Episode 147 - FultonHistory.com Founder Talks New York Digitized Newspapers / Man's Ancestor Died Without Citizenship Through Outdated Law

podcast episode Jul 11, 2016

Fisher opens this "Best of Extreme Genes" show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher shares with David his take on the Crawley family genealogy tied to Downton Abbey at the close of the PBS series. David talks about the discovery of a 2,000 year old Roman coin in Israel found on the ground's surface! Listen to the podcast for details. David then gives the history of St. Patrick's Day which should have had another name. What was it and why? David explains. David's Tech Tip has gone viral. It's a pedigree chart with cause of death to show you what you might want to watch out for!

Next, Fisher visits with a Minnesota man, Daniel Swalm, who learned that his grandmother died young and without citizenship in the only country she ever took a breath in... the United States. Why? Daniel will fill you in and talk about what he did in her memory.

Fisher next chats with the founder of a web site called FultonHistory.com, Tom Tryniski. What's unique about this site is that it has three times as many digitized newspaper pages as the Library of Congress! Most are from New York City and New York State, and it costs nothing to use.  Hear what motivates Tom and what his plans are moving forward.

Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority, talks clouds and the importance of storage of your documents, photos, and audio and video files.

That's all this week on the Best of Extreme Genes!

Transcript of Episode 147

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 147

Fisher: Hey, welcome to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. It’s summer time! And a lot of team members are traveling so our show today is a “Best of Extreme Genes.” With some of our favorite stories from the past including coming up later a little bit later on, a man from Minnesota who learned about his grandmother who died young. She was born in the United States, never left the country, died in the United States, and then he found out she had lost her citizenship as a result of one thing she did. And so she died a citizen of no country at all. Our guest was troubled with this and wanted to do something to honor his grandmother and others in a similar situation. You’re going to want to hear my visit with Daniel Swalm from Minnesota, coming up in about eight minutes. Then later in the show, we’ll talk to a man who learned early on about the power of digitization. In fact he fell in love with it and started a website that has triple the number of digitized newspaper pages than the Library of Congress. Who is this man? What’s the site? How can you benefit from it? You’re going to want to catch my visit later on in the show with Tom Tryniski from Fulton, New York. This segment of the show is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Right now, let’s go to Boston and talk to my good friend the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert. Hello sir!

David: Hello! Greetings from Beantown and post St. Patrick’s Day celebrated Boston.

Fisher: Yes! I bet you that was quite the party there. I’m kind of going through this withdrawal right now David, from Downton Abbey. My wife and I have watched this for six seasons. We didn’t catch up with it until about the third season and then followed it faithfully all the way through to the end. And the other day I found online, trying to figure out exactly how all these family members of the Crawley family tied together…

David: Exactly.

Fisher: … there’s a Crawley family genealogy online. 

David: Oh my goodness!

Fisher: Yeah it goes back, remember at the end it had the third cousin once removed, we had of course Matthew and all these different branches of the family, and of course the children, now the grandchildren, and the new husbands and all this. So, I posted it on our Facebook page with Extreme Genes. It has been reposted countless times, viewed thousands of times now, it has gone absolutely nuts, because everybody loves Downton Abbey!

David: Well, I love Downton Abbey now too, but I must tell you that I’ve only been a fan since Christmas time where I sat down, we watched Season 1. We binged watched in about two months the entire series and watched the very last episode the night before it actually aired on TV. So I’m caught up with the clan completely.

Fisher: What a great show it was. And I’m looking forward to what Julian Fellowes comes up with next because he’s got a deal with NBC for a show called the “Gilded Age,” which is going to talk about New York City in the 1880s and it’s going to be on network television.

David: Oh that’s going to be wonderful.

Fisher: Coming out next year.

David: Well there’s gold found everywhere. If it’s not on TV it’s out in the eastern part of Galilee, I don’t know if you saw the story about the two thousand year old Roman coin?

