Episode 153 - Fraternal Organizations & Secret Societies: Where Are The Records?!

podcast episode Aug 22, 2016

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, talking first about the growing list of people claiming to be descendants of ancient Israel's King David. Is the documentation strong enough?  David's opinion might not go so well with some people. David next talks about a young genie from New York who has found the Bill of Sale of his sixth great grandmother as a slave at an archive in Westchester County, New York! David also shares the touching story of a cemetery worker who successfully spent countless hours working to identify the body of a teenager who was killed in an accident in 1973 and reunited his remains with the family. David will also have another Tip of the Week, and NEHGS free guest-user database.

Fisher then visits with lecturer Michael Strauss about the fraternal organizations that were staples of society in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. As secretive as some of them were, what about the records, you might ask?! Michael will tell you where to look, and what you might expect to find in those records. He also talks about some of the more peculiar organizations. Was your ancestor a Mason, a Moose, or an Odd Fellow? If so, you'll want in on this conversation.

Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority, then draws the line in the sand for you. If you want digitized family photos, films, or videos done for the holidays, Tom will give you your deadline as well as tell you what you'll need to do ahead of time to save money and have a faster, more successful project.

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

Transcript of Episode 153

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 153

Fisher: And 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. Hey, I’m excited to have Michael Strauss on the show today. He is a professional genealogist, and if you have ancestors who were Odd Fellows, I don’t mean peculiar, I’m talking about belonging to the fraternal organization, or maybe they were Mooses or Eagles, or Masons, Michael Strauss has a lot of information you’re going to want to hear about, including where to find some of the records from the 18th century, the 19th century, and the early 20th century and what are in those records. Great stories coming up today with Michael Strauss, starting in about 8 minutes or so. And of course, we want to remind you the Weekly Genie comes out every Monday and we’d love to have you sign up for our newsletter. And when you do, you’ll get the top ten tips for beginning genealogists from our Chief Genealogist from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. That would be David Allen Lambert who is on the line with us right now from Boston Massachusetts. How are you, David?

David: Doing great out here in Beantown. How are things with you, Fish?

Fisher: Excellent, sir! And did you see this story, by the way, that the Davidic Dynasty, yes the dynasty of King David, people are actually wanting to restore it because there are genealogical records now that are proving certain lines belong among the descendents of King David?

David: I did see that of course. Anytime I see news that has “David” in it I get interested anyways!

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Of course my David ties into Davey Jones of the Monkees which is an older story. But yeah it’s fascinating. I think that the one thing that has to be taken into account is the Biblical traditions and you have the genealogical written record. And I think that, I believe in the article it discusses lines back to a rabbinical family of the 12th century. So, it’s getting beyond that, it’s what paper trail that you have and where it’s based on faith versus fact.

Fisher: So, you’re telling me there’s just a little bit of scepticism in your mind?

David: Well, I wouldn’t say scepticism because I believe that in genealogy and history a lot of times we have to take theories that are given and the proof does sometimes actually pan out. I have not reviewed the documents myself. I mean I’m in support of any scholar’s theory until I dig into it and say, “Well, I don’t know.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But I would say I’m open-minded.

Fisher:  Okay. Let’s move onto our Family Histoire News today. What do you have for us, bud?

David: I’ll tell you, one of the things that is really nice is when you find documents relating to your family. I know we talked earlier this week about that 1790 bill of sale. That’s quite fascinating when you can find a document when your ancestor has been property sold.

Fisher: Right. As a slave, unbelievable!

David: Yeah. I think for African-American research a lot of people wouldn’t have that paper trail. So this is, I wouldn’t say a one in a million, but a one in a hundred thousand!

Fisher: Yes!

David: The chance of finding a document like this that’s been preserved, and I know this story is whetting the appetite for other people to search out these types of documents. I mean it’s just fascinating that this was found in the Rye Historical Society in Rye, New York.

