Episode 19 – Stan Lindaas of HeritageConsulting.com On Library Research

podcast episode Dec 01, 2013

Fisher shares the latest family history news.  Johannesburg, South Africa is being plagued by tombstone thieves, snarfing stones by the dark of night and selling them to unscrupulous stone masons for their granite and marble.  But a local company has come up with a solution to put an end to the heists. Then, Stan Lindaas returns to talk about adventures in research libraries. 

Transcript of Episode 19

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 19

Fisher: So I learned this week that back in 1919 my wife’s great grandfather Clint Witt from Francesville, Indiana got in a fight with a guy over the repair of his car. The other guy is charged with assault and provoking an assault. Great grandpa was charged with assault and battery which means basically [Laughs] the other guy started it but great grandpa finished it, $18 fine. Don’t you love digitized newspapers? [Laughs] Hey, welcome back genies! It is Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. I’m your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher and that kind of stuff is what the show is all about, stories about ancestors and how to find them, brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers preserving your memories for over 40 years. And today Stan Lindaas our Research Authority from HeritageConsulting.com joins us again with some more tips on how to “dig up the dirt” the old fashion way, finding real documents and books, not the “virtual” kind, the kind that you can touch and hold in libraries and archives and how to make the most out of your trip. And this is really good stuff if you’re planning to visit one of those places soon. Stan joins us in about ten minutes. Last week we talked with Progenealogists.com’s Gordon Remington about the Mayflowers passengers, the differences between Pilgrims and Puritans, why you might suspect you’re a Mayflower descendent and great sources for finding and proving those lines. So of course we asked you in our poll at ExtremeGenes.com “Are you a descendent of one or more passengers on the Mayflower?” And the answer came back 72% Yes. Now I doubt it could possibly be that high [Laughs] for the entire audience. But for those who answered the survey, well I’m sure Mayflower descendents who know who they are, are more likely to hop aboard and give us a yes, so thanks for playing. Our new poll is up and we’ll tell you all about it in a few minutes. 

Now, from sources all over the world here’s your Family Histoire News from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. We start with a story from Johannesburg, South Africa. There’s been a bunch of tombstone thefts from cemeteries all over the place there. It seems that slimy stone masons have created a black market for thieves to bring them granite or marble gravestones for reuse. And the thieves of course “work the graveyard shift” if you know what I’m saying. And they’re taking about twenty stones a month from thirty six public cemeteries. So a company has come up with an idea, a solution, offering families microchips that can be slipped into their loved one’s stone. Now if the stone is disturbed an alarm will be sounded and a text message will be sent to the family’s cell phones. Now wouldn’t you love to be the one catching these creeps? Johannesburg already allows people to place microchips into their loved ones actual graves because cemeteries there are in wide open grassy places and it helps them to locate the grave whether or not it has an actual marker. So this is a logical solution to a growing problem. They call this system the “memorial alert” and it was created by a private firm in South Africa. The creator says the transmitter chip is not visible or easily accessed so that if anyone messes with it a number of things can happen, including an alarm that goes off right there in the cemetery. 

Security companies then also get the alert that the family receives. And they say actual tracking devices would decrease the battery life and would dramatically increase the cost of the service, so that’s not being offered at the moment. Of course, with all that they do offer they don’t think thieves would risk getting caught in their escape by trying to lug a heavy tombstone off the grounds, so it’s not likely the tracker will ever become necessary. The prices haven’t yet been set for these chips, but the service begins in January. By the way, they say tombstones theft is a worldwide problem so you may see the service being offered here before too long. You can read all about it at ExtremeGenes.com. You know they say often that you don’t know how history is going to view you till well, after you’re history.  Take for example the case of the Patriot News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Now they’re still around and they’ve been around for a long time. Back in 1863 they were there when President Lincoln offered his Gettysburg Address and that was 150 years ago this past week. It seems like yesterday. How did they feel about the President’s comments? Words for the ages? No, they covered the story and gushed about the Secretary of State and his lengthy oratory. [Laughs] But as far as Lincoln was concerned here’s what they had to say. “We pass over the silly remarks of the President [Laughs] for the credit of the Nation. We are willing that the wall of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of.” Well, last week the heirs to the throne of the Patriot News took a giant step back from those comments. The Editors wrote, “Seven score and ten years ago the forefathers of this media institution brought for the to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives. And then they write, [Laughs] “In the fullness of time we have come to a different conclusion. The world will little note nor long remember our emendation of this institution’s record but we must do as conscience demands.”  

