Episode 190 - The Pluses and Minuses of Mitochondrial DNA Testing / A Big Fat Greek Genealogy Experience

podcast episode May 07, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David shares some great stories this week, including one about a family that found a funeral home had dressed the wrong corpse in their mother’s clothes, a man who found his father’s and uncle’s letters homes from World War II on eBay, and the story of a Saxon king whose remains may have been found under a tennis court! (Here we go again!) David’s spotlighted blogger this week is FamilySearch.org/blog/en which discusses, among many other things, how to get started in indexing old records.

Next, Fisher is going DNA crazy this week, having shipped out three Y-chromosome DNA kits to close and distant relatives. He’s pondering using a mitochondrial test for one of his wife’s lines. “Not so fast!” says LegacyTree.com’s Paul Woodbury. The DNA specialist shares some important insight on when you should and when you shouldn’t attempt to connect ancestors through this female direct line DNA method.

Then, Carrie Christos of Cincinnati, Ohio talks about her “Big Fat Greek genealogical experience.” She shares the challenges she faced, the serendipity that (as is often the case) kicked in, and the new relationships she has developed. Carrie will tell you how it all happened.

Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com is geeked out over a remarkable time-lapse video he found. It will inspire you to learn how you can do the same. Tom also talks about some local digitizers that he feels will do a great job for you in several states.

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

Transcript of Episode 190

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 190

Fisher: And you have found us, America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. And coming up later on in the show today, some great guests, some great experts, one guy you’ve certainly come to know, Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com to talk DNA because this past week I sent out three Y-DNA chromosome tests for various cousins to try to work on certain lines. If you don’t know what that means we’ll explain some of that, but we’re really going to focus on mitochondrial tests and those are tests that follow down the female line. It’s got some problems, so it may be perfect for Mother’s Day and then again maybe not. You’ll find out all about those coming up in about eight minutes with Paul Woodbury. Then later in the show we’ll talk to another ordinary person with an extraordinary story about her “Big Fat Greek genealogy experience.” You’re going to love it. That’s later in the show. But right now let’s head off to Beantown and talk to my friend David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. You’ve been on the road for the last month David. Where are you now?

David: Well I’m in Beantown today but next week I take off for the National Genealogical Society Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina from May 10th through 13th.

Fisher: You are such a scholar. Who knew?

David: Ah well, come by the booth and find out yourself if I am. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: I look forward to always meeting our genies from Extreme Genes.

Fisher: All right David, let’s find out what’s happening with our Family Histoire News for today.

David: Well, this story comes from Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania where John Leczinski, while doing a Google search for his Uncle Mike who served in World War II found a link to eBay. Now on eBay he found a letter from his uncle. But not just his uncle... from his father, two other uncles, and another relative.

Fisher: Wow!

 David: Sixty five letters in total that he just found by dumb luck!

Fisher: [Laughs] Well I don’t know that it’s dumb luck when you’ve got the internet anymore. You can find all kinds of stuff and we’ve done entire segments talking about how you can use eBay to find heirlooms. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an extreme edition of an eBay discovery as this one.

David: It’s amazing and for $283 he bought the letters and now he has insight into his family’s involvement in World War II. He said his father rarely talked about the war so this is almost like, you know, a gift that you would never expect to find.

Fisher: Something like a journal almost.

David: It really is. And the day by day letters usually account if they weren’t censured to death. They’re usually pretty detailed as to where the people have been in troop movements from the vessels they were on, so what a wonderful find on eBay. I only wish I could find my dad’s letters from World War II. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.

David: Okay, my next story takes us out to England where they’re searching for another lost king.

Fisher: Oh boy, is he under a parking lot again?

David: No, actually this one is Saint Edmund and he’s supposedly located under a tennis court.

Fisher: Oh, of course, of course! [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] You know, after the disillusion of the monasteries and many of the cathedrals under Henry VIII, the abbeys were destroyed. Well, he was buried there and had a little bit of a shrine but they believed the shrine may still be buried under this tennis court in Orey St Edmunds, England. So, who knows? We might have a king that was far earlier from 855 to 878 A.D, the royal Saxon King.