Fisher: Yeah. And the guy who found it, 21 years old, he’s been a genie since he was 13, passionate about his family history. He contacted them because he understood that estate papers from somebody who may have owned his ancestor were being held there. So he brought his uncle down and they were actually able to hold the bill of sale of their ancestor from 1790... his sixth great grandmother. What a story!

David: It really is. And so my hats off to Dennis Richmond Jr. who was the genealogist who located this, and I see that he was influenced by Alex Haley’s “Roots.” Like myself and many other people who were watching it on TV.

Fisher: So many. Yeah, great stuff. All right, what else do you have for us?

David: Well, heading a little further southwest a lot of people have Civil War ancestors, and some of them had previously fought in the Mexican War. Just like Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant they will be part of a greater project which involves the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Park Service. They want to go out, Fish, and document all 130 thousand plus US Mexican War soldiers.

Fisher: That is incredible. And that will get done fairly quickly when you compare it to the Civil War which had so many more members of the military of both sides.

David: That’s wonderful. I’ve already signed up to get on the muster roll to help out. And I hope other people do as well.

Fisher: Excellent.

David: Going a little further to modern history, a really touching story of a young teenager that was killed in 1973. His body is now being returned to the family. Mary Ruskin she’s the mother of a teen named Joseph “Joey” Norman Spears, he escaped a youth detention center in 1973, and it’s turned out that this missing teen is one that was struck by a vehicle crossing the highway in Texas City, Texas.  What’s fascinating about this? It’s that a cemetery worker knew that there was this unidentified body and it was Chelsea Davidson’s passion to track down who this person was and found the family.

Fisher: Isn’t that incredible? Great story and you know so many people are into the records and know that they can make such a difference in filling in holes when somebody is lost.

David: There are so many thousands of unidentified bodies that remain in cemeteries, and now with the advent of DNA it’s really going to be helpful to maybe put some identities to these lost people.

Fisher: Excellent stuff. All right, what’s your tip for today, my friend?

David: Well, it kind of ties into cemeteries. Over the weekend I was at a cemetery where my great, great grandparents are buried and what my suggestion was to the officers is that their family is not gone. I went in and gave them my name and address and said that I’d like to be the contact person. The last time anybody was buried in this plot which only has four burials in it, was 1902. So, I thought 114 years is long enough to wait and I’m going to rally my family and get a gravestone for it.

Fisher: What a great idea! All right. And your free database for this week?

David: Guest users of AmericanAncestors.org can take advantage of three new exciting databases that we have. That includes Dover, New Hampshire vital records from the 17th century down to 1892. Hartford, Connecticut, general index of land records from the 17th century through 1839. And the one I’m really excited about are all the births recorded in the city of Boston between 1800 and 1849 which will catch some of the people that came in during the potato famine.

Fisher: Wow! That’s a big one.

David: It is. Looking forward to seeing you sometime soon my friend, and all of our listeners who will be out at the FGS Conference in Springfield, Illinois at the end of August, beginning of September, again, swing by and say hello.

Fisher: All right, David, good to talk to you.

David: Always a pleasure.

Fisher: And this segment has been brought to you by 23andMe.com DNA. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to genealogist Michael Strauss about “Odd Fellows” and Mooses, and Eagles and Masons and where you find their records and what might be in those records. That’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 153

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Michael Strauss

Fisher: So many of us have ancestors from back in the day that belonged to various fraternal organizations, particularly the Masons. And you might not be aware, and I wasn’t, so much, as to how many records are actually out there relating to these people and these organizations and your ancestors, until I heard Michael Strauss’ lecture on this whole thing. He’s a professional genealogist. He’s a national genealogical lecturer, a Pennsylvania native, and he’s on the phone with me right now. Hello, Michael! Welcome to Extreme Genes.

Michael Strauss: Hello, Scott. Good to talk with you.

Fisher: Yeah, I’m very excited about this because there are so many organizations, and I thought maybe we’d start out with a little list of the most common ones, maybe how they got started and their significance within the culture of the United States, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. Maybe even before that. Where did you get your background in this?

