Episode 155 - Researching Eastern Europe & Other Tough Places / Becoming Your Family’s “Go To” Person

podcast episode Sep 05, 2016

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David starts by sharing details about his frightening trip to the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Springfield, Illinois. In Family Histoire News, David tells us about 97-year-old veteran who recently was given quite a surprise. He also talks about a man believed to be 145 years old who wants only one more thing out of life. Find out what it is! David also has a terrific Tip of the Week that you’ll enjoy, and another free guest user database from NEHGS.

Next, Fisher visits with Elly Catmull of LegacyTree.com of Salt Lake City, Utah. Elly fills us in on a question Fisher is always hearing… “How do I research my eastern Europe ancestors?” Elly fills us in on what it takes to set up a successful trip to these places, which places are best for records now, and which aren’t so much.

Fisher then has a chat with a woman he met on line several years ago… a fifth cousin named Susan Leach Snyder. Susan maintains a Leach family web site that has brought her numerous family history items just by being the “go to” person on line for the Leach family. She and Fisher explain the possibilities of what could come your way by becoming your family’s “go to” person.

Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com then talks preservation, answering a listener question about the best approach for creating and managing your digitized family materials, and how to choose when to use a professional and when to do it yourself.

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

Transcript of Episode 155

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 155

Fisher: Hey, how are you? Welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment of our show is brought to you by FamilySearch.org, and I’m very excited today, we’ve got a couple of fascinating guests. Elly Catmull, she is the senior manager of research at LegacyTree.com in Salt Lake City, Utah. And she’s going to come on and talk about the question I think I get from more people than almost anything else, “What about Eastern Europe?” It has always been a difficult thing to research. There’s not a lot online about it yet, although it’s getting better. She’s going to fill you in on what to do if you want to actually hire professionals over there to research, or you want to go over on your own. How do you know where the repositories are? Where are the records? How to prepare for a trip like that? She’s going to have that for you coming up a little bit later on. After that, we’re going to talk to my fifth cousin. Somebody I actually met online doing research, named Susan Leach Snyder. And Susan is doing exactly what I’ve recently talked about in the Weekly Genie newsletter, and that is, becoming the “go to” person for your family and having a connection to the family that she has posted a lot about. I found her. We were able to share information and she’s gathered a lot of stuff that’s come as a result of her having this website devoted to this one family. She’ll tell you about this experience, some of the things that have come to her that she hasn’t even had to look for. It’s great stuff coming up later on. But right now let’s check in to Springfield, Illinois. My good friend David Allen Lambert is out there for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Convention. And David, how’s it going so far?

David: Well, it started off with a shocking good time for me before I landed in Chicago.

Fisher: Really?

David: Yeah. You ever been on a plane that was struck by lightning? [Laughs]

Fisher: No I haven’t had that experience. [Laughs] Wow!

David: Yeah, that’s one for the history books for me. The pilot came on and said, “Yes, that was lightning that just struck our wing!” [Laughs]

Fisher: Boy!

David: I saw an orange flash and the plane shook a little bit, but we landed safely.

Fisher: Now, Lincoln is buried in Springfield, is he not?

David: He is. In fact our first stop before going to the hotel was to go to the tomb at Oak Grove Cemetery and pay respects to our late martyred president. And today I actually went to his home, which is historically accurate and been restored. It’s beautiful and I invite anybody to go out there. It’s amazing. There’s so much history of Lincoln. I went by his law office today which they’re actually restoring.

Fisher: That’s awesome. All right, what do you have for us today for our Family Histoire News?

David: Well, I’ll tell you, the first thing that I want to toss out is obviously I’m here for Federation of Genealogical Societies. They’re having their conference here in Springfield and lots of exciting genealogical news and interviews I’ll bring forward for next week so stay tuned for that. But I created something new on Twitter on my @DLGenealogist and of course we have Extreme Genes on Twitter as well as our Facebook page, but I want you to try something new, folks. Try an old family photo or historic site, put #historyselfie and then recreate that photo even if it was done ten years ago or a hundred and ten years ago. You’ll see an example I’m going to send you later, Fish. I hope you’ll get a kick out of it.