In the editorial about President Abraham Lincoln’s speech delivered November 19th 1863 in Gettysburg, the Patriot and Union failed to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting significance. The Patriot-News regrets the error. [Laughs] Apparently the deal was back in the 1860s the Patriot was what was called the “Copperhead” newspaper. Now they were very supportive of the Democrat Party of which Mr. Lincoln of course was not a member. The year before, several top Editors had been arrested and thrown in jail by Union Troops accusing them of sedition. So you’ve got to imagine this tainted their views somewhat. And I’m thinking the apology is better late than never. And is certainly a well thought out way to create worldwide attention for the newspaper, conscience or not. Next up from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com a recent tornado in Washington, Illinois did what tornadoes do, destroyed property and a lot of it as well as a lot of memories. Documents and photo albums were strewn everywhere even as far as sixty miles away where Becky Siegal- Harty makes her home in Seneca, Illinois. Well, it was just a matter of hours after the devastation that Becky’s husband stumbled onto a receipt in the driveway. It was from a Walgreens in Washington. And as a result of that Becky and her two boys started looking for lost items from the tornado that found their way to her neighborhood. Well, from this Becky started a special Facebook page to help people from all over Illinois scan and share photos, mementos and documents that they found wherever that they knew belonged to people in the devastated area. In just a few hours hundreds of people were sharing scans of what they had found. They now have over a thousand followers with hundreds of photos being posted that had been picked up connected to the tornado. 

The New York Times has a great story out on the return of a Revolutionary War Cannon, 257 years old. It has been returned to its rightful owners, Saratoga National Historical Park. Now this cannon is one of only three like it left in existence, a Six Pounder, meaning it can fire six pound cannon balls. It was made in Britain and taken off to Canada where General John Burgoyne put it to use against our colonists in 1777 in the battles in and around Saratoga, New York. Well fortunately for us, Burgoyne lost and the Americans got the cannon which they then used against the British in battles that followed. And nobody really knows just how it happened but back in the early ‘60s, about 1961 it disappeared. [Laughs] Whether it was forgotten or taken or loaned whatever, nobody seems to know. But Saratoga National Historical Park needed to replace its missing cannons so one was loaned to them by the Rutherford B Hayes Center in Ohio. Then back in ’09 a ranger in Saratoga learned from a tourist in Alabama that he had seen a similar cannon down is Tuscaloosa. Well, that of course led to an investigation. And what they found was that their cannon was now on display at the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art. Well, of course the Alabamans didn’t want to give it up.  And then the question was could the people in Saratoga prove that it was their cannon?  So the people in Saratoga went to work putting together a treasure trove of like sixty eight pages of documentation concerning the cannon that they had had up until about 1961.     

Some of the material came from the British Archives and of course all of that proved what the Saratoga folks knew all along. It was their cannon. [Laughs] Extensive negotiations began and in time the Alabamans caved, sending it back to where it rightfully belonged in Upstate New York. It got there in August 29th and it was supposed to be rededicated on October 5th but there was that pesky little Government shut down that delayed their plans and so the ceremony only took place nine days ago. Now here’s what they know about this very nicely maintained cannon. It was cast in 1756 near London. General Burgoyne and his troops halted south from Canada in 1777 to try to take the area around Albany, New York and effectively split the colonies which they hoped would end the Revolution. It was one of 18 Six Pounders in Burgoyne’s possession while our side didn’t have a single cannon. It’s bronze, five feet in length, it shot six pound cannon balls as well as grapeshot which is deadly in combat. They weren’t considered heavy artillery but were still highly effective in battle and could more easily be moved. The Times article mentions that a soldier’s body was found at Saratoga in the ‘40s that contained the grapeshot that no doubt claimed his life. The cannon was later used for defending the coast by our side in the war of 1812. It was at one time displayed in Brooklyn about 100 years ago at Prospect Park at the site of the Battle of Long Island. So it was later decided then it should be more properly displayed Upstate which is how it wound up back in Saratoga at least until the mysterious events around 1961. What happened after that is unclear. It apparently wound up in an amusement park [Laughs] near Saratoga, then to some collectors in Connecticut in Florida before showing up in Alabama in the ‘70s. And it remained there for 35 years, but now it’s back in Saratoga. There’s something to take a look at obviously if you ever visiting the site where perhaps your ancestors fought in Upstate New York. Another mystery solved. All right, today’s poll. “Do you have a specific Thanksgiving tradition, a family tradition?” Cast your vote at ExtremeGenes.com and we’ll get a final tally next week. And, coming up next, Stan Lindaas with some really good information on maximizing your time and increasing your chances of success on your next research trip on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 19

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Stan Lindaas

Fisher: Hey, you found us, Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers preserving your memories for over forty years and this segment is brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history resource, Call – 8775372000. Welcome back Stan Lindaas! 

Stan: It is great to be back.

Fisher: [Laughs] He is our Research Authority here on the show and you know, off the air during the break here we were just talking about what a trouble maker you were in a library. Where was this?