Fisher: Wow, that’s incredible!

David: Well, talking about older people in England, of course next month will be the 96th birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh and he’s been really active alongside the Queen for years. And actually since 1952 he’s had over 22,000 personal engagements that he’s attended. Here’s the catch. He’s going to retire.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow, that’s really good. And I don’t think anybody’s going to get angry at him about this.

David: No, I mean actually it’s a little early when you compare to some of the stories we’ve talked about the past couple of years about people working into over a hundred or getting a new job at a hundred or start going back to where they first worked. So, my hat’s off to the Duke of Edinburgh for his longevity and his longevity in service to the Crown. You know one of the stories that I think is interesting is that occasionally we all make mistakes. And the family of Alice Dunn had to deal with her passing recently and of course it’s very tough and you have to go through the funeral. The problem is the Swanson funeral home in Flint, Michigan made a mistake.

Fisher: Ooh, what did they do?

David: Well, it was Alice’s clothes on anther deceased person in the casket.

Fisher: Oh.

David: Yeah, they put the wrong clothes on the wrong body and set it up for the wrong funeral.

Fisher: Oh. [Laughs]

David: They did get it correct. They didn’t lose Alice, but her family was a little perplexed because it looked nothing like her.

Fisher: Well it’s funny how that works though sometimes. And I can understand the funeral home saying, “Oh no, that’s her!” Because sometimes when somebody has been, shall we say, fixed up for the funeral they don’t look like themselves.

David: Well you know, I always would go to a funeral and I love when people look and go, “Oh they look so good.” My mother would say, “They’re dead.”

Fisher: Yeah. [Laugh] They’re still dead, it doesn’t matter!

David: [Laughs] Exactly. Our blogger spotlight is FamilySearch.org/blog/en, and this is a wonderful blog brought to you by Family Search. And recently they talked about how to get started with indexing online. As many of you know FamilySearch replies upon the volunteer help of thousands upon thousands of people to get all the wonderful images indexed online for free. So you can find out how to be involved in their FamilySearch indexing right there on the blog post from May 1st.

Fisher: Nice.

David: That’s about all I have for this week, but I do want to remind you that if you want to become a member of AmericanAncestors.org for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, use the check out code “extreme” and save $20 on membership. Catch you live from Raleigh, North Carolina next week everyone.

Fisher: All right David thanks for coming on. Good to talk to you, and just a reminder, if you haven’t done so yet, get on our website ExtremeGenes.com and get signed up for our Weekly Genie newsletter. We send it out every Monday morning. It’s chocked full of information, interviews, links to great stories and a column from me every week. So we’d love to have you as part of our community there, also of course on Facebook and our Extreme Genes website. And coming up next, I’m going to talk to Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com. He’s their DNA Specialist. This past week I sent out three Y-chromosome tests as I mentioned concerning guys and it occurred to me, “Wait a minute my wife’s in a mitochondrial line.” That’s where you could actually do a test of female to female to female, back to her second great grandmother. But Paul told me off the air that might not be the best way to go so we’re going to talk to him about some strategies involving DNA, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 190

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: Got to tell you, I love talking DNA. It is Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment of the show is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And I have my friend Paul Woodbury on the line from LegacyTree.com. And Paul, we are talking off the air the other day, there’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to cover. First of all, welcome back.

Paul: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Fisher: You know this past week I just sent out three Y-DNA tests to different cousins. One was a fifth cousin down one line, another to a fourth cousin down another line, and another to my wife’s uncle, to make sure, you know, as you mentioned, to preserve the older folk’s DNA. And that name line has always been something of a problem for us. But then as I was thinking about this, it occurred to me, well, wait a minute, my wife is in a mitochondrial situation. We have a second great grandmother in her line that we haven’t been able to connect the parents. We have a sister to this woman, we have a brother to this woman, but we could never find through any of these three kids the names of the parents. So I thought... hey, mitochondrial! We could have my wife do it, even my daughter could do it to try to link to it, but you had some great insight on it and I thought maybe today we would talk about that.