Michael Strauss: Well, it came about two-fold for me, actually. With my family, I was able to acquire a photograph that was given to me by one of my family members on my dad’s side, and we knew who the image was just based on the person’s photograph, but the individual was wearing a uniform that had regalia on it, and none of us recognized what that was, so I immediately started to research and try to figure out what it was, and it wound up being a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows. And that really kind of started me on my journey towards looking at this interest in Masonic groups as that is a Masonic group itself, and my other focus on it came about as my great grandfather was a 30+ year member of the Loyal Order of the Moose.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Michael Strauss: And I remember him. I remember him since I was a kid and he died when I was quite young, but I remember him going to meetings. I remember him talking with members of my family about all the stuff he did with the Moose. And a lot of people might not consider the Moose to be a fraternal group in nature. I mean most people think just the Masons and the larger groups. But I would venture to say that groups like the Elks and the Orioles and the Moose themselves, they’re all fraternal groups as well, more on a social level.

Fisher: Right.

Michael Strauss: But still fraternal groups in nature.

Fisher: And these organizations had constitutions, and laws, and rituals, and secret handshakes, and uniforms, and pet charities, too. Things they did a lot of service for as well. Yet the names, I think, always make people kind of laugh when they hear them. And you’ve got to wonder where some of this came from. Did you ever find out where the Order of the Moose came up with their name?

Michael Strauss: No, I did not know as far as where the name originally had come from. I was able to figure out the details about their organization going back to when they first organized, but where some of these organizations got their information from.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Michael Strauss: As far as putting it together, it’s sometimes a bit of a mystery.

Fisher: I’m thinking most of us learned about fraternal organizations from watching Fred Flintstone when we were kids. The “Order of the Water Buffalos.”

Michael Strauss: Yes, definitely something in our contemporary society that we can all relate to as children.

Fisher: What percentage of adult men do you think were involved in these fraternal organizations, say, in the 1800s?

Michael Strauss: Well in the 1800s, we’re talking obviously the bulk of the 19th century, though I would say probably a large percentage of men were involved in some organization or another. What really frankly startled me was the sheer number of organizations that were out there. In a lecture format you can really only go over a handful of organizations.

Fisher: Sure.

Michael Strauss: In an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes. And you hit on the big organizations. What shocked me was there are tens of thousands of these organizations, even smaller ones. And if you really think about it in that sort of context, you’re talking a lot of people that were involved. Not just men. I want to point out also that there were women involved as well. And my great grandmother was right alongside my great grandfather, and they had a women’s auxiliary, if you will.

Fisher: Right.

Michael Strauss: Of the Moose. And she was just as supportive in that organization as he was.

Fisher: Now what did the Moose do?

Michael Strauss: Well, the Moose was more of a benevolent group, and they were really involved with helping their local communities. I remember my great grandfather talking about two organizations that were part of the Moose. The one was called Moose Heart and the other was Moose Haven. They were, and basically Moose Haven was a retirement center that was located in Florida, and he was part of the building of that facility. Now, he lived in Pennsylvania. He was a Pennsylvanian native. But because he was of the hierarchy of the Moose, he went to a lot of these larger, national level things that they were doing.

Fisher: Now, the Masons was a different kind of thing altogether and it’s evolved over time. What do we know about the origins of the Masons, what they were and what are they today?

Michael Strauss: Well with the Masons, frankly Scott, if I tell you I’d have to kill you.

Fisher: Yeah. Yeah, I know.

Michael Strauss: [Laughs] We don’t want to do that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Michael Strauss: Now the Masons, you didn’t sound too happy about that.

Fisher: No, I get concerned.

Michael Strauss: And you should be!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Michael Strauss: The Masons can really trace their history back a number of centuries. Back to England is their origins. And when they came to the United States, the organization moved to the United States, as obviously people settled here in the colonies. And they really trace their history back to the very earliest part of our country. I joined the Masons in Virginia where I used to live. You mentioned I’m a native of Pennsylvania, which I am and I’m a resident of Utah now, and I lived in Virginia Beach last eight years until moving to Utah this last year. I moved last fall. And my father is a Mason in Pennsylvania. My son, Levi, is a Mason in Virginia. And I’m also one. So we actually have three generations of membership in our family. So it’s… And that’s not uncommon by the way. You could have multiple generations.