Fisher: Yes!

David: That’s amazing. Lori Ryman, while out hiking, looked down and found this coin that dates from around 107 AD of the former Emperor Trajan, which was an image that was in honor of him by the (then) current Emperor Augustus. I mean, I was a metal detector kid. I still use it occasionally. I’ve never found anything a thousand years old just lying on the surface.

Fisher: No.

David: But a very lucky lady.

Fisher: Incredible.

David: Yes. So something washed out of a wall or something because that’s amazing.

Fisher: And it’s in great shape.

David: In great shape! And then apparently it’s so very rare and I understand that it is now in the possession of the Department of Antiquities in Israel. So it will be shared by all the people out there. And that’s the great thing about archeology is that you just never know what the amateurs might find.

Fisher: Exactly.

David: As we’ve seen with the Anglo Saxon Viking hordes that we’ve talked about. Well, going back a little further west from Galilee, Northwest actually. We go to just a recap on St. Patrick’s Day history. Do you realize that St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday didn’t start until 1631? And that was centuries after, in fact 12 centuries, after the death of Saint Patrick himself. It started as a church feast. But did you realize that St. Patrick really wasn’t from Ireland?

Fisher: No! I did not know that. Where was he from?

David: Yes! He was a Roman.

Fisher: No!

David: We should really be calling it St. Maewyn’s Day. His real name was not Patrick it was Maewyn Succat they believe. And he changed it to Patrickus which is a Latin term for a father figure. And of course became a priest and is well known for converting the Druids to Christianity. And the American side of this holiday, well it didn’t come over with the Pilgrims. The first celebration in America that they can see it occurred in your great old state of New York in 1762. And the idea of wearing green doesn’t go back from the Leprechauns. It actually dates from about 1798 during the Irish rebellion.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Gave me a little bit of a wakeup call about what I knew about my own Irish heritage.

Fisher: Well Happy Maewyn’s Day!

David: Exactly. Well you know I’ll tell you we’re talking about things trending and I am DLGenealogist on Twitter and I’ve got a lot of followers, and I follow a lot of people back. But this tech tip that I came up on at the back of a post it note really, was to create a longevity chart. Well it’s trending and being re-tweeted all over the place.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: It’s a simple idea. As I told you, I just took a regular genealogy chart or pedigree chart as some people would call it. And instead of putting in the names I put in the age at death of my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and great, great… and you look at it and you realize how different of a focus we’re looking at in genealogy. If somebody died like they were shot or killed in war, or suicide, circle that number because that’s not a basis but I look at it and I say, “Oh my God, the average mean age that I could live to doesn’t look like I’m going to push 90.”

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah right.

David: So it’s a fun little tech tip, it’s free, it’s something to do. And of course on AmericanAncestors.org as a guest user you can get our free databases. And the ones we’re highlighting this week include Brooksville, Maine, and Farmington Maine, which are records from the 18th and 19th century of their birth, marriages and deaths. That’s all I have for this week from Beantown. I look forward to talking to you next week.

Fisher: All right David, great stuff as always! And have a Happy St. Maewyn’s Day.

David: The same to you sir.

Fisher: And coming up next, I’ll talk to a Minnesota man who discovered that his grandmother without being a citizen of any country, despite having lived in the United States her entire life and never having left. That’s in three minutes on the Best of Extreme Genes.

Segment 2 Episode 147

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Daniel Swalm

Fisher: And welcome back to the Best of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And you know most us, when we get into research we kind of sum it all up in a book. Maybe something we share with the immediate family or some extended family or some close friends, but really that’s about it. But my next guest actually discovered something that he wanted to take to a larger audience… like the United States Congress!  And you’re going to want hear why. He’s Daniel Swalm from Minnesota.

Daniel: Thank you for having me on.

Fisher: Just delighted to have you here, and let’s just start with what your project was and then we’ll get to where this went. Because it’s really quite remarkable. You, like many of us, wanted to know a little more about your family.