Fisher: Okay, yeah!

David: My next story is about Stewart Marshal in South Carolina. A 97-year-old World War II veteran who got nine awards recently. It’s amazing to think that he had to wait that many years.

Fisher: Yeah, I wonder why the delay? But he got all kinds of medals. A bronze star was amongst them.

David: Yeah, a US Army medal. And he was in six different campaigns as a Staff Sergeant with a 135th division in the US Army. And hats off to Stewart Marshall and all our other veterans of World War II that is still with us. I mean I tell you, at 97 years young and to get that award, it’s better late than never.

Fisher: Absolutely.

David: Well I’ll tell you, I’m strolling around Springfield, Illinois, today I came across something that I didn’t even know was out here, the Korean War National Museum, not just for Illinois but for the whole nation, is here in Springfield, Illinois and across from the old State Capital. It’s open for free and it’s a great little museum with artifacts and uniforms and stories of the veterans from the Korean conflict. I highly suggest that people take a visit. Our next story is a little older.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: This has to be the most interesting story. I think you and I have talked about Mbah Gotho, born December 31st 1870, still alive today at a 145!

Fisher: That’s what they’re saying! And the government is substantiating this saying yes, he’s 145. In fact they show a picture of his government ID card and it gives his birth date. 31 December 1870.

David: Ah! It’s amazing.

Fisher: Do you believe it?

David: He’s outlived his 10 siblings, 4 wives, 11 children, and his grandchildren are senior citizens. I mean, it’s amazing!

Fisher: Well, the question is, do you believe it? Do you really think he is a 145? I mean there could be one person in the world who is the outlier, I suppose.

David: I suppose so. I mean, I don’t think Indonesia uses a slightly different longer calendar, their year is on every six months and he’s just an old seventy two and a half year old. It opens up not only the world of doubt, but the world of wow.

Fisher: Sure.

David: I mean it really is an amazing possibility that this man can be the oldest person in recorded history. Jeanne Calment of France holds the record. She was born in the mid 1870s. And my real question is, why did it take so long for this to come out?

Fisher: That’s a good question. First of all, Jeanne passed a few years ago like at a 122 or something right?

David: Absolutely, yes.

Fisher: And this guy though, I mean, they’re saying they going to have to get some independent confirmation on his age before Guinness will certify that he is the oldest person in recorded times.

David: Well, next week they’ll probably find his parents and they can verify that he was born.

Fisher: [Laughs] And he’s saying the only thing he wants left out of life is for it to end. He’s tired. [Laughs]

David: He bought his gravestone in 1992. [Laughs]

Fisher: I know. [Laughs]

David: It’s unbelievable. So I guess this one would be “Extreme Genes, Believe it or Not.”

Fisher: Exactly. All right, what do you have for our free guest user database for NEHGS this week?

David: Well, we have three databases for Maine, including Grey, Westport, and Richmond, Maine. These are 18th and 19th century databases, a part of the free guest user database at AmericanAncestors.org. Well lots of things are going on here at the Federation Genealogical Societies conference. I’ll bring you some more news next week and hopefully I won’t be struck by lightning and I can report back next week.

Fisher: [Laughs] He’s the chief genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert. And we’re going to talk to Elly Catmull next. She’s the senior manager of research at LegacyTree.com in Salt Lake City, Utah, talking about those difficult records from Eastern Europe, and other tough countries that are finally opening up, in three minutes, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 155

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Elly Catmull

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and I’m talking to Elly Catmull today. She is the senior manager of research for LegacyTree.com. Hi Elly, welcome to the show!

Elly: Thank you!

Fisher: You know, I’m always hearing from people who are asking, “What about Eastern Europe?” Because that’s an area that hasn’t really been digitized much, and of course most people love to do everything online, but it’s really difficult for a lot of countries at this point to expect to find much there. You and your company Legacy Tree have researchers in many countries around the world. Tell us what you’ve learned about what’s available if people would like to travel to say, Kazakhstan, or Poland, or Russia, or Lithuania, how can they find records there relating to their people.

