Episode 186 - Fisher & Lambert On “Rent A Grave” In Europe / Ancestry’s Genetic Communities

podcast episode Apr 09, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogy Society. David opens Family Histoire News with the story of a World War II veteran in his 90s who has won the lottery in Ohio. Then, Fisher spins the “Wheel of Wherever,” which leads to several stories from the UK, including the passing of a 93-year-old World War II vet, and a very strange twist involving his family. Also, hear the announcement of the sale offering of UK’s smallest castle. Listen to the show to hear all the specs and how much they’re asking. Also, did an early Brit forget where he parked his Iron Age chariot? One has been found, along with a horse.

David then sticks around to discuss Fisher’s discovery on his recent European trip that, in Germany, graves are not permanent… they’re essentially rentals! Hear the terms by which most are buried and what happens when the “lease” comes to an end!  And, as David will tell you, Germany is not the only place this happens.

Then, Fisher visits with Anna Swayne of Ancestry.com about their new Genetic Communities. What’s the benefit? How does it work? Anna will explain.

Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com talks the importance of saving digitized files in the proper size. How big? He’ll tell you where to find a reference chart that will be invaluable. Tom then talks about capturing images from video.

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

Transcript of Episode 186

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 186

Fisher: And welcome to 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. And this segment is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And a little bit later on in the show David Allen Lambert joins me as we talk about something I discovered in Germany that I think you may find very disturbing, concerning burials. And apparently it’s not limited just to Germany. David will tell you more about that, we’re going to get to that in about nine minutes or so. Plus, later in the show we’re going to talk Anna Swayne, with Ancestry.com, talking about their new genetic communities. What does this mean? We’re going to actually look through some of mine to see what we can figure out, and how accurate are they really? And what’s the significance? We’ve got a lot ahead on this week’s show. But right now let’s head out to Boston and talk to David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you David? Your team won opening day in Boston, very nice.

David: Yeah, no it’s great and Beantown is very happy when the Red Sox win. Today it is raining so it may be a washout. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes I understand. So David, I saw you messing around on our Twitter account over the weekend. What’s this thing about a duplicate copy of the 1890 census being found?

David: Oh, right! Denial, Arkansas!

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Yeah, as a genealogist, you know sometimes they can be hoarders.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: They were cleaning this up and they found out they had an entire set of the census.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah.

David: Well, what I did is, if you want to search for further information, hashtag April Fool’s day. I got a lot of negative feedback on that one.

Fisher: A lot of raspberries on you for that, and you should have done it on your own page not on the Extreme Genes one. You can’t bring that kind of shame to us!

David: I’m sorry.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: It won’t happen again for another 365 days, I promise.

Fisher: All right, let’s find out what’s happening today with your Family Histoire News, where do we begin David?

David:  If you’re going to win the lottery, you might as well enjoy it and live a long happy, rich life afterwards. Well, Ervin Smolinski who is from South Branch, Michigan. He is a 94 year old WWII veteran. He just won a jackpot of three hundred thousand dollars.

Fisher: Ohh! And what a deserving guy too, you know. All those WWII heroes, to me I wish we could give them a lot of money to enjoy their lives.

David: Well, he’s a very frugal guy. He just wants to buy a new shed and maybe get a better used car. He’s going to invest the rest.

Fisher: [Laughs] For the long haul.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: All right David, last week we spun the wheel of wherever and wound up in Switzerland, we had a great story there.  Let’s see what happens this week as we spin the Wheel of Wherever! [Wheel Spinning] All David, its England! That should be an easy one. Do we have anything from England this week?

David: Oh we have a batch of British stories to share with you from the UK. And the first one is kind of sad, a WWII veteran by the name of Wilf Russell who was 93 years old, passed away at a care home at 6:50 in the morning on March 29th. Obviously he’s lived a long life, but his bride of 71 years, who was 91 years old, was three miles away and she died four minutes later at 6:54 AM.

Fisher: Wow! That’s crazy.

David: You know, I’ve often seen where couples have died when there’s been an illness you know years ago we look at this, they may have had TB or the plague or something that’s happened, whoever this is you know, what a way.

