher: Yes.

Josh: And then some of the almshouse records you know. We often struggle to research an ancestor that might have been poor or not necessarily entered into the records, but those almshouse records and some of the registers there are incredible and give you great details. So there’s something for everyone at the Municipal Archives, I think, if you’re looking at New York City genealogy.

Fisher: All right Josh, the Archives is a great place of course to be working with. Who else are you partnering with to try to bring these records together?

Josh: You know, we of course work closely with the New York Public Library. We are involved in a lot of their public programming. We also sponsor research tours to various repositories.  So we go to areas, like for example, the Evergreen Cemetery.

Fisher: Yes.

Josh: We’re doing a tour there in their archive. And then we’re going up to the New York State Archive and the Management Division up in Albany New York. We do that every year. We take a group of folks up and do sort of a “We’ll hold your hand through the archives and give you a step-by-step look at what records you want to examine.” The other thing that we do of course is one hour in our third year up in New York State Family History Conference, which is a partnership between the New York G&B and the local societies within New York. We’re looking forward to more events like that in the very near future.

Fisher: It really is kind of hard to categorize certain things, isn’t it Josh? Because for instance, Westchester County, just outside of New York City, is so important to searching out families from the City itself, and Albany has a lot of state records, but there’s not necessarily a real association between the City and Albany. It’s a difficult thing to search and I think it’s getting better, but that’s a great partnership to explore.

Josh: Yeah. One thing on our website at NewYorkFamilyHistory.org that you can explore, even if you’re not a member, there’s a couple of free research aids and articles on there that will help to sort of navigate you through a lot of those repositories. And if you are a member, you also have access to some of the county guides and other resources that actually will give you details for a specific area in New York that you’re researching in. Because, as you mentioned, there’s so much to find. Sometimes all you need is that helping hand to figure out where to look first.

Fisher: [Laughs] that’s really the truth. I remember working with some people at the Fire Fighters museum in New York City. And they said you might actually have better luck finding things outside of the city. Because they have so many repositories with so much stuff, they don’t even know what they have. And that’s really part of the challenge of researching New York. The good news is there’s so much stuff. The bad news is there’s so much stuff!

Josh: [Laughs] Yeah. It’s one of the things that I hope that the G&B, that we can partner with more of the local and town historians. Because they usually have a pretty good handle on what’s there. They can at least give you a clue to what room or what repository to look at. So all sorts of connections we can make in the future.

Fisher: Yeah, I think that’s the key here, is trying to bring everybody together, maybe in to one place like you say, where you have all the finding aids in one area on your site where people can know, “Oh, I can deal with deal with Westchester County, or Dutchess County, or Putnam County.” Or some areas even in northern New Jersey, which fed into New York City, there’s a lot of interaction between families there as well.

Josh: Yeah. I mean, my New York roots actually extend into Connecticut and New Jersey all the time. So I sort of look around and realize that it really isn’t just about New York City, it’s about all the areas that touch it, and everywhere else.

Fisher: So once again, the website address is what?

Josh: So the web address is NewYorkFamilyHistory.org and you can visit there for some links on how to find online New York records and some of the research aids that we can provide you that will actually guide you through how to do research within New York.  The other thing that you can view through the website are the records, sort of our publication. So, it’s also nearing its 150th birthday.

Fisher: Unbelievable.

Josh: That includes our articles that you can use as case studies and record extracts and all sorts of things that are available for you.

Fisher: Hey, let’s talk real quickly before you go, about Genealogy Roadshow. You’re in your third season there as one of the hosts, tell us about how you got going in that, and what we’re looking forward to in the weeks ahead.

Josh: You know, I actually got started with a call from the production team. In the very beginning they asked me if I had an interest in doing it, and I said “Sure, why not.” I did a quick Skype interview and the rest is really history. I was fortunate enough to be brought on as a producer actually for this third season. So I worked as consulting producer to help guide some of the research and guide some of the stories. So it’s a bit of a different world for this genealogist to be sitting in a TV production room, a TV production office. But it’s a lot of fun.