Paul: Yeah I’d be happy to discuss that.

Fisher: So, do you use mitochondrial DNA testing very often?

Paul: I don’t. I mean the reason why is because it’s kind of been put on the back burner to autosomal DNA testing and Y-DNA testing. And there are a few reasons for that. First, with Y-DNA testing you have a direct line paternal inheritance pattern, and that pattern often follows the same pattern as surname inheritance in a lot of western cultures. So, by doing Y-DNA testing, a lot of the times you can get insight into the origins of the surname and following that direct paternal line. So a lot of people use Y-DNA testing. With autosomal DNA testing you can connect with cousins within the last eight to ten generations and explore how you’re related that way.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: With mitochondrial DNA there are a few things that make it a little bit difficult to work with. First, the mitochondrial DNA is inherited along that direct maternal line like you said and because of that, the surnames that you’re looking at change every generation.

Fisher: Every one, that’s right. [Laughs]

Paul: And so that can get really complicated quite fast. The other challenge is that traditionally in genealogical research as you get further back in the records, it just happens to be that there are a lot more times information regarding the men, particularly in the US and in some of the British colonies, because women did change their names to their husband’s surname. It can be really challenging to trace that maternal line. It’s a little bit easier in some of the Spanish and Italian and Latin cultures because a lot of the times the women did keep their names throughout their lives.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: So it’s a little bit easier to trace them that way. But with mitochondrial DNA a lot of the times it’s hard to make those connections from mother to daughter, to mother to mother to mother. So it’s an underutilized source. Now, the other challenge with mitochondrial DNA testing is that currently the largest database of mitochondrial DNA samples is at FamilyTree DNA. But even then, that database is significantly smaller than the Y-DNA database and the autosomal DNA database. And I think that it’s an untapped resource in a lot of ways. I think if more people did mitochondrial DNA testing it could eventually get to the point where it could be really, really useful for these situations where we’re searching for potential ancestors and we’re looking for connections. That approach, I like to call it “Going Fishing.” [Laughs]

Fisher: Right, right, right.

Paul: ...where you take your DNA tests and you see what you get back, right?

Fisher: Right, absolutely. But if there’s nobody else playing the game, and there are no other fish in the pond, you can’t snag them.

Paul: Yeah, and that’s part of the challenge. And that always is a challenge with Y-DNA testing and with mitochondrial DNA testing. You can usually have quite a bit of success in going fishing with autosomal DNA tests because the databases are so huge that you can usually connect with people through autosomal DNA. Even with Y-DNA, depending on the surname and the specific Y-DNA you have, you may get lucky and be able to go fishing and get some good fish from your Y-DNA test.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: With mitochondrial DNA, I haven’t run across that too often where you take the mitochondrial DNA test and it helps to solve any genealogical problem or to extend that line back. I have found a few cases where we’ve taken a mitochondrial DNA test and it has served to confirm to a certain extent the family trees. So for example, they were trying to find out, you know, who was the mother of my four times great grandmother along the direct maternal line, and we took the mitochondrial DNA test and they got some matches and we confirmed that she was descended from the third great grandmother. But we weren’t able to go back the generation before that. In another case I ran into a similar situation where we were trying to connect an ancestor from Australia back to England, and we were able to confirm the descent line within Australia but we weren’t able to make that jump back to England with the mitochondrial DNA test results.

Fisher: Um hmm. So, largely then it’s a matter of there just aren’t enough people playing and it’s almost like a self perpetuating situation, where, “if there aren’t enough people there, I’m not going to do the test, right?” And when other people don’t do the test then fewer other people will take the test, right?

