Episode 171 - Methods of Deciphering Old Handwriting / Company Turns Cremains Into Mugs & JewelryDec 26, 2016
Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys talk first a remarkable event at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring the deceased vets for the holidays. Then, a more than century-old document has been found in Germany concerning the grandfather of President-Elect Donald Trump. And yes, it will be blamed by some for his election. Hear what it is. Next, catch the story about a Michigan man’s remarkable discovery… two secret rooms in the house his family had owned for decades. Naturally the family history finds… for the previous family… made headlines. Next, it was just an exhibit displaying World War II bomber “nose art” right? Not for one man from Milwaukee. Wait til you hear about his incredible discovery. David then shares his tip of the week.
Transcript of Episode 171
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 171
Fisher: And you have found us! It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Hope you’re having a great holiday weekend, everything’s breaking your way, you’re getting all the gifts that you want and most importantly, enjoying the family that you’ve got surrounding you. And this segment by the way is brought to you by Storyworth.com and our guest today... this is really fun... we are going to talk to Kim Running from LegacyTree.com. I haven’t really thought about a lot of these tips, but she’s going to give you some ideas about how to interpret old handwriting when you come across, you know, an original record and you want to transcribe it or figure out what it’s telling you. There are some real tricks to it and as I realized, yeah I’ve done some of these things. She’s absolutely right. You’re going to enjoy hearing what she’s got to say, coming up in about 7 or 8 minutes. And then later in the show, we promised you we’d find him. We did. He’s Justin Crowe. He’s the CEO of Cremation Designs and he’s going to tell you about what he does with his company to turn the remains of your loved one into jewelry or a coffee mug or something like that. Would you be comfortable with that? I’m not so sure I would be, but we’ll hear what he’s got to say and how you could take advantage of his services, I suppose, if you chose to do so, later on in the show. But right now let’s head off to Boston and talk to my good friend David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, how are you? Merry Christmas!
David: Merry Christmas to you from Beantown! I’ll tell you it’s a crazy week here, but everybody is very much looking forward to a little bit of time off and spending time with the family.
Fisher: Absolutely. Well let’s find out what’s happening in the world of family history this week starting in Arlington, Virginia.
David: Right at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, a couple of weeks ago the company Wreaths Across America thought they would not be able to cover even a quarter of the 245,000 resting places that they usually do.
David: But within a couple of days they actually, through generous donations from the Cub Scouts, the Girl Scouts, High School Football groups, etc., rallied and they had enough, and then they got something even more miraculous, 44,000 volunteers to lay the wreaths!
Fisher: Wow! Now that would average then about six wreaths per volunteer and the whole thing could be done. Wouldn’t that be amazing to just watch how the military would organize that with wreaths in different sections of the cemetery? I’ve got a couple of second cousins who are buried in Arlington and I’ve got to imagine this is a very emotional and a very humbling thing for these volunteers.
David: It really is, and Wreaths Across America does more than Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It also does over 1,200 other cemeteries. In total they laid over 1.2 million wreaths around the country recently.
David: Well, I tell you January is going to have some excitement down in Washington across the Potomac when Trump becomes President, but hopefully he won’t suffer the fate his grandfather did from his foreign land. See, Grandpa decided not to serve in the Bavarian Military under the German Army and he was basically kicked out of Germany.
Fisher: So we have President Trump now because his Grandpa was kicked out of Germany and came here.
David: Um hmm.
David: So Frederick Trump emigrated in 1885, but basically, there’s an order. The authorities told him to leave.
Fisher: So a new document find there?
David: Exactly. I’m sure more and more things will be dug up in his family tree. Remember we talked a little while back about the old white house of the Trump family that was for sale?
David: And the village that they came from and of course there are probably people that are going to find their family trees connected to Donald Trump.
Fisher: Yes I just found one for a neighbor recently; fourth cousin twice removed.
David: Well there can’t be too many Americans that can claim that.
