Episode 168 - USS Arizona Survivor Talks Pearl Harbor / Finding Your WW II Ancestors’ Records

podcast episode Dec 05, 2016

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  David begins with news about the world’s oldest documented person. She’s 117 and has seen the “turn of the century” twice, and has lived in three different centuries! Next, how would like to visit a home that was left just as it was when it was last occupied in 1890? David will tell you about this remarkable house.  Then, the new list of most popular names for 2016 is out. Some old standards are back. Are your family names on the list? Then, a mystery has been solved. When Civil War letters began appearing at the post office, everyone wanted to know just who sent them and why. The culprit has been uncovered. Plus David will have another tip of the week and NEHGS free guest member database.

Next Fisher shares his 2015 visit with Lou Conter. Lou was just 20 years old and on board the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. Lou shares his memories of that day, how he survived, and how that date which lives in infamy has affected his life.

Fisher then talks with Dr. Ken Alford who’ll give you some great ideas on how to locate the military records of your World War II family members.

Then, it’s Preservation Time with Tom Perry who answers more listener questions on how to preserve your family treasures.

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

Transcript for Episode 168

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 168

Fisher: And welcome to another spine tingling episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher, the 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 23andMe.com DNA. And we’ve got some great guests coming up today. Very excited because we’ve got the 75th anniversary happening of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and we’re going to play for you my visit from last year with Lou Conter. He just recently turned 95 years old and he was a member of the crew of the Arizona and he was on board the morning of that attack, December 7th 1941. So you’re going to want to catch that. And then later in the show, we’re going to talk to Dr. Ken Alford. He’s going to give you a very concise lesson on how to research your World War II ancestor’s military records. And you’re going to be amazed at how much information might be out there on your family’s heroes. So listen up for that a little bit later on. Hey, don’t forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter! It has all kinds of links to great stories and great audio and of course a column from me each week. It’s absolutely free and you can do that at ExtremeGenes.com, there’s a little signup box right there in the upper right, you cannot miss it! So we hope you’ll get on board with that. Oh and by the way, you’re going to want our podcast app too, it’s absolutely free. You can put it on your phone and capture all the past episodes of Extreme Genes. But right now let’s head out to Boston and talk to my good friend David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you David? What’s happening?

David: Hey Fish! A lot of things exciting are going on here in Beantown as we get ready for the holidays. But one holiday I think every listener should be embracing is Emma Morano’s birthday. Emma is the oldest person in the world. She just turned 117 years old.

Fisher: Wow!

David: It’s amazing to think that somebody born in 1899 is still with us in 2016. So, happy 117th birthday, Emma!

Fisher: Now, she’s got to be the last person, right, who was born in the 1800s?

David: That’s exactly it. She was born at the end of November in 1899 in Italy and she is the last recorded, verified person born in the 1800s.

Fisher: Very cool.

David: It really is. Well, you know, speaking of things over a hundred years old. You know the way sometimes we have a vacation home we don’t visit, or there may be a part of the house you don’t get to a lot?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: How about 126 years of not visiting an entire mansion?

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow! Now where’s this?

David: Now this is the Malplaquet House, Spitalfields District of London. And this house remained really unchanged, mostly used for storage and last was occupied 126 years ago. So, 9 years before Emma was born!

Fisher: 1890?!

David: Yeah, it’s amazing.

Fisher: Wow!

David: And this house has all of the fixtures, all of the things left on the shelves, the furniture left where it was and in 1990 it was almost demolished but someone came forward and they’ve done restoration, they’ve obviously catalogued everything. You know what, if you’re looking for a nice little place to retire there in England, you can have it for a mere 2.9 million pounds!

Fisher: [Laughs] Oh very nice! That’s an incredible story.

David: One of the things, obviously we’re talking about Emma being 117, but names back in 1899, of course Emma would have been a popular name. But now the most popular baby names in 2016 are finally in. And I thought I’d give you the top five for girls and boys.

Fisher: Sure.