Paul: Yeah. It does make things difficult. I think with Y-DNA and particularly with mitochondrial DNA you can have successful research resolution when you have a targeted question.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: So for example, there was a case where I worked on for a man who was trying to determine first of all was his fourth great grandmother the child of this particular couple. And we had another descendent of that couple that he had identified, so we tested them both. They both had the same mitochondrial DNA and that confirmed with the traditional evidence that yes, this woman his forth great grandmother, was a child of this couple. So it’s really in those types of situations where you can use mitochondrial DNA to its fullest advantage because you’re setting up an experiment.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: You say okay, if I touch this person and I touch this person and they share mitochondrial DNA, it provides evidence of their shared relationship with these individuals.

Fisher: But you think about the money that has to be spent on these tests and I’ve never bought a mitochondrial test, what do they run around, do you know?

Paul: So there are two levels of mitochondrial DNA testing at FamilyTree DNA.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Paul: The basic level is $59 dollars and the full mitochondrial sequence is $199 dollars.

Fisher: Wow. Okay. So, basically if you were to look into doing this without essentially throwing your money away, it would be good to know that you’ve got somebody that you’re trying to match up to, would you agree with that? Either somebody whose information is already banked or someone you’re working with on the problem who’s agreed to do the test at the same time you do.

Paul: Absolutely.

Fisher: And otherwise you’re basically saying, well, I’m going to put my information out there and hope that somebody comes along some day and matches me and we can figure this thing out.

Paul: Yeah. I would agree with that and I would also say though, that mitochondrial DNA testing can be helpful when it’s used in conjunction with autosomal DNA test results.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: To narrow the possibilities of how you could be related to somebody. If you are sharing enough DNA to be a second cousin once removed, and yet you don’t share common mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, then that can help eliminate potential relationships within your respective family tree.

Fisher: And that would be where an expert like you would come in to help analyze it, right? Because I don’t think most people generally have that kind of knowledge.

Paul: Yeah, I could do that. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: I do that sort of thing every day!

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: But yeah, that’s something you could hire an expert to kind of take a look and really identify what possible relationships could explain your shared DNA.

Fisher: Yeah. The bottom line is, you’ve got to be a passionate genie to do some of this stuff because it is expensive.

Paul: That is true. I will add that you can get some information regarding mitochondrial DNA through 23andMe and their test. So, if you’re interested in getting just the general of what are the haplogroups that you belong to, you can find that information by testing at 23andMe and then you also get the added benefit of having the autosomal DNA test results with that.

Fisher: Right. So you’d have to work through at least a couple of companies, right?

Paul: Yeah. So another thing that mitochondrial DNA can be really helpful for is looking at ethnicity. If you have a family story of your great, great, great grandmother being a Native American or possibly African American or being of a specific ethnicity, because mitochondrial DNA follows this direct inheritance pattern and goes intact from generation to generation, there are some mitochondrial DNA signatures that are unique to very specific ethnicities. For example, if you have mitochondrial DNA that belongs to haplogroups A, B, C, D or X, it could be indicative of Native American ancestry along your direct maternal line. Also, if you have a mitochondrial DNA haplogroup L that indicates that you have an ancestor along your direct maternal line that was from Africa.

Fisher: Ha!

Paul: So, there are some very unique sequences that you can use to explore the location where your ancestors may have come from. So, there are some really cool things that you can do with mitochondrial DNA in exploring ethnicity and origins along that direct maternal line. But for genealogical research right now it’s a little bit of a challenge to use.

Fisher: Wow. All right, lots of great advice as always Paul, always great to have you on. In fact, I do want to continue with some of those most common DNA questions that you’ve been getting, the next time we get you on the show, all right?

Paul: All right, sounds good.

Fisher: All right talk to you again soon. Thanks so much for coming on.

Paul: Thank you.

Fisher: Well, you know we have a long running tradition on Extreme Genes of finding ordinary people who are making extraordinary finds and having extraordinary experiences, and one of those people is Carrie Christos. She’s in Cincinnati, Ohio and she’s been working on her husband’s side and has been having a “Big Fat Greek genealogy experience.” We’ll tell you more about that coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.            