Stan: Oh, Jefferson City, Missouri. It wasn’t me. It was my mentor.

Fisher: Yeah, but it was you by association. [Laughs] 

Stan: Yeah, you’re saying I got thrown out as well as he did.

Fisher: Yeah well, if you hung out with a guy that’s causing trouble than you’re a trouble maker. So, you’re on a research trip in Missouri?

Stan: We were actually on a research trip throughout most of the Mid West. 

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: Going from Utah back to Indiana and Ohio and Illinois and back to Missouri, down into Kansas, Oklahoma.

Fisher: Wow! Where didn’t you go?

Stan: I didn’t make it to Schenectady.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.

Stan: But at any rate, the fellow that I was travelling with at the time, I can use his name, he’s long gone, deceased and now on microfilm.

Fisher: Right. Okay. [Laughs] 

Stan: His name is George Nickson. 

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: He was a fabulous researcher. He was my mentor when I first started in the business thirty seven years ago. 

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: At any rate, he had business that he had to do, find records in the State Archives in Missouri at Jefferson City. And we’d go, and first of all you struggle to find a place to park. Always plan ahead to know how far you’re going to have to walk or how much it’s going to cost you to park.

Fisher: And for how long.

Stan: Yeah, especially major metropolitan areas. Not that Jefferson City is a major metropolitan area.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right.

Stan: But we go in.

Fisher: And Barney Fife would come out, “Hey there, you’re on my park now.”    

Stan: Pretty much. Yeah. But we go in and within five minutes George has made the acquaintance of the Chief Archivist who’s instrumental in acquiring things out of a special collection. 

Fisher: Right.

Stan: Well, their personalities clash.

Fisher: [Laughs] Now, wait a minute. You know, how do you clash with somebody in that situation for Pete’s sake? You’re both researchers, you share the same interests, you understand, shall we say the behavior patterns within these institutions.

Stan: I was there and I cannot tell you.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, see.

Stan: I think it was just first impressions, the look, the something. At any rate – 

Fisher: But they rubbed each other the wrong way.

Stan: Yeah. And George said a few things that well...George was a former sailor.

Fisher: Oh boy.

Stan: So he....

Fisher: I don’t know a lot of former sailors who become researchers. That seems very different. 

Stan: Yeah. It seems dichotomous at any rate. So he offended the archivist and the archivist promptly threw us out.  

Fisher: Yeah, you with him.

Stan: We had only driven 500 miles out of the way.

Fisher: Ooh! 

Stan: Yeah because guilt by association.

Fisher: Right, and see the parking didn’t matter at that point.

Stan: No at that point it really didn’t. 

Fisher: And this kind of leads us to what we wanted to talk about a little bit today because you know so many of us who are starting research now maybe have never even been into a library or some kind of a research facility because so much is done online, and thank goodness for it. 

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: But there are still a ton of stuff in these institutions to check out. Let’s talk about that.

Stan: Well, back to your comment about so much is online. Many people, even seasoned researchers, get caught in the trap of believing if it’s not found online, I can’t find it.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Stan: It’s not searchable. 

Fisher: Sure.

Stan: Well, it’s not so. I mean with the plethora of records that have been put up by Ancestry.com, Find My Past in England, Family Search, you know. There’s a ton there but there’s much, much more out in the real world. 

Fisher: Right.

Stan: And at some point when you quit finding things online, you need to utilize the resources that are available and these would be repositories, libraries, archives, genealogical societies, historical societies.

Fisher: And can I mention too, it is a lot of fun to go someplace and find a book on a shelf.

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: And thumb through it and find something. [Laughs] You’re making a face.

Stan: If it were only on a shelf. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

Stan: We were on another research trip, my family and I. We were travelling back to Illinois from whence I come and my wife’s family was from Seward County, Nebraska, or Seward the town of Seward.

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: Which is the county seat just north of Lincoln and I’m insistent that we’re going to stop here.

Fisher: Right.

Stan: And we have a van full of kids. So I leave my wife with the kids out in the town’s square while I go into the courthouse to look for a marriage record for her family from back in 1875 I believe it was. And so I go in and this is one thing you can expect in rural areas. You won’t find this in a large city. You won’t have the accommodations that they grant you in the rural areas. But I walked in and I said I want to look for this marriage record. Well, “Sir, the marriage records are in the vault upstairs.” “Okay, fine. So can somebody get those for me?” “No, but you’re welcome to go up and look for yourself.” And so I go up into this massive vault. Oh, there was a qualification for my going up and searching.

Fisher: Uh oh.