David: The top five are, Sofia, Emma (ironically), Olivia, Eva and Maya.

Fisher: So a lot of the old fashioned names are still on there because they’ve really made a comeback in the last few years.

David: And in fact, later down on the list of the top ten, new editions include Riley, Aria, and an old name, Charlotte.

Fisher: Hmm.

David: For boys the top five are, Jackson, Aden, Lucas, Liam, and Noah. [Laugh] Well you can’t get much older than Noah!

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] That’s true!

David: So, recycled names once again, and as I told you once before, my name David doesn’t come from anybody historic other than my sister’s crush on Davy Jones of the Monkees. Thank you my sister, Carol, once again! [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Remember we talked a couple of weeks back with regard to those letters that were mailed to Newaygo, Michigan, to the post office?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: They know who sent them now! Nancy Cramblit is the person who mailed them to Newaygo. Her husband who had died some years ago, used to go to yard sales. So she figured that she wanted to get them back to the family members. So why not send them back from where the soldier was from. The Smithsonian is delighted. They’ve interviewed her and apparently Nancy’s children and grandchildren think that she has a lot of stuff in her house because her kids keep telling her that when she’s gone they’re going to backup a dumpster to the door and load it in once she’s gone.

Fisher: Ooh!

David: When she dies.

Fisher: Ooh!

David: Her response I think is classic, she goes, “Well you better call the Smithsonian first.”

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right.

David: So all of you who have spouses and loved ones and think you have hoarded too much genealogical stuff, just remember NEHGS will be more than happy to lighten your loads some day in the future.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: During the Thanksgiving break, my hometown has a rivalry. We’ve had it for 91 years. We had our football game. We crushed the competition 48 to nothing. Go Stoughton Black Knights!

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But I thought, with all of the rally of the troops, that my tip would be something that I never thought was going to be amazing like this. I created a Facebook group called the “Stoughton High School Alumni Association.” In a week’s time I have over thirty one hundred former students wanting to restart the association with me, have an annual reunion of all the classes, and to start a scholarship fund.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So my tip, if you lost track of your old high school sweetheart or your old football buddy that you knew, try social media. There are so many millions of people out there and just a simple search term on your high school name and association might be enough, either that or just start a group for your high school class, for your reunion. That’s my tip for this week. And I’m going to turn to AmericanAncestors.org. Every week we give a free guest member database, and this week we’re turning to the home state of Connecticut, where our dear friend Fisher comes from.

Fisher: Hi.

David: The New Haven, Connecticut vital records from 1649 to 1850 are now available for our free guest members at AmericanAncestors.org. Well, that’s about all I have for this week for you from Beantown, talk to you next week Fish.

Fisher: All right David, thank you so much! And coming up next, in three minutes, we’re going to a man who was on the Arizona the morning of December 7th 1941, as we anticipate the 75th anniversary of that date that “lives in infamy,” coming up on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 168

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Lou Conter

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and of course this is the week where we remember what happened on December 7th 1941.  The day President Roosevelt said “Would live in infamy.”And indeed it has.  And there are still heroes among us who lived through that day, and I’m very pleased and honored to have on the phone with me right now one of those heroes, Lou Conter.  And Lou is in Grass Valley, California. Ninety four years young.

Fisher: How are you Lou?

Lou: Fine, thank you.

Fisher: Take us back to that day because most of us weren’t even alive at the time that happened, yet alone have the ability to remember.  Give us a little background about your time in the military and what brought you to Hawaii at that time.

Lou: Well, I went aboard the Arizona in Long Beach in the end of1939, after three months of Boot Camp in San Diego. The fleet was anchored in Long Beach at the time. I went in the second division, to mess cooking and back to second division.  Then I was transferred into the Quartermaster gang for navigation training and then in April 1st of 1940, the fleet left Long Beach and went to Honolulu at Pearl Harbor. Then after the exercises were done, they based the fleet permanently in Pearl Harbor instead of Long Beach. And so then, we operated from April 1st on. Half the fleet would go out for ten days and then come back in. Then up to the end of 1940 we went to Bremerton for overhaul for two and a half months and came back to Honolulu on the 1st of January of 1941.