David: So there you go. That’s one for the record books. My next story goes out to things that you left behind that you never thought you’d see again. In a house in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, Ricardo Bush was doing some renovations and actually found an old steamer trunk. Within it he found family photographs. A local news station went on and took some images of them and through Facebook somebody reached out to their ex-wife because they remembered the street that she lived on. Lo and behold, one of the photographs is the same one she had in her living room of her dad in uniform.
David: This has been locked up for over 60 years. When they moved they just didn’t take the trunk with them and it’s amazing what that time capsule probably has in it that she has probably not seen since her childhood.
Fisher: But the cool thing about this is it was a secret room to these people.
Fisher: The people have been living there for all this time. I think we all have those dreams once in a while about you find a secret room in your house and, “What’s in there? I didn’t even know this was here.” There was really a secret room right there!
David: Exactly. That’s a wonderful holiday gift for sure.
Fisher: No kidding, right?
David: Well you know sometimes you go to these exhibits, museums or places that you always hope to find some family relevance. Well, Bill Trombly, an enthusiastic pilot was blown away when he went to an exhibit in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on World War II Nose Art. I think you read the story.
David: I can’t believe the chances of this.
Fisher: Well nose art is, you know, how they would paint the beautiful women on the front of the bombers, “Beautiful Betty” or whatever it was. They took these pieces out and displayed them all in this one big exhibit in Oshkosh. This guy’s from Milwaukee and he found his grandfather’s plane’s nose art there. How cool is that?
David: It really is. I mean you think of movies like Memphis Belle and all that.
David: And all the beautiful nose art on these planes. Many of them were lost. But it’s nice to think that this museum had the foresight to actually save some of them before they were lost.
Fisher: Exactly. All right what do you have for your tip today David?
David: Well my tip is holiday related. I’m sure our listeners have taken dozens of pictures this weekend and probably will continue through the holidays into new years. Print them out folks. Make photo books. At least print off a copy and write the year of it. How many of us have pictures of our Christmas trees with nobody around it that, “What Christmas was that from?”
David: Because we’ve been using the same ornaments for 20, 30 years.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.
David: I mean I had to line up all of my pictures with Santa, saying, “Well, I look a little older in this one. Maybe I was 3 maybe I was 4. I don’t know.” And in case you didn’t get that holiday gift, let NEHGS offer you a free guest member user account. Just go to AmericanAncestors.org. Every week we offer a free guest member data base that you can try and maybe you might become a member next year. Until next time, have a Merry Christmas my friend.
Fisher: You too David. Take care. And coming up next in three minutes, we’ll talk to Kim Running from LegacyTree.com about how to interpret old handwriting in some of those documents you might find on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 171
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kim Running
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, its Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and we are talking today to Kim Running. She is one of those experts... we’ve got such a large crop of them over at our friends at LegacyTree.com. How are you Kim? Welcome to the show.
Kim: I’m great. Thanks Scott.
Fisher: This is a real interesting topic we’re going to get in to here because anybody who’s ever tried to research knows that it’s really important to be able to decipher the handwriting of people who write documents, and you’ve done a tremendous blog on this at LegacyTree.com and I thought we’d get into some of that just a little bit. Your first point by the way, very well taken! Kids have to learn how to read cursive writing and they’re not getting that anymore
Kim: No they’re not. Electronics are great, but it’s important to be able to read those old documents. Even the historical documents, being able to read them in their original form I think is very important.
Fisher: Yes. Certainly it’s great to see the transcripts but what is the transcriber makes an error?
Fisher: Or what if there’s something that’s been missed or whatever. You want to be able to read that. In fact, David Allan Lambert, when he was on the show several months ago he mentioned that a college student came into the New England Historic Genealogical Society and needed help because she could not read cursive writing, which just blows my mind. [Laughs]
Fisher: But it’s upon us now and I don’t know what’s going to change it unless parents work with kids to learn cursive writing because the schools just aren’t making that happen anymore.
Kim: Yeah. And what about maybe your grandfather’s letters that he wrote home from the war? Or I have the same recipes from my husband’s grandmother who handwrote all the recipes out, her gingersnap cookies, and if you don’t know how to read it you won’t be able to recreate that.