Stan: And that was that when I finished I make sure I close the door. This vault had a window facing west and the sun shined through it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Stan: And the reason I had to close the door is because the judge was growing a rubber tree plant and it was in that vault because it was hot and humid and steamy. And the thing was clear up to the twelve foot ceiling, bent over coming back down and going back up again.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Stan: Well, nothing was in order. It was all in cardboard boxes, Fish.

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: Just jumbled papers.

Fisher: But that’s fun too.

Stan: Oh yeah. I was wading, slogging through these things. I found the record I was looking for. My wife, to whom the family belonged, was not a happy camper being out on the town square at 90 degrees, 90% humidity.

Fisher: Wondering where you are.

Stan: Yeah. Why am I not getting back down here and getting in the air-conditioned van with the kids that are now exhausted and crabby.

Fisher: Ohh. Yes.

Stan: But at any rate, the point of this is be prepared for anything when you go to these places. Make arrangements beforehand if you can. It will really, really, enhance the chances of your success. Establish a relationship with the archivist or the librarian or the resident genealogical guru.

Fisher: And that really applies to anybody.

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: Cemetery people, you know, no questions.

Stan: Yes, by all means. 

Fisher: I went to New York back in September to do research and called ahead on all of them and it made a huge difference.

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: I arrived, I gave them my name, gave them my ID. They gave me the rules you know about what you can take pictures of, what you can’t, whether you can carry a pen or a pencil or whatever.

Stan: Right.

Fisher: And then they presented me with the documents I already knew I wanted. And I was sitting down looking through the stuff within five minutes of my arrival, which is wonderful.

Stan: Right. Time is so critical.

Fisher: Yes, on a trip. 

Stan: And when you go to these places or in a library, a research library or even just a local public library. You can spend all day trying to figure out where stuff is, or you swallow your pride and go up to the counter and ask.

Fisher: [Laughs] This is like men asking directions on trips. It really is, you know?

Stan: Exactly, exactly. Or reading the instructions on the microfilm reader or whatever machine that it is.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Stan: It’s not the American way.

Fisher: No.

Stan: But they do put them up there for decoration. 

Fisher: Well, and on a trip like this, like you say, the time thing is so important. 

Stan: Now the other thing, one other thing you might want to consider is this, is that when you go into a library, especially a library, that before you go, look online and see what they have in their catalogue.

Fisher: Right.

Stan: Many of the libraries nowadays have their catalogues up online so you can go see what there is.

Fisher: I did this with the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: That’s why it was so easy. It was boom, there, they didn’t have to, and it was a week ahead of time so they had plenty of time to do it. 

Stan: Yes. And in addition to that, when you get into the library or before you even go, because you’re establishing this rapport with the librarian.  Basically you’re sucking up. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes! Yes you are.

Stan: And it’s okay. It’s okay.

Fisher: Right.

Stan: We don’t mind. They will never see you again. 

Fisher: Turn on the charm. 

Stan: That’s right.

Fisher: They will do things for you that you never imagined.

Stan: And they will tell you what kind of research aides they have developed in their library, i.e. like at the Salt Lake Mormon Family History Library. They have research guides and resources for helping you to slog through gigantic collections which can save you tons of time. Your chances of being successful are greatly enhanced by knowing not only what the holdings are of the library, but what the system is for taking and making shortcuts. 

Fisher: You know, it’s helpful too if you’re going to do something say...you and I were talking about the LDS family history library in Salt Lake City. If you find out who might be on the floor when you’re there who speaks the language that you are researching, and that has made a big difference for me, you know, if I was making an appointment to know that somebody was going to be there who could translate something. And they have a lot of help all the way with that. You know, here’s the word for baptised, or here’s the word for birth, or death, or burial. 

Stan: Which might be critical for you to know when you’re doing your own research.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, especially with languages that look like a third grade art student made these notes.

Stan: Yes. Yeah, the things that you and I can’t recognize because there are thirty seven consonants in it.

 Fisher: Yes! That exactly.

Stan: Other things that you might want to think about, and you kind of alluded to it there a minute ago, about going into a repository and knowing what you can take in with you, i.e a pencil or a pen or a piece of paper. 

Fisher: Right.

Stan: There are places that you go that you cannot take anything in. And if you want something copied, you’re not the one that gets to copy it. So you need to know what the rule of the home is. 

Fisher:  They made me check my jacket at some places. That I could not be wearing a jacket, I couldn’t bring in a backpack or a briefcase or anything like that. Those had to be checked in. So basically you know, you go out and you’re on your own.  

Stan: A great example of this would be, and most people wouldn’t even think of this is the VA.

Fisher: The what?

Stan: The Veterans Administration.      

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: If you have an ancestor who was in the military there may be a VA file for them. And you can fax a request to the local VA office for that file and you can go and look at it, but you can’t take anything to write in with you. And you have to use some yellow stickies or something to mark the pages you want. They copy it. They mail it to you.