Elly: Well, the first key of course is to find out exactly where their ancestors were from. The records are usually organized by town or maybe by church depending on what religion they participated in, their ancestors were in. So, before going, a researcher will need to know what town their ancestors came from and what religion they were a part of. That is an absolutely key piece of information they need to know before they go.

Fisher: So, in essence it’s just do your homework here first which is the case pretty much for any trip you’re going to take, even in western Europe.

Elly: Absolutely. Yes. And then you figure out what the name of the town was, and then you have to figure out where that town was, because a town with one name you know may be in several localities. So you figure out the name of the town, where it was, and then where are those records held now. And there are a lot of resources online and through the Family History Library for example, or a JewishGen.org, or different things like that. To, you know identify where those records might be held.

Fisher: Now, you do have the challenge of course of borders that have moved, and wars and things like that. So let’s talk about some of the countries that might have something of a record deficit as a result of the war. How about Poland? That’s a very common place for a lot of American ancestors to have come from. What’s the status of Polish records these days?

Elly: Polish records are actually pretty well organized and very well kept, though Poland is usually not an issue once you know where the town was. The records will be either kept at the State Archives or a local archive, or possibly at the church level, depending on which record and what you’re looking for.

Fisher: Did they lose a lot during the war?

Elly: There were records lost, but it’s not what you might think. And often there might be supplemental records for accidental.... we recently were working on a Jewish case where those particular records for the town had been destroyed during the time that the ancestors that we knew about lived in that town.

Fisher: Hmm.

Elly: Those particular records had been destroyed. However, there were still records from earlier for that town, and so we could search those records for the same names just to kind of find out what had happened in the town and who people were. Similarly, also other records that we found relating to the military that could be searched for people who had joined the military in that town, and they were very detailed records.

Fisher: Wow.

Elly: So, we could find alternates to birth, death, and marriage records.

Fisher: Now that’s kind of like Holland. I mean, Holland required military service in the 19th century, especially, and they had a lot of family history information in those things.

Elly: Right. We also found success using census records. Censuses of course weren’t like they are in the United States, every ten years and super detailed. But, depending on the time and the place, and the town there might have been a census that would be useful. So there are alternates to records that might have been destroyed.

Fisher: Okay, more on Eastern European countries, how about Czechoslovakia?

Elly: Czechoslovakia is good. I’ve seen a lot of success in Czechoslovakia. Romania is very difficult.

Fisher: Yeah, I hear they’re getting better.

Elly: They are. And you know they are everywhere. Probably the best country to research in Eastern Europe is Estonia. Their records are fantastic. Most of them are online, they’re indexed, and they’re well kept, very good country to work with. Belarus is probably one of the most difficult. Their records are very, very scattered and not so well organized. You know, you may plan a trip to an archive based on what the archive says they have in their collection you know, you’ve identified the town.

Fisher: Right.

Elly: You’re going to go search. You’ve identified that the records for this town are at this specific archive. The archive says they have the records, you go to the archive, and there went the whole day, and they aren’t there.

Fisher: Ugh.

Elly: That happens in Belarus. [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh boy.

Elly: Yes. And it’s a result of many things, like you said the changing of the boundaries and things like that. It just happens. So that happened in Belarus, I’ve seen that happen in Romania. We had a case once in Romania where you know, we knew that the town records were in the archives in Jassy, and the researchers went to research those records, and it turned out that the archives could not find the records. They knew that they were at the archives, but they physically could not find within their holdings. So the researcher could not go home, the archive spent about six weeks searching their holdings, physically searching for these books within their archives.

Fisher: Wow!

Elly: Then they found them. Then, they had to index, you know they had to catalogue them, go through all of them.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Elly: So, the good news is that we were eventually able to research these records but it took quite a while. It took a second trip to be able to do so.

Fisher: So, if somebody was going go over say to Eastern Europe, and research their ancestors, what about the language situation? For instance, specifically in Eastern Europe, are there a lot of people there who speak English that are helpful? Is that the common second language? And if not, what is the best way to deal with the language situation?

