Episode 199 - Paul Woodbury on DNA Controversy / NexGen Invites Young Genealogists

podcast episode Jul 16, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the Extreme Genes 4th anniversary show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David reports from Knoxville where he is part of a convention of the Sons of the American Revolution. David then congratulates Fisher on a remarkable new adventure for him. Listen to the show to find out it is.  David then reveals a terrific new source being released jointly by NEHGS and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants as they prepare for the 400th anniversary in 2020. Next, David tells us about a girl born into a family in South Carolina. What makes her unique is that she is a first in her family in 137 years. The guys will explain why her family is so excited. Then, David reveals the passing of one of the cast members of the original “Roots” TV show. And, some early mug shots have been shared in an ebook. Find out what makes these pictures special. Might your ancestor be among them?

In the second segment, Fisher visits with DNA specialist Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com. A recent article by a science community has taken to task a certain aspect of DNA testing results.  Hear what it is and what Paul has to say about it.

Then, Melanie McComb of Syracuse, New York, who started her research at age 18, talks about the Next Gen Genealogy Network which aims to teach and bring together younger genealogical researchers. It’s free to join and easy to participate in. Melanie will share the details on that as well as her blog, TheShamrockGenealogist.com.

Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, returns to talk about how to preserve what you have already digitally preserved! (Does it ever end?!)

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

Transcript of Episode 199

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 199

Fisher: And welcome to America’s History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment of our show is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. You know, there’s a lot of talk right now about DNA. And there’s an article out there that’s kind of shaking the world of DNA, so if you’re not tuned in to that you’re going to want to hear what Paul Woodbury has to say about this topic, about the value of DNA and some of the results that you get. What does Paul have to say? You’re going to find out in about nine minutes. Then later in the show Melanie McComb is on. She is with a group called NextGen. It’s an organization of young genealogists. They support one another. You’re going to hear some of the stories and some of the things that she’s found as a result of her involvement in that. And if you have a young genealogist in your life you’d like to get involved, she’ll tell you exactly how to do that. By the way, if you haven’t done it yet sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. It’s absolutely free. You can find it on our website ExtremeGenes.com. And by the way, anybody who is a subscriber by the end of July is going to be eligible for a drawing we’re going to do for a free one hour consultation with the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org David Allen Lambert who just happens to be on the phone with me right now from Knoxville, Tennessee where he’s there for the SAR Convention (Sons of the American Revolution).

Fisher: How are you David?

David: I’m doing wonderful. Honored to be here as a delegate for the 127th SAR Congress here in Knoxville. And first thing I want to do is give a shout-out to Larry T. Guzy of Georgia, our new President General. He’s actually the 114th President, Fish and they started back in 1889.

Fisher: That’s awesome. And so he’s coming in just to the point here where we’re getting ready for a big anniversary.

David: We are. Nine years from now America will be celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the birth of America. Remember the Bicentennial?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Well, we’re looking at SAR to get thousands of new members. So if you have a potential ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War in your family tree, and haven’t joined yet, think about SAR and I can talk to you more about that later.

Fisher: That is very fun. Hey, by the way it’s our 4th anniversary. We’re celebrating it all this month, but specifically this week is our fourth year and I was thinking back on that David because you were a guest, I think somewhere in my first year.

David: Yes I was.

Fisher: We talked about colonial wars and now here you are as one of our regulars.

David: Honored to be on your show every week Fish. It’s great fun. As my mother said, I have a face for radio. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Hey, Congratulations I understand are in order. You are now a Deputy Sheriff in your own community?

Fisher: Yeah. Well, you know how in the old movies the sheriff would slap a badge on somebody and say, “You’re now part of the posse.” It’s something like that. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: Except we’re not in a posse but they’re having me actually assist in some cold cases. And so it’s a really interesting thing to use genealogical skills for that. I’ve been informed I will not be kicking in any doors. [Laughs] But it’s an honor and a privilege and a fascinating thing to be a part of and hopefully we can make a difference in some of these cases.                       

David: Something new for your descendants to find out about you someday.

Fisher: There you go.