Fisher: Exactly.

Stan: Now there’s a way around this so that you don’t have to try to remember everything you saw. You can always call yourself and leave a message saying, “Oh, John Smith born here, died there, oh these are his children.

Fisher: Great tip.

Stan: So just call yourself and leave a message.

Fisher: And I went through this with some Civil War ancestors. Looked it up, but the guy actually, he brought out the original files which were amazing to me.   

Stan: Right.

Fisher:  And then he sat across at the desk from me while we looked at them. 

Stan: Right.

Fisher: But he wouldn’t leave you know because they don’t want people pilfering through them. I get that. I’m appreciative of that because I don’t want my records to be, you know, going with somebody else who’s going to pilfer it.

Stan: Right.

Fisher: So you know it is great advice.

Stan: The bottom line here is make preparations. Make contact. Create a friend. Then when you go you’ve got an ally. You’re not stealing time from them. A lot of time they’re just thrilled to meet you. And the period of time that you’re going to be here isn’t going to allow them to know you well enough not to like you unless you do a “George.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Stan: But you know, make preparations.

Fisher: Unless you’re just an annoying person.

Stan: Exactly.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Stan: And I can be depending on what hamburger I didn’t it, you know. 

Fisher: Right, I understand.

Stan: So it’s critical to your research to be able to have an ally in the repository and you’re going to come away with a whole lot more material than if you don’t have them.

Fisher: This segment was brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history resource. Call 877 537 2000. He’s Stan Lindaas from HeritageConsulting.com. He is our Research Authority on the show and we’re going to come back here in just a couple of moments and talk about some exciting new software that is coming out. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say Stan, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 19

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Stan Lindaas

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com, brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Centers, preserving your memories for over 40 years. Your Radio Roots Sleuth Fisher here, with Stan Lindaas from HeritageConsulting.com, he is our Research Authority. And you wanted to wrap something up there about the archives and the libraries. 

Stan: Yes, yes. When we go to archives and libraries we are setting or laying the groundwork for others who will come after. 

Fisher: That’s true. [Laughs]

Stan: And it is imperative that we treat the archivists and the facility with great respect, be able to thank them profusely when you’re done, offer to give them assistance in something.

Fisher: Sure. 

Stan: And you can do this over the phone too. 

Fisher: Yeah. 

Stan: I mean you can call these archivists or librarian and talk to them.

Fisher: You can drop a note, you can send them an email, there’s so many ways to do it.

Stan: Exactly. Always offer to help them if you have the ability to. 

Fisher: This is like cleaning up the golf course after you’ve made a little divert. You know, people are going to be behind you, want to make sure you don’t leave a mess. 

Stan: Exactly. 

Fisher: Because inevitably there’s one incident that causes some very unfortunate policy if gone into effect. 

Stan: Yeah which will eventually come back to bite you. 

Fisher: Yeah at some point. You’re absolutely right. So Stan, tell us about this new software you were sharing a little with me off air and this is very exciting stuff. 

Stan: Yes even if you’re not familiar with Mocavo, they are still doing it. 

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: But if you’re familiar with them, you may want to go look at their website, Mocavo.com. This is a subscription site. 

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: They have multiple databases and you can search each one or you can buy a package and be able to search across all of them at one time. 

Fisher: All right. What kind of databases do they have? 

Stan: Oh, vital records histories, the normal genealogical databases. 

Fisher: Um hmm.

Stan: And some of them are duplicates of other sources that you have out there. 

Fisher: Sure. 

Stan: But one of the exciting things that they are doing and we all have benefited on the computer with the ability for somebody to film and digitize records and then have them indexed. 

Fisher: Sure. 

Stan: Whether it be manual indexing or OCR, Optical recognition, you know those programs. 

Fisher: Sure, program character recognition. 

Stan: Exactly, typed characters. 

Fisher: Yes of course. 

Stan: And we probably all had the occasion where it wasn’t typed and the system tried to read it and you got gobbledygook forever or what the software thought it was. Well, Mocavo has been developing some software that will be able to read handwriting and differentiate.

Fisher: Oh. Shut up! Really?

Stan: Yeah, quite seriously. I mean it’s mind blowing because your handwriting and my handwriting are not exactly the same. Heavens, my handwriting is not the same it was five years ago.

Fisher: Sure.

Stan: Okay. So there are changes.

Fisher: Hold on I’m trying to get my brain wrapped around it right now. [Laughs] How does it work? Have you heard an explanation?

Stan: No, they haven’t finished that portion. But one of the critical elements in this is that if you look at old documents let’s say a Civil War Pension File document.

Fisher: Right.

Stan: There is a form and it was typed in some font or another.

Fisher: Right.