Elly: From what I understand, there are many people who speak English. I’ve heard that Poland is one of the best places to visit as an English speaker or as an American citizen. So, I would recommend setting up some translation help/ assistance before you go.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Elly: There are a lot of researchers that you can find online who will act as kind of a genealogy guide, and they will take you to the different archives and help you with the translations, and help you with communication and scheduling, and you know cultural differences and things like that. So that’s definitely something to look into.

Fisher: Boy, that’s like a trip of a lifetime. Listening to what you’re saying right now... I’m talking to Elly Catmull, by the way. She’s the senior manager of research at LegacyTree.com. I mean, I was just thinking, ten years ago we could not have this kind of conversation. I mean for years, and years, and years the idea, “Oh! Eastern Europe, forget about it!” It’s just no hope, but it’s so different now.

Elly: It’s important to remember there are still differences and there are still obstacles that can occur in researching in archives in Eastern Europe. I had a researcher once who left to go to an archive and the road was blocked by tanks!

Fisher: Oh!

Elly: And he had to turn around and go home. It just happens.

Fisher: [Laughs] That will make for a different kind of research trip, right?

Elly: Yes. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Elly: Archives will close, randomly they will just close, they might be moving to a new archive, they might be just taking a break, they might be, you know, adjusting their holdings. It’s not quite as regulated as we expect here. Other obstacles that happen, the holdings will often be in restoration. So you might be expecting to research a specific set of books or records, and then when you go to the archives, lo and behold, those books are not available because they’ve been sent for restoration. 

Fisher: Hmm.

Elly: That’s actually pretty common. And it’s not something you can always know ahead of time. You can call ahead, absolutely recommended that you call ahead, schedule ahead, plan ahead.

Fisher: Yeah, email.

Elly: Email, yes, any way that you can, to set yourself up for success, but these things happen. And so, planning, you know, maybe to stay for several days, just in case you can't access it the first day. Or you know, planning a follow up trip.

Fisher: Sure.

Elly: Or coordinating with someone who lives there who can do follow up as needed. You know, it's really important to remember that these records, they're very precious to the people who live there. The archivists take very good… they do the best they can to take very good care of them.

Fisher: Right.

Elly: But there are cultural differences between us that we may not fully understand, but we have to work with, because these are their records. This is their archive. This is their country. And we simply need to work around whatever it is.

Fisher: Sure.

Elly: And so, I think a lot of people don't realize how much goes into finding every little record that comes out of these countries. Every record is precious, so precious. So you may spend twenty, forty, sixty hours, you know, searching and find one or two records, and it’s still worthwhile.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right. And you know, you think about this too, Elly, is if you're going to go over there and do it yourself, it's going to be very expensive. And you're really going to have to almost weigh whether it would be a better thing to use people like yourselves, you know, professionals there, because things can be stretched out over a much longer period of time than you have to research there.

Elly: Absolutely.

Fisher: But, if you've got some background in it and you want to have that cultural experience of going to the place your ancestors were from, which is a phenomenal thing to do. I've done it many, many times. That might be the way you want to go as well. It's really kind of a personal choice, isn't it?

Elly: Absolutely. And you know, you may want to do a mix of both, you know.

Fisher: Sure.

Elly: You may have a researcher that you work with over there, and then you're able to plan a trip and do some research as well yourself. So, there are definitely advantages to both.

Fisher: She's Elly Catmull. She's the senior manager of research at LegacyTree.com in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elly, thanks for coming on the show, and really interesting stuff and exciting stuff, too, to hear.

Elly: Sure. Thank you!

Fisher: And this segment of Extreme Genes has been brought to you by 23AndMe.comDNA. And coming up next, we'll talk to a woman who has planted her family flag where you can find it and bring things to her. And you can do the same thing. We'll tell you about it, coming up in five minutes.