David: Keep a paper trail.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Hey, you know we’re speaking of anniversaries. 2020 will be the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower coming into Plymouth harbor and of course many hundreds of thousands of descendants of these pilgrims live across the entire world now. And NEHGS is very excited that we have now done collaboration with the general society of Mayflower descendants which include the “Silver Books” fifth generation. So the “Silver Books” as I’m sure you’ve used before Fish.

Fisher: Yes.

David: The ones that have five generations of Mayflower passengers.

Fisher: And this is very important for anyone looking to join the general society of Mayflower descendants. The first five generations are done and documented for so all you have to do is plug in to that fifth generation and off you go.

David: Correct. The other thing that will be adding to this collaboration is the Mayflower Quarterly and Mayflower Journal published between 1935 and 2015 for the first batch of issues. So it’s really an exciting time, and we’re delighted to have this collaboration. Again, if you’re not a member of NEHGS yet, you can always become a free guest member of NEHGS and AmericanAncestors.org. And if you decide to join, use the check out code “Extreme” and save $20.

Fisher: Very nice. All right, let’s get into some of our Family Histoire News this week because there a couple of interesting stories here.

David: Yeah, a little girl is now in the world in South Carolina. Her name is Carter Louise Settle. You know it’s always wonderful when there’s a little baby boy or baby girl born. But for this family it’s important. Fish, they haven’t had a girl in the family for 137 years.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s amazing!

David: It’s very cute and they gave her a first name that is cute as a little girl and powerful as an older lady in the workforce. I wish her the best of luck. And in my family it’s just the opposite.

Fisher: Really?

David: We have girls instead of boys. [Laughs] In my branch of the tree I’m one of the last males and I have two daughters and my late brother had a daughter and I have a great niece. So the last name could be dying out on my family.

Fisher: It could happen that way. You know, I’m right in the middle. I have two sons, two daughters, three grandsons, three granddaughters. Perfect balance.

David: And that family tree is just going to grow and grow and grow. In other news, sadly the actor Ji-Tu Cumbuka who was in Roots back in 1977, he was the slave wrestler, unfortunately has passed away.

Fisher: Yeah, he had a great role in that too.

David: You know, you walk into the post office, excuse me “Deputy Sheriff.” You know when you walk into the post office and see a mug shot on the wall?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Now you have to be curious a little bit more. Well, back in the 1860s amber type photography in Tintypes captured some of the earliest police mug shots, and this is out in the St. Louis, Missouri area, and a fellow by the name of Shane Davidson has done an ebook capturing some of these early 1860s images of shoplifters and thieves. Who knows? Maybe one of them could be your ancestor.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Wow! That would be a fun thing to find though. I mean, really from 150 years ago I’ve never ever seen a mug shot from that early.                                                     

David: In a horse feed from my town that I tried to bid on eBay at one point in time. They wanted serious money so I decided that a printout from eBay was worth it just enough.

Fisher: [Laughs] I think you’re right. All right David, well thanks for checking in. Hope you’re having a great time in Knoxville, Tennessee. We’ll talk to you again next week.

David: All right, look forward to it. And don’t forget if you have a blog out there send me a note at [email protected]. I’d love to know your favorite blog post so maybe we can spotlight you on the show.

Fisher: And coming up next, Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com is going to talk about a little controversy going on this week in the DNA world. That’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 199

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Paul Woodbury

Fisher: Oh, there’s always something stirring up in the world of DNA. Hey, it’s Fisher and this is Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And this segment of our show is brought to you by 23AndMe.comDNA. And of course, when we talk DNA, we like to bring our friend, Paul Woodbury on, from our friends at LegacyTree.com. How are you, Paul?

Paul: I’m doing wonderful. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: And I was just looking at this story here that Blaine Bettinger’s put out, and it’s an interesting article that’s causing a little stir right now, and I think it’s best if you describe the situation here.

Paul: Yeah, there’s an article that was written by Barbara King. She’s a professor of anthropology, and it’s entitled, “Why You Should Think Twice about those DNA by Mail Results.”

Fisher: Yeah.