Stan: And some of the fonts even look like cursive handwriting.

Fisher: Sure. Like the S’s that look like F’s.

Stan: Yeah.  

Fisher: Yeah, right.

Stan: Or any variation on the theme. But the typewriter that they had at the time or the typeset that they had was standard and the program development thus far that Mocavo has, is that they have got it so that it will be able to distinguish between handwriting and a font which is imperative when they are doing their scans and trying to figure out who’s who in the zoo if you will.

Fisher: Sure. But then it can recognize the handwriting itself. 

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Stan: And identifies handwriting as handwriting and typed material as typed material which is amazing in and of itself. But they are on their way to now developing software that can recognize what the handwriting is and they’ve even had occasion that the system has been able to read something that the human eye was not able to decipher.

Fisher: Oh my gosh! That’s exciting.

Stan: We’ve all come across that where you look at something.

Fisher: The document that’s unreadable.

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: I had an ancestor in third grade in New York City who had testified in one of the anarchy Jans trials and I had contacted the archivist who was in charge of that record. And he found the record. He found the testimony with the guy’s signature at the bottom. Very cool. And he sent me a copy of it. He said, “There is no charge because this is illegible.” [Laughs]

Stan: Right.

Fisher: He said nobody could read this, so it’s of no value to you. Therefore, it’s of no value to us. Here you go. I was able to decipher it. I was able to read ultimately you know. But I have to put it in a book with, “Here’s the original and here’s what it says.” [Laughs]

Stan: Yeah, tell them what it says yes, the transcription next to it.

Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that funny though to think that a software could come along and say, “All right, we know what this person’s saying.” And I would imagine it’s going to be like it has been with the typed stuff at this point because even typed written stuff is not perfect. 

Stan: No.

Fisher: The character recognition is not perfect. There will be errors.

Stan: There’s that when you and I look at it.

Fisher: Right.

Stan: When the most powerful instrument you have, hopefully your brain, 

Fisher: You would think. 

Stan: Yeah.

Fisher: [Laughs] My case, but yeah.

Stan:  But when we have trouble trying to decipher something you know to think that some software can do pretty much what we can do.

Fisher: At least as well as we would. 

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: Yes that would be great.

Stan: Yes in some cases, better.

Fisher: Hopefully.

Stan: Because the optics that they have to be able to lift an image, or enhance an image that you and I can’t do, you know. You and I, unless you’re a “Superhero” I suppose. You can look at something with an infrared eyeball and be able to see where the pen strokes were.

Fisher: Now I’m thinking this would cover stuff like Wills. 

Stan: Wills.

Fisher: So many Wills have been done and they’re all handwritten. What else? 

Stan: Wills, Land records, love, you know, things in courthouses.

Fisher: Right. Church records.

Stan: Bible records, church records, letters from you know.

Fisher: Letters? War letters?

Stan: Yes. Oh yeah.

Fisher: Wouldn’t that be fun if this software became available where we could put in our own handwritten stuff that say came down. I’ve got a whole treasure trove of my grandparent’s letters. She came from Sweden and so English is her second language. And her writing and the words not so good you know, but to just feed it in and have somebody else  because I transcribed fifty pages of what these letters setting in some kind of order as best I could. But to be able to feed it, that would be worth its weight in gold.

Stan: To be able to feed it into a system.

Fisher: Yes.

Stan: Even if it’s not your material or my material. Imagine right now the things that are being indexed and made available online.

Fisher: Yes.

Stan: The index has just been made available online.

Fisher: Millions of things every day.

Stan: If the exponential growth of that by being able to index handwritten records is just incredible.

Fisher: Yeah.

Stan: I mean I remember sitting in a library doing research 37 years ago and we’d get excited when a new typed census index came out for a specific county.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs] That’s right.

Stan: As opposed to what we have now where things have been digitized and indexed by individuals through Ancestry or whoever.

Fisher: And imagine where we are five years from now? That’s just insane.

Stan: Yes. No I can’t imagine.

Fisher: So let’s go through this real quick because we are going to run out of time. The name of the site is?

Stan: Mocavo.com.

Fisher: Okay. And they are coming out with the software to at least recognize now the difference between handwriting and typewriting.

Stan: They are developing it. It’s not ready to be put out there.

Fisher: Okay. But it’s coming?

Stan: Yes.

Fisher: What’s the timeline do we think?

Stan: I have no idea.

Fisher: Okay.

Stan: I just read the press release this morning.

Fisher: Oh, okay. So this is new news? You heard it first on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio.

Stan: Unless you got the email from Mocavo.

Fisher: Unless you got the email from Mocavo.

Stan: [Laughs] Sorry Fish.

Fisher: [Laughs] Stan Lindaas, always good to see you buddy.