Fisher: So you enlisted then during the time of the Depression, yes?

Lou: Yes, right out of high school.  

Fisher: A lot of people did that at that time, didn’t they, because of the economic situation?

Lou: Well, you know, you in the Navy for four years. We got seventeen dollars a month for the first three months, and then twenty one dollars a month till we made second class, and thirty six dollars and we had board and room too. We had hammocks that we slept in. We had a hook and the beams and the ship. We slept in hammocks until they put in bunks, four high.  A lot of guys rather stayed in their hammocks till they got used to it. You had three guys sleeping underneath you.     

Fisher: Wow. Did you anticipate at the time that you enlisted that you might wind up going to war during those four years, or was it just “Hey, here’s a way to make a living?”

Lou: Well no, I think that there was half and half at the time, ‘38/’39, but then after we went to Pearl Harbor in April of ‘40, we all knew that we were going to war but we just didn’t know when.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Lou: It was just a matter of time because you know, we operated up and down the 180th meridian and we couldn’t cross it because we had fourteen inch guns aboard the battleships.  And when the Japanese came across in the Northern Pacific on December the 4th with their battleships and carriers, it was really an act of war on the 4th of December instead of waiting till the 7th because they crossed the 180th without permission and under silence.

Fisher: Hmm.

Lou: That was the date, December 4th that President Roosevelt got the message from the embassy in Jakarta that the Japanese fleet had gone to sea and they had sent the message “East Wind Rain,” which meant that Pearl Harbor was to be attacked within seventy two hours.

Fisher: Now what were you doing that day?  December 7th 1941. You were a young kid, you are what, twenty years old at that point?

Lou: Twenty years old. I was just took over quartermaster of the watch. When we were in port, quartermaster of the watch is on the quarter deck down by where the gangplanks are going over to the vessel and over the liberty boats, and when they were at sea, it’s up on the bridge with the captain.  Because the quartermasters do the navigation and star sights, and keep the logs and things like that. So our station was between two or three in the main turret.

Fisher: And you were on the Arizona the morning of the attack?

Lou: Yes. When they first came over on the quarter deck we sounded general quarters, and the band was getting ready to play for colors at five minutes to eight and as soon as they sounded of general quarters, they went back to their battle stations. They were all killed. Same as all my quartermaster buddies were killed, and five minutes later I would have been on the bridge with the captain. But he said to secure the quarterdeck first.  So we had to throw the lines off from Arizona the vessel get the vessel away from us so we could get into her and get to sea because we had just come in on Friday and we had refuelled. We had a full load of fuel and ammunition and everything else. We had to get the vessel away from us to get away from the docks.  

Fisher: Right. So you were on the ship at that point. Of course it was a panicked situation.

Lou: Everyone knew it was the Japanese. Like Commander Fuqua said after the raid, his official statement said, “Everyone on the ship performed extraordinarily well, and there was no one individual that outlasted the other one.”  Because we were well trained; we’d been to sea since April 1st, 1940, practically two years.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Lou: And all we did at sea was train for war with Japan.

Fisher: Right.

Lou: In the Pacific. So we were well trained and everybody went to their stations immediately. It took us fifty years to get off of the news reports and everything that the band had played in the battle of bands the night before, which they did not. There were a few people of the band over there watching them, but they did not play. They were going to play the following week or week after that. And the newspaper said that they were allowed to sleep in that morning and they got killed in their bunks. And none of them were killed in their bunks they were all at their battle stations.  Everybody was at their battle station by three minutes to eight. We sounded General Quarters at five minutes to eight.  It didn’t take them two to three minutes to get to their battle stations and secure all the watertight doors and everything else.

Fisher: So, for you that day, this attack came along, you’re below deck, so you escaped harm while all your buddies were lost.