Fisher: [Laughs] I bet! He’s Josh Taylor, he’s the president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies. He’s a host on the Genealogy Roadshow, a former member of NEHGS. What does this man not do? Josh, thanks for coming on, and good luck with this project. It’s an important one and we’re pulling for your success.

Josh: Hey, thank you, I appreciate it.

Fisher: And coming up next – We’ll talk to a man who had a Cub Scout many years ago, got to visit with the last surviving Civil War soldier. How did that go? We’ll talk to Robin Hoff, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 142

Host Scott Fisher with guest Robin Hoff

Fisher: And welcome back! It is Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. This segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And you know, one of the things I really love about talking to our guests about, are their travels! And we've actually got a guest right now who's traveling in Maine. He's from Tustin, California. Robin Hoff is on the line with his wife Mary right now. Where are you guys?

Robin: We're in the Freeport-Durham area of Maine right now, Scott. How're you doing?

Fisher: Doing great! Now you guys have been on a genealogical tour, at least Mary has. And I guess you're her official driver. Is that how it works, Robin?

Robin: I think that's pretty much it, yeah, although she's been chasing my genealogy. So, I guess I'm both the subject and the driver at the same time.

Fisher: Very nice!

Robin: Yeah.

Fisher: Now what has been “The Big Find” or the big experience on this trip so far because you've obviously gone over 3,000 miles?

Robin: Yeah, that's what I was going to say. It's about 3,200 so far and we haven't headed back home yet. There have been days like yesterday when it poured, I wished I'd headed home, you know? [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Robin: No, it's been a wonderful trip. Big finds? Well, I don't know. We came over the mountains into Salt Lake City. Mary had hoped to do some research there, but unfortunately our brand new RV decided to act up.

Fisher: Uh oh.

Robin: Yeah, but it's just kind of a little adventure in travel, you know how that is.

Fisher: Sure.

Robin: I don't know that we made any great genealogical finds between here and there, but Mary has been making copious notes and that sort of thing. And then leaving Indiana, then it got a little more interesting. We got to the Mohawk Valley in New York where the Mohawk were, where my ancestors kind of started their journey westward. In the early 1600s they came of course first to New York proper and New Jersey in that area from Holland.

Fisher: Very nice!

Robin: Yeah. I've gone through seventy years of life, Scott, thinking that I was of German ancestry and I was absolutely wrong.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Robin: So I've switched now from German beer to Heineken beer!

Fisher: [Laughs] Well Robin, I heard about a story that you experienced a little bit earlier in life, back when you were a Cub Scout. And you were a Cub Scout, you were obviously in a very active den at the time. And you had a leader who obviously felt that it was going to be of benefit to you to meet a figure of some historical significance. Tell us about this visit.

Robin: Well it's really...you've got to understand I was probably nine or ten years old at the time.

Fisher: Okay.

Robin: So my recollection is somewhat foggy. But you're absolutely right. They put together a bunch of us and we went down and sat with Albert Woolson, who was the last surviving Civil War, I believe Union Civil War veteran. And he ultimately passed away I think in about 1956.

Fisher: Yes.

Robin: In Duluth and he's buried there, about three or four blocks from where I grew up. So we had a chance to meet him. I don't have a lot of memory of it.  In my mother's things, she had a picture of me sitting there with few other Cub Scouts and Albert Woolson, who was obviously quite advanced in age at that time.

Fisher: Sure.

Robin: I'm thinking it was probably about 1952 maybe, '52 or '53.

Fisher: Somewhere in there. And what was the experience like for you?

Robin: I do remember being somewhat impressed with the fact that he'd been in the Civil War. Of course young boys get a kick out of that. That's pretty much it.  He was also a frequent, almost every year, Fourth of July time, he would ride in the local parades and things like that. I was not there when he passed.  If I was, I don't remember it. Did not attend the funeral, my brother in law did. He remembers it very well. But...he had a funeral procession with all the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. And I certainly do remember, you know, seeing him and of course seeing his gravesite. I've seen that many times.