Daniel: Yes. I was researching family history a number of years ago. I came across a piece of information that I had no idea existed. My grandmother, Elsie Newton Warren was born near Lake Superior in Minnesota’s Arrowhead country in 1891. And she lived all of her life in Minnesota. She married my grandfather who was a Swedish immigrant, a carpenter who came and settled in northeastern Minnesota

Fisher: A lot of Scandinavians settled in Minnesota.

Daniel: Lots, yes. It’s very Scandinavian, particularly on the north shores, the mining and fishing and lumbering area. Just like the old country. And they were married in 1914, probably unbeknownst to her and certainly unbeknownst to me as I was doing research. I discovered that on her wedding day in 1914 she was stripped of her American citizenship.

Fisher: What?!

Daniel: Yes! She was stripped of her American citizenship. The Congress had passed in 1907 a law that was called “The Expatriation Act,” and it was a law that basically stated that if any American-born woman married somebody that was an immigrant who was not naturalized, and my grandfather was not naturalized at the time they were married, then that American woman… her citizenship was forfeit!

Fisher: Wow!

Daniel: And the law was retroactive so when it was passed and 1907 it meant that people who had been born and were married in the 1800s retroactively lost their citizenship.

Fisher: I did not know that. I’ve never heard that. Amazing!

Daniel: Well it’s kind of one of those unknown pieces of American history and probably not Congress’s finest hour.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Daniel: The law was enforced by three presidential administrations. The Roosevelt Administration, the Taft Administration, and the Wilson Administration, and the law was challenged in 1915 at the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the law.

Fisher: Wow!

Daniel: So, it was a very bizarre law and as women’s suffrage gained steam –

Fisher: … right… up to 1920.

Daniel: Yes. Parts of the law were repealed in 1922. It was a piece of legislation called “The Cable Act” and in 1940 the law was completely repealed.

Fisher: Now, help me to understand something here though Daniel. That is, if this went retroactively back into the 1800s, what happened when the man would naturalize? Would the woman automatically become an American citizen again?

Daniel: Right. Then she was re-naturalized. She became a naturalized American citizen.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Daniel: Kind of weird because she was already born here. And so, the issue that I discovered, how I actually discovered it, was that there was a form that people had to fill out back in those days. It was called the “Alien Registration and Property Form.” And what they did is, the government had this form and people had to fill it out and turn it in. The rationality behind that was that if a Mrs. Rockefeller or a Mrs. Carnegie or somebody from the gilded age married the Duke of Bulgaria or the Baron of who-knows-where in Europe, their money and property would not have been allowed to be transferred.

Fisher: Wow!

Daniel: Now you’ve got to remember, in the 1910s, that was during the time when World War I was going on and then the United States entered in 1917. And that was when my grandma’s document was dated. I had no clue because this was never talked about by my parents in my family because Grandma Elsie died in 1926. She died in childbirth. Both she and the baby died.

Fisher: Quite young.

Daniel: Yes, yes, she was probably about 35, and then my grandfather did not get his naturalization until 1928. As I was researching this and finding all this stuff out I just kept digging and poking and researching and what I found was that this had not just affected my grandmother, but it had literally affected thousands and thousands of people all over the United States.

Fisher: And so your grandmother, because her husband didn’t naturalize until after her passing, actually died as a... well I wouldn’t say a foreign citizen, just as a citizen with no country at all, right?

Daniel: Exactly. She died expatriated and not a citizen of any country even though she lived her entire life in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, and never left the country to the best of my knowledge. They were not wealthy. My grandfather was a carpenter, she was a housewife. They had three previous children. My mother and then my two uncles and they have all since passed away. But yeah, it was just one of those historical oddities, and the more that I researched it and the more I found out about it the more irritated I felt.

Fisher: I would too, yeah. Now this thing wasn’t repealed before she passed either?

Daniel: No.