Segment 3 Episode 155

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Susan Leach Snyder

Fisher: And we're back. It's Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and in the past couple of weeks I made mention in the Weekly Genie, our free newsletter that you can subscribe to it on ExtremeGenes.com and on our Facebook page, about this concept of becoming the go to person for your family. And maybe you can do that for several lines, you know, we all have different grandparent lines and great grandparent lines, and I've had the benefit of that for many years now myself on both my wife's side and my side, so that basically when people are looking to find out new information about certain lines, they find me. And recently, well, not all that recently, it's been a few years now, I found someone else doing the same thing for one of my lines that goes back to a 4th great grandparents set and found my 5th cousin, had a flag up there saying, "This is where the Leach family is." And she's on the line with me right now, Susan Leach Snyder in Columbus Ohio. How are you, Susan? How are you, cousin?

Susan: Just great.

Fisher: [Laughs] And we've been in touch for a little bit the last few years and exchanging information. And I really like this idea of planting a flag out there for people to find you instead of you having to go out and doing all the work. And you started this, Susan, just as a website, a simple project overall, I would say, and you just updated periodically when other people bring things to you. What's the experience been like?

Susan: It's been unbelievable. I'd started out just putting my own family on, and then I started getting cousins and brothers and uncles and all these other people who kept contacting me and adding information and I just kept putting it on. So it snowballed.

Fisher: And as we've talked about this, of course, you and I have had some exchanges and had some amazing finds together as a result of things you've given me and then that I've been able to develop and share back with you. You've had several other things I hadn't even heard about. Let's talk about some of these things. One of the first ones took place back in, what, 2007?

Susan: Yes. I got this strange email from a lady in Canada, and she had purchased a whole box full of books and was looking through and found that one of the books was inscribed with the name "Watson Leach" and it was a small note to his son Charles. So she had Googled those names and came up with my website. Well...

Fisher: [Laughs]

Susan: Watson is my great grandfather and Charles is my grandfather.

Fisher: You’ve got to be kidding me!

Susan: Yeah.

Fisher: And so she provided you the books. Did she sell it to you? Give it to you? What'd she do?

Susan: She sold it to me, but it wasn't that expensive.

Fisher: Sure.

Susan: But I thought it was so odd. She's in Canada, I'm in Ohio, and the book originated in Ohio and it came back to Ohio.

Fisher: That's nuts, isn't it? And did you have anything ever written by your great grandfather before?

Susan: Nothing.

Fisher: And so what a nice personal item. What have you done with it?

Susan: Well, I have the book in a huge box of things that are my grandfather's, and I'm trying to put everything as I scan it on to the website.

Fisher: Just to add it and keep it growing.

Susan: Yes.

Fisher: All right. In 2010 you got another email, this one from North Carolina.

Susan: Yep. Another strange connection from a guy named Keith Eddins, and Keith is a Mason, and he was shopping in a flea market and found a Masonic coin, so he bought it. That was in 1998. He put it in a draw, came across it a few years later, saw that there was a name on it that was very legible and so he Googled the name "H.C. Colerider." He emailed me that he thought I was related to this person, and I was! That's Henry Clay Colerider, my great grandfather, and so he wanted to give me the coin, and I offered to buy it and he said, "No, no, no, I want to give this to you. Can you meet me somewhere?" And I said, "Where do you live?" And he said, "Greensboro, North Carolina." And I said, "Well, I'm going to be travelling from Florida back to Ohio next year, how about that?" And he said, "Let's meet at the Cracker Barrel. So he gave me the coin.

Fisher: How cool is that, with your great grandfather's name on it.

Susan: And I found out more about him being a Mason because of the coin too.

Fisher: Sure. And did you wind up researching? We just actually did a whole segment on Masonic lodges and how to find some of the records. Were you successful in finding in finding some of his Masonic records?

Susan: I was. And I posted all those online, so all that information plus the coin can be seen on my website also.

Fisher: That's incredible. And then in 2010 you received something that actually impacted me, talk about that.

Susan: Well, I got an email from a Jacklyn Gasparo and she was Googling the Leach family, found my site, and she was asking me the source of some of the information I had, and so I gave her the sources and she says, "Oh, by the way, I have a couple of Bibles, an 1834 and 1854 Bible. They belong to my family and I've scanned the pages. Would you be interested?"