Fisher: What do you know about his service, Robin?

Robin: Well I don't know a great deal, except that he was a drummer boy. He listed in an artillery outfit out of Minnesota. I understand that they never did see combat. But they were down on, was it Lookout Mountain? I've been there with my parents as a young lad. And they never got down that far and then I think ultimately they mustered out there.

Fisher: Isn't that amazing? The drummer boys were often very young. I know that the first casualty of the Civil War for Brooklyn, New York was a drummer boy who was twelve years old, who was accidently wounded in training, and then died as a result of his wound. So often they're young kids who're out there. So that might explain also how a Civil War veteran could live until the mid 1950s.

Robin: Yeah, I think he was older. Well, he was over a hundred I believe. And I think there's some dispute whether he was what, 106 or 107.  So yeah, he did live a long, a long and full life and saw a lot of history passages if you look at it now.

Fisher: Have you noticed that it seems with each war, the last veteran seems to get just a little bit older. The last World War I vet passed about five years ago or so or eight years ago or something like that, about 107, 108 years old. And it makes you think that we're going to see World War II veterans living up to about 110, which would put them well into the 2030s.

Robin: That is amazing. It really is!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Robin: Once again though and as I’m sure you do in my generation, I have some friends who lied about their age and went into the army early in World War II. Early for them, and you know, the age is sixteen and so on. But even they’re a little bit old and stooped now.

Fisher: Yeah.

Robin: And I suppose that's coming to all of us, isn't it?

Fisher: No question about it.

Robin: I had two Minnesota direct ancestors that fought in the Civil War. One of direct descent, I'd have to figure out how many grandfathers ago it was, it was a fellow name Abraham Hoff. He has an interesting story. He enlisted first in the “Mounted Calf.” And they were called into service to quell the Indian uprisings in Minnesota and southern Minnesota. The New Ulm Uprising, also called the Sioux Uprising, and into the Dakotas. And he marched up into the Dakotas with them, helped put down the insurrection, I guess. Got out, went back to Fillmore County which is in southern Minnesota near the Iowa border. Took up whatever he was doing before as a trade. And the records indicate that he reenlisted in the First Minnesota when they reconstituted them after the slaughter at Gettysburg.

Fisher: Wow!

Robin: And continued to fight with them throughout that, and was discharged was at Appomattox, and was discharged at the close of hostilities and sent home.

Fisher: Isn't that great?

Robin: Isn't that a great story?

Fisher: Yeah. Isn't that great that you know this story too? And I'm sure you know, it's…

Robin: I have to tell you, we researched it of course and got documents from the National Archives. And we hope to do some research. He was apparently quite active in the GAR in his later years. And we hope to get some. On our way back, we're going to stop in Minnesota and try and do some digging into that. Find out just what he looked like.

Fisher: Robin, it's been a delight talking to you. You know, I was thinking about this, you've met a Civil War veteran as a boy. If you were to go and meet like a Gulf War veteran right now, you could actually span a very wide piece of history, don't you think?

Robin: I think so. I really do.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well listen.

Robin: I should point out that I'm retired Army as well.

Fisher: Well God bless you. And thank you for your service, sir. And thank you so much for your time and telling us this amazing story. I don't think I've spoken to anybody in any recent times who actually visited with a Civil War veteran, but you're the one!  Robin Hoff from Tustin, California on the road in Maine with wife Mary, tracing down their ancestry, thanks so much!

Robin: Okay.

Fisher: And coming up next, we're going to take a listener question for Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, about how some “big box” stores take your home movies and videos and make them their copyrighted material!  How does that happen? You'll find out in three minutes on Extreme Genes!

Segment 4 Episode 142

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: It is preservation time on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show, where we talk about how to preserve your precious heirlooms and your information and your photographs and your videos and your home movies. Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com, he's our Preservation Authority. Hi Tom.