Fisher: Yeah. It’s like he came and took her.

David: Um hmm, pretty much.

Fisher: Amazing.

David: You were over in Europe, you do any real estate shopping?

Fisher: No, no, no real estate over there is very expensive and there were castles everywhere. And I can’t but wonder who owns those things and how do they afford the property tax you know.

David: Well, I’ve got one for you. If you want to go over to the UK the smallest castle is available for sale. It was built in the 1830s and it’s only for sale for a mere five hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

Fisher: Okay.

David: It was built by British architect Edward Blore and it has turrets, it has a single bedroom.

Fisher: Does it have a moat?

David: It doesn’t, but I’m sure that’s optional. If you can afford a five hundred and fifty thousand pound home, you can probably afford a shovel.

Fisher: Yeah [Laughs] I would think so. By the way, that’s about seven hundred thousand dollars American, right, somewhere in that range?

David: Exactly, or at least today.

Fisher: Wouldn’t that be cool though? I mean to have a one bedroom castle.

David: Exactly. Hey, you ever gone to the mall and have trouble remembering where you parked your car?

Fisher: Oh, I do that more and more actually. [Laughs]

David: Well, obviously it’s something our ancestors did too. There was archaeological dig in Pocklington, East Yorkshire in England that dates back to 500 BC. It’s a chariot and a horse.

Fisher: Whoa!

David: So apparently they forgot where they put this. Now obviously this is probably a burial and they buried the horse with the chariot. But in 200 years of archaeology in the UK, there’s only been twenty six of these ever found like this with chariots.

Fisher: That’s incredible.

David: It’s amazing. And so, needless to say, if you ever forget where your car is parked, know that it’s a hereditary thing. My genealogy blogger spotlight this week goes out to Melanie Frick, HomesteadGenealogy.com. Now, Melanies’s blog is rather interesting, Fish, and she actually has a story that kind of fits in with Extreme Genes. She’s talking about a Timothy Adams in her family tree. She found a passing reference about him being committed to the insane asylum. So this story talks about her research in finding out about the Iowa insane asylum. Melanie Frick is one of the people involved in the next generation genealogical network which is geared for young people being involved in genealogy. They’re open to all ages but this is a great way to engage the youth and young adults into the field of genealogy. Well, NEHGS’s AmericanAncestors.org, this week we’re offering a new database that covers marriages in Connecticut from the late 18th century to the early 1830s.

Fisher: all right.

David: You can find that on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: Very nice David. Now you’re going to stick around here because we’re going to talk about something I discovered on my trip to Europe a couple of weeks ago. Things I did not know about. Apparently you ran into this similarly on a trip to Europe as well. It has to do with the burial of your loved ones in Germany and elsewhere. I will simply say, if you last visited your ancestor’s grave or your relative’s grave over there, oh fifteen, twenty years ago, maybe thirty or forty years ago. That grave may not be there for you to see any longer. I am not making this up. Wait till you hear all the details about this, it’s coming up for you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 186

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with my good friend David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, and this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. David we were just talking about my recent trip that mostly focused on Germany. I was staying in Heidelberg. I have a daughter living over there for a while right now with her husband and three kids, and we took some side trips. We went to Munich and to Nuremberg, went up to Luxembourg, had some incredible chocolate at a Pâtisserie in Strasbourg, France. I got to use my very rugged French there [Laughs] and a little bit of German, and it worked! They actually understood me, so I was kind of in a state of shock but it was really cool. And I went to an ancestral hometown in the Rhineland. My only German immigrant ancestry came over about the late 1780s. His name was Frederick Anspake. The original name was Johann Friedrich Anspach, you know how they change it a little bit, and he had been christened in Sobernheim which is now called Bad Sobernheim, in 1768. So I took my daughter and my wife and three grandkids to the church where he was christened and had some pictures taken there, and in the process we started talking to some of the folks who work around there and we were asking about the graveyards and where we might find our ancestors’ graves. And this gal said to me, “Well, it’s a little different here, and we weren’t really aware that it was so different from you but in talking to some North American friends, they were a little bit horrified by how we do things.” I said, “Well, what do you do?” She said, “Well, after a certain period of time we dig them up and put somebody else in there.” And so when you get a grave in Germany, it’s temporary and it’s like a contract, you’re basically renting your space [Laughs] for fifteen to thirty years at which point then somebody is supposed to reach out to the family and say, ”Hey, your time’s about up. Do you want to renew?” And it just depends upon the area of Germany what the time span is, whether its fifteen to thirty years generally, this lady mentioned forty at one point.  And I said, “Well now, what happens then if you can’t find the family?” They say they leave a note on the grave because there’s usually a marker there. And she said, “Well, then the grave is open again for resale essentially.” So well what about the remains that are there? And having gone into an article I read about this, they said well usually there aren’t any remains left but if there are, they’ll just dig the hole deeper, put them further into the ground and then bury somebody on top of them, remove the marker and put in the marker for the new person for the next fifteen to thirty years. I mean, really? Wow!