Fisher: Exactly, really good points. So let’s go through this idea. How do you interpret handwriting? We’re going to start with the assumption that you can read cursive because if you can’t, then the rest of this is kind of irrelevant. But where do we begin with this to break down documents? I’ve done a lot of transcribing of old records myself, Kim, and it’s really kind of challenging sometimes, especially if it’s an old foreign language. But we’ll talk about that a little bit later on. Let’s just start with the basics for English language records mostly here in the United States and I would say England.
Kim: Well, once we get a document, sometimes we want to just sit down and we want to start right from the very beginning and start trying to write it out, but I think it’s really important to step back a little bit and look at the whole thing. Just kind of scan through it quickly and get kind of a context, what kind of a document is it? Is it a passenger list? Is it a will? Is it a land deed? To kind of understand what it is that you’re even looking at in the first place. And then kind of just skim over it and see if there’s any words that kind of pop out at you. Kind of get a feel for the scribe’s handwriting and start from there.
Fisher: Yes. And then there’s the point where when you get into foreign records especially, looking for key words and phrases, and I guess you could say the same thing for English records because of the fact that some things are just very difficult to understand what you’re seeing because handwriting has changed throughout the generations.
Kim: Right. Well, for example in a will, often the very first line in a will is “In the name of God. Amen.” So if you know that phrase right there, you’re going to have a lot of letters to look for to compare to in the rest of the document, or look for “I give and bequeath to my beloved wife,” or “my Last Will and Testament.” If you’re looking in a deed, they often begin with, “this indenture made this,” and they have the date, the words “grantor” or “grantee,” “pertinences” are also words that are in deeds that you might be able to recognize and then compare those letters to other letters throughout the document.
Fisher: Yeah. When you go to transcribe, it’s interesting that sometimes you just get so stuck on a word and you try to read it in context to what the sentence is saying, but then you find that word somewhere else, it might be written a little better or a little clearer but the context might be better. But then you can go okay, that’s that word and that’s where it fits in down here. Have you had that experience?
Kim: Exactly. Yeah there are also letters that look alike, like capital C or G, often you get confused with the capital letter U and V, or T and F.
Fisher: Yes I’ve seen that in old wills. In fact an old handwritten genealogy from the 1600s where the Ws look like Vs. I mean it’s very strange. When you go to write it out or transcribe it you kind of have to debate and decide which letter you’re actually going to write, the original one or the one that’s its meant to communicate, right?
Kim: Right. And also there’s like double S. They’ll make the first S really long down and it can look like a P or an F and then the second S is just normal size S.
Kim: And even in the really old documents like some of those I’ve seen once like old England ones where they’ll have two lowercase Fs which actually symbolizes the capital Fs.
Kim: Um hmm. It’s like what you were saying, which one do you pick? Do you transcribe it exactly with the two lowercase Fs or do you just make it capital Fs because that’s what it’s meaning?
Fisher: I think to a certain extent it would probably depend on who you’re expecting is going to read your transcription at some point. Is it going to be an expert? Or is it going to be, you know, one of your grandkids? Trying to figure out what was said there. I think in that case I’d write it the way it was meant to be understood as opposed to the way it literally is.
Kim: Right. And you often find what we’re transcribing we’re trying to transcribe it exactly the way it is so that we have a true representation of the original. But to your point, when you’re trying to share it with someone else, we want them to be able to understand what it really meant.
Fisher: Well, and then there was the word “ye” right? I mean that’s another old one that literally means “the.”
Kim: Right. The Y was actually the “TH” sound and the fonts came from Germany and Italy and they didn’t have that symbol, so the one that was closest to it was the Y letter that we use. So “YE” is actually “The” not “Ye” like we see in the old signs “Ye old bookshop” or “Ye old tavern.”
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] But it shouldn’t be pronounced that way. It should be pronounced “The.”
Kim: It should be pronounced ‘The,’ correct.
Fisher: But nobody does anymore because we think we’re being real old timey, right?
Kim: [Laughs] Right.
Fisher: [Laughs] Then there’s the issue of bleed through with some of this stuff that gets really interesting. Have you had that experience?