Stan: You too.

Fisher: Welcome back. He’s from HeritageConsulting.com. He’s our Research Authority and look forward to having you back soon! 

Stan: I’m thrilled to be back, thanks Fish.

Fisher: And coming up next is Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. He’s going to be telling you about video camcorders if you’re thinking about picking one up as a gift for the holidays or some such. He’s going to tell you not only the price as what you want to look at but some other things as well. He’s got it for you next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 & 5 Episode 19

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back. It’s Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth brought to you by TMC, The Multimedia Center, preserving your memories for over forty years. And this segment is brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your Family History Resource. Call 877 537 2000. Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. Welcome back, Tom.

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: Here come the holidays! And you know, I was out there looking around at some of the electronic stores, and there are so many camcorders that are out there, different sizes, different types, HD. How does one know what to get, especially if you're thinking of, you know, family history and preservation?

Tom: Well, you know, there's a lot of things to consider. A lot of people just think, you know, the more expensive it is, the better it is. That's not always the case. You need to kind of figure out what you want, what your goals are, you know, what your budget is. But some people just buy the most expensive stuff. We have people bring in constantly high definition camcorders that have a hard drive built in. They want them transferred to DVD in standard definition so they can watch them. So why go and spend, you know three grand on a killer camcorder.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: If you're never going to really want to watch HD stuff. So basically, you need to sit down and figure out what you're really going to want to do, not what you dream of. Don't buy, you know, a Dodge 350 when a 150 is going to take care of you. You know, just be really smart. But there's a lot of different kinds that are out there. And the biggest thing that I want to warn people about, don't go and do like a Wal-Mart or a K-Mart or Sam's Club and look at their stuff and think that's all there is. They always have the newest technology, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best technology.

Fisher: For your purpose especially.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Yeah.

Tom: Do the research. Go online, do stuff. A great resource tool on the internet is, you can go to BHPhoto.com. B as in boy, Harry photo.com, BHPhoto.com. It’s an outfit out of New York, and they are the premiere. They have one of the best, most user friendly websites I've ever seen. You can go in and look at HD camcorders, SD camcorders. You can look at, you know, high def stuff. You can look at ones that take MDVs, ones that have hard drives built in, all kinds of stuff. And you can spend from hundreds to, you know, $30,000 is you want to, but it’s all in one place, on one site, so it’s easy to look at it. They have clickables where you can read all the specs on it, you can actually look at the owner's manuals, you can compare prices and stuff. And whether you buy it from them or not, that's totally up to you. But do your research there. And if you still have questions, either email me at [email protected] or call them, you know, ask them. They have a real good sales staff. But they can, they have everything. They don't have jus the newest stuff that's come out. Personally, when people come into my store and talk to me, "What do I need to do?" If you're just going to be casually shooting stuff, your daughter's recitals, your son's football games, I would prefer to go with ones that still have the tapes. And everybody goes, "What? Tapes?? That's old technology."

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Oh yeah!

Fisher: I would have never imagined.

Tom: Oh yeah! The MDV tape is still the best way to go. You can go high def with it or you can go standard def with it.

Fisher: Huh!

Tom: The nice thing about it, you know, let me tell you a little story. We have people constantly, at least once a week they come running into our stores saying, "Oh, my daughter's recital is in an hour from now. My hard drive’s full. Can you download all my stuff from my hard drive onto DVDs or BluRays so I can go and shoot this?" and "Well, how much footage do you have?" "Well, I have, let's see, twelve hours." And her recital is in one hour.

Fisher: That isn't going to happen.

Tom: No. It would be cheaper to go buy a new camera.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: It’s not going to happen.

Fisher: Yeah.

Tom: But that's what's nice about these tapes, they're still digital, they're awesome. Pop out a tape, pop in a new tape, pop out a tape. If a tape gets damaged, bring it in and we can usually fix the tape and recover the rest of it. If you have a hard disk camera and you damage it, drop it and break it, its toast, its unrecoverable.

Fisher: You know, I think you hit on it right there what most people think, that tape isn't digital.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: But tape is digital.

Tom: Oh, absolutely.

Fisher: And like you say, it’s much easier to handle. And especially, at the end of the day, who keeps the tapes as a whole and looks at them as a whole like we did back in the day with old home movies? You take them, you digitize them, you edit them and you keep them. So as long as you're going to be editing them any way and putting them on some kind of drive at some point, what's the difference of whether it’s put on a tape or something else?