Segment 3 Episode 190

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Carrie Christos

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, it is Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA. You know, it’s always fun to talk to people, ordinary people who make extraordinary finds and it’s amazing the things that happen in their lives. And I have one of those people on the line with me right now. She’s Carrie Christos. She’s been working on not only her own lines but her husband’s, and Carrie you’ve been having some real good experiences haven’t you?

Carrie: Yes, I learned so much about doing great research through my experience and it’s just been great.

Fisher: Now you’re in Cincinnati, Ohio. I used to work in Cincinnati, Ohio years ago on a radio station there, and the one thing that I took from it when I left the area was, it’s the only place in the country where if somebody misunderstands you they go, “Please?” I don’t hear that any place else except Cincinnati! [Laughs]

Carrie: You’re right!

Fisher: So how long have you been researching, Carrie?

Carrie: I started when my children were born. My oldest is eight, and right after that I became very interested in doing genealogy. I did a lot if it myself but I hired LegacyTree genealogists to do some of the harder stuff.

Fisher: Yes.

Carrie: They were able to help me with my mom’s side and my dad’s side and now my husband’s side.

Fisher: Yeah and this really kind of goes back now not as far as your husband’s line went. He didn’t go that far as I understand it to begin with. So you had to crack some fairly recent brick walls to get back there, but Greece is a fantastic place to research.

Carrie: Yeah, it is. So, my-in-law father was kind of a second generation and my husband, his father died about three years into our marriage. So I really didn’t get a chance to ask my father-in-law too much, and my father-in-law’s father died in 1955 and he left us almost no information. So I was feeling pretty disconnected from the Greek family situation. People would meet me and they would say, “So it’s like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” And I would say, well no, not really.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Carrie: So I wanted to learn more.

Fisher: Sure, because you didn’t know any of the people. The Big Fat Greek Wedding was all about all the huge extended family that would attend, but you didn’t know anybody.

Carrie: Yes, exactly. My father-in-law had some older people but everyone died off, no one could answer any questions.

Fisher: So did you know where he was from in Greece?

Carrie: Yes, his family is from a town called, originally it was called Levetsova and then quite suddenly the town got named Krokees. I’m not sure about the reasons why but right now it’s called Krokees, Greece.

Fisher: And so how was the wall finally broken?

Carrie: When I got my project back from Caroline, our goal was to find out if my husband’s grandfather had any brothers or sisters and also confirm the names of the parents, and we were definitely able to do that. So when I got the names of the brothers and sisters, I didn’t really know what to do with that information. And I learned that some of the families had stayed in Greece and another one actually tried to come to America and got deported, and then that was the family that ended up in Australia. So I didn’t really know what to do with the information and I kind of just set it aside.

Fisher: And so eventually you went over to Caroline Tollman at LegacyTree, and she was able to help you do something with that?

Carrie: So I got my binder back from Caroline and what I did was, I had actually contacted a guy previously on Facebook by the name of Nico Christakos- that was one of the uncles of my father-in-law. I thought maybe he could have been the right person. He lives in the same area and in the same place.

Fisher: Sure.

Carrie: Yeah, I didn’t really hear anything back so I had set it aside for several months. I went back to Ancestry.com and I plugged in the names of the family, and I was really surprised to get an exact match of the date and birth of my father-in-law’s first cousin. It wasn’t the Nico Christakos but it was someone else.

Fisher: But that’s a different name than yours. Now your name is Christos, so it was shortened obviously.

Carrie: Yeah, actually I should have said that earlier, so that was the one piece of information I did get to ask my father-in-law before he passed. He was very certain that the name was Christakos, so I knew that kind of going in. It’s still kind of weird to think that our name was Christakos, but I did know that piece of information.

Fisher: Sure. Lots of people though, have had their named changed over the years, and sometimes many times in a straight line. So you reached out to make contact?