Lou: We were on top of the deck between turret three and four on the quarter deck, and that’s why everybody below deck practically got killed, except a few of ‘em we got out of turret four.  Everybody else that survived was above decks and in turret three or four. And then there were five men in the foremast above the bridge, the fire control men.  After the blast, the vessel threw a line across to them and they came down the line and three of them got over to the vessel, burned about 75% of their bodies, and the other two dropped into the water. 

Fisher: How did you escape, Lou?

Lou: Well, you never know how you escape, you’re just lucky that you didn’t get killed that day too.  But we were on the quarterdeck and when Commander Fuqua got knocked out by a bomb over by turret four he came to and took charge.  He was our senior officer aboard, our first lieutenant. As the people come out of the fire, we laid them out on the deck to save them, to get them into the motor launches to the hospital.  Then water started coming up on the deck. He said, “Abandon ship” it was about twenty five to nine or something when he said that.  The ones that survived got over the side and into Ford Island or else they got into the motor launches. And then we got into the motor launch and picked up bodies and parts of bodies out of the water because the whole fleet was burning.  We fought the fire on the Arizona until Tuesday, and they got out. Then we took a rest for three or four days and then we started diving on the ship to try to bring up bodies.  After five or six days we were in shallow water helmets, and Pete Uzar was our main diver, he was a water tender first, and he dove in a regular suit and stayed down four, five, six hours and we stayed down maybe thirty - forty minutes is all in the water. Shallow water helmets while somebody’s pumping air on the deck.

Fisher: Right.

Lou: But after five or six days, Pete decided it was too dangerous, we were getting air hoses caught on the doors and everything else, and so they called it off. We abandoned ship and that was it. The survivors went to other ships. From base force went to other ships.  To destroyers and everything, it was able to go to sea.  I went to Commander Base Force, and captain Geiselman who was our Executive Officer, was made Provost Marshall in Honolulu.  Since Marshall Law was declared immediately, without an environmental impact report or any other hearings. The military took over and Captain Geiselman was appointed Provost Marshall.  He called Pete and I in to patrol the streets and help, and anybody in Honolulu after sunset was restricted from going out or before sunrise or they get shot.

Fisher: Wow!

Lou: And so I lasted there until the first part of January. We had our orders. Johnnie Johnson and I had orders to flight school, November 1st.  Captain Van Valkenburgh called us down and said, “We’re going back to Long Beach to pick up our 1.1 December the 19th. So you either go back with us you go to Pensacola from there.  But we lost our orders on the Arizona December 7th. So it was about the first week in January when I was over at Hitchcock’s house for dinner, Admiral Calhoun came in and said, “I thought you went to flight school.”  I told him we lost our orders. And it wasn’t three or four days, they pulled Johnnie off the destroyer and myself, we were on the Lurline back to San Francisco, and went to Pensacola Flight School, as he was a Gunner’s Mate and I was a Quartermaster Second Class.

Fisher: Now let’s talk about how this has affected your life. You were twenty years old at the time I mean you were just a kid.  Obviously it was a horrific thing and I’m sure that it was more painful as you looked back on it. Talk about that a little bit, how that impacted you and your ability to function going forward through the war and since.

Lou: Well, we handled it the way we were trained. We had hard trained on site and we handled it that way and that’s what we had to do.   We knew we had to win the war and go. So we did what we had to do. Like Loren Bruner was on the Arizona, he lives in La Mirada now. He’s ninety five.  He was one of the ones that came off the foremast with burns to 75% of his body. They put him in the hospital until July of ‘42, and he was pretty well then and they said, “You’re well to go back to duty.” And they put him in a destroyer and he didn’t see the United States till January 1946. Don Stratton, who was on the Arizona, got burned and he spent two years in the hospital and he came out with a medical, but he’s livin’ in Colorado Springs, too.  John Anderson he was our Senior Petty Officer. He was a Boseman’s Mate and he’s ninety nine now. His twin brother was killed on the Arizona.  So they have different thoughts, you know?

Fisher: Sure.