Kim: Yes. You have to be really careful because sometimes something was written on the back and it’s bled through to the front and you can’t tell. Sometimes it either blocks out the writing that’s on the front so you have to just kind of be really careful to try to figure out is that what’s on the back or is that part of the front, you know? So ink could have faded or snipped off and so it might have changed the ending to be a letter that’s not what was intended.
Fisher: Yeah. One of the things I actually do with that is, you know, I love to play with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. So sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll zoom in on these documents real close and I’ll start to take out the stuff that I can tell is bleeding in from behind so that then I can get a cleaner document to translate and also maybe to share with other people so that they can actually read it.
Kim: Right. And that’s what’s wonderful about the digitized documents is that you can zoom in closely and be able to really see what letter was formed.
Fisher: Are you aware of any standard books out there that can help people to analyze some of the handwritings from various areas and certainly different languages?
Kim: So there’s a great book called “Reading Early American Handwriting” By Kip Sperry, and he has lots of tips on reading the actual document on one side and then the transcription on the other. So you can practice.
Fisher: Oh what a good idea! So he’s got it correctly done and then you can practice and see how you did, right?
Kim: Right. Cover the answers [Laughs] and practice.
Fisher: And no intimidating teacher to say, “Boy, you did a lousy job!”
Fisher: Right? [Laughs]
Kim: There’s also a great website, Brigham Young University has script tutorials online that you can actually practice and the National Archives of the UK as well has some that you can practice transcribing. And they give you the answers.
Fisher: Boy, that’s great. It’s good to know that those things are out there. What about foreign languages? I’ve dealt with German handwriting from the 18th century. And I will tell you, the first time I looked at that it was like kindergarten scribble to me. It was absolutely intranscribable, untranslatable, and I had to take it up to a desk for a German expert to look at it, and they look through that with no problem at all. Read the thing like they were reading a child’s story book!
Kim: [Laughs] A lot of people get intimidated by a foreign language document thinking, “Well, I don’t speak that language. I’m not going to be able to get anything from it.” But it’s kind of the same principles. If you look at the whole thing and try to pick out some of the... maybe there’s a date in there, you can kind of figure out where the numbers are going to be written. So you can kind of figure out where the date might be. And you can also find examples online of specific genealogical words. Specific genealogical wordlist in that language and you can start to pick out those kinds of words.
Kim: And that will help you even if you don’t read the language, find the names and find like where it says mother or father, things like that to help you to be able to pull out the information that you need, the vital information.
Fisher: Well, as you say that, I recall my whole experience with it. I’d start taking it up to the desk and they would point out certain words and they would give me a handout to show me what some of the words were that I was looking for. And within a couple of days, because this broke open a whole new line of research for me, and I’d spent weeks on it... but I was able to go in and start recognizing the keywords, the dates, and within a fairly short period of time my eyes were completely adjusted to it and I could see exactly what I was looking for and what the words meant. And if I got stuck on something like an occupation, they could help me out. But the rest of it became pretty easy, especially if you know for instance what the date situation was, what calendar they were working off of at that time. You could really start to get pretty proficient at it. Although, I would say right now if I went back and looked at those original records again, because I’m talking about an experience 20 years ago, I probably [laughs] would be right back to ground zero. I think your eyes can get opened to a new language pretty quickly if you have those key words, and do some of the things that we talked about with the English version of this.
Kim: Right. And I do some Italian research, and at the little village that I’ve been working on it’s been the same scribe for years and years and years. So I know how he writes certain letters and someone else might look at the word Rosa and say, “Oh that’s not an R.” Because it doesn’t look like an R, it looks like thing else. But I know how he writes it because I’ve seen enough of his handwriting. Because I’m familiar with it, I can pick it out quickly, whereas someone else who just started looking at it might have more of a struggle than you do. Your eyes just start to get used to the way the person writes and the way those letters are formed and you actually do a lot better than you think.
Fisher: Absolutely. She’s Kim Running. She’s with LeagyTree.com. We’ve been talking about analyzing handwriting and it’s interesting that there’s just so much to this that you can do to get through some of these old records.
Fisher: Thanks for coming on Kim! And we look forward to talking to you again.
Kim: Thanks. Its been a pleasure!