Fisher: And this applied to many people, and many people listening no doubt have ancestors in a similar situation.

Daniel: Absolutely. So what I did, I did a number of things, I wrote an editorial for the local paper here in the Twin Cities for the Minneapolis Star Tribune about my grandmother’s story. It was titled “The Citizens That A Nation In Time Forgot.” And it’s still online and people can still Google it and find it. I then started a Facebook page called “Justice for Elsie” in which I told the story and then I also met with representatives of Senator Al Franken and told them the story. And much to my surprise, they were very interested. Nobody had heard of this. They were very interested in it. So we began a process to either restore citizenship to my grandmother and these women, or to at least have that wrong acknowledged in some way. And as we went on, it became apparent that it was just going to be too much of a legislative nightmare to posthumously restore the citizenship, which kind of irritated me.

Fisher: Sure.

Daniel: Because the law that stripped people of citizenship was retroactive.

Fisher: Yes.

Daniel: So now it was like “Oh no, well we don’t do that anymore.”   

Fisher: Oh I see. [Laughs]

Daniel: So then I hit on the idea that the Senate passes resolutions, and I said how about if we write a resolution that the Senate can then vote on. Then it will apologize, that will acknowledge the wrong that was done to Grandma Elsie and to all of the other grandmas out there, and see where that goes. The story was picked up by a reporter from the Los Angeles Times.

Fisher: And look at it go.

Daniel: And look at it go, exactly! The Washington Post had a story about it. And so I started hearing from people all over the country and we were able to find co-sponsors for Senator Franken’s resolution, and so the first person to sign on was Senator Ryan Johnson of Wisconsin. Senator Franken is a Democrat, Senator Johnson is a Republican and so right there we saw some partisan repentance.

Fisher: Holy cow! Granma Elsie could bring the whole country together.

Daniel: What did I tell you, Grandma Elsie was rocking! [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Daniel: And the resolution was finally passed this past month unanimously in the Senate.

Fisher: Wonderful.

Daniel: Unbelievable. And I have to say that this had nothing to do with me because I’m not connected enough or smart enough or anything to do any of this. This was something where I was being guided by some kind of higher power wherever that higher power resides.

Fisher: Absolutely.

Daniel: Because they were filling me with the right words to say to the right people at the right time because I don’t have the smarts to do that on my own. 

Fisher: Well, maybe Grandma Elsie doesn’t have her citizenship back but she certainly has been acknowledged in the right places, the United States Senate.

Daniel: And I mean it happened at Memorial Day at the Women’s Suffrage Memorial Garden in Saint Paul on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capital. I met with Senator Franken and there were members of the public at large and the media there and Senator Franken spoke and talked about his efforts in the Senate and presented me with a copy of the official resolution with the seal of the Senate of it, framed, the whole nine yards. It was a very nice honor to receive, and I presented Senator Franken with the only photograph of Grandma Elsie, signed from her entire family, which is now… I’m her grandson and there’s great grandchildren and then there’s great, great grandchildren…

Fisher: Well you’ve certainly written a new chapter in your family history, and it’s a big one.

Daniel: Well, thank you very much, I appreciate that.

Fisher: Daniel Swalm from Minnesota, thank you so much for your time and congratulations!

Daniel: Thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.  

Fisher: This segment of the Best of Extreme Genes is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA. and coming up for you in five minutes, we’re going to talk to a man who started his own website of digitized newspapers and has three times the number of pages as the Library of Congress as we continue with the Best of Extreme Genes.      

Segment 3 Episode 147

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Tryniski

Fisher: It's the Best of Extreme Genes. This segment brought to you by LegacyTree.com. This is the first time I've actually got to talk to one of my genealogical heroes. He's a man who has put together a website of digitized newspapers that is bigger than that of the Library of Congress. And he's done it all by himself with no sponsorships, no ads on his site, no memberships. Tom Tryniski, it is a pleasure and an honor to meet you. How are you?