Carrie: And I didn’t hear anything back. Then, one day several months later Nico Christakos finds my message on Facebook and he’s not the Nico Christakos that I’m looking for but he actually knows all the people in the village. He said, “I’m not the right person, but I actually know all the people.” So I gave him some information so he knew I was for real. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right.

Carrie: He came back a couple of weeks later and he gave me the phone number of my husband’s second cousin.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Carrie: I spent a month trying to find them in America, because Ancestry.com indicated that they might have been in America, and the reason why I couldn’t find them was because they had moved back to Greece.

Fisher: So you were able to reach him?

Carrie: Um, I called. I built up the nerve. I changed my calling plan so I could call Greece, and the phone was connected not once but several times. He kept answering. So I thought, well I’m going to not give up. He kept listening, I heard that he spoke English but we weren’t really connecting. So he handed the phone to his wife and we tried to collect email addresses and she asked me if I had a Facebook account. So we were able to connect and then eventually end up talking.

Fisher: Wow! That’s exciting. So you did some Facebook talks or just exchanging messages?

Carrie: Yeah just on messager. She was super nice and everything was like very piece meal. I couldn’t quite tell if it was a cultural thing. I don’t know what it was but I was just trying to be nice without being too pushy because I had a million questions that I wanted to ask.

Fisher: So what have you learned about the family in Greece and your history there?

Carrie: Well, I know that the third cousin, one of the fathers and the grandson lived in Krokees and they have an olive grove. When we finally did meet face to face, we got a bottle of olive oil which I thought was really very special because you know, it was some tangible, that could serve as a token of our new found relatives, if you will. 

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. How did they feel about this, where they excited?

Carrie: I thought that they were really excited, and actually I learned from the second cousin’s wife that her son had also at the same time trying to find out information. He is about twenty-nine, thirty, and he was also trying to find out information about the family. So you know, the whole thing was so coincidental and how we met. They came to the United States because he was trying to sell olive oil here in the United States.

Fisher: Ha!

Carrie: They were in Chicago, because the mom has relatives in Chicago. Not the dad’s side but on the mom’s side and he was visiting. But Chicago is like 5-6 hours away from Cincinnati. And she didn’t know that I had a trip planned to go to Indianapolis for spring break with my family. Just for a couple of days. I was humbled, because she asked if we could meet half way between Chicago and Cincinnati and I was just blown away by the whole coincidence of the whole thing.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Carrie: And how it really worked out, it was amazing.

Fisher: I think we call that serendipity, in the business.

Carrie: Yes.

Fisher: Yeah, happens all the time. Are you going to go to Greece?

Carrie: I would love to. I would love to. Even for our honeymoon and I think when the kids are a little bit older we will do that. It will be very, very nice to know we have people there that we can visit.

Fisher: And you can get your “Big Fat Greek reception” there I would assume.

Carrie: Maybe. Maybe, that would be great.

Fisher: That’s awesome. Well Carrie, congratulations!

Carrie: Thank you.

Fisher: How long have you been researching now?

Carrie: For about, gosh almost nine years.

Fisher: Nine years, that’s great. And I know Caroline is a terrific researcher, so I’m glad she was able to help you. Hey, thanks for sharing your story with us. Good luck going forward.

Carries: Thank you.

Fisher: Hope you have a great experience over in Greece one of these days. Take the kids.

Carrie: We will. It was great to talk to you. Thank you.

Fisher: Hey, that’s what it’s all about and those kinds of coincidences happen all the time. Hey, coming up next we’re going to talk to Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He’s our Preservation Authority. He’s going to talk to you about repairing photos through instructional videos. We’ll direct you to a couple of them and a lot more coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 190

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And 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. Tom Perry is in from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Hi Tom, how are you?

Tom: Super duper, thank you.

Fisher: And this segment is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. And it’s time to talk about preserving photographs digitally, Tom. And you've got some great stuff here that I see you smiling already.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] He is the mad scientist. You've found some new things that are going to be of benefit.