Fisher: Right.

Michael Strauss: Following in the same thought process. And with the Masons, they don’t approach you for membership. You must seek them out to be a member, as you have the interest in joining their organization. A couple of things about Masonry that you should probably need to know is, Masonry is…it’s kind of divided into two groups, if you will. There are what are called Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, or AF & AM. You might have seen those.

Fisher: Sure.

Michael Strauss: That acronym used. And then there are what are called Free and Accepted Masons, or F & AM. In Virginia, it’s AF & AM as those lodges are much older. George Washington would have joined in Virginia, when he first became a Mason. And then in Pennsylvania and in Utah, it’s F & AM lodges. And they really have a rich history going back a number of years. And, with Masonry, they don’t come out and say that you have to have a belief in God, in particular. You have to have a belief in a higher being or a Supreme Being. And what I was explained to me was, Masonry is set up in such a way that it teaches good men to be better. And that’s what really focused me in on wanting to join. And with myself, my wife was involved in this in the interviewing process for me to join, because she needed to be on board as to, you know supporting me and my interest in going into this organization.

Fisher: Interesting.

Michael Strauss: Yeah, and that’s what really started me on that road to “light,” if you will, as Masonry is all about seeking light, or knowledge.

Fisher: Can Masonry be traced back to one specific country as far as its origins go?

Michael Strauss: Yes. England is where it originated, in London, specifically. 1717 is the earliest year recorded.

Fisher: Now I was thinking that there was a much earlier version of this. I mean certainly if you watch the movies, right, with Harrison Ford and all this, there’s always some secret order of something that goes back very, very early, and the symbolism and all this. Where did the symbolism come from?

Michael Strauss: Well, I think part of the symbolism had come from possibly with the Crusades. And I think maybe some of them might be a bit Hollywood-ized.

Fisher: Yeah, the Knights Templar, right?

Michael Strauss: Right, exactly. And that’s more historical than I think it is the Masons, per say, as far as an organization. The Mason themselves as an organized body really didn’t function as an organized body itself until really the early 18th century.

Fisher: So these groups now… were there a religious tie initially? I mean, you mentioned a belief in God. There was nothing further than that. Were there groups that were excluded from becoming Masons in the early days?

Michael Strauss: In the early days, not specifically groups that were not allowed. I believe there was anti-Catholic rhetoric that might have precluded them. What I was really surprised to learn was that they did allow for families of Jewish origin to be members of the Masons. And I had just given a lecture at the Jewish Genealogy Conference this past week in Seattle, and my lecture was on obviously on Masonic groups, but I focused in on those groups that were of Jewish origin, and it was really neat to find out that the number of Jewish organizations that were of Masonic origin, a number of those men that organized those groups and there were more than half a dozen very large ones had all come from the Masons. Almost all of those men had been prior Masons.

Fisher: So a lot of people could expect, if they could find the records to actually tie their ancestors into these groups. So was it more popular in the 19th century than, say, the last half of the 20th century or today?

Michael Strauss: I believe so. I believe that people had a need to belong to an organization as they would have been tied directly to their community.

Fisher: Oh, okay. And it was also part of their social networking, yes?

Michael Strauss: Absolutely. Because, think about it. If you’re talking a small town, just an example, if you’re speaking of a small community of, say, a thousand people, which is, you know, a typical small town in America, it might have had maybe one or two specific Masonic-related fraternal groups. And maybe not the Masons in particular, but a fraternal organization, and probably most every adult male would have been a member of that group in some form or another.

Fisher: I got it, alright. So there are records out there, and we’re going to get into this coming up here in the next segment. Are there central records are there records for each individual local thing? Give us a little taste of what we’re going to talk about in the next segment, Michael.

Michael Strauss: Absolutely. Yeah, for sure there are quite a bit of records available. What I found very early on in researching this sort of documentation for these groups, was that if a group no longer exists, I found often times that the records were turned over to a repository that would have an interest in preserving those records.