Tom: I'm very good, thank you.

Fisher: The site is called FultonHistory.com. If you go there it's kind of, I would say it's artistic, Tom. Is that a fair assessment?

Tom: [Laughs] Yes it is!

Fisher: It has bubbles and fish and old time radio shows on there and it kind of hides the fact that the reality is, there is more information on New York State than is probably on any other site you can think of. When did you start this thing, Tom and why?

Tom: Well, actually I started it probably in the late 1990s. I retired very early, at forty nine, and I basically started with a box of old Fulton postcards that was loaned to me by a fellow worker.

Fisher: From Fulton County, New York? Is that what you're saying?

Tom: No, this was Fulton… in Fulton, New York.

Fisher: Fulton, New York?

Tom: This is in Oswego County.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: And those postcards depicted Fulton back in its heyday. It was a very, very busy town. You can get a job anywhere as you wanted. And the way the lawns were kept and people kept their houses, it was phenomenal. And obviously Fulton has gone through some hard times as of late. And these old postcards, I wanted to share them with people and didn't really know how about going and doing it. So I came up with the idea of putting up a real simple website. I guess my first name at that time was called OldFultonNY(NewYork).ru.da.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: Yeah I know it’s a little strange.

Fisher: Yeah, we'll all remember that! [Laughs]

Tom: Yeah, I know it. Anyhow, I put the postcards up and mentioned it around Fulton and people got a really good kick out of that, because again, a lot of these people now, never knew Fulton back in that day.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: They really showed a lot of interest. So then I branched into newspaper scanning. And I scanned the local newspapers, Oswego Valley News, which was on a tabloid size scanner. And it took me just about a year to do the whole run. And I did one page at a time. And while I was scanning it, I was reading the next page, so it was very interesting. That newspaper is what we call very photo rich and it would take pictures of birthdays, graduations, retirements, you name it, full of photos. And at that time, I was just getting into word recognition and I had tried a bunch of programs and said, "Let's see how that works with the newspaper." And I was amazed at the quality I was getting out of the scans and the word recognition.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: I put the website up as I was doing the newspaper and it got around town and people were just floored by putting in a keyword out there and also they're going to see a picture of themselves, graduation or retirement or what have you. And it kind of really took off at that point. As time would go on, I wanted to add more newspapers, but the newspapers that I wanted to add were a bit bigger than the tabloid scanner I had. And at that point, I realized, if I was going to stay doing this, I had to go out and buy a microfilm scanner. And I wanted to see how it handled the quality of the microfilm that I get, which is usually very poor.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: I work generally with just what we call service copies. You know, it's usually… I call it awful, but buy them for the barrel microfilm.

Fisher: Now where do you get these things? The number of papers you have you have more than the Library of Congress. You have more than pretty much all the major companies have out there. Obviously you've got a big start on it. What are you at, 26 million pages now?

Tom: I have right now, even though the site says 26,800,000, I'm way over that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: Yeah, I mean, I just don't do an update every time I get a new run of newspapers.

Fisher: Well let me ask you this, are there more papers from New York City to come?

Tom: Yes. I'm looking at adding a couple of the big runs and I've just been seeing what is the availability of it. That's one of the big things that I try to do is, I've got to contact these various libraries that have it and see if they'll let me borrow it. And you know, as part of the deal is, if they let me borrow it, I give them a complete digital copy of it for their use, you know, for what they want to use it for.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And that's a good deal I think, for me and them.

Fisher: Totally.

Tom: Because they won't have that done.

Fisher: I think that's how most people do it now, right?

Tom: Yep, that's right.

Fisher: Well, tell me some stories, Tom, about people and their discoveries that have touched your heart and made you feel good about what you've done.