Fisher: [Laughs]

Susan: [Laughs] And so she sent them and the 1834 Bible had my great, great, great grandfather Amos and his siblings in it.

Fisher: Right.

Susan: And the 1854 Bible had one of Amos' brothers and the whole family in it. And I thought it was going to stop with that, but it didn't.

Fisher: Well, no. Well, let's just talk about these Bibles for a minute because Jacklyn actually got these out of the trash bin and she had been helping to clean up some relative's home, the person had passed away, family was there and they were throwing everything out, and she found the Bibles in the trash.

Susan: See, I didn't know that part of the story.

Fisher: Yes. And so what a rescue for her, and of course for all of us because not only were your ancestors' names in there but my ancestors' names were in there.

Susan: I guess my great, great grandfather Amos was the brother of your great... Well, I don't know how many greats.

Fisher: Yeah, same thing, third great.

Susan: Grandmother, right?

Fisher: Yes, grandmother. And that's where we tie in, is through the parents of those two, and that makes us... What do we figure?... 5th cousins, 5th cousins, yes. And so as a result of those Bible records being rescued, then I was able to connect in to that line and go on from there. And of course, I was able then to link back on one of my sides to the Mayflower Society. And that has all been as a result of your website attracting people. It's kind of like a flag in the sand, when people start looking, "Hey, I've got something connected to this." They contact you.

Susan: Well you know, it's amazing how things have changed since my father began studying genealogy and relying on letters and phone calls and we've come this far.

Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly. And there is effort. I mean, obviously you've had to maintain this site, you've had to maintain correspondence, you've had to learn a few technical things in order to manage it, but it has certainly paid a lot of dividends. And just a few weeks ago you shared with me this letter that Sean Sweeney had sent to you, and tell them about that.

Susan: Well, again I get this strange email from somebody I don't know, tells me his name is Sean Sweeney and he is sorting through his stepfather's materials and he had come across a letter, and the letter was written by Electa Leach in 1815. It was hard to figure it out at first, but we figured out that she was a teacher.

Fisher: Right.

Susan: She was going to teach her first group of kids, and the kids were bigger than she was in some cases.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Susan: And she was saying in her letter she was glad that they've been well behaved so far. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. That's true.

Susan: So anyway, yeah, so Sean had Googled and connected the Leach, but I couldn't even figure out how it did it until I got back on my website and I saw that Electa was the daughter of one of my relative's brothers.

Fisher: Right.

Susan: And his name was Ephraim Leach, and Ephraim Leach is my great, great, great, great, great, 5 greats, grandfather.

Fisher: And mine.

Susan: And yours. And so this was a very distant cousin to us now, but it was his niece.

Fisher: Yeah. And this letter also mentioned Ephraim in there too that he was not in good health, and it is a fact that within a year he was gone.

Susan: Yeah. And so he gave us a timeline too.

Fisher: Yeah. And I love it. And it mentioned in there it was in January of 1815. He talked about wanting to visit a nearby village to see family, but they were waiting for good sleighing weather!

Susan: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] They were going to take a sled to get to where they needed to be. I mean, talk about different times!

Susan: Yes.

Fisher: Well Susan, thanks so much for sharing the experience here. And of course, being a great partner with me. I've enjoyed it, and I thought everybody would enjoy hearing what you've done, and basically letting everybody know that, hey, you're the person, the “go to” person for the Leach family. And anybody can really set this up the same way you have for whatever their family lines may be that they're interested in. I've had many people come to me about different branches on both my wife's side and my side as well. So it was a thrill to find you. And thanks for coming on Extreme Genes!

Susan: Thanks for asking me, Scott.

Fisher: And this segment of our show has been brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And coming up next, you’ve got a deadline closing in on you and you might not even know about it. Yeah, Tom Perry's here to talk preservation. He'll explain the whole thing, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 155

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, you're going to wonder why it is we're talking holidays already. Hi, it's Fisher. It’s Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And Tom, now we're getting to the end of summer. This is it. This is the time we're supposed to be preparing for the holidays.

Tom: Oh it is, absolutely! When you're doing things like this, there's so many steps you need to go through to get everything right.