Tom: Oh, it’s so cool. I mean, we've talked about Digital Darkroom and Photoshop, how those are great programs to get into to fix your pictures. And I just put up on my Twitter account where you can actually go to a link. I don't want to try to give it to you over the air, because it’s a long link. [Check it out here.]

Fisher: Right. We'll put it on ExtremeGenes.com.

Tom: That will be perfect. And what's so cool about this is, you actually see somebody on the computer and they're doing it, they have a picture I'm guessing from probably the late 1800s, you can see its periodized, but it’s been folded, it’s really damaged and you can actually watch what he's clicking on. So he's clicking on like a healer tool and you can see how he goes in and he heals.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: Where it’s, there's kind of like a crack through it. So what you do is, you take whatever's missing and replace it with usually something right next to it.

Fisher: That's right.

Tom: And its going to be gradient, so its fine, so it shows you how he takes the healer tool as they call it and goes in, you know, measures out what's bad, oversamples a little bit, then moves it up to the top part, then copies that and puts it back in that area and then smoothes it out and it looks like it was always supposed to be like that.

Fisher: Exactly. And you know, I do this a lot. In fact, I do it for a lot of my family members who will send me something. And it’s one of those things you do at like six o'clock in the morning on a Sunday. You wake up, everybody's asleep, "Oh, I'm going to fix that picture!"

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: And I did this for some cousins in Connecticut not long ago with a really beat up picture. But the joy of it is, when you go and you learn just a couple of these tools, there's the healing tool and there's also one that's a cloning tool. In essence, you find something nearby that's the same color and texture and you just go over those areas with it. And even with just those two things, you can do so much. And if you make a mistake, it’s no big deal, you just do a ctrl-z and it undoes what you just did. And you can undo many, many times. So you can try something and if you keep going into it and trying to make it better and better and then it doesn't work, you can undo the whole thing and go back and start all over again, right up to the point that you wanted to pick it up.

Tom: And that's a wonderful thing that you mentioned that. So you want to make sure if this is your first time into one of these programs, you go into preferences and it will let you pick how many undos you want to do. And I always set mine to the maximum.

Fisher: Yeah.

Tom: Because I like to experiment.

Fisher: Yes, you want to be able to do it all the way to the end, basically.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: I want to undo the whole thing.

Tom: Exactly. And that's just so awesome to do stuff like that. And when you're watching this video that we're going to post up there for you, like you say, you only need a couple of tools. Like you can get in a great, big escalade and you can see all these buttons and all these things and it’s like, "Oh, my gosh! I can't drive this, because I don't know what all these buttons do." Well, no. When you get into Photoshop or Digital Darkroom, learn two or three tools and just go in there and mess around. And the thing is, it’s not like, "Oh, I don't want to do my good picture until I learn how to do this." Why not? You can undo it. You're not going to hurt anything. You always do a "save as" so you've always got your original.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And go in and play with the healing tool and the cloning tool. And as you'll see on this video, then once he gets done, you think, "Oh, it’s all done. Now it looks so cool." Then the doctor, mad scientist really comes out and he colorizes it!

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

Tom: So you can see how he goes and chooses the whole face and uses different tones and textures them and go step by step by step by step. And just watching him in a slower motion is going to teach you so many things.

Fisher: And I haven't learned to colorize yet. That's something I haven't gotten to, but the point is, you can grow with this. And watch these videos, they're available all over the place, and we'll share that at ExtremeGenes.com, so make sure you check that out.

Tom: So, go watch this video, learn a lot of things from it. And as you just mentioned, go to YouTube and download a whole bunch of training things too that they're all free.

Fisher: All right. Coming up next in three minutes, Tom, what are we going to talk about?

Tom: We're going to talk about some upcoming events at some places that might be in your backyard where you can get your film transferred properly.

Fisher: On the way on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 190

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. And, Tom, you're talking about some local places that do it right. And you've been searching a little bit. What did you discover?