Fisher: And this segment of our show has been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And coming up next, we’ll talk to a guy who started a company that will take the cremains of your loved ones and turn them into, well something else... in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 171
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Justin Crowe
Fisher: All right, we are back, Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, and it wasn't, maybe a week or two ago, I was talking to David Allen Lambert, from the New England Historic Genealogical Society about this new project that's out, it’s called the "Chronically Cremation Designs". And we were talking about how your loved ones remains can be put into coffee mugs and all these different things, jewelry! And so, I made a pledge to you at that time that we would track down the person behind this, and I have him on the phone with us right now, Justin Crowe, from CremationDesigns.com. How are you, Justin?
Justin: I'm doing great. How are you, Scott?
Fisher: What were you thinking here? I mean, first of all, I can tell you're a young guy. What makes you think, "Hey, ashes! I can do something with this!" How did this come into your head?
Justin: Right. Well, I have a background in ceramics. And so, I know a little bit about material and the process and the history of that. And I knew that ashes could be incorporated into ceramics, because bone ash is actually, a really common ingredient. In the 18th century, they invented bone china, which is made of 30% bone ash, animal bones, and it’s still made of 30% animal bones. So that's kind of where the idea originated that I knew this was possible.
Fisher: And so you decided, "Okay, I'm going to start with that." And make you make mugs, so you've got what, hot chocolate mugs, coffee mugs, what else?
Justin: I have a background in functional ceramics, so I kind of wanted to create a conceptual, an interesting concept, something that pushed boundaries, that pushed the boundary of what is conventional and what is comfortable, maybe even what is respectful.
Fisher: You're doing that, yes!
Justin: Yeah. And you know, it really caught the attention of a lot of people, and started, really what became this nationwide debate about these things, about what people are comfortable with and about memorialization conventions.
Fisher: Yeah, I do have a feeling that if I were to try to sip something from a mug made from the ashes of my mother or something like that, it would just be a little strange to me. I think I would struggle with that. Others respond similarly?
Justin: Well, yeah. I mean, what's been really interesting is the internet has provided plenty of negative feedback.
Justin: But you know, at the same time I'm reading these negative comments, I'm getting customers calling me and ordering things, ordering coffee mugs, ordering candle luminaries, decorative pieces, who are really grateful for what we're doing and express that to us. And you know, I had one customer recently, I talked to her, made a recent order, and she said, “I can hardly wait to drink coffee with my sister every morning! Thank you so much for what you're doing."
Justin: Everyone has different way of remembering. The goal's to cater to all different kinds of people.
Fisher: Sure, sure. So what happens if one of these mugs breaks? Is this something that you can take the pieces and reconstitute it?
Justin: Well, we can reconstitute it, but I mean, this is kind of the beauty in ceramics in some strange way. If this remains unbroken, it’s going to last for more than 30,000 years.
Justin: In some way it’s kind of memorializing the memory of this person. But then yeah, I mean one kind of ungraceful move and it can shatter on the floor.
Justin: So we don't reconstitute the pieces. I mean, that's something that the customer will have to negotiate for themselves. But we definitely have the ability to recreate those pieces for them. We don't need all of the ashes of a person to create a glaze. We only need a small amount.
Fisher: So basically, if they keep a constant supply coming to you, they could make a whole set really, right?
Justin: Yeah. I mean, presumably, you could have an entire collection of design ware that goes back generations of people in your home.
Fisher: True, yeah. How much ash is needed, say, for a coffee mug?
Justin: To create a glaze, we ask for one cup of ashes.
Fisher: Okay. And I'm not really familiar with how much usually winds up in an urn. How many cups are usually there?
Justin: An urn, I believe has about sixteen cups.
Justin: It ranges.
Justin: But the average is about sixteen cups.
Fisher: So really, you don't need a lot.
Justin: No, no, that's a very small amount compared to how much the full amount that you get.
Fisher: But you do do jewelry as well. Now talk about that.