David: That goes to show why Billion Graves and FindAGrave are so important.

Fisher: Yes.

David: Go over and capture that information and not even so much for looking for older gravestones but current ones.

Fisher: Yes! The current ones as they could be gone. Many of them are. In fact I read about one gentleman who went over to see the grave of a military comrade. He was part of the occupational force in Germany after World War II. His colleague was buried there and he noticed other graves of folks that he had known and he went back again later and the graves were gone. And that’s when he started to discover, hey, things are a little different here in Germany than they are in the United States. Can you imagine this?

David: I think it reminds me of an old joke when I was a kid where they would send this letter with all these bills that somebody owed, and by the way, if you don’t pay the perpetual care on your grandmother, up she comes! [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah.

David: It’s kinda... you know, it’s a European tradition that unfortunately I’ve witnessed the same thing myself and I was on a trip to where my grandfather was born Saint Pierre, Miquelon which is technically France. It is France but it’s located off the coast of Newfoundland and north of Nova Scotia and south of Newfoundland. These set of islands basically are set aside and they have old cemeteries, well they did until recently. When I went there a few years back I was walking through the cemetery which is non-denominational. My family were Anglicans and they were living on this French island as merchants, and sadly my grandfather’s brother died in the 1890s, fell off of a dock and died. So I wanted to find his gravestone.

Fisher: Sure.

David: I figured they were merchants they had to have a gravestone.

Fisher: Of course.

David: Uh uh. I’m walking around I see all these gravestones spray painted with orange X’s and they were crosses and it wasn’t graffiti, and then I heard machinery as they were digging up the old graves, the ones with the marble markers, taking the caskets out, removing the bones, putting them in little caskets about the size of a bread box, and then they were putting them in like a tomb, set aside and reusing the grave. But then the worst part is, the gravestones, Fish, they were putting them in a stone chipper.

Fisher: No!

David: The path I was walking on was crushed white marble from the gravestones they’d already destroyed.

Fisher: That’s incredible. Wow.

David: So I took photographs of every one of those stones that had an orange X on it, put them on FindAGrave and then I went to the archivist in Saint Pierre Miquelon I said, are you documenting these or are you photographing these? “Oh no, we just haven’t done them.” And I said, you’re losing your history. And the sad thing is, once this is gone there’s no burial records for most of these people and this is you know, history that went back to the 1700s. Now the cemetery probably is only as modern as the past fifty, sixty years.

Fisher: Wow! Then they’re going to do it again? Is this the tradition? Does this apply to France as a whole... the mainland of France?

David: I know that colleagues of mine have gone over to France after researching their ancestors in Québec and you know, go to the old churchyard and they either find that they, just like what happened in Germany where they’ve been reused, or like I’ve seen in England, the level of the cemetery or the churchyard is higher because they’ve been burying level by level over the centuries, just on top of the other one and reusing the stones.

Fisher: Wow. It just kind of blows my mind, and I guess it’s what you’re used to, but the fact of the matter is, all the countries over in Europe deal with the space issue, don’t they?