Lou: I’ve learned in survival the will to live, and you’ve got to be positive thinking all the time and the will to live. 

Fisher: He’s Lou Conter. He’s a veteran of World War II. Survived the Arizona and being shot down over the Pacific. Sir, we thank you for your service. Thank you for your time and sharing your story with everybody, and we wish you well through your current trial with your wife’s illness.

Lou: Thank you very much!

Fisher: Wow. Wow! This segment has been brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And coming up next, we're going to talk to Dr Ken Alford about finding the records of your World War II ancestors, in five minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 168

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Ken Alford

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com.  It is Fisher here, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m still just taking all of it in that we just heard from Lou Conter about surviving the Japanese attack on the Arizona at Pearl Harbor back on December 7th 1941.  And with that, I think it makes a lot of sense to bring on Dr. Ken Alford.  He is a professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, to talk about researching your World War II ancestors.  So many of them I think now, Ken, are gone, more than are still with us. Where do we start if we want to research our World War II ancestor?

Ken: The great news is World War II was documented from beginning to end. And so, listeners that have ancestors and relatives that fought in World War II are bound to find something.  Unlike other wars, this is probably the best documented war we've got. And everything is available is the good news.  When you start, what you want to do is, there's four key pieces of information that you want to find on you veteran, and you may not find them all in the same place.  You may not find them all at the same time. But these are the four things you want first.  You want to know which branch of service they were in.  Second is, you want to find out generally their periods of service.  And you want to find out where they served. You know were they in the Pacific?  Did they stay state side?  Did they go into Europe?  Were they in North Africa?  And then fourth, you want to know how did they serve? What was their rank? Were they enlisted? Non commissioned officers? Some kind of sergeant? Or did they serve as a warrant officer? Or even as a commissioned officer?  Because it turns out, the higher the rank, the more records you're going to find. It's just kind of the relationship here.

Fisher: That makes sense, sure.

Ken: Then, once you do that, a lot of people think the military records are just kind of, oh, homogeneous, but there are many different kinds of records.  And interestingly especially for World War II, there are military records for people that didn't serve in the military.

Fisher: Huh!

Ken: And I know this sound a little bit weird, but actually what happened is, it was a period of the draft in which the draft was extended very broadly.  So, most male ancestors will have some kind of draft registration record. And that's the first category of these records. They're called pre-service records. 

Fisher: Okay.

Ken: They're records created by the government, and the people may or may not have served. And so draft registration records, for example, my grandfather never served in World War II. He was too old. And they didn't take the draft that high, but he was in the age group where they had to register.  So we've got his registration records, and they contain a wealth of information. I mean including eye color, hair color and height.

Fisher: Right.

Ken: And so they're just wonderful records. The other kind of pre-service records is the documents that actually turned someone from a civilian into a soldier or a sailor or a marine. They're enlistment documents for non-commissioned officers and enlisted.  And there are commissioning documents for the officers, because there are many different commissioning sources, such as RTC, officer candidate school, direct commissions and so on. So those are all the kind of pre-service records. The second category of records is what are called service records.  And as the name implies these are records that are generated while the people are on active duty.  And there can be just a host of records, depending on how long they served, where they served, if they received awards, the orders that transferred them.  And eventually if there's discharge papers or if they were captured, all of those kinds of records are kept by the government, because they're all official.

Fisher: That's exciting though, to know that that's out there.

Ken: The third category of records is as you would expect, if there's a pre-service, there's going to be post-service. Post service records contain things like, killed in action records, or a separation or discharge.  Because no matter when you serve or how long you serve, at some point you will leave the service, either through death or through some kind of separation or discharge.  The government documents that in forms. Everyone that also served gets something called a form DD214. And that DD214 is a record of your military service.  Its family history gold, because what it has in just two pages is a summary of the entire service of that service member.  If you only get one document from a family member who served in World War II, you want to search for that DD214.

Fisher: Ooh, that's good to know.

Ken: Another great piece of documentation, and it's not going to be nearly as concise, are pension papers.