Fisher: All right. We’re going to hold it right there, Michael. We’re going to get into more when we come back on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. This segment of the program brought to you by MyHeritage.com.

Segment 3 Episode 153

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Michael Strauss

Fisher: And we are back! Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And this segment of our show is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And I'm talking to Michael Strauss, he's a professional genealogist and a national genealogical lecturer, a Pennsylvanian native, and he's really into the fraternal organizations. And we spent our last segment talking a lot about the Masons and the Moose and the Odd Fellows. And Michael, we're going to talk about records today, because so many of us have ancestors, I certainly do, who are members of the organizations you referenced the first time around. Where are the records for these things? Not a lot of them are online yet.

Michael: Well there are some that are online. But as we had mentioned in the last segment at the very end, when I had acquired that image of my great, great grandfather, I immediately sought to obtain any sort of records. I mean, clearly if you have a photo, you're going to want something to go with it.

Fisher: Right.

Michael: So I had found out that the lodge of course was long since gone by then as it was an old lodge. And I sought to look for where I could find the records. And I was not shocked when I found all those records turned over to the local genealogical society in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania where I was raised. And not only did they have the records of the lodge, they had images of other members of the lodge. They had pictures of the building where they met. They had their bylaws. It was literally a box of genealogical information that I could not have turned down.

Fisher: Just gold huh?

Michael: Yeah. I learned more about my great, great grandfather in an afternoon than I could have learned just researching online for days.

Fisher: Wow! What fun!

Michael: It was a godsend.

Fisher: Yeah, I can imagine. Now is that typical that these organizations, because many of them are gone now, that they would have turned them over to the local genealogical society or a library?

Michael: Yes, that is very typical. We are finding more and more an interest, I think, in these organizations when they cease to exist. I think there's a desire to keep their legacy alive. And as such, they're turned over to societies and libraries and colleges and universities that might have a special collection within the ranks of their library stuff there. So, I mean there's lots of great stuff. But then you also find the other end of it, the section when you have an organization that still exists. Once of my other ancestors on my mother's side of the family, direct ancestor, he's name is George Waltz, he was also from Lebanon and he was a member of the Masons. And he was a member of the lodge in Lancaster, Pennsylvania before moving to Lebanon. Well that lodge still exists today, it’s Lodge 43 in Lancaster. I contacted them by way of email, and they wrote me back. And not only did they confirm that he was a member of the lodge, but they sent me the lodge docket books that listed when he was placed into the lodge when he officially was given his First Degree of Masonry as an Entered Apprentice and when he actually was raised to that of a Master Mason. What fascinated me more so about the story was, he was in the lodge at the same exact time as the leader of that lodge who was called Worshipful Master, a man by the name of James Buchanan who later became our American president.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Michael: So he would have socialized at the lodge and would have thought about the same things that were important to him that would have been important to President James Buchanan who obviously wasn't president that time, it was in the 1820s. But it was really pretty cool to be able to see that connection between the two men.

Fisher: No kidding! The idea that the records from the 1820s was still in the hands of the same organization today, that's amazing!

Michael: And it was easily obtained through a simple email for me.

Fisher: Now are you finding…

Michael: And by the way, no cost!

Fisher: No cost. Wow! Now are finding that any of these organizations are secretive with their records?

Michael: No, not in particular, especially with FAD, as the age was so old. And I told them upfront my interest. I said, "Look, this is my forth great grandfather. I know he was a member of your lodge." This is what information I had. And they in turn just simply said, "Yeah, we'll be happy to share with you what we have."

Fisher: Now there's far more stuff not online concerning the Masons in particular and many other orders than there is online at this point. What percentage would you say it is that's even online at all?

Michael: Well, online percentage is obviously very low.

Fisher: Yeah.

Michael: If we were to give a ballpark guess, and that's probably all we could really do…

Fisher: Sure.