Tom: We talk about the questions that you need to ask. This place I'm going to recommend for you right now, we've asked them questions, they've answered them correctly. I haven't actually sent them anything to test them, but it seems like they really do your film properly. It’s called Roots Family History, is the name of the store. And they have one in Boise, Idaho and one in Brooklyn, New York, which are awesome places. And then I found another one in a suburb of St. Louis called Cintrex, C I N T R E X  A V that's super, super wonderful. So if those places are close to you, go and support your local businesses. If not, we're still happy to do it for you. But just make sure you always ask the right questions, because we really recommend you stay local as much as possible. Keep your money in your area, because that's the way to do things right. And also, there's a couple of genealogy conventions coming up. There's one in St George, Utah, in the first part of September to start looking forward to. And there's also one called the Western Pennsylvania Genealogy Society that's going to be August 30th through September 2nd, it’s called, “Building Bridges to The Past” and it’s a good one to go check if you're going to be in that area. If you have in your area one that's coming up that you work with a little societies, let us know so we can put in on the calendars. We have people that say to us when we're talking to them, "Oh, did you go to such and such a genealogy convention?" "Oh, we didn't even know it was there." And it’s in your own back yard. So let us know, we'll do everything we can to help you promote it, because we're all about preserving the past and helping people get into it and get started.

Fisher: Boy, that's all great information! And we will do that. We'll be posting that at ExtremeGenes.com, on our Facebook page, on our Twitter page and on yours as well @AskTomP on Twitter.

Tom: Exactly. And you can always ask me questions at [email protected], but if you want it quick, you do the Twitter page, because then I can get back to you instantly, and it’s really been a lot of fun. I've never really been a big Twitter person till lately, but it’s amazing how many people have come on, they ask questions. They send us links to things. And so, please, if you have something going on, let us know on our Twitter page, so we can let the world know and let the people in your backyard know that there's something cool coming up.

Fisher: Tom, I understand you have a little update on the solar panels we talked about recently. Fill us in.

Tom: Absolutely. They're doing some drills right now where they're starting off. They're doing Go Fund Me projects to get their solar panels up and going. So what they're doing, they're offering right now up to 75% off if you pre-order. And if something goes south, you always get your money back. These guys that do the Go Fund Me accounts are really, really good at making sure there's not fraud and stuff out there. So this is really good. I saw these people down at the CES shows, so I know they're legit.

Fisher: And just to remind everybody, these solar panels we're talking about are ways by which you can charge your devices out in the wilderness.

Tom: So you're for the campout, like you're at a big family reunion, say, "Oh, I'd love to be scanning, I'd love to be using my iPhone, I'd love to be sharing my things, but we're in the middle of nowhere and I can't plug into the pine tree."

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Well, now you kind of can.

Tom: Exactly, you can, because they make little, teeny solar panels that are the size of your iPad. They make ones that are a little bit bigger, but they're very portable. And you don't have to have all these different devices. They have like the USB ports right in the solar panel. So you take it out, put it out a little bit away from the tree, plug in your laptop whatever you want to do, plug in your friend's thing, burn DVDs for people, share your stuff. So it not like we're in the wilderness, we can't do this anymore.

Fisher: Incredible stuff. Thanks so much, Tom. We'll see you again next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, that's a wrap for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. This segment has been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And by the way, if you missed any part of the show or you'd like to hear it again, don't forget the podcast comes out every Monday morning. You can catch that at ExtremeGenes.com. It’s on iTunes, it’s on iHeartRadio, it’s on TuneIn Radio, it’s all over the place, so we'd love to have you join us there and catch up on some old episodes as well. Don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com, it’s absolutely free. That too comes out on Monday mornings, all kinds of great links to all kinds of great stories, techniques, past interviews and my weekly column. Hey, don't forget to tell your friends about the show. Spread the word! We'll have some more great guests next week. We look forward to talking to you then. Take care. 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