Fisher: Well, preparing to get the best gifts you can, which includes digitized photographs, digitized, maybe even edited videos with some voiceover or something. I mean, that's a lengthy project that takes some time and effort. And to get organized for that is a little bit different than getting organized for something else.

Tom: Right. It's so true! You really need to plan out what you're doing. It's just like the old saying you know, "If you failed to plan, you planned to fail."

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Whether you have video tapes, audio tapes, slides, photos, anything, you need to get organized. Because the better organized you are, the better the job is going to get done the way you want it and the less it’s going to cost you. Like we have people that bring in literally boxes they've found in, you know, Aunt Martha's garage of photos that, those little, teeny ones the size of postage stamps, those 8x10s, 5x7s all these different sizes and they're mixed in. And somebody has to sort them. So if they bring us in this box and just say, "Hey," you know, "do it. Send me the bill, whatever." You know, we can do that. However, if they would take the time to sort it, they're going to get them the way they want them. Now you may say, "Oh, let's put Martha's family here. Let's put Janelle’s family here. Let's put Leila’s family over here," and it makes it so much easier than having to go down once we've got everything scanned and take every photo and drop them into different envelopes and organize them that way. It's so much smarter to take your original box that's disorganized, possibly dirty, even if it hasn't been, you know, sealed, it didn't have a lid on it. Then you go into sorted boxes. And the best thing that I've found that work for these is you buy these little starlight boxes at just about any place. They're like a buck a piece. They're like a shoebox, but they're plastic with a lid on them.

Fisher: Huh.

Tom: And get these and set them out, "Okay, I want these to be by family," or "I want these to be by year. I want them to be by decade," or however. And then go and sort everything. Then once you have everything sorted, then you want what we call, a clean box. And this is really, really important, because your scans are only going to be as good as your original is. If you want to take them into us or anybody across the country and say, "Hey, I want you to clean these for me, too," we're all happy to do it. However, we have to pay our techs to do that, so it's going to cost you more. Go to an art store and invest into like a camel hair brush or squirrel tail brush, something like that that will get rid of the dirt without scratching your photos. And get yourself some white gloves. This is one of the times that white gloves are really good.

Fisher: Right. Right!

Tom: And then just lightly dust them off. If you use the air that we’ve talked about in the cans before, you want to be really, really careful.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: If you shake those cans and then you press on them, you're going to freeze whatever you're doing. And if you freeze a slide or something like that, they can crack.

Fisher: Sure, easily. Or even flake off parts of a photograph.

Tom: Exactly! In fact, what I did is, at our store we're kind of in a tight spot in one of our film rooms. We went down to Sears and bought a little, teeny compressor. It's about the size two shoe boxes. Plug it in. It's got a little air thing, and no matter what you do, that's never get cold and damage your things. And just use that air set on the lowest pressure setting and blow off your slides, photos, whatever you have. Even VHS tapes, you have to do that. And another thing that's really important that I want to mention with VHS tapes which we've never talked about before. Some people for some reason put labels on the front side that goes into the VCR. They'll usually have an arrow on the tape.

Fisher: Really!?

Tom: Oh yeah! They put them on the wrong side. It's going to save you a lot of money if you remove those before you bring them in to us. If you don't want to deal with this, we're happy to do it. Anybody's happy to do it for you it's just going to cost. Because what happens if you have that sticky stuff on, when the door opens, it's going to get jammed in their machine, cause all kinds of problems. So that's why we have to remove them. And if you take some gunk remover that you can get at Home Depot and peel it off the best you can, then use that stuff with Qtip and clean it off, it’s going to be better. You won't have the problems with it. Some places are going to call you and say, "Hey, we can't do this, sorry!"

Fisher: Yeah. No doubt. I mean, I would have never thought that somebody would bring it in like that.

Tom: Lots of them. Now that you have your clean box, we'll tell you what to do with it.