David: And the thing about it is, I mean, you think about space, I mean, like for ours in Saint Pierre there was plenty if they expand the cemetery. There were places that they could have put a new cemetery. But, it just seems to be the norm. It’s probably been the norm for centuries. And, it’s probably why we don’t find, you know, gravestones from the 12th and 13th century. Look at all the places, like Bath, England. You go there they find all of these old Roman gravestones. Romans had beautiful gravestones. There’s no graves associated with them anymore. They’ve been found in walls or parts of buildings and things like that. So, my running joke with my spouse is, when I die, put a plaque in with me that has my information on it, so if I’m going to become an archaeological dig, at least I’ll be interesting.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: And I want the Shakespeare curse on the back, “Blessed be thee who does not move my bones and cursed be thee who moves a stone.” Something along that line.

Fisher: Something like that. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Yeah, and it’s just like, I thought to myself, if I’m going to be dug up, at least they’ll know who I am.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I guess the thing that really disturbs me the most about this is, I think about all of our service people who’ve not only been over there in occupational forces, but what about our service people who were killed in World War II there. I have a cousin, a first cousin of my mother, who was killed on May 1st 1945, just days before the end of the war. His unit was out of it by May 3rd, but he got killed in a tank on May 1st, and he was over there for a few years, and fortunately, the family repatriated the body and brought it back home, and buried him here in the United States. Now, I was told at the military cemetery in Luxembourg that a lot of families did not want to do that, because they’d already gone through the mourning process, the loss process, and by bringing the body back, they were going to go through it all over again, so many of them just decided not to. A lot of them of course had wives that they left behind, who by the late 40s had already remarried. And, she didn’t want to bring the ex-husband’s remains back for, you know, obvious reasons. So, it really gets kind of complicated but, you know, when you think about the fact that there were a lot of these heroes of ours that are over there who may have been dug up and either thrown into a mass grave or just dug deeper into the hole with somebody on top of them, is just a mind blower to me.

David: I would hope that the majority of our servicemen that are buried overseas are in like national cemeteries, like Henri-Chapelle Cemetery in Belgium which is a lot of people that died during the Battle of the Bulge. My mother’s own cousin is buried over there and he’s been there since 1945. I would almost think that the military cemeteries are probably set with some condition that they cannot be removed. Or at least, I hope.

Fisher: Right. Well, the American Cemetery in Luxembourg City where I visited, where Patton is buried with many of his men who were killed in the Battle of the Bulge, that is actually Luxembourg-owned, but the Americans actually run it, so there are actual government people there running the guest center and explaining what was going on there, but yes, those graves will not ever be disturbed in that circumstance.

David: An interesting side note for that, if you have somebody who’s buried over from World War I or World War II overseas, the American Battlefield Monument Commission, ABMC.gov, has a wonderful searchable database where you can look for your relative. They’ll tell you the plot they’re in, and then, because you’re a near relative, they’ll actually photograph the gravestone and send it to you, matted on a print of the cemetery itself, and at no charge.

Fisher: That is wonderful. What a great service that is.

David: I think there’s also people that are over there decorating graves for families, for years and years.

Fisher: You know, I’m thinking, David, if I’m on a vacation in Europe, I don’t want me or anybody else in my family to die over there. [Laughs]

David: No.

Fisher: Because they’d have to bring them all the way back.

David: Exactly. You might want to put that in your passport. Please bring me with you.

Fisher: [Laughs] Take me home. Oh my goodness.

David: Poor Julie is going to have the weirdest carryon luggage, hopefully not.

Fisher: Yeah [Laughs].

David: What’s in there? Oh, it’s just Fish! [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, it’s just me. It’s just me. Oh my goodness. Well, that was quite a shocker, Dave, and I see that you were just as shocked as I was when you ran into your situation with your ancestor’s grave in part of France that’s over in the North Atlantic.

David: Exactly. It always throws people when I told them that my grandfather was born in France but it’s north of Nova Scotia. You know, it’s almost like I’m going to win a bet when they don’t believe me. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, very nice. Thanks for coming on and doing this with me.

David: Always a pleasure.