Michael: Probably about 10 to 15 percent might be online. I do know that Ancestry.com carries the Mason records for their entire state as those were all turned over to the state organization. And I believe the dates cover 1733 to 1990. It's basically card indexes for their Masons that were a member of any lodge within the confines of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Fisher: Um hmm, so one state basically, but it covers a large period.

Michael: One state, yeah, that covers the whole state and that covers almost two centuries.

Fisher: Sure.

Michael: As far as other states like that online, I really don't see them other than Massachusetts, the only one at least for the Masons at this point.

Fisher: I would have thought 10 to 15 percent was much higher than I thought you were going to say.

Michael: Well there are other documents out there that have been scanned and placed online, Google Books or Archive.org have scanned and placed online a number of books and periodicals that have survived over the years and are chock full of genealogy information on our ancestors. It just amazes me!

Fisher: Now, I was going to ask you, is there more in there other than when they came in and when they left and what degrees they achieved? Does it give birthdates or relationships or family members?

Michael: No, it's not that particular. It’s more so the organization itself. But what it did include was if the Mason was removed from the organization or transferred to another group, which in his case he did, because he moved to a neighboring Lebanon County. Or if the individual had died while they were a member of the lodge, it would include a death date. Now think about that for a moment, if it had a death date, you're talking many, many years before the prospect of having a death certificate!

Fisher: Yeah, that's right.

Michael: It wouldn’t have been filed that early.

Fisher: So to summarize then, Michael what you're saying here is that we really need to research kind of the old fashion way now, right? Going to libraries, archives, repositories, contacting people personally and individually, because relatively speaking, there's not a whole lot of this online at the moment.

Michael: Correct. At this point, there's not a lot online, but that's not to say that more might come tomorrow or the next day. I mean, we all know that the information highway is constantly being added to.

Fisher: Sure.

Michael: But for me at least, an important part for me for doing genealogy research is, if you do it the hard way as you so said, you are really learning the methodology on how to do genealogy.

Fisher: Yes.

Michael: That will never take the place of online research.

Fisher: All right. So let's talk about today, the modern fraternal organizations and exactly what they do today that might be different from back in the day that's kind of fun.

Michael: Well, with myself, I was quite shocked to learn that there are a number of organizations that have, well certainly that have survived over the years. But there were a number of organizations that never quite made it. I always like to kind of end my talks on kind of a lighter note. And I was shocked at the number of groups there were that just bizarre named organizations that you would never ever consider to be a group name whatsoever.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Michael: How people thought this stuff up is beyond my comprehension. One such group that was founded in the 1920s was a group called The Order of The Anti-Poke Noses.

Fisher: What!?

Michael: Their motto and their image that they display online is an image of a couple sitting on a chair or a bench or something and there's this large exploded sort of a head that's stretching over top of the scene with a very long Pinocchio nose kind of just in their business. And their motto was to oppose any organization that attends to everyone else's business but their own.

Fisher: Ah!

Michael: And I love the rhetoric that they use. Obviously their organization didn't last very long, as it only survived a mere few years. But it’s neat to know how our ancestors and our family members thought, even those that might have joined a group like that.

Fisher: He's Michael Strauss, he's a national genealogical lecturer and professional genealogist. Michael, thanks so much for your time. This is great stuff! Lots of material we really haven't talked about on the show before and that just tells us there is a treasure trove out there for us to find on our ancestors. Thanks for coming on.

Michael: Thank you, Scott. I appreciate being here with you.

Fisher: And coming up next, we're going to talk to Tom Perry, he's our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. That's in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 153

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. This segment is brought to you by Forever.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Captain Preservation, Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com. Hello, Tommy, how are you?

Tom: Ah, super-duper.

Fisher: Are you ready Christmas? I mean I can't even believe we were having this conversation off air here a little bit ago. It's this time of year we need to be thinking about this?

Tom: Yep. I don't have on this red hat just to bring out my rosy cheeks.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: September's the time you need to start getting ready. You think, "September, I got months." No, no, no, no, no. Most transfer and duplications centers you're going to find across the country really, really get busy the first part of October, and if you wait too long some of your tougher tasks might not be able to get done, so you need to get your stuff organized now, start putting together a plan of attack and get ready for Christmas. Jingle, jingle, jingle.