Tom: Helloo.

Fisher: I've got a great message here, no name on it. But here's the question and it's kind of complex. So see if you can follow along at home. This question is for Tom. It says, "I have a gizmo that connects between my camcorder and my computer and transfers and digitizes my Hi 8 tapes. After listening to Tom talk about the buy cheap get cheap results of this method, I began looking for local professional alternatives for digitizing these. I'd hope to find a place that did the work on site rather than send them out. Well I guess I'm too much of a worry wart and want a pad in my favor for less chance of accidents or whatever might destroy my only copy of this tape. Anyhow, I got into a conversation with someone in the photography department of a local chain store and was explaining that I wanted to digitize my tapes. And then every couple of years, upgrade to fresh disks or the newest medium, whichever applied. I was outraged to learn that when you digitize through them, the disk is protected and I can't make copies! A friend discovered the same thing after the fact at a local drug store and was as outraged as I was. Is this the case because these are big chain stores or does this apply even if I took them to a professional preservation company like Tom's?" All right Tom, great question.

Tom: You know, in my opinion that's so wrong. I came up through this industry in photography. And I would know a lot of people that charge high amounts of money to do somebody's wedding and then they wouldn't let them copy their VHS tapes. They would charge them. Make them do all the prints through them, and you know, that's their business, they can do what they want to. I was never like that.  When I give something to somebody, it's theirs. They can do whatever they want. If people bring VHS tapes, audio tapes anything into us, we never put copyright information on it.  It's their property. They can do whatever they want to. But unfortunately as this gentleman's found out, a lot of the big box stores and even some local companies, they do that. Because I guess your initial payment to them isn't enough. And I don't agree with that. I don't think it should be like that. However, unfortunately it is that way. And there used to be a device around called a decipher that you could actually put between your box and make copies. And they were basically ruled illegal and they're not even available anymore. Once or more you see them on eBay, but they're like two or three hundred dollars. So for an individual, it wouldn't be worth it. So what you need to do is just keep searching. Find somebody that will do it for you locally so you don't have to send them out, but doesn't put the copyright information on them. But you're absolutely you know, right.  Usually if you know you're paying a couple of hundred dollars for a piece of equipment, the chances are it's not going to do the same job that we do, or we'd go to WalMart and buy the equipment instead of, you know, sending $3500 for a transfer machine that does everything in real time. And as we've talked in past episodes too, you want to always make sure you interview the people and find out how their process actually works. There's so many different things that you need to go over to make sure whoever you're doing it locally, does it right. And I understand, it's always scary to send stuff off you know, knock on wood.  But in our forty years, we've never ever lost anything through UPS, through FedEx and even through the mail.  We've been 100% good, but I can understand you know if you're scared, and you don't want to do that.

Fisher: So Tom, how is it that a store can claim to own the right to your material once they've transferred it? I don't understand legally how that's even possible.

Tom: You know, I think it's one of those things if it actually went to the Supreme Court, it might get overturned. The thing is this works out just like if you work for a certain company and you develop something while you're working for them and you leave, that's really their property.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So it's just a mishmash of lawyers and different things like that. What I would do is, I would go to them and say, "Hey, I want you to sign this thing saying that I have all the rights to my stuff." And see if they'll do that. If they say "no" then they say no. But that's another thing with the big box stores that really scares me is, a lot of times you know, your stuff won't get done properly. And right after the break, I'll tell you some horror stories of some customers who have told us by going to the big box store.

Fisher: Ooh boy! And we'll also find out about how to upgrade your disks, too.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: As things change over time. That'll be in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 142

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey we're back! Final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. We're talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com.  It is Fisher here. Hey before the break, we were talking about a listener question.  They had taken some materials in to get digitized at a local “digitizer” and learned that the material they got back was now “copyrighted” by the people who did the transfers.  Now I don't know how that's even possible. But you said you had even worse stories than this.