Fisher: All right, buddy. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Anna Swayne from Ancestry.com, about Genetic Communities. It’s their new thing involving DNA. We’ll find out what it means to you and me, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 186

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Anna Swayne

Fisher: And, we are back! It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show, and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. You know, recently we’ve been talking to members of the Big Three about some of the things that they’ve been involved with lately that are really rocking the world of family history, and I’ve got Anna Swayne on the line right now with us from Ancestry.com. She’s one of their spokespeople. Because you guys have a new program that’s out right now that’s kind of rocking the world. “Genetic Communities.” Talk about that a little, Anna.

Anna: Yes, we are really excited for this new thing called Genetic Communities. Because it’s essentially just revolutionizing the way we think about DNA testing, how it can tell us our own personal story, and provide us this whole concept and context of what else was happening during history at the same time our story was happening.

Fisher: That’s right. You know, if you don’t know the history of what was going on in a certain area you really can’t learn your ancestor’s history too much, can you?

Anna: Exactly. And so, DNA testing, we all know, that you know providing a simple saliva sample can tell you where in the world your ancestors came from thousands of years ago by ethnicity estimate. So this is where you say, you know, you’re 10% Scandinavian, 5% Irish, or whatever your unique makeup is. We’re essentially taking that one step further and giving a more recent connection to your past. So, we’re taking DNA, and we test it, and we’re looking at our giant database of three million people, and we’re looking for connections within that database. So you’re probably familiar with the whole matching concept.

Fisher: Sure.

Anna: Where we take your DNA, we compare it to everybody in the database, but we’re realizing that even you and me, we’re all genetically connected. There’s groups of people, and there are DNA matches, but even those groups of people match other people, and so we’ll be able to look at the patterns in the DNA from these little genetic clusters and these networks of people are all connected to other people and, the science team looks at this data and says, “Okay, so why are all these people connected?” And that’s where Genetic Communities has kind of come in to play. So, one of the things they look at first is ethnicity estimate.

Fisher: Right.

Anna: So, if there’s a little cluster of people, and you think, okay, why are all these people connecting to each other? Is there some commonality? They look at the ethnicity estimate and they say, “Oh, actually, all these people are from Ireland. Their genetic makeup makes up about 50% Irish.” So they’re like, “Okay, that’s interesting. Now let’s look at the tree data from these individuals and see what commonalities we can find from there,” and they can look at the aggravated surnames from that tree data, and they say, “Oh, wow, these are all Irish surnames.” And then they take it one step further and say, “What are the birth locations from this tree data?” And then they can say, “Oh, wow, these are all people in Ireland or from a particular region of Ireland.” And so that’s essentially how the science team has built out these genetic communities that they can then compare you and me and everybody else to, to say, hey, you’re, you know, Norwegian, you’re Irish, or different places in the US.

Fisher: Right, okay, so I’m a little confused because I’m looking at my own. You know, I’ve done tests with everybody because I think there’s a great benefit to doing that and I’m looking at my map here that you’ve got. You’ve got me in two genetic communities. One is Central Norwegian and the other is Swedes, and I’m pretty well lit up here. Now, you mentioned recent history. How far back does this basically cover, would you say?

Anna: So, your genetic communities, you’re looking back a couple hundred years ago.

Fisher: Okay.

Anna: Yeah, hundreds of years ago. If you go and you dive in, to your particular community, so, when they serve that up to you, you can click on it, you can start to see this story form of what was going on because again, this is all powered by genetics.

Fisher: Sure.

Anna: It’s all powered by this genetic concept, and now we’re trying to place it in this story form of why were these people in a certain area, why they may have moved, so you can click on it and then it goes through this time period, and you can see what was going on throughout the history, and then we layer information from your tree, so you can see in a very holistic view.

Fisher: Right, right.

Anna: You’re getting DNA, you’re getting the story and you’re getting your tree data as a holistic view of your migration.

Fisher: It’s really fun to look at, because there’s like every 25 year period there was something else going on in Scandinavia. Now, the obvious thing to me though is, I look at this, I am half Scandinavian. My mother was three quarters Swedish, and one quarter Norwegian, but my dad was mostly English, and I’m not seeing anything on here that talks about a genetic community from Great Britain. Now, why would that be?