Fisher: And that'll be in our next segment in three minutes. And this segment has been brought to you by Forever.com, on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 155

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, preservation time with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. And in our last segment, we were talking about getting organized, because this is the time of year you need to get your preservation holiday projects ready to go. And we were talking about sorting everything by year or decade or family, and then putting them in what they call "a clean box" or you do, Tom. And where do we go from there with this now?

Tom: Okay. This is a really important step. Even if it’s things that you think, "Hey, these aren’t my favorite slides, I don't want to really scan them right now. I just want to hang onto them." You still want to get them into the clean box, because you've gotten rid of the dirt and all these kind of things, so they're going to store better. So then you take the things out of the clean box that you do want to scan, and put them in a box to be scanned. And the thing is, you might say, "Well, you know, I can only afford so much right now. I want to do my film and my slides, because that's what degenerates the fastest. So let's do those."

Fisher: Right.

Tom: "Then we'll do our video cassettes. And then we'll do our audio cassettes." Because that's the order that they, you know, go “bye-bye” so to speak. And so then what you would do is, bring it in to us or send it to whoever your local place is and say, "Okay, here's exactly what I want. I've got all my photos in size. I've got 450 of them. I know I've got these little postage stamp ones." The more information you can give to us or any of the other people out there, the better job we're going to be able to do. So we can say, "Okay, we can give you a better quote, because we know you have 100 postage stamp sized photos. Those are going to have to all be done by hand." And then we can also say, "Okay, so you want them in separate folders with Aunt Martha, with Aunt Leila, with all these different names on them." And then we can put them in separate folders, so you can give the people that want all the folders your entire archive. You get people that just want Aunt Martha's stuff then you give them Aunt Martha's things. It makes it so much easier to organize. And now the clouds are so easily accessible, and most of them are free, it makes it so easy for you upload what you want. And then give them the password to be able to get in. And you can limit a password for like thirty days. So say, “Hey, you've got this password. It's only going to work for thirty days. Go and download the stuff.” So you don't fill up your box.

Fisher: That's right. I found an interview I did with some neighbor people back in 1989. And they passed shortly after that. And then we had it digitized. And I didn't know I had a digitized version of it. I went back to the family, the survivors and said, "Hey, I've still got this interview from, wow, it's like twenty seven years ago, said, ‘Would you like it?’” and did exactly that, put it up on the cloud, gave them access to it. The kids have it. The grandkids have it now. Some of them never even knew these people. So you know, it’s of great value to them, because it was a one hour interview about their lives.

Tom: Oh, it makes it so much nicer now. There's two ways you can have things on the cloud. You can have it just as storage or you can actually view it on the cloud. You have to download it to your computer and then you can view it. And there's also things that are what they call "real time" or "ready access." So if somebody has a film that they want to be out in Dothan, Alabama, maybe out in the middle of nowhere and want to, you know, show at the family reunion, this video, they can actually show it on their computers live in real time. However, that takes up a lot of room on the cloud.

Fisher: Sure. Yes.

Tom: And most cloud services, they're free. You get so much, after that you have to buy it. So make sure when you choose clouds, whether it’s Google’s cloud, iCloud, Dropbox, whoever you want to use, make sure you understand what you're going to be using it for. If you want everything to be live real time then make sure you sign up for more memory. If you just want it as a storage device where other family members can download it and then watch it, it's going to cost you a whole lot less and you're going to be able to get a whole lot more stuff up on your cloud as well.

Fisher: Boy! There are so many details involved in this, but the most important one right now is, this is the critical time to get your holiday projects started and get it done by what? Late October?

Tom: Oh absolutely! You need to do it now. We have people come in at the end of October. And we can usually get all their stuff done like most people out there, but once you start getting into November, we don't know depending on what came in October. So you could come in, in November, and everybody's full.

Fisher: All right, Tom. Great advice! Thanks, we'll see you again next week.

Tom: See you then.

Fisher: And this segment of Extreme Genes has been brought to you by LegacyTree.com and our friends at MyHeritage.com. Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget to sign up for our brand new newsletter, The Weekly Genie. It comes out on Mondays. You can sign up at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page, and find out all kinds of great audio links, commentary, guest commentary, it’s a lot of fun. And of course, it’s free! Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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