Tom: I get these all the time. These people will, they'll come onto my site and they'll do a search thinking they're going to get nothing. Guess again! Even though I'm heavily into New York State newspapers, but New York State newspapers also included information from other newspapers across the United States, because they used the wire to use it as fillers on their newspapers.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: And they'll come on and type in a keyword and all of a sudden it pops up in a New York State newspaper about something that they never dreamed would be there. And you know, I always get these things, "You know, I never knew anything about my family, about what they did. They never talked about this particular great grandfather or something and now I know why." Because they found out that this guy might have been in jail or murdered somebody. You know, it's just things like that that pop up that you just never knew you would be able to find out anything about it.

Fisher: Well, and I'll tell you that one of the things that you printed that nobody else has, gave me the name of a third great grandfather I've been looking for, for thirty years. And I was able to match his burial information from the newspaper with the grave in Brooklyn, New York. Found he was buried with a previously unknown daughter of a great grandmother of mine, which basically proved that he was the right guy.

Tom: Yeah.

Fisher: And then his presence proved who she was. So I wouldn't have found one without the other. That got me back into Connecticut and ultimately that line took me back to the Mayflower. And that's because of what you done.

Tom: Wow! Yeah, I get that type of information all the time from people. And you know, that's probably where I get the most kick out of, hearing those stories. I say "My God! This is great!" You know. So I mean things like that which keep me going. As you know, I don't make any money of these projects, but I sure do like hearing these stories.

Fisher: Well now, tell me why it is you haven't commercialized this? It is free to everybody. We need to tell them the address. It is FultonHistory.com. And you mentioned New York State, probably because you think of that first because you live there, but you have the greatest collection of New York City newspapers anywhere. And so many Americans come through New York City. They may find what they're looking for there. But why not commercialize it? Why is it you haven't pursued dollar on this thing, not even ads on your site, Tom?

Tom: Yeah, you know, a lot of people enjoy the site as it is… free, because quite frankly, they can't afford the pay sites.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And you know, I don't want to penalize somebody just because they haven't got a few dollars in their pocket, from accessing this information. Again, I do accept donations and I think that's the best way to do it. People then that can afford it, do make a donation, people that cannot afford it, they don't. I mean, that's kind of like where it is.

Fisher: And that's basically just to cover your costs, because you're not making anything from this.

Tom: No. I mean it doesn't. I'll be honest with you, it doesn't even cover my costs. Just, my running cost alone for the broadband is over $600 a month. I don't make anything near that per month.

Fisher: It's just your passion.

Tom: Absolutely. Again, I retired early and I was not the type of guy to ever just sit around doing nothing. Believe me, this takes up a lot of my time.

Fisher: Oh there's no question! And we can see that. Well, it's a great service, perhaps the greatest single service of any individual in America right now. On behalf of those people who have New York ancestry, and maybe as you mentioned from several other places, thank you so much for what you do, Tom. Long life and good health so that you can keep this thing going! [Laughs] And once again, it is FultonHistory.com. How many pages do you think you're up to? You say it’s not 26.8 million anymore, its way beyond that.

Tom: I would say 27 million, maybe 300,000 right now. Again, I'm going to have another update in the fall and you know, we'll see how far along I am.

Fisher: You're almost triple the Library of Congress' efforts, all by yourself! Amazing!

Tom: Well you know, the Library of Congress has a lot of bureaucracy around it, so I mean things take time when they do things and I can understand that.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, I'm sure they look at you with raised eyebrows.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: He's Tom Tryniski. He's the founder of FultonHistory.com. Thanks so much for joining us, Tom.

Tom: Okay, thank you very much.

Fisher: And coming up next, we'll talk clouds with our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry on the Best of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 147

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back. It's the Best of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, and we'll be back next week with new guests and new stories for you to devour. This segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And welcome to Cloud Talk on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He's our Preservation Authority we have on every weekend. Tom, we're just talking about this off air. It is just amazing how quickly things are changing with The Cloud and how that is kind of confusing. You know what it really reminds me of? Going way back when fax machines first came out.