Tom: Oh yeah. You plug you camera in firewire and you're not going to have anything. It’s going to be totally lossless, so it'll be easy to edit it. If you don't want to deal with that, you only want little components, bring it in to us or sent it in to us, we can make you DVDs. You can take the DVDs and edit them. And the quality does go down a little bit, but it’s so insignificant, most of our customers never notice the difference. You can get a program called Cinematize from like NewEgg.com, and it’s like about $50 for their basic version. You can take almost any kind of a DVD, turn it into an MOV file or an AVI file and then edit it. And the neat thing is, you don't have to render the whole DVD. If there's a five minute segment that you want of this two hour DVD, you can just render that one five minutes. But that's what I like about tapes. Tapes can be fixed, you can always find tapes almost any place you go. But you're not going.

Fisher: Cheaper too, isn't it?

Tom: Oh yeah! Oh, when we first did tapes, they were ten dollars, then it came down to five bucks. We sell them in our store for three bucks.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: An MDV tape.

Fisher: I would have never imagined. 

Tom: And another thing, since you brought it up, don't reuse your tapes. They're so cheap. Take it, put it on the shelf, take it, put it on the shelf. People do multiple passes on tapes, and every time you do that, again, like we've talked about before, it’s like writing on a piece of paper with pencil and then erasing it, writing on the same paper, erasing it. Pretty soon, you're going to have a hole in your paper. And that's how the tapes are. The tapes are so cheap, shoot it, put it away, shoot it, put it away, just so you've got it. And it’s a good way, a good backup. So if you have the DVDs at home, give grandma in another state all your tapes to store them for you.

Fisher: Wow, that's why you're the Preservation Authority. Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com. Tom, as people look to perhaps preserve their old home movies and videos for the holiday season, you've got a great reference site at TMCPlace.com.

Tom: Oh yeah. Just go to TMCPlace.com and you can click on, it says 24/7 information or you can go to Shop.TMCPlace.com, and you can go in and find estimates on anything you're looking for. And if you want to do your own transfers, you have your own equipment, you can too. But there's a whole bunch of pages that show you ways to figure out formulas, how big of a hard drive you're going to need, what kind of compression ratio you're going to use, all these kinds of things. So use this as a resource. If you bring your stuff into us or send stuff into us, that's fine. If you want to do it yourself, there's still a lot of resources, whether you live in Dothan, Alabama or, you know, Paris, France, we're there to help you at any time, 24/7.

Fisher: What else do you have for us this week, Tom?

Tom: Okay, the several formats that we're talking about with camcorders, you have what's called miniDV, it stands for mini digital video. It comes on tape. Don't confuse it with a miniDVD, which are the little teeny disks, which if somebody gave them to me for free, I wouldn't use the camera.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: We have people that have gone to Disney Land that shot a whole week's worth of stuff, they get back home. They can't finalize their disk. So they have to bring it in to us with their camera, we have to transfer it. And sometimes it can't be done. We actually had ones that we've tried. We couldn't even get the content off of them. So stay away from the mini disk cameras. I don't even know if they still sell them. If they do, stay away from them. And professional formats, they have big disk cameras that are awesome, but they're thirty grand, so we're not going to afford stuff like that. The other format, you have the HDD camcorders, which has a built in hard drive. And those can also be standard definition or high definition. And a lot of people now are going to SD cards, which are little, teeny plastic things, which are great. They're convenient like the hard drives. You can download your stuff really quick. However, at least once a week we have people bring one in, it was in their pocket. They got squished. It got wet. If you record on those, make sure it’s nothing really, really important and you get them transferred to your computer ASAP before something else happens to them. So you want to make sure you stay away from the miniDVDs. I recommend going to miniDV because of the convenience, they're easy to use, they're great digital cameras. Then also look, do you need high definition. They're going to cost more, but it’s great. But if you're never going to need it, you don't have any HD information to, you know, watch on your TV and stuff, there's no reason to go that kind of expense. So kind of look at your budget, and as we mentioned earlier, you can go to www.BHPhoto.com, as in boy, Harry, photo. com. And do all kinds of research on their site and then either buy it through them, buy it local, but don't go to Wal-Mart or Sam's Club and think that everything you see there is the latest and the best. The latest is not always the best.

Fisher: Interesting stuff as always. Thanks for joining us, Tom. Talk to you next week.

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: Hey, that's it for this week. Thanks so much to Stan Lindaas from HeritageConsulting.com, our Research Authority, Tom Perry of course, and to you for joining us. And just a reminder of course, there's probably some episodes of this show that you have not listened to and there's a lot of great information in there, a lot of fun also. Make sure you check out our podcast at ExtremeGenes.com. There're all waiting for you right there. And share them with a friend get on our Facebook page we'd love to have you there. And be sure to vote in our poll this week, "Do you have a specific Thanksgiving family tradition?" Yes or no, let us know. This segment was brought to you by Heritage Consulting Genealogy Services, your family history resource, call 877 537 2000. We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family! It’s a Fisher Voice Works production.

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