Fisher: Yes.

Ken: Because when you receive a check from the government, they're going to require a huge amount of documentation.  And you can also find things in pension papers like, vital record information; complete spelling of names, military units, description of service including campaigns and battles and awards.  Their physical description; a description of their health, and where they lived, who their heirs are?  I mean, it's just wonderful!

Fisher: And that really applies to most wars of the Unites States.

Ken: Yes.

Fisher: The pension records are fabulous.

Ken: They are indeed. So, where do you look for this information? You know, you know what you want and you're just not sure where grandpa served.  I would recommend that listeners simply start with the obvious choices of Ancestry.com and Fold3.com. They have digitized a lot of government records and that's the one stop where they will find more, in the quickest amount of time than any of these other websites I'm going to give you. And so, start there.  Next, I would actually do a search for your local newspapers. If you know where grandpa or great grandpa lived and went into the service from, there was probably a newspaper article generated at the time. 

Fisher: And so, many of them are digitized now on places like, My Heritage, Newspapers.com, GenealogyBank.com, also Chronicling America through the Library of Congress.

Ken: Absolutely! And many states have taken the bull by the horns and have digitized state newspapers.

Fisher: Right.

Ken: For example, for listeners that live in the state of Utah, there's a website called, Utah Digital Newspapers that has many, many newspaper archives and they're just wonderful, and they're all free.  The federal government as you would expect, since they collect all this stuff, has started making it available. It's not all digital yet, but much of it is. Let me just give your listeners some of these websites and places that I would send them to for the next round.  After you’ve found everything you can find at Ancestry and Fold3, and then go to the federal sources. I would go first to the National Archives.

Fisher: Right.

Ken: If you go to their website, it’s just Archives.gov. And they have a huge wealth of information, much of it is digitized.  You can obtain these microfiche and microfilm through genealogical centers across the nation.  And if you're in Washington D.C., I highly recommend a visit to the National Archives. It's free. But you can actually hold your grandfather's records, in many cases, in your hand. 

Fisher: Wow!

Ken: And then you can make a copy of them there. And that's just something fun.

Fisher: And that's a thrill in itself, isn’t it?

Ken: It is a huge thrill. The next thing I would recommend is to check the National Personnel Records Center, the NPRS at St. Louis.

Fisher: Yeah.

Ken: And you can actually find it through a link off of the National Archives' website.  Now the good news is, if your ancestor's records are there, you will receive a folder, and there are small charges that apply.  But I have seen some of these that are two and three inches thick of just genealogical gold.  That's the good news. The bad news is, in 1973 a fire destroyed eighty percent of their records. 

Fisher: Yeah.

Ken: And most of the World War II records, I just hate to say this, were burned. But you always try!  The next place I would check is the Veteran's Administration, that's VA.gov. And then I would send them also to the Library of Congress, and that's just LOC.gov.  And the Library of Congress will not have records, but they will have photos and unit histories.

Fisher: Ah!

Ken: And you may find grandpa or great grandpa in those secondary sources. I would also encourage your listeners to go to state archives and local military museums.  And lastly, I would just add before we close this off, that since this is World War II this is now really the first war in American history where we have sizeable numbers of women who serve in either the Waves or the Wacs or in auxiliary corps.  And there are millions of female records as well.

Fisher: I wish we had more time, Ken. This is fabulous! So helpful for a lot of people!  If you missed this, of course, listen again on the podcast in the coming week and you can find out all kinds of things to write down about how to track down your World War II ancestors.  Thanks for coming on, Dr Alford.

Ken: Thank you very much.

Fisher: And this segment has been brought to you by LegacyTree.com. Tom Perry talks preservation next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 168

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment of our show is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And Tom Perry is here with us from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Hi Tommy, Happy Holidays!

Tom: Good to be here!

Fisher: We are really getting close now. I mean, we're talking about right down to it as far as anybody getting anything done anywhere as far as digitizing goes, although I would assume there are some facilities that can take of things later than others, depending on where you are around the country.