Tom: Oh yeah! It's crazy. Like everybody says, "Anything, if it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true." A lot of people go to these big box stores because they have really killer prices. But they don't understand what they're getting is not a good quality.  They're getting high speed transfer, they're getting stuff not even transferred. We've had people bring in wedding tapes that they went to a big box store and got it back and said "rejected", that the tape was blank. And they're going, "Well no, I know the tape's not blank."  They go and look at it. Everything was fine. They'd be from you know, an hour to the states or whatever and then stop in at one of our locations and say, "Hey, you know, this is what happened." And you can see that little sticker still on it from the big box store. We pop it in and there's some problems with the first five to seven minutes, but then after that everything's fine on the tape.

Fisher: So they didn't look far enough onto the tape.

Tom: Exactly! But what they do is, these people aren't in a big professional building like us. They're in these cubicles. And they're told by their employers, "You pop it in. If nothing shows up in two to three minutes, reject it, pop it out."  Because it's going to cost them more money to sit there and look at your tape and find out what's wrong and see if they can fix it, than just rejecting it and going onto the next customer's tape.

Fisher: Oof!

Tom: Any legitimate company out there is going to give your tapes or film the tender loving care they deserve. Then if something's blanking the first five to seven minutes, they'll find out, "Hey, what's the problem? Was this done in a weird mode or whatever?" And they'll do all they can to make sure your memories gets preserved instead of just throwing it to the side and going onto the next client. So just make sure you interview them. Ask them these questions. Ask them, "Do you do it in realtime?" you know "What if the first ten minutes of my tape are blank? Are you just going to stop and go onto the next customer?" If you're a credible company, you should be able to do everything you need to take care of the customer to make sure their products are done correctly and to the best of your ability. And so, going back to the question the gentleman asked in the first section, I totally agree with what he wants to do. New disks, new technology is always coming out. You always want to upgrade. Like we had a seminar that we did a few weeks ago, that people asked a question about, “Oh, well you know, I didn't know there's a difference between disks. I thought they were all the same. What do I need to do so I don't lose all my content in three to four to five years?” Take it to any reputable place that uses Taiyo Yuden disks and you can upgrade it to a Taiyo Yuden disk and just pay a duplication cost. They're not going to change anything. It's not going to hurt your quality at all. They'll just put it on a better quality disk.  You can also go to the M Disk, which is a millennial disk, that will have a thousand year shelf life on them. Even if you've got BluRays, you can even upgrade you BlueRays to millennial BlueRay disks. And any credible place out there will be able to do these for you or show you somebody that can do it.  So that you can constantly be upgrading your things so you have the very best possible, and like we've always said, a good way to store stuff is turn all your video stuff into MP4s and all you audio into MP3s. Because they're small enough that you can store a lot of them on your hard drive, in the cloud, on your disks, so you've got all these backups just in case something goes haywire.

Fisher: Well there's a lot of options, aren't there!

Tom: There are quite a few.

Fisher: And the idea that you get disk, it really just makes it transportable. So you can store it on clouds, and then you can go ahead and edit them. And make them into useable pieces that can be fun for people to watch instead of going through all the rough footage, right?

Tom: Oh exactly! And that's what's neat about the new thumb drives, they're a better quality. You can put things on those. Carry it on your wrist or whatever. And it makes it really nice. If you're having problems finding someone in your area, let us know. Just write to me at [email protected].  Tell me where you live and maybe I can help you find somebody that will be able to take care of you the proper way.

Fisher: All right Tom. Talk to you again next week.

Tom: See you then.

Fisher: Hey, we're shutting it down for another week. Can't believe it!  Thanks once again to Josh Taylor, president of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society for coming on and telling us what's happening with New York records from the 1600s all the way into the 20th century. And to Robin Hoff for telling us about his experience in meeting the last surviving Civil War soldier in Minnesota.  If you missed any of it, catch the podcast. Talk to you again next week.  And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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