Fisher: Now I remember in past years you've been pretty quiet in the summer, but this year its kind of picked up for some reason.

Tom: Oh, it's been unbelievable. This is the biggest summer we've ever had. Especially slides, I don't know why these are coming out of the woodwork right now, but we have done probably close to a hundred thousand slides in the month of September. Just absolutely crazy!

Fisher: You know, that makes me feel good because I remember when we first started this show in 2013, one of the things you were concerned about most was that people were throwing away their slides because there wasn't any way to scan them and there wasn't any way to view them, because they didn't have the machines and they didn't want to deal with them, and they were in carousels, so they were getting rid of them and it just about made your hair fall... Well, it did.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: So people, it seems like there's an attitude change concerning slides.

Tom: Oh, absolutely, and I think this show has been a big thing in helping people understand that. Don't throw things away. You might have, you know in the old days when we shot pictures, we didn't know what we got until when the slides came back or the negatives and the prints came back. So we were sometimes a little bit more careful, or we just shot, you know, crazily, if you could buy film cheap, and then you're looking at the stuff saying, you know, "Why do I have this picture of this big hole in the ground? Yes, the Grand Canyon, but I can go to the gift shop and buy a lot better picture."

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Tom: And people were shooting outside cars and everything's blurry, and those ones throw them away. You know, go ahead and throw them away. But if you have anything that has people in it, family, something very unique, you want to hang on to those, you want to get them scanned and, you know, there's lots of systems you can buy and do it at home. If you want the absolute best possible, find a local place in your area that can do it or send it to us. And if you have specific questions, let us know exactly what your end use is, which we talked a lot about. We can help you with knowing what resolution you want to do it at. If all you're doing is very basic stuff, you're going to put them on your Facebook page and never do any more than that, yeah, some of the home scanners will work for you, but just kind of thing down the road, say, "Hey, are my kids and grandkids want to do something more with these things?" So it's always better to scan at a higher DPI and then never really need it, than scanner it like 72 or 150 and go, "Oh dang," you know, "I would love to have made this into my Christmas card or a poster for the family, or a calendar. But it's just too small a DPI.”

So, be careful. And the one thing you have to remember too if you've got hundreds or even thousands of slides, you don't have to think, "Oh my gosh! That's going to cost too much." Take out your very special ones, the most important ones to you and take it to some place like us that can do a good high quality scan, and then the other ones, do them on your home scanner, you know, when you've got some free time, and just remember, you don't have to scan everything in the most expensive way, you know, some of them you can do a little bit cheaper. Your very choice ones, those are the ones you want to take to somebody that really knows what they're going to do and give you a really good scan.

Fisher: Let me ask you a silly question, though, if you've got these slides inside a couple of pieces of cardboard there's a certain thickness to it.

Tom: Correct.

Fisher: If you put that on your own scanner, that raises it above the level of the scanner, does that affect the focus?

Tom: Yes, it can. Most scanners have a wider depth of field, so to speak, so they can scan them, they'll look okay, but the professional scanners, they can adjust for everything. They know exactly how thick they are. And that's a good question because we do cardboard ones, we do glass ones, we do aluminium ones, all different kinds. So you really need to take that into account. That's a good question. In the next segment we're going to talk a little bit about what you need to do to get ready for Christmas. So you're going to have your things in line, so when Christmas comes up, you're ready to rock and roll.

Fisher: All right. Sounds good, coming up in 3 minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 153

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. We are talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Tom, I was out doing a presentation last night and had a lot of questions about preservation. And when we were talking about slides, the question came up about the carousels, and you’ve always maintained that’s really the best way to store them, right? 

Tom: It’s the best way to store them, keeps the dust off them.

Fisher: But there are a lot of slides in there. It seems to me that takes up a lot of space.