Justin: Jewelry is one of the biggest sellers. It’s one of the most popular memorialization objects on the market right now. It’s the most searched memorial object on Google at the moment. So yeah, I mean, typically, the product that's on the market right now is a capsule. And you get the capsule and you put the ashes in, which is nice and kind of a novelty and kind of fun, but our products, really, the ashes are intrinsically in the material.
Justin: Which offers kind of a much more different experience, and in my opinion, something that feels a little bit more true, it feels a little bit more valuable.
Fisher: Yeah, I was thinking about that, too, because my wife lost an earring the other day that had belonged to my mother at one time, and she's still hoping to find it, but I'm thinking, but what is she lost an earring that actually was my mother? I mean, how much more painful might that be to lose a piece of jewelry like that.
Justin: Right. Well, you know, we can replace that earring. [Laughs]
Fisher: That's true. As long as you keep a supply of the ashes around, right?
Justin: Sure, yeah.
Fisher: I also see on your website, you do home decor. What's that about?
Justin: The products that we launched with all kind of had a different intention, to kind of cater to a different taste of each person. And the home decor items we do, we look at as kind of these decorative bottles or these large center piece bowls for a table or a countertop. And really, my intention with these was to replace the traditional cremation urns.
Justin: So instead of having an urn filled with ashes, you have a large decorative bottle that is coated with the ashes.
Fisher: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. And I agree with you. I always thought it was kind of odd to keep an urn in the center of a home someplace. How long does it take to create these things?
Justin: From when we receive the ashes at our studio, it depends how many orders we're processing, but right now it takes about thirty days to receive your order.
Fisher: Well that's not bad. So what's the most interesting story you've run across since you started doing this, Justin?
Justin: I got a call a couple of weeks back from a woman who was traveling to Europe, and she really wanted to take the memory of her mother with her and spread it throughout Europe, but she didn't want to, because her mother was a big traveler, she didn't want to take the ashes with her. And so we came up with a solution on making a custom piece for her or custom pieces which are kind of remembrance beads glazed with her mother's ashes. And she's going to take these beads with her over to Europe and drop them in different bodies of water as she travels for a month.
Fisher: Oh, what a great idea!
Justin: Yeah, I thought that was a really creative, interesting way to celebrate the memory of her mother.
Fisher: Have you had anybody come back with a story where they found it more difficult than they thought they would?
Justin: I haven't. No, I mean, everyone's been really pleased so far and really grateful. The feedback that we've received from our customers has been really positive.
Fisher: So give us a little idea of the price range on each of these items you've takes about.
Justin: Yeah, products right now range from cremation jewelry which starts at $190 for a pendant, and that range goes up to some of our larger pieces, to like a center piece bowl, which is, I believe $750. And we're going to be adding products in early 2017 as well, so there might be a bit more of a range in there to accommodate whatever people are interested in.
Fisher: Now you mentioned the mugs earlier, what do those go for?
Justin: The mugs are $199.
Fisher: They're $199, okay. Do you do plates as well?
Justin: We will be adding plates, yep, that you can hang on the wall. We'll also be adding some larger kind of decorative tiles that you can hang on the wall, almost as art objects.
Justin: Something more that you observe in your everyday life, than use.
Fisher: Well, think of the plate. I'm thinking, you could probably put their picture in it, right?
Justin: Yeah. That's something we've been exploring, as well as adding images and text to this work.
Fisher: And that would make it a lot more special. Excellent! He is Justin Crowe. He's the owner of CremationDesigns.com. And you can find the links to it of course on our page at ExtremeGenes.com. Justin, interesting work you're in to here! The best of luck to you and thanks for taking the time to talk to us!
Justin: Thanks so much, Scott, I really appreciate it.
Fisher: And this segment of our show has been brought to you by RootsMagic.com and LegacyTree.com. And just a reminder by the way, go to our website, ExtremeGenes.com, just look on the upper right hand corner of our homepage and you'll find a box there and you can sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter, all kinds of great articles there, and my weekly blog as well. Tom Perry talks preservation, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 171
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: I love talking about preservation, because it really helps assure that a lot of things we've gathered and collected on our ancestors over the years is going to stay in the family. Hi, its Fisher, you’re with Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And its preservation time right now with Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com. Hi, Tom, how are you?