Anna: You know, that’s a great question. You’re not going to get a community today from all of the places your family is from.

Fisher: Sure.

Anna: And that is all based on your matches. So, now that we know and understand how they’re built, your ticket in is how many DNA matches you have to that particular community.

Fisher: Very interesting. All right, so I can actually zoom in on some of these places and see where some of these little bubbles were that my people might have been. At least, the matches were in over the last couple hundred years.

Anna: Exactly.

Fisher: And this is just another part of your subscription program, right?

Anna: Actually, you don’t have to be a subscriber to get this. If you have DNA you will get this. We run everybody through the program to see if they have communities, and we’ll continue to update this. But the fascinating thing for me is the technology that we’re able to do this, the underlying layer, the foundation of technology that’s going to be able to give us this. I mean, we think okay, here’s some communities, we’re just going to be able to get more and more as more people take the test and as our science team is able to look at these clusters in more refined ways.

Fisher: Well, I’m looking forward to digging in a little bit deeper. What have you found out about your genetic communities, Anna?

Anna: You know, it’s funny, because I’ve had several family members tested, and so I’ve been able to see what my genetic communities are, but you know, my grand aunt for example has one in Ireland. So when we got our results back, this was kind of a funny story, we got our results back and we had all this Irish in us, and we thought, where, who?

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

Anna: [Laughs] Where’s this coming from?

Fisher: Isn’t it kind of hard to separate Ireland and England at this point, for most people?

Anna: Yeah, and you get to a point of like, what part of time are we talking about?

Fisher: Yes. It’s like looking through a telescope at the stars.

Anna: Exactly. So now, I’ve been digging in to try to figure out who you know, was this common ancestor that came over to the US that’s my direct line.

Fisher: And the nice part about that is, you do your research, if you find a line back to a place, but you’re not quite sure, this could be a nice confirmation.

Anna: Yeah, exactly. And in this view, you can see all of your matches who also belong to this community, so now I know, I’m going to go look at those matches, I’m going to see where they are in Ireland, I’m going to see how their trees could potentially match in and you know track back into my tree, so that already gives me a few things I can go and do. In the US, my mom’s side of the family, we have a community to the settlers of Virginia. Now, Virginia is something we always knew. We knew my ancestor came and was in Virginia in the 1600s, but we don’t know where he came from.

Fisher: Right.

Anna: And, the other interesting part about this whole feature is the migration. I think you kind of alluded too before. You go throughout history and you can actually see the migration happening based on where people moved and according to their tree data, giving you the outlook. So when I look at my settlers of Virginia, it actually shows me where other people came from, so I know my family is there in Virginia, I don’t know where they came from, but now, looking at it in this view, I can see all my matches who are in this community and where they came from, and there’s three different locations, and now I’m thinking, wow, this is great. I can actually go and do some research in history locations to see if I can find my ancestor who came over somewhere. It’s like he just appeared in Virginia. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow. [Laughs]

Anna: And so that is going to be a whole new lead of where I can go look.

Fisher: I love it.

Anna: To break down that brick wall.

Fisher: She’s Anna Swayne. She’s a spokesperson for Ancestry.com, talking about Genetic Communities. Anna, you know, spit... it’s the gift that keeps on giving, right?!

Anna: [Laughs] Yeah, and with technology advancing and science, we’re just scratching the surface on what we’re going to be able to do going forward.

Fisher: Unbelievable. Thanks so much for coming on and telling us about this.

Anna: Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, our Preservation Authority Tom Perry talking about size when it comes to scanning your photographs. What size for what size pictures? You’re going to want to hear what he has to say. That’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 186

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: It is preservation time on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher. And this segment is brought to you by 23andMe.com DNA. And Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Hello, Tommy, how are you?

Tom: Hello, super duper, bud.

Fisher: And I'm kind of excited about what you posted on your new Twitter page. You've posted a thing up there about scanning slides and negatives and sizes, because this is so important for making sure that all the information is captured that it looks like a whole picture, you don't get it pixelized later, right, when you try to get it to a size that you're looking for?