 Tom: Yep.

 Fisher: Remember this?

 Tom: Absolutely.

 Fisher: Fax machines came out and businesses immediately went to these things because it was a huge boon in communication, and yet there were so many people who hadn't even heard of them yet and they were already in all the businesses around the country and… “wait a minute, what does the fax machine do? We can have this at home?” Remember?

 Tom: Oh yeah, exactly. Any place you had a phone plug you could have a fax machine.

 Fisher: Right. And so everything has changed. Now “The Cloud” has become I think in some ways very much the same thing as a 21st century version of the fax machine where it's out there, everybody's using it but there's still a huge number of people kind of left scratching their head going “Wait a minute. What do I put on? How do I use it? What should it cost me? Why should I use it?"

 Tom: Oh, exactly.

 Fisher: All these things.

 Tom: Oh, you know that is absolutely the best comparison I've ever heard of what The Cloud is. Even before this when there were copy machines which actually turned into fax machines, you'd go into the precursors to Kinko's and they didn't let you touch the machine. You would hand them your stuff, they would run it. And then they started letting you start doing it. If you can power on your computer you can store stuff on The Cloud. It's really that easy. It's not as hard as people think it is.

Fisher: Right. And we're addressing folks who are just getting started in this and in storage and in preservation of their digital material.

Tom: And some people were intimidated. They think “Oh, I don't want to learn this new software. I don't want to learn how to fix my pictures up.” Storing stuff on The Cloud isn't like that. It's not something new you need to really learn. Anybody that's even a virgin at computers can figure out how to do this. You have an icon on your desktop and you tell it that's where you want to store everything is on Lightjar or iCloud or Google Drive or Dropbox and once it's setup it does it for you in the background. You just keep dropping it dropping it and dropping it. And one of the neatest things about The Cloud that I love is whether I'm on the road, if I'm home, if I'm at work, I can access any of my stuff.  

I don't have to make a backup of this drive, keep it on this thumb drive, or haul it with me. I can go any place where there's an internet connection, even on an airplane, and I can go to Dropbox and work on a Photoshop document. Or work on my Genealogy. Or anything I want to. And the neat thing about is, oh hey! My sister Diane might be interested in these photos that I just found so I send her an invite. She gets an email. She has access to just that folder that I gave her permission to. It's almost like one of those “too good to be true” things. It is absolutely incredible. And everybody needs to get some kind of Cloud storage. We had a friend that just lost her house just the other day that burned to the ground and all her stuff was in it. They had nothing on the Cloud, so basically if their brothers or sisters or other relatives didn't have any copies of what they had just had in their house, they've lost everything.

Fisher: Yes. That's right. We just had a disaster at our home radio station of past storage. Now fortunately of course, everything for Extreme Genes is stored on a Cloud. So while it took some time to restore everything that had been lost locally, it was there.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And we were able to get back in business pretty darn fast. But this is such an important thing to understand that if you're just getting started in family history that, you know, the Cloud is a simple thing that takes care of itself. In fact I've got one that every 15 minutes it goes through and looks for any changes I've made in my computer at all and makes those changes and duplicates them in this Cloud storage area.

Tom: And like you say, instant is what's so important. In fact, right after right after the break let's talk a little bit about how instant this thing can be, but you don't have to keep everything on every single computer. You can give certain parameters of what you want to keep on each individual computer.

Fisher: Alright. Great advice! We'll get into it more, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 147

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey. It's the Best of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here and this segment is brought to you by Forever.com and RootsMagic.com. We've been talking about... I guess you'd call this Cloud's 101.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Like we talked about earlier, it's a little bit like it was with fax machines, they came along very quickly and a lot of people are left scratching their heads going “Wait, do I have to have this? Does it have to cost? Is it hard to use? What do I do with it?” And there are a lot of folks who are perhaps just now getting into family history preservation.