Tom: Super duper!
Fisher: And this was great. We were talking off mic here a few moments ago about certain things that we have gathered and collected on our families over the years, and they sit in drawers or they sit in books or they sit in sleeves, and we really start to wonder at a certain point, "Who's going to want this stuff?"
Fisher: What kind of value are they going to see in it? Is there a way to actually improve the value?
Tom: Oh absolutely! In fact, that's, you know, an absolutely wonderful topic, because I have people coming into the store that ask us the same thing. You know, we have people sometimes that are downsizing, they’ve had this big house, all their kids are gone now, they want to move to a warmer climate into a condo, what are they going to do with all their old stuff? So that's a perfect example. In fact, let me give you one here, and I know you've got several that we talked off air about too, that we can talk about. Like my dad, he had all this old stuff from the Marine Corps, and he just got tired of moving it around, keeping it around, never looking at it, it was in boxes, so nobody got to enjoy it. So he got one of his old Marine Corps blankets and then its stitched in the middle of it, you know, US Marine Corps, so he cut that out just bigger than a normal size frame, then he got all of the awards he got for shooting and different things in the military and kind of framed it around the USMC, got it in a shadow box, and now its hanging on my wall. I actually inherited it after he passed away. And people talk about it all the time, they say, "Oh, that is so cool! That's so wonderful!" And it’s really, really neat. So all the clutter's gone now, and I've got it all compressed into a little 8x10 frame.
Fisher: Isn't that great!
Tom: Oh, it’s awesome!
Fisher: And do you enjoy that?
Tom: Oh, very much so.
Fisher: And I had the same situation with my mother. She had these pins from when she was in a high school marching band and they were sitting in a little clear plastic box with a note as to what they were. [Laughs] They were just sitting in the back of a clothing drawer. And I was thinking, "Who's going to want this? Do I give one to each kid? What do I do with it?" And then I decided, "No, not every kid is going to care so much. Let's keep them all together." And so I did the same thing. I made a shadow box, I took a photograph of my mother's marching band in Oregon in high school and a photo of her and put a little plaque in the middle that explained exactly what it was and had it all framed. And now it hangs on my wall at home. And people comment on it all the time. But this is going to assure that the story stays with the items. It’s going to assure that they all stay together. And it has a context as to what they mean.
Tom: Oh yeah! This can apply to so many different things. For instance, if you were a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout and you've got all these different kinds of badges and the little sew-on type things, your banderols, there's so many different ways you can repurpose this stuff and declutterize yourself at the same time, by, you know, getting shadow boxes, getting frames, be creative, you know, go watch HCTV and get some different ideas about how you can put these different things together. In fact, one thing that I did is, I had just stacks of calendars and airline tickets and every time I'd gone to a concert, I had a wrist bands, and I have all this garbage in this box, and it’s like, "What do I do with it?" I mean, I know it’s there. It’s cool. And there is no way I'm going to throw it away. Well, I figured out a way I could throw it away. I went out and scanned everything. Some of the things that were 3 dimensional, I actually shot with my iPhone. And now I've got all these things in a way that I can show people that look cool. I can put them in frames, on the wall, do all these kinds of things, because I’m not really a scrapbooker that glues all these thing in. So basically, I've made a digital scrapbook. I can go in and look at these old airline tickets, they bring back memories. And now that they're digitized, I can go in and put tags on them and say, "Oh yeah, I remember when we were in Peru. We did such and such. We met this wonderful family." It’s going to be cool for my kids to read and see and my grandkids, you know, way after I'm gone, then they can see these special things that, you know, grandpa did back in the day. And another neat thing about doing them digital, there's a lot of different softwares where you can put them in a digital scrapbook, put them on your Facebook page or your own family website where they can page through them and see all these kinds of things and get the feelings that you had when you originally went there.
Fisher: And throw out the originals, if you choose to do so.