Tom: At our place, we try to underpromise and then overdeliver. Magic isn't going to get your stuff done.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: You need to get stuff out today. So we have some openings, check with people locally, because that's probably going to help you as well. Now just remember, the most important tips that we want to teach you when you're choosing who is going to transfer your film or your video, remember, when you're doing film, you always want to have a scan, whether it’s 8mm, Super8, 16 slides, photos, anything like that, you definitely want to make sure that its scanned, because you're going to get a better quality. Ask them! Say, "Hey, can I get jpegs with that order?" And if they say "Yes" then they're really scanning, even though you don't have to get the jpegs if you don't want. But if they say, "No, you can't get jpegs as part of the scanning process," they're not really scanning. So that's a big red flag.

Fisher: What are they doing?

Tom: Projecting it. Most people project it on a wall or they have one of those old things you had in the newsroom years and years ago, that you know, would do slides and everything through mirrors, and then there'd be a camera that captures it. And you're going to lose quality. In fact, in the old days, when we transferred film that way, because that was the only way to do it, we would tell people, "Hey, your film's never going to be as bright and as beautiful as it was with 3200 watt light bulb shining through it. But nowadays, we actually say, and you can testify to this because of the film we did for you, we can actually make it brighter, make the colors more pure and more lifelike with the equipment we have today, than when you used to show it on your projector.

Fisher: Sure, computer correction.

Tom: Oh, absolutely! Well, just a process, like we use LED lights now, instead of a 3200 watt light bulb, so there's less damage to your film. It doesn't fade your film the same way. And it makes it a lot more brilliant. Like you can have things that as a child you remember watching, and it was, you know, "Who is that? All I can see is kind of a silhouette." With the new way where we actually scan the film, you can see who the people are and what they're doing. It may be grainy, but it doesn't matter. It’s a picture and you can identify them. It makes it really, really personal.

Fisher: Well, and what was fun for me was to actually create an entire folder of photographs taken from home movies. And so I wound up with thirty or forty of them, pictures of my grandparents with me that I didn't have, because they died when I was so young or distant relatives or people in unique places. It was really fun!

Tom: Oh, it is! It’s so exciting to have those jpegs and those old films. I spend a lot of time with my grandparents and had no photographs of me with my grandparents. Then when I dug out my dad's old 8mm films, I found all these pictures with me with my grandparents, I thought, "These are treasures! I wouldn't give them up for anything."

Fisher: Sure. And you were able to make them into photographs.

Tom: Right, because the film was scanned, and so jpegs was an option. And of course I made the jpegs. Now the next step, if you're going to do VHS to DVD, you always want to go with a real time source. A lot of people do VHS to a computer, and then on the computer, they burn a DVD. Lots of times, you're going to get all kinds of problems with that. The main reason is, a computer is not a source that's made to turn stuff analogue to digital. It’s a piece of equipment that's made to manage digital. So you say, "Oh, okay, well I can buy this little device and put between my camera and between my computer that does all the conversion. Every time you add a new piece of equipment from the original source to your final, you're going to lose some things, better chances of noise getting into it, not just audio noise, but video noise that can cause problems. So if you're going straight to DVD, you always want to make sure whoever is doing your process is doing a real time conversion. So a two hour tape is going to take a full two hours plus to burn onto a DVD as it’s going along. It’s not going onto a computer then they're going to make an ISO of it or whatever and then turn it into a DVD or BluRay for you. You want to go straight to DVD. Now the exception to this is if you just want to go to an MP4 or you want to go to an AVI or MOV, then going to the computer is okay, because if you go the real time way, which we were talking about, you're going to have to take the DVD and convert it into a format that your computer will understand. So if your end use is computer, it’s okay to go to computer. If you just want a DVD, go straight to DVD.