Tom: Exactly. That's where a lot of people make mistakes. And we get a lot of emails and people calling us on the phone and asking us about this, so I thought, "Hey, here's a chart I found on the internet that's pretty accurate," so I decided to go ahead and post it. And now one thing you always want to do, I always like to over scan. I like to be, I don't know what the chart says… the chart is pretty accurate, however, if it’s something really, really important, I'd go a little bit higher, like maybe go over a size to see what you want to do.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And this works for whether you're scanning prints, negatives, slides, whatever. Anything smaller than a postage stamp you want to scan it at a super, super high rate.

Fisher: How high?

Tom: Well, I mean that we do stuff at 2300 dpi. We have some stuff that people want to go really big that we might even go as high as 6400 dpi.

Fisher: Wow, for a tiny little picture!

Tom: Right, exactly. If there's going to have to be some editing done, you always want to think about that, too. And we've talked about this all the time on the show, what's your end result? If you just want to make some 3x5 or 4x6 prints, no big deal. If there's any chance somebody down the road's going to want to make something bigger or you want to go in and edit it, then you want to get more pixels. Even though your print's not that big, you want to get more pixel, because it gives you more ability to when you're going in and editing it, removing somebody, replacing somebody, fixing somebody's face, what they're wearing, colorizing, whatever you want to do. The more pixels you have at your disposal, the more accurate you're going to be able to be in doing your editing, plus you don't have to be as skilled if you have more pixels to play with, too.

Fisher: Boy that makes a lot of sense. Now this is not the kind of thing that you would use if you're going to do a pile of pictures fast, obviously, you're going to have to sort this based on the size of the pictures and do them individually, right? So this is a time consuming process.

Tom: Oh, very much so, very much so. In fact, like you mentioned, if you have a ton of photos, what I would do is, rent a high end scanner. I mean, you can blow through ones on the big professional like Kodak machines that you can rent for like $400 for a week. And it’s amazing the stuff that you can push through them. If you're going to go into slides, you can get a slide machine that's also a scanner. If you're just doing a few, get a good quality scanner. Don't buy something cheap. And we have a lot of times people go and buy a good quality scanner off of eBay and then they use it for a week or two weeks and then resell it on eBay.

Fisher: Huh!

Tom: And you figure, "Hey, if I take a loss, no big deal. I have saved this amount of money anyway." So, buy new, sell on eBay. Buy used, resell on eBay.

Fisher: Sure. Boy, that's a great thought! I would've never considered that.

Tom: Oh yeah, people do that all the time. We have people that write to us and say, "Hey, what's this piece of equipment? I'm interested in buying it, you know. Have you ever used it?" And if it’s something we have and it’s got good reviews, a lot of times I'll buy one off eBay or buy one off Amazon, then turn around and sell it on eBay, because we don't need it in our store, but that way, we can write a good review on the piece of equipment. And VideoMaker does the same thing. In fact, they are a great source. It’s a magazine. They also have an online magazine, it’s called VideoMaker.com. They have incredible things that can help you with all kinds of things, picking out equipment, you know, audio equipment, video equipment, all different kinds of things. And they have some good tutorials as well.

Fisher: All right. So just for a quick standard, most pictures are 5x7, 8x10, 4x6, what dpi would you recommend for those if you're just kind of running right through it?

Tom: If you've got an 8x10 and you're just going to turn into an 8x10, you can get away with something as little as 300 dpi. And my rule as thumb, something that small a dpi, it always go bigger. Very rarely do I only scan something at 300 dpi, and that's assuming you don't need any editing with it. If you've got an 8x10 and you only want to make like 4x6s out of it, then you can definitely away with only scanning it at 300 dpi.

Fisher: Got it.

Tom: So, again as we mentioned first part of the show, what's your ultimate goal? Where are you going to be at the end? And then work backwards.

Fisher: All right, what are we going to talk about next, Tom?

Tom: We have a lot of people that write in, "Hey, I have video, but I want to print off of it. How do I do that?"

Fisher: Ooh, good stuff! All right, we'll get to that in just a few minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 186

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back, America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, talking preservation with my good friend Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Tom, I like this idea, this idea that we’re going to take photographs off of videos. Now, I’ve tried to do this before and it works out pretty well for the most part, but it depends really on the era of video we’re talking about. Is it HD, or is it the older stuff? What are your thoughts on this?

Tom: I remember back to my younger days when we had the old CRT televisions which were the great big, huge ones before we went to the flat screens. And you tried to take pictures of whatever and you'll get the lines through it and just absolutely awful.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: You have to sit on your motor drive and hope you've got a good shot. Well, what we started doing is, we had a printer that was actually a video printer that we'd hook it up to it, print out a little picture, but the problem with television is, everything is either, you get one that's either interlace or progressive scan, and what that means is, the interlace, it does every other field first.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And then it does the odds and it does the evens and it puts them together. So if you make a print from that, you're going to see these ugly lines, or you do a screenshot or something like that, it looks really, really bad. Progressive isn't as bad, because it writes, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, but you're still going to get the lines. So how do we get away with that? Well, the best way to do it is, if you have a plasma television, they're the best, because they have really black blacks, like a photograph would be.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: And then you set up your tripod, you set up your camera, then you shoot a picture of the plasma television, and just hit on your DVD player, hit "pause", wait a few seconds so the little pause sign goes away, and then take a picture. Most people don't want to hassle with that, they don't have the time, everybody's so, "I need it now" with their iPhones. So what you can do with an iPhone, there's actually two different ways you can do it. You can either put it on an LED monitor, on a computer monitor, any of those kinds of things, because most of the new LED monitors you can plug into a computer.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: You can plug them into a VCR, a DVD player, anything you want, but the thing is, an LED TV is made up of a whole bunch of dots. It doesn't have the over scan or the under scan lines that are going to mess it up, so you can take pictures that way with your iPhone. And one thing that makes it even better, if you're one of our listeners that have bought a Shotbox, you can get those small monitors or even your iPad or whatever and hook it into your VCR, put that inside the shotbox, put your iPhone on top, take a picture and it’s amazing how good they look, and it’s free!

Fisher: Wow, what fun! You know, I had an old video of my kids meeting Muhammad Ali, and he gave each of them a kiss, which was unbelievable.

Tom: Wow!

Fisher: And I wanted to get snapshots from that, because it’s easier sometimes to look at snapshots than it is to look at the video. So I was able to use one of these programs and do a screen capture of that. And it comes out pretty well, because then you can actually go in and adjust the color, you can adjust the lighting. And so, we're pretty pleased with how it worked out, even adjust the focus a little bit.

Tom: Oh exactly. In fact, if you have the problem, if you're doing this and you still get those lines in, if you go into Photoshop, there's a filter that's called "NTSC", which what that is, that's the old, you know, broadcasting type system. It looks at the lines and says, "Okay, this is the proximity between these two areas. This is the proximity between these two areas" and it kind of smoothes them together and makes it look better. So if you have that problem, go into the filter and de interlace the photo that you're using, and it will make it nice and smooth again. But if you're using a good plasma TV, you probably won't have that problem. But a lot of times, you've got old pictures that you took in the old days and you don't have the video anymore, because you recorded something else over it, or your idiot husband recorded, you know, the Super Bowl over your wedding video.

Fisher: [Laughs] Ohhh!

Tom: And you don't have that available anymore. So you have to go back to these old ones that do have the lines, and that's a good way to fix them is go into the de interlace. And if you have specific problems, remember, you can always contact me at [email protected], or if you want to get a hold of me quick, go to @AskTomP on Twitter, and we'll get back to you really, really quick. And if you have questions or suggestions, let us know, and that way we can share with everybody.

Fisher: Right. @AskTomP on Twitter, great! Good to see you again, Tom. Thanks for coming by.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, that wraps up our show for this week. This segment has been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. Of course, follow us Facebook. We've got a great Facebook community, you can ask questions there, and of course, signup for our Weekly Genie newsletter, it’s absolutely free. We've got links to great stories, links to interviews from past shows and a column from me every week. You can do that on our website, ExtremeGenes.com. Thanks for joining us. Talk to you again next week. 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