Paul: So, the main argument of this article suggests that, you know, DNA test results as are used them, have a fabricated meaning. And, it’s corporate science, it’s not ordinary science, we don’t know the precise calculation methods that they’re using to calculate these relationships to ethnicities and to human population. Then she makes the argument that customers make sense of the result and ignore the nonsense. They see what they want to and they ignore everything else.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Paul: Which is true, and she also makes the argument that the population categories that they use are modern constructs. They try to make natural human populations that are actually cultural.

Fisher: Now, mostly here we’re talking about, of course, the ethnicity report. That’s the big hook, right, for a lot of people to do DNA tests these days. They’re not doing it like our genies do to find out relationships, which is really the most important thing that really does work.

Paul: Yes, and that is why I can certainly see the validity in some of these arguments that we focus so much on the ethnicity, and ethnicity gets so much attention that it can be tempting to say, “Well, these test results are fabricated. They don’t mean anything it was in the context of reality.” She concludes her article by saying the genome tells us less than we seek. And I disagree with that.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: I think we’re just the beginning of what the genome can tell us. I think that we are still improving in the way that we can use DNA test results to explore ancestry and to learn more about our heritage. But, I think, coming from the perspective of an anthropologist, I think that these concerns are certainly valid, and certainly important to address.

Fisher: Well let’s break it down a little bit here, first of all, Paul, for those who may not have yet ordered a DNA kit or interested in these ethnicity reports. To understand what the problem is. Now, here’s how I explain it to people and you tell me where I’m off. But I’ve often said, it’s kind of like looking through a telescope at the night sky. You got a black background, you got all these little pinpoints of light that represent stars, and they look like they’re all equally distant from one another in this lovely pattern, and what we don’t see ultimately is how far apart and how many light years in this direction and the size difference and all these things, and yet it looks very neat and packaged to us. It’s kind of the same thing with ethnicity reports in my mind. Because, we really don’t know at what time period certain DNA was in these places, and that’s why we often get these weird results. Would you agree with that summary?

Paul: Yeah, and I think that Dr. King does an excellent job of addressing that in her article, because she says, you know, “If we don’t account for the complexity of the many variables that work in our ancestry, we run the risk of high unscientific thinking.” And that’s true. When you take a DNA test, a lot of the time if you’re doing it for ethnicity, you may come and look at the ethnicity results and say, “Oh, look, I’m 100% European. Great.” And, you know, walk away from it and never come back. And so, I do like the sentiment that she expresses, and why you should think twice about those DNA-by-mail results. Not necessarily because, you know, I don’t find value in those results, but because I think, in any case, when you’re doing work with genetic genealogy test results, you should be thinking twice about it. You should be coming back. It’s a growing and developing science. As more people test, we get a better idea and better understanding of the complexities of ethnicity and those types of things. And, I think that you should be thinking twice about it beyond just, “Okay, here’s my ethnicity.” And then walk away. I think you should look at the ethnicity and then use it as a catalyst and as a start for your enquiry. I think a lot of the arguments that she makes in her article are centred around the fact that we get these pre-packaged DNA test results that we may not understand all of the science behind them. So, if we get those results, it’s an opportunity for us to learn the science behind them, for us to enquire and to learn about the methodologies and the appropriate interpretation and use of those results.

Fisher: Do you think that the DNA companies are over marketing the ethnicity results, obviously for their own financial benefit, but maybe we should be paying more attention to the matching side of this thing?

Paul: So, let me tell you a story. When I first got started in genealogy, I was eight years old. I got a family history binder for Christmas, from my grandparents, and that family history binder had all these stories about my family. It had all of these great, interesting details about my family growing up, and it also had a pedigree chart showing all of the places where my ancestors came from. And, of that binder, I was most interested in the pedigree chart. I was fascinated to know where I came from.

Fisher: Yep.

Paul: So, in a sense, I got involved in family history, I got involved in genealogy, because of my interest in ethnicity.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: Or my origins. Or, that broad level of “Where do I come from?” So, I think that the emphasis on ethnicity is not misplaced. I think that there’s a great opportunity for genealogy as a field to grow as a result of the interest in ethnicity. And that’s really where it begins. People begin to wonder, “Where do I fit within the world? Where do I connect with other people? And how do I relate to society and to the world?”