Fisher: All right, great advice as always. And coming up next in three minutes, we’ll, let Tom answer some listener questions on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 168

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: I’ve got to tell you no matter how long I’ve been doing this stuff the technical things are always the most challenging.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. All right, we have emails Tom, and a couple of interesting ones. This one is from Nachiket Patel. Nachiket writes, “I need to convert a BluRay disc to Pen drive or hard disk so that I can see it on Desktop. It’s a wedding video of one and a half hours length. Please let me know if it’s possible, and how much I should expect to pay.

Tom: That’s a really good question. A lot of people don’t think of doing things backwards so much. They think about going from analogue to digital, but sometimes you’re changing digital formats and there’s lots of things we can do. There’s other suppliers across the country that do the transfers and duplication like we do that can help you, or if you want to do it yourself, there’s a great program called Wondershare that will allow you to take a BluRay and turn it into about anything you want. You can turn it into a file for your Android, for your iPhone, for your iPad. You can turn it into something like you mentioned that you want on your Desktop. Now one thing you always want to remember when you’re doing conversions and you go, “What do I need to go to?” You’re always going to be safe by going to MP4s if it’s a video source, or MP3s because it’s an audio source, because almost every computer, almost every software out there will understand MP4s and MP3s. For instance, when you download a video, what you’re downloading is actually a MP4. So, it’s this video, it’s compressed, it’s about half the size of a DVD.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So it downloads really fast, but yet the quality is really superior. It’s absolutely wonderful. So when you play on your 1080p television or your 4k television it still looks, you know, really good. And so that’s the joy about MP4s. If you get Wondershare, I’ll show you all these other options. One other thing, you’ll want to read these manuals because then you’ll understand better, which makes it nice.

 Fisher: Now you see that’s what’s stressing me right there... reading manuals, Tom! [Laughs]

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: Don’t go there! [Laughs]

Tom: My techies don’t even like to read the manual. They like to figure out themselves!

Fisher: Exactly.

Tom: But yet it’s great and really intuitive because when you load Wondershare, it will show you at the bottom of the screen all these different icons of what you want to go to. If you have no clue of where you want to go to send us an email at [email protected] and I’ll get back to you and make some suggestions based on what your end use is. But if you’re in a hurry, and you don’t have time to get a hold of me, if you go MP4 with video and MP3 with audio, you’re going to be okay.

Fisher: All right, here’s one from Kathy Funk and this is a really unique question. I don’t know if you get this very often. She said, “I’d like to have this movie on a BluRay DVD transferred to my old VHS tape because that’s the only kind of player I have. Can you do this?” Wow!

Tom: Yeah. [Laughs] We can do it. We could take a Cadillac and put it in a shredder and reformat it into a Fiesta, but why would you want to do that?! There’s sometimes people who have those situations. Back in the day we had a customer when DVDs first came out that refused to buy a DVD player. He’d bring in new DVD releases and say, “Hey, put this on a VHS so I can play it. And he did so many of them, he ended spending a couple of  hundred dollars and I said, “Hey, you can go buy a DVD player for 60, 70 bucks” It’s what it cost back then and he said, “No, I don’t want it. Just do what I asked you to do.” And the customer is usually right so we did what he wanted to do. You can send us a BluRay. We can turn it into a VHS, or an MP4, whatever you want. If you want to buy Wondershare like we talked about a customer before, you can take the BluRay and convert that in Wondershare, do an MP4 or to a VHS, or whatever you want. But we’re happy to do that for you. Sometimes old folks don’t want new technology. They love their VHS player. We’re more than happy to do that for you.

Fisher: All right Tom, great stuff and of course if you have a question for Tom, email him at [email protected]. Thanks for coming on. We’ll see you next week Tom!

Tom: Thank you, my pleasure.

Fisher: And this segment of the show has been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. Well that wraps it up for this week. By the way, if you missed any of the show, catch the podcast. It comes out on Mondays after we air on the weekends on radio around the country. You can catch it on iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com, but of course. And don’t forget to sign up for the Weekly Genie newsletter. Go to ExtremeGenes.com. You’ll find the fill-in box at the upper right hand corner of the front page. Thanks for joining us and remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!

Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes