Episode 188 - The Epidemics That Claimed Our Ancestors / NEHGS Catholic Record Project Progress UpdateApr 23, 2017
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David reports from on the road in Colonial Williamsburg and begins Family Histoire News with a story from Belgium about the recent discovery of the remains of a soldier from New Zealand who died in World War I. Then, hear about a renowned genealogist who recently passed who received the Order of Canada for his unique work on behalf of that country. Then, in England, work on a golf course has revealed an incredible find, as if straight from a movie. Hear about the unique historic location of this course, and what was found. David’s blogger spotlight this week shines on Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, at Maureen Taylor.com/blog. Maureen talks about finding your Revolutionary soldiers in family photos.
Next, Fisher visits with Katy Barnes from LegacyTree.com. Katy fills us in on the epidemics that killed our ancestors sometimes within days of one another in the 19th century in particular. She explains this is why you will often find multiple family members dying at virtually the same time. What were those diseases and how did they spread? Katy will explain.
Then, Fisher talks with NEHGS Librarian, Jean McGuire. NEHGS is currently in the process of digitizing and then indexing some ten million names from the Catholic Church records of the east. Jean fills us in on the progress and how to find out if your ancestors’ names may have already been located.
Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, from TMCPlace.com returns to wrap up the show. He’s all “geeked out” about a toy he found out about from the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas. Wait until you hear what this things will do for your phone’s camera! Tom goes on to chat about “going solar” to keep your devices fully charged.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 188
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 188
Fisher: And this is it, America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment of our show is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And later on in the show, I’m excited to be talking to Katy Barnes from LegacyTree.com. She’s going to talk about epidemics and our ancestors. Maybe you’ve run across that in some of your research, where you find that, oh the mom and the dad died a week and a half apart and the kids died in between, and maybe one person survived. Katy’s going to talk about some of those experiences in the rural and urban areas and how that affected some of our lines. That’s coming up in about eight or nine minutes. Then, Jean McGuire is here. She’s the head librarian for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And she’s going to be sharing with us the latest on their Catholic records indexing project that’s going on. Digitizing, indexing, it’s going to cover ten million names of very early Americans, and maybe some of yours were affected. No matter where you are in the country. But right now let’s check in with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you David? And where are you?
David: I am down in Colonial Williamsburg with my family, and we are exploring the wonderful historical sites down in Virginia.
Fisher: What a great adventure. I’m glad you took the time to bother with us today.
David: Well I’m delighted. And I’m standing on top of a steeple trying to get the best wireless signal so I can reach out to you right now.
David: So hopefully I don’t fall off.
Fisher: It is Colonial Williamsburg. I imagine the signal’s not too good in colonial circumstances.
David: Exactly. And some of the taverns I’m sure they provide free WiFi for all of their constituents, but I haven’t found a good signal today. So we’ll see how we do this and if not, I’ll get a passenger pigeon and send my report.
Fisher: There you go. Let’s start with our Wheel of Wherever today and see what kind of story we can come up with. [wheel spinning] Okay, the Wheel of Wherever has landed on Belgium. Do you have something for us today from Belgium?
David: Well, in fact I do. In light of the 100th anniversary of World War I. Recently, the partial remains of an unknown New Zealand soldier were found on the Western Front Battlefield in Belgium. How they identified him, Fish, was on the remains of his uniform with the initials NZR which stood for New Zealand Regiment.
David: And this was typically worn by those from Auckland, Canterbury, Otego, Wellington Infantry Regiments, and a hundred years after the fact that this poor soldier died. He will now be given a decent burial at the British Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Belgium.
Fisher: Wow, that’s a great story. Imagine that, all these years later. Wouldn’t that be interesting if they could do some DNA on him and find some living relatives?
David: That’s exactly what I was thinking. So who knows what type of sample they were able to get. Again, it was partial remains, but a hundred years later to think this one is finally getting laid to rest properly. Well, on that same note of being laid to rest, my heart goes out to the family and associates of Terry Punch. Now Terry Punch is a genealogist that has spent well over fifty years doing research on Canadia. He was one of the Maritime genealogists. But, Fisher, in America we have the presidential citations that are given out.
David: In Canada, they are awarded the Order of Canada. And Terry Punch was the only genealogist ever to receive the Order of Canada. I had the honor of lecturing and knowing Terry over a number of years. No one knew Scottish and Irish immigrants into the Maritimes, better than Terry Punch. And sadly, when we lose genealogists like this we’re losing a library.
Fisher: Yep, that’s right.
David: My next story almost has a King Arthur of Camelot spin to it Fish. So there’s a golf course it’s located in All Saints, in Forum Saint Genevieve, a village in a civil parish of St Edmundsbury in England. They were dredging up a golf course, you know you think they’re probably finding golf balls, or people who get aggravated and throw their golf club into the pond. So when the bucket went down and dredging up, sticking out from the bucket was a sword!
Fisher: What?! [Laughs]
David: Uh huh, just like in King Arthur when the lady of the lake hails forth Excalibur.
Fisher: Right, right.
David: Exactly the King Arthur story. So, this sword is not from King Arthur unfortunately, but it does date to something that happened in the 12th century with your ancestor and mine. Because King Henry the II had a rebellion with his wife and sons, this is called the Battle of Fornham that took place back in 1173. The sword has on it letters engraved and filled in with silver inlay, it has animals. It’s a very interesting sword and it’s in great shape for something that’s been in the ground for almost a thousand years.
Fisher: That’s incredible.
David: My blogger spotlight this week shines upon Maureen Taylor. Many of you may know her as the Photo Detective. And on Maureen’s blog, MaureenTaylor.com/blog, you’ll learn all sorts of exciting stories about her detective work and photography. One that’s really an interesting one for me and I actually work with her on the book was the last muster. And she has a blog post called “Looking for the Revolutionary War generation in your own family photos.” Well, at NEHGS for 172 years we’ve had members. Now members can go online at AmericanAncestors.org and you can become a free guest member of NEHGS. Signup, check our free databases every week and the ones that we’ve had that will allow you to find your research. And American Ancestors part of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Well, that’s all I have for this week. Next week, Fish, I’m going to be at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts. As the 14th annual conference with over a thousand people expected, this will have all sorts of exciting lectures with people like Thomas MacEntee and Maureen Taylor and even me. So, hopefully I’ll see you there and get some interviews and we’ll talk live from the floor at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference.
Fisher: All right David thanks so much. Make sure you keep track of your luggage every step of the way.
David: Take care.
Fisher: All right buddy. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Katy Barnes. She’s from LegacyTree.com. She’s going to talk about epidemics. Anybody who’s done any research for any period of time has run into situations where they watched their ancestors essentially wiped out in just a few days or a few weeks. I know we’ve got that situation in my family lines, my wife’s family lines. She’s going to talk about some of the diseases, what were some of the symptoms, what were some of the things our ancestors had to endure not only for themselves but watching their loved ones as they suffered through this situation. It’s all coming up for you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 188
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Katy Barnes
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, its Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA and I’m very happy to be talking to my friend Katy Barnes from LegacyTree.com. And Katy has recently written a blog about epidemics, and this is something we’ve never even touched on this show other than maybe last week when David Allen Lambert was on and we were talking about a couple in England that died four minutes apart and three miles away. They had been married for over seventy years and they were each in separate senior facilities. One died at like 6:43 in the morning and then the other died like 6:47 in the morning, and David had mentioned you know we sometimes see families where individuals died close together but usually it was because of an epidemic going through the town. And Katy, your research on this is really quite interesting. What got you going on it?
Katy: So, it all started with research in my own family tree. You know you might call me morbid, it’s been done, but I find death and how it affected our ancestors to be very interesting. Especially considering the differences between our medical system and our access to healthcare today versus an earlier century.
Katy: And it can be quite tragic to learn about but you know it’s just one more of those pieces of meat, for lack of a better term, that we can put on our ancestor’s family trees you know to learn more details about them.
Fisher: Yeah I’ve seen on my wife’s line for instance where there was a couple where the father and the mother died about seven or eight days apart and then two or three of the children and then there was one survivor out of the group of them that carried the line on. And it’s just devastating and you look at it and you think wait a minute it’s not just them at that time. If it’s that bad then that means families all around them, the entire community, and then they’ve got problems with how to stop the spread and how to bury the people in those circumstances. What are some of the stories you’ve uncovered?
Katy: Well, I have one that matches that almost exactly and I wrote about this in the blog. This is also from my own family tree. One of my direct line ancestors was a man named Charles Conyers. He and his wife Harriett lived in Wilson County, Tennessee. They had married in the late 1840s. They were a young couple. And Charles I found on the 1850s mortalities schedule which is a special census made of those who had passed away within the last year and it was taken at the same time as the federal census between 1850 and 1880. I found Charles on the 1850s mortality schedule saying he died of cholera, and he was only twenty four years old. And his wife who was only twenty had died sometime within the last year as well as we don’t know exactly her cause of death because she died outside the scope of that mortality schedule.
Katy: In Tennessee at this time there weren’t death certificates so we don’t know exactly. But I strongly suspect the fact that cholera might have been the same cause of death, and they also left one infant child. One little boy is the only child they’d had in their whole time of marriage. He survived and was raised by his grandparents and you know, went on to have twelve kids of his own thankfully of which I am a descendant. But yeah, it’s tragic. I can’t imagine that happening, losing both of your parents in one fell swoop pretty much from the same dreaded disease.
Fisher: Right. Well, cholera is a disease we just don’t hear much about these days. What are the symptoms? How does that develop do you know?
Katy: So, cholera is primarily a digestive abdominal issue. It’s very unpleasant. Diarrhoea, throwing up, that kind of thing. And we don’t hear about it that much now because our hygiene practices have improved greatly. People didn’t know this at the time but cholera is generally spread through unclean water for example.
Katy: And we’re much better at that sort of thing now. On the blog I have a photo of a notice on the New York Board of Health in the 1800s that tried to describe what they thought the cause of cholera were at the time. And they recommended avoiding raw vegetables and unripe fruit and cold water.
Katy: So they were kind of hitting near to the truth in their cold water recommendation, but what they understand was that the water was dirty.
Katy: And they’re not going to stop the entire communities when everyone is drinking from the same water source that was contaminated.
Fisher: And you know it wasn’t just the rural areas either. I mean the major cities still didn’t have plumbing working in the buildings. They’d have outhouses, there was waste being thrown out in the streets, you also had the animals going through the streets. I mean it had to be not a great place to breathe [laughs] if you were living like in New York City in the 1820s or something like that. And you would see the diseases come through those towns. London of course is certainly known for that. People would see the plague was coming in, they would leave town because they knew that they might not be able to avoid it.
Katy: Yeah. I mean arguably, living in a big city could be unhealthier then living rural. Maybe you have access to doctors within a certain square mile radius but at the same time you have those issues with proximity and lack of sanitation.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. And I would imagine though in the outlying areas maybe people had even less idea about what was going on. You know that case I told you about at the beginning of the segment about my wife’s ancestor, it was kind of interesting because not only did this one child’s son survive from that couple, but he then went on and he too died later with his wife leaving another single child and that was my wife’s great grandmother. That was up in Michigan so it’s two generations that were lost in different plagues and yet somehow the line continues to find its way.
Katy: What was the cause of death on that second generation do you know?
Fisher: No, never was able to find it. You know, even with the newspaper accounts that are out right now, nothing has come up that has stated what was going on at that time, but we’re talking about 1870 or so.
Katy: Okay yeah.
Fisher: Mottville, Michigan.
Katy: Yeah. I mean it didn’t help that you know, even in bigger areas the knowledge of germ theory and how exactly disease was incubated and spread was just not had by the average person. And you’re right the lack of education would slow that down even further.
Fisher: You know, other than child mortality, I would think that this was the biggest risk to early death of anything in the early United States. We had consumption, which is tuberculoses, you had cholera, what else did we have?
Katy: Well, we had a small pox epidemic. We’ve had... 1793 in Philadelphia saw a massive yellow fever outbreak that killed an enormous portion of the city actually. We’ve had typhoid. 1918 was the huge Spanish flu.
Katy: It affected one in four Americans. And that was kind of brought by the transatlantic ships going back and forth after the ending of World War I.
Fisher: Yeah, isn’t that interesting? All the folks we lost in World War I and then this brought all the disease back and killed all the people here. I mean hundreds of thousands of folks at that time. I had a cousin on one line that died of it. And you know when you talk about one in four that means virtually every family was impacted by somebody either fighting it off or dying.
Fisher: And makes you wonder when that kind of thing’s going to happen in our country again doesn’t it?
Katy: It does. It’s scary to think about. Thankfully I think that we have a lot of vaccines to prevent many of these diseases. But diseases are very resilient so you never what could come up next.
Fisher: Yeah that’s right.
Katy: Especially with influenza.
Fisher: Katy, what about childbirth back in the 19th century? We don’t hear a lot of people dying in child birth anymore. I mean I know it happens but it’s not nearly the rates that we heard even a hundred years ago. Even in the 1920s. What kind of death rate did we experience in the 19th century in the United States?
Katy: Well, the child mortality rate and the maternal mortality rates were extremely high at that time, and one of the things that we don’t realize when we talk about that is that it wasn’t just the physical act of giving birth it was the complications of the lack of pre and post natal care that accompanied that and the diseases that could come from the lack of sanitary and hygienic conditions present in childbirth.
Fisher: You know it’s funny, we often hear about the average life span increasing like thirty years since 1900 but really a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have really reduced infant mortality over those years and that’s made a huge difference. Because those who lived to adulthood often lived a full life, right?
Katy: Yes, definitely. And I know a story that kind of illustrates this a little bit. This is also from my family tree. I have a lot of these really sad stories actually. So, my second great grandmother Mary Cramer gave birth in 1873 and she was twenty three years old and that was her third child and she ended up being diagnosed with pyaemia which is a form of staphylococcemia that ended up killing her within three weeks of giving birth to her third child. This condition was caused by a lack of sanitary healthy conditions present during labor which you know is probably brought in by the midwife. No washing hands, no sterile implements used during the labor and it’s easy to develop infections and I think that’s what caused a lot of the deaths of the mothers, and like I said, she was twenty three years old. Thankfully her baby survived but that’s not always the case either for frequently the same reasons.
Fisher: So you’re thinking that midwives had a lot to do with this?
Katy: Yes. The midwives, maybe the fathers around, just the conditions of the home in which the family was living, yeah I mean it could be anything.
Fisher: Yeah it could come from anywhere. I had a great grandmother who was a midwife and I have her book, her birthing book, with the names of all children she delivered from the 1890s to the early 1900s.
Fisher: And it was her son’s first wife giving birth to their seventh child in 1921 and a few weeks later the mother died and the son survived. But well, I’ve never seen anything that suggested anything else. I think it had to do with complications from childbirth.
Katy: Yes, definitely. And with the lack of pre natal care they’re not going to predict some of the things that may have been a normal problem anyway. You think of ectopic pregnancies or preeclampsia and those kinds of things weren’t diagnosed just outside of the normal infections that could occur afterwards, so just the lack of medical knowledge in general made it very dangerous both for mothers and their babies.
Fisher: I’ll tell you, I think you’ve made everybody appreciate how much better we have it today than we did even two generations ago. And what a difference a century makes right?
Katy: Thank goodness.
Fisher: She’s Katy Barnes she’s with LegacyTree.com talking about epidemics and things that took our ancestors a little bit too early. Thanks so much for coming on Katy.
Katy: Thanks for having me.
Fisher: And coming up next, I’m going to be talking to Jean McGuire. She is the Librarian at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. We’re going to talk about the Catholic record project that they’re doing. Digitizing and indexing millions of names related to your Catholic ancestors going back to the 18th century. Where they’re at now, how can you get access to them, we’ll find out coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 188
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jean McGuire
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. And I love our partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. They’ve got so much going on in the New England area, which is such a gateway for so many Americans. And on the line with me right now is the Library Director for NEHGS, Jean McGuire. How are you, Jean? Welcome to the show!
Jean: I’m doing well, thank you for having me Scott, and hello to all your listeners out there.
Fisher: Well you know, David has just been really excited about what’s been going on with your Catholic digitizing project that’s going on there, and it’s of such a massive scale and can affect so many people from across the country, I thought now that it’s been what, four months already? We might want to revisit this and talk about what you’re doing there and what kind of records can be found. Now, last I recall you were just started, I think in December, with one parish. What was it?
Jean: So Holy Cross was the first parish that we had online. That was the first parish established in the Archdiocese back in the late 1700s, and we also put up early on the Holy Trinity Church of Boston, which was also referred to as the German church.
Jean: And Immaculate Conception, so those three parishes.
Fisher: And those were within the greater Boston area or right actually in Boston, right?
Jean: That’s correct.
Fisher: And how many names and entries did you wind up with in that first batch?
Jean: Oh boy. Well the indexing is still ongoing with those. So, what is online are the images for those parishes and many others now and what we do is as soon as we complete imaging the parish, that parish goes online for people to browse through the images and at the same time we’re doing the indexing at NEHGS, and once the indexing is complete, then the collections will be searchable on the website. So first people will see the images, and then later we’ll announce when the collection becomes searchable, and people can then go and search for names. But we anticipate that by the end of it, there’ll be about ten million names.
Jean: Coming out of these records.
Fisher: Well that’s incredible. And you know, FamilySearch does the same thing with many of their projects. They’ll put the images up, and over time the indexing will get caught up with that. I think really all of the companies do that as well.
Jean: Yeah. And you know, I think it’s great that FamilySearch does that. I think it’s a really good idea.
Fisher: Yeah, it’s a great service. And I’ve done this myself where I’ve just gone in and, I know that I have people in certain areas, and even though it’s not indexed, I’ll just search the pages in the era that I believe that they should be there.
Fisher: And there’s so much to be found. Now, this project is going to cover a lot more than just Boston, Massachusetts?
Jean: Yes. So, officially the parishes that it covers are all in eastern Massachusetts. So, all the way up to the northern border and down as far as south as Plymouth and Middleborough. And then as far west as places like Marlborough. But, the records that are in there actually go beyond Massachusetts, because the priests in the early years of the Archdiocese had to travel all around what is New England now, and carry out sacraments in those areas, because parishes didn’t exist. So, they would even go up to eastern Canada, New Brunswick, they would go to New Hampshire in Maine, down to Rhode Island. So, it’s been interesting as we image the records to see all the places that the priests had travelled to, to carry out the sacraments for the Catholics who were living all around the region.
Fisher: That’s incredible. What’s the earliest year in these records?
Jean: The earliest year is 1789.
Fisher: Okay, so just right after the founding of the country.
Jean: Yes, that’s true.
Fisher: One hundred and fifty four parishes, eighty four towns, now you’re moving up into New England and Canada. Talk about some of the records that are in there. What are Catholic records showing us in relationships and sacramental rites?
Jean: Yes, well one of the few things about church records as many people know is that you get information beyond just the person or persons who are actually receiving the sacrament. You know whether it’s marriage, or baptism, or whatever. You are getting information on parents. You are getting information on sponsors and witnesses, and of course even the priests’ names. So, this is particularly useful, and I think it’s particularly useful when you’re doing Irish research, because you can combine names of multiple people who are in records if you are looking for some common surnames. You could combine one person’s first name and last name with another person’s, because we’re indexing all the witnesses and sponsors, god-parents.
Fisher: Wow. Oh that’s huge. And that’s not often done.
Jean: No, it’s not, unfortunately. And it really is helpful I think for genealogical researchers as they’re going about trying to find these elusive people.
Fisher: How many different records of an individual might be made throughout the course of a Catholic ancestor’s life, would you say?
Jean: Sure. So, there would be a baptism, a first communion, a confirmation, a marriage, and possibly a burial or death record. And then there can be additional things like if there was a sixth call made to the person, or if that person became a priest, there would be a holy order record. So it can vary, but there should be at least about four throughout the course of a person’s life.
Fisher: And possibly as many as eight or so?
Fisher: Yeah, that’s incredible. And so, we’re looking at ten million names over what period of time? When do you think the entire project will be done, not only the images but the indexing?
Jean: So, it will take us a few years to complete it with both imaging and indexing, so people should stay tuned throughout. We have a database news update that people can get that you know, as soon as something goes online, we announce it to people through the database news alert, and so everyone should stay tuned. There’s progress being made all the time, and there’s website people can go to called CatholicRecords.AmericanAncestors.org, and that will give them information all about the project, and also about the history of the Archdiocese. There’s a nice map there where people can see the development of the parishes over the course of time, and see when particular parishes formed, so maybe they know the area where their ancestor was. They could look on that map. And, through there they can also get access to the collection, the digital collections.
Fisher: You know what really brought this home to me, and I don’t have a lot of Catholic ancestors, I have a couple, and they’re very difficult to find usually, the Catholic records, and I don’t know why that has been for most of the country. And certainly not a lot of it online but you’re making a huge dent in that. But I got an email from a listener in the midwest who had no idea that his ancestor had been in one of these parishes in the Boston area. So when your very first stuff came out, they found their ancestors there which gave them connections and information they had been looking for, for years and years, and they were thrilled by it, and that’s just because they heard Extreme Genes and David Allen Lambert talking about it.
Jean: Yes, it’s wonderful to get your stories like that. I mean, you’re right that Catholic records have not been available online. Really very much over recent years and of course the records of Ireland went online which was wonderful. And then Archdiocese of Boston was the first Archdiocese to do in such a large collection of records here in the US, and now, quickly following that are other Archdiocese, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore. They’re working to FindMyPast. So, I think maybe we’re seeing a new era in the online availability of Catholic Church records.
Fisher: Well I think you’re right. It seems to be just a difference in perspective by the Catholic Church itself.
Jean: Yes, I think that they recognize that people need access to the records, and they want to make that possible, and also, a lot of these records are in poor condition, and they want to reduce handling of those printed volumes.
Fisher: Well thank you so much Jean. She’s Jean McGuire. She’s the head librarian at New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The Catholic project is underway there. You can find out all about it at AmericanAncestors.org, online. You need a membership for that, Jean?
Jean: No you don’t. The images are free to use. You get a guest registration which is a very quick, simple process, and then you have free access to them.
Fisher: All right. Keep an eye on David for us, will you? I know he’s nothing but trouble.
Jean: [Laughs] That’s a lot to keep an eye on there.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right. Thanks so much for coming on, Jean. Congratulations on the project. It’s an important one. It’s going to affect a lot of people. And, we’ll be looking forward to catching up with you in the future.
Jean: Thank you Scott. Thanks for having me.
Fisher: And coming up next, our resident geek, our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He is buying new toys from the CES show in Las Vegas. He is going to tell you what they’re all about and why you might want them, coming up next on Extreme Genes.
Segment 4 Episode 188
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: It is time to talk preservation on 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 FamilySearch.org. Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com. Hi, Tom, how are you?
Tom: Super duper!
Fisher: Now I see you all excited again.
Fisher: And you're geeking out over some new toys. Now where did you run into these?
Tom: These were things that were at CES, which we talked about a few weeks ago where we didn’t have time to get into all these other new toys. One of my favorite ones, it’s called a beast grip.
Fisher: A beast grip. Now just for explanation for people who are not familiar, CES is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which took place a couple of months ago.
Fisher: And the follow up though was just absolutely incredible, because there's so much to process.
Tom: Oh, you can spend an entire year talking about cool stuff, but I've kind of cherry picked some stuff that I think is cool that, you know, I'm going to buy myself. And this one is really, really great, because being a professional photographer I've always been tied between my Nikon and my iPhone. When do I use this, when do I need to do this? Sometimes it’s really tough. And then these guys from beast grip come out with this really cool thing, it kind of looks like a cradle that you put your iPhone in, then once your iPhone's in it, it works great, because it helps to stabilize your picture, you take better pictures.
Tom: But then you can either buy their lenses that are wide angle lenses or zoom lenses or you can actually buy an adaptor lens, so like if you have the Canon Bennett Mount lenses, you can put those things on it. And the thing that this does, if anybody ever shot pictures with an iPhone and with a professional camera, you're not able to make the background, you know, blurry. So if you're taking a picture of Aunt Martha in front of building and there's a big stop sign that's going to look like it’s growing out of her head.
Tom: Because you can't rake that out, make it look like it’s out of focus. With this system, you can. And it’s just amazing! If you're really tied on something, like you're shooting something at a cemetery and it’s against a big building or something, you can't get close to it, use the wide angle lens, it just give you all kinds of opportunities. And so, once you get your cradle, then you put your iPhone in it. And the thing is, it’s not very expensive. You can get the basic cradle for only $140 retail.
Tom: And they're always one that sells.
Fisher: And that includes the lenses?
Tom: No, that's the basic cradle, because some people, that's all they want is just a cradle to help them, because it’s easier to hold and you can go and take a picture and it’s not like, "Oh no, I got my finger kind of in front of the lens!" So with this one, it’s not going to happen. You actually have a grip you can hold onto, is very light and it helps you in the stability, too, plus if you want to take a selfie or something with you timer that you have on your phone, you can set it on like a concrete barrier or something and then set your timer, go stand in front of it, because it will hold your telephone up, so it looks really, really great. But the thing is, these lenses are getting so amazing on these iPhones and some of the new Androids that it’s like, "Wow, do I even need to use my Nikon anymore?"
Tom: For specific things, you do, but these things are so light, so easy to carry around, it’s easy to keep it in your pocket, it’s just crazy!
Fisher: You know, for an accessory to a cell phone, $140 to me sounds really expensive, but when you put it in comparison to, say, a Nikon, it sounds like, wow, what a great way to maximize your cell phone, much less expensively than a professional setup with a camera.
Tom: Right. And it’s so portable. And it gives you all the options you would have with your normal lens to make adjustments and things like that. But the nice thing is, it’s so portable. And even if you're not a professional photographer or ever had any real what they call SLR type experience, which stands for Single Lens Reflex, that's where when you're looking through the lens, what you see is actually what the lens is seeing. It’s not like the old cameras where you look through this little square and then you get it back and go, "Oh, I don't have everything that I wanted to see." Where when you're looking through a single lens reflex camera, an SLR, what you're seeing is exactly what you're going to get, so when you adjust it, you can say, "Oh, okay, the stop sign or the pole's out of focus." Like I'm taking this big beautiful picture of my great, great grandfather's old ranch, but there's these stupid telephone poles in the background, where this gives the ability to soften them out or just make them almost totally go away by focusing.
Fisher: All right, so where do people get these?
Tom: You can go to our Twitter account and I'll actually have a link on there. So you can just go to @AskTomP. There'll be a link there you can see pictures of it. And it is just so totally cool.
Fisher: Boy, that's awesome! All right, what do we have coming up next?
Tom: We're going to talk about going solar.
Fisher: Going solar, all right.
Tom: We're using the sun.
Fisher: In three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 188
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: You know, it’s been a couple of months now since the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. And here's Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority here on Extreme Genes, still geeking out over some of the new toys that are out there. Hi, it’s Fisher and this is America's Family History Show. This segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And, Tom, you were talking just before the break about going solar. Now what does that mean in context of a cell phone camera?
Tom: You know, it’s great, because a lot of times when you're out doing genealogy, you're out in the middle of nowhere.