Fisher: All right. When we come back, we're going to talk about preserving papers, newspapers, old letters, anything that you want to preserve for the long haul, coming up next in three minutes on, Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 171
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. Fisher here the Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority. And Tom, we were talking last segment about how to basically repurpose and package things that you might have cluttering your house, whether it’s in old folders or in drawers, and making it something attractive and desirable for people to keep, so hopefully future generations will hold onto that. And that got us going into the direction of old newspapers and papers. And there's some interesting things that you can do with those as well, because who wants to throw away an interesting old newspaper, but what do you do with it to display it?
Tom: Oh exactly! There's a lot of different things you can do. Like you know, you were talking off air about how you can get this special kind of foam core that's made to be the anti- acid, you know, where you can put your picture on. It has this special glue. You can put in the UV glass, so you still have your newspaper that you can put up. Now one thing you want to remember too is, how important is that old newspaper? Do you really need that old newspaper, or can you just scan it and put it in a digital form? Because once you do scan it and put it in a digital form, it gives you a whole bunch of options.
Tom: You can go and print that back out on what looks like newspaper, but it’s already acid free. You can light a match and kind of burn the edges, give it the old time look.
Tom: So many different things… put water spots, because sometimes, the infirmity, so to speak, in the paper kind of give it, you know, some character. And sometimes those things are cool, so you still have that preserved. If you have a few newspaper clippings, you know, its fine to keep them, but, you know, I know people that saved entire newspapers, like when JFK died.
Tom: You know, Dale Earnhardt Sr. died, these different things. They have all these papers, and what do they do with them? So this is a good way to preserve them, because once you have them digital, and we've talked about a lot of times, whenever you're backing stuff up, you want it on a hard drive, you want it on a disk and at least two unrelated clouds to keep the stuff. And so once it’s there, if you want to go and like you talked about, make it as a full size framing up on your wall, you can do that. If you want to put smaller snippets of it on your Facebook page or whatever, you can do those kinds of things. It gives you so many options to get to where you're going. Before you do any preservation, you need to figure out, "Okay, what's my end goal? What's the finish line? Am I running a 220 or a 440?" So you need to know how pace yourself. Now that you have your goal, plan it right, because you know the old saying, if you fail to plan, you’ve planned to fail. So say, "Okay, I want to have this stuff to be able to put on my Facebook page. I want to put it on YouTube. I want to have it on disk. I want to have it on hard drives." I mean, people have things like recipe cards. I took all my recipe cards from my grandmother and scanned them and put them in a recipe book. So not only is her handwriting there, we also transcribed it, so those of us who didn't know grandma and can't read her handwriting, can see the cool recipes she had, but the whole back of it is a little recipe card that she wrote out by hand. And I don't want to keep this huge box of recipes, because it makes no sense, nobody's going to go through it. Somebody touches it and you go, "Ugh!" you know, "Be careful! Don't lose that! Don't spill something!"
Fisher: All right, real quick, back to this thing about preserving the originals on the foam core that you mentioned. I did this. I actually had a newspaper from when John Glenn orbited the earth for the first time.
Fisher: And I mailed it to him and he autographed it for me. And so now I wanted to preserve it and display it. So I took it to a local place where they were actually able to put this newspaper through a heat process that relaxed the paper, because it was all crinkly and even cracked in some places. It relaxes the paper, and then they're able, using acid free glue, to attach it to a foam core. And now you have it completely flat, perfectly preserved and totally displayable. So you could put it in a frame and show it with UV glass to protect it from fading in the future. Although, even with UV, it can fade over time, depending on the room you keep it in.
Tom: Things like that are just absolutely priceless. And like one thing that you mentioned is the room that it’s in, make sure you scan it also so you have a digital copy, so maybe in 20 years from now, you might have to remake it.
Fisher: All right, great segments, Tom. Good to talk to you. We'll see you next week.
Tom: Sounds good. We'll see you then.
Fisher: And this segment of Extreme Genes has been brought to you by MyHeritage.com and 23andMe.com DNA. Well that wraps up our final show of 2016. We're going to take a break next week. You'll hear a classic edition of Extreme Genes, and hope you'll join us for that. Thanks so much for telling so many people about the show in the past year. The growth has been absolutely phenomenal. We'll talk to you again in 2017 with more incredible stories and great tips on how to find your ancestry, on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!