Tom: Oh absolutely. Like we've done film transfers for people that we say “Hey, do you want to put it on the Cloud? Then you have it instantly. You don't even have to come back in the store. We don't have to ship it to you.” It's like “Oh.” Like it's this big clunking thing. “Oh no, I can't do the Cloud. I don't know a computer very well.” I can spend 10 minutes with somebody and show them how to use The Cloud because like I say in the earlier segment once it's setup it rocks and roll. And the neat thing about having all your stuff in The Cloud, if you're at home and you're working on something “Oh you know what? I was going to finish this thing for this report for the meeting in the morning. I'm going to work on that now instead of going in early.”  You go into the Cloud, you pull it down, and there it is. Like I just bought one of those new mini iPads I use as a GPS in my suburban, because it doesn't have a GPS and it's cheaper to do that. Soon as I bought it I plugged it in and typed in my thing, boom, all my photos, all my apps, everything are right there. I don't have to re-download them. I don't have to go search for them. I don't even have to pay for them again because of the way they're set up. So this iPad I sent up last night already has everything on it that I need. And that's the way it is with the Cloud. Like sometimes I get the warning on my computer that says, “Oh you're running out of memory.” So I go to my Dropbox and I say, “Okay, well you know I don't really need these things on this computer because I don't access them very well.” So I go in and say "Hey, don't need it on this computer anymore." So it erases them from the computer, they're still in The Cloud. So now I have all this memory, but yet if one day I go "Oh, you know what? I really do need that." Go back in, click on it and 5 or 10 minutes it's all back through again.

Fisher: Right. Downloaded again. And then the question also always comes up about security.

Tom: Oh yeah.

Fisher: With The Cloud everybody's kind of concerned about that. And certainly there's risk of security with anything you do. I would suggest that there's the possibility that security on your home computer is probably riskier than security on a Cloud like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Tom: Oh absolutely. Somebody could break into your home and steal your computer. They've got everything that's on your computer. And even if you have it encrypted with passwords, most people unfortunately don't change their passwords very often. Or they have something really easy like their birth date or the name of their dog or their first born kid.

Fisher: Or 1234.

Tom: Oh. I have actually had customers call and say "Hey, I need you to download this stuff off my phone. I want it on a video DVD." In fact, we tell them "Change your password. Send that to us. And then change it back so we don't have it." They go "Oh no, it's easy. It's just 1234."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And I'm going "Okay. You just gave me your password. What other devices do you have that have the same password?" So security is important. I have never heard of a breach on The Cloud. I'm sure some day it'll happen. But these guys, they've learned from all the mistakes with Target and Home Depot that their stuff is so redundant now. Nothing's perfect, but I mean it's getting close to being there. But it's just so nice that anytime you need anything it's right there on Dropbox. And like I mentioned in the first segment, if you have relatives that you're working on things with that you want to collaborate, you open up a Dropbox folder that everybody has access to so they can drop photos in, you can drop photos in. They can look at it instantly. They’re not sending things. There's not getting disks and mailing them. It saves you so much time. It's just absolutely a must have. Everybody needs to have a Cloud. And as you mentioned it's not expensive. A lot of Clouds are even free if you keep your memory under so much. We have tons because we do lots of videos for people, but yet we spend less than $100 a year. That's less than $10 a month for a terabyte's worth of storage. So it's awesome. If you can get two Clouds, make sure the Clouds aren't related. Whether you're on Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, Lightjar, iCloud, get 'em.

Fisher: Alright. Good stuff Tom, thanks for coming on.

Tom: Glad to be here.

Fisher: Hey, that wraps up our show for this week. I am Fisher and we'll all be back next week with a brand new edition of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Thanks once again to Daniel Swalm from Minnesota for sharing a story about his grandmother who through no fault of her own lost her citizenship and what he did to honor her, and to Tom Trynisky from FultonPostcards.com for telling us his incredible story. Talk to you again next week and remember as far as everyone knows we're a nice, normal family!

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