Tom: Oh it does. In fact there’s two sides to carousels. Now when I’m talking about carousels, I’m generally referring to Kodak. There are other off brands, but basically your Kodak carousels. They are the best. They come in usually 80s and 130s. And so the best thing to do if you’re going to have us scan them, is bring them in like that because the dust is going to be less. Even though we still go with a scroll tail brush and clean them off and air them off and things like that to transfer them. That’s the best system, to bring them in to us or ship them to us. That’s the best way to go. Now you think, “Oh I just don’t have room for all these carousels.” We had somebody the other day who brought in a 150 of them.

Fisher: Oh! [Laughs]

Tom: So I mean that one job was like fifteen hundred slides, you know.

Fisher: That’s like a separate room or something, to store them. Wow!

Tom: It was. It was. In fact, we bought another scanner because we’ve been going through so many slides. If storage is really a problem because you’re downsizing to a tiny house or something like that, what I suggest you do is bring them in to us or somebody in your area that you can trust, and have all your slides scanned. Then once they’re scanned, you don’t need your carousels anymore. Then you can go ahead and put them in a Zip Lock bag and like we’ve talked about shows in the past, you want to make sure you don’t have any humidity. If you’re in Florida or a place with high humidity, we recommend getting some cheese cloth, putting some uncooked, whole grain rice not minute rice, a little bag and then tie it with string and putting it in with your Zip Lock bags because it will absorb the moisture.

And put them in Zip Lock bags put them in a shoe box some place. Once you put them in there, seal it all around the edges, everything that’s going to help keep dust and critters from getting in and causing problems. And then at that time you can get rid of your carousels. You know a lot of libraries still use them. We have customers bring them in drop them off to us all the time. We can then lend to customers who want to be able to go through, you know there are thousands of slides and pick out what ones they want, and they put them in a carousel and bring them back to us. So there’s always use for them. Don’t throw them in the trash. You know once you’ve got them scanned do that. But before you get them scanned keep them in the carousels. That’s definitely the best way to store them. 

Fisher: All right Tom. We were talking earlier about the holidays getting close, what’s the schedule people need to adhere to when it comes to slides?

Tom: Okay, you need to really get on it now because slides usually most places, a week, two weeks, something like that, but like I said, summer right now which is usually quiet for us, we’ve been promising now four weeks and this is pretty much across the country all the legitimate places out there are taking longer to do them. And you really want to use a local place that does it locally. Because when you go to the big box stores, they’re just a number. They just go though them and do them. Most of your local places are going to take the time to clean them off the best they can. They’re going to orientate them correctly. The slowest thing right now is probably videos. Videos are usually going to take a week maybe two weeks. But be careful, we can do a ton more VHS then we can Mini- DV and video 8s. And most places across the country are the same way as that because they have a lot more VHS equipment and Video 8 machines and things are disappearing and they’re hard to get a hold of.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: So, even though it’s usually a week, two weeks, you need to start planning out everything four weeks up until November, and then once you’re in November all bets are off. You have no idea how fast people are going to be able to knock stuff out. So you need to plan on having all your stuff scanned no later than the end of October into some kind of place or you’re not going to be able to get it for Christmas. Plus you’ve got to realize there are things you want to do on the south end. Are you going to want to make a slideshow? Or you going to want to go and mix video and film all these kind of things? And remember, if you’re going high definition film, all your local places that do true scanning of 8mm super 8 and 60mm film, they’re going to have this stuff in no later than the end of October or there’s no way you’re going to get it for Christmas.   

Fisher: All right. And film, same thing?

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: All right Tom. Good to see you.

Tom: See you next week.

Fisher: And this segment has been brought to you by LegacyTree.com and FamilySearch.org. Well that wraps up our show for this week. Thanks for joining us. Don’t forget to check in to ExtremeGenes.com and sign up for our new newsletter, The Weekly Genie. It is free and chocked full of good information and fun stories. And of course when you do sign up, you’ll get David Allen Lambert’s Top Ten Tips for beginning genealogists. Talk to you next week, and remember, as far as everyone know, we’re a nice normal family!

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