Fisher: Right, cemeteries, churches, old homes.
Tom: Oh, exactly. And sometimes if you're in another country and you don't have the right adaptors, what are you going to do? Well, there's a place called SolPad Mobile that makes carry along type things about the size of an iMac, so it’s not that big, and it’s solar. You aim it towards the sun, you plug your phone in, it’s actually building up power, then come and plug your phone in and it'll charge it almost instantly.
Fisher: So we're talking about like a little solar panel like you see on roofs?
Tom: Right. In fact, there's actually two different kinds that we're going to talk about, the one that's a SolPad is like I say, it’s about the size of a laptop.
Tom: It’s a little bit larger, has a little stand on it, it has both the 110 and 220 type power on it, so any place in the world you can take it with you. And so, if you're some place where there's no power and you're seeing, "Oh, my phone's running down. I'm trying to get all these pictures in this cemetery." or "I'm at a conference and I can't run over to the wall and plug my phone in or whatever." You can actually do battery backups with these two, so they'll hold the power.
Tom: And then you plug your device, whether you have a computer or an iPad or a phone or whatever, you can just plug it into that. You can leave it in your car and aim it to the sun, so it’s secured in your car, but yet it’s still getting the sun by sitting, you know, on your window.
Fisher: That's incredible. Now it'll power a phone, but how much power will it give you?
Tom: I don't have the exact time to go over the specs right now, but if you go to our Twitter page, I'll have another link on that, and then you can go check out their site, see all the different options they have. They have the big ones, they have the small ones, they have all different kinds of devices that you can use to charge your iPhone or whatever it is that you have, and you can buy different power amounts. So if you just need something, because all you use is an iPhone or an iPad, that's fine. If you want to be able to run your computer out in the middle of nowhere, like you're doing your family history right there in the middle of a cemetery, and of course, there's not any AC or DC there. So you just plug it in the back of your solar and as the sun moves, just move it around.
Fisher: That's incredible!
Tom: Oh, it is! It’s just absolutely amazing how technology's coming out.
Fisher: And the cost?
Tom: I believe the preliminary price is like $500 for the really nice big ones, but they'll have smaller ones that do other things that will cost a whole lot less. Now, the other one, this uses solar also, but you can roll them up.
Tom: You just roll them up and put them in your purse or backpack.
Tom: They're just, they're totally flexible. You're not going to set something on it and break it. There's no glass or anything like on the other ones. It’s totally portable. And you can get a generator that you plug it to, so when you're away from it, it’s charging the generator. They'll even power a refrigerator.
Tom: If you want to take snacks with you.
Fisher: Wow out in the middle of nowhere in Europe!
Fisher: That would be incredible.
Tom: Exactly. In fact, they make those Coleman Coolers that are actually, you plug into your cigarette lighter or whatever to stay cool.
Tom: Take that and have a picnic, you know, right there with great, great, great, great grandfather right on his grave.
Fisher: [Laughs] So, how much is that little thing, the roll up solar panel?
Tom: They start out at a couple of hundred dollars and go up depending on all the options. Some people want just the basic solar panels. They have ones that are six feet tall. They have the little, teeny ones that just roll up. But anytime you just run into a situation where your phone's died on you, if you have one of these little solar panels rolled up in your glove compartment or anything, it’s like, "Oh, big deal." Set it on your dashboard, plug your phone in, charge it back up.
Fisher: All right. If you have a question for our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry, of course you can always email him at [email protected] or you can ask the question on his Twitter page, which is @AskTomP. Thanks so much, Tom. Good stuff.
Tom: Great to be here. My pleasure!
Fisher: Hey, that is a wrap for this week's show. Thanks so much for joining us. If you missed any part of it or want to hear a part of it again or of course share it with a friend, you can download our free app for the podcast or you can go to iTunes, iHeart Radio or ExtremeGenes.com and listen to the podcast. Hey, don't forget also to go to ExtremeGenes.com and get yourself signed up for our free Weekly Genie newsletter, all kinds of tips and stories there for you to enjoy. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!