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: And so, I think that those ethnicity estimates can be really valuable in helping people to find a broad context for how, and a broad interpretation for their relationship to the world.

Fisher: But it seems to do a great job, say for instance, in the broader issue of race, correct?

Paul: Yes. And, one part of this article suggests that, you know, by highlighting the differences, we’re actually encouraging racism. But, I tend to disagree with that, because, as you begin to explore how you’re related to the rest of the world, you begin to recognize that we are all closely connected, and that is one of the wonderful things that living DNA for example has pursued with some of their efforts in combating racism through DNA testing and through exploration of ethnicity and where you come from and how we’re all related to each other. So, I think that, ethnicity can have a tendency to encourage that type of thinking, depending on how you use it, and that’s the thing with these DNA tests. They’re technology. They’re a tool. So, you can use the tool for what you are trying to accomplish, and depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, that tool may be appropriate for that or it may not. I can see from the perspective of anthropology perhaps doing a DNA test is not the most appropriate way to figure out your anthropological relationship to all of these different societies and cultures, but from a genealogical perspective, I think that it certainly has a place in helping us to learn more about our recent past.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: And to open the door for us to then enter and make discoveries about relationships to close relatives.

Fisher: Well, and I think the important thing is for people to always understand that DNA is most effective and most powerful when it’s combined with the paper record, bottom line.

Paul: Absolutely. Yeah. And, and so, and even then, DNA is most effective when you’re using it to explore genealogical relationships, but most people aren’t interested in that from the get-go, so I think that the ethnicity really is the, it’s the gateway.

Fisher: Sure.

Paul: And that’s how we get people interested, and the conversion rate from that to then be interested in exploring more about your ancestry, I think really can help you to better understand that meaning and construct that meaning within the context of your own family.

Fisher: You know, I think we all have gone to DNA results and looked and seen, how many people we’re related to that don’t have a tree up there, and I’m just assuming for the most part, those are the folks who were just interested in seeing that ethnicity breakdown, and yet, as we’ve heard over and over and over again, no matter which company you test with, you’re going to get a different result, because it’s like using a different telescope through the algorithms that they use, right?

Paul: Yeah. And, I will stress again that ethnicity is not the most important part of DNA test results. And I find that it’s not even the most satisfying part of DNA test results. I think back on my experience in getting involved with genealogy, my interest in the places and where I came from was short lived. Pretty soon thereafter I began to gain interest in the stories of the people, the identities of the people that I was related to.

Fisher: Right.

Paul: And, learning about my relationships to them and what I could learn from them, and people through their experiences and through their stories, rather than just saying, “I’m 25% Danish and 6% French.”

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Paul: You know? What do those percentages mean? And so, in that regard, I can agree that there’s a little bit of a lack of meaning in those categories, but there is a possibility for a painting meaning for making connections with relatives, for making discoveries regarding your ancestry, regarding your history.

Fisher: That’s a great summary, Paul, and I think you’ve said it very well. I always say, basically when you look at the ethnicity, take it with a grain of salt but use that DNA test to find your relatives.

Paul: Yeah.

Fisher: Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com, always great to have you on. It’s kind of the hot topic right now, this month, in genealogy. Thanks so much for your time bud, we’ll talk to you again soon.

Paul: Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, I’m going to talk to a younger genie who’s involved in a great organization to work with other younger genies, it’s called NextGen. Melanie McComb will explain what that’s all about, coming up next in five minutes, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Segment 3 Episode 199

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melanie McComb

Fisher: Hey, it’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes 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 think it’s really kind of evident to every genie these days that people getting involved in family history research are getting younger and younger. And there’s now even an organization to embrace younger genealogists and I have one of them on the phone with me right now, Melanie McComb from Syracuse, New York. She is the Shamrock Genealogist. In fact, we’ve actually spotlighted her as one of our spotlighted bloggers. Melanie, welcome to Extreme Genes!

Melanie: Thank you Fisher. Thank you for having me.

Fisher: Tell me about NextGen. First of all, you got involved in this just a couple of years ago and I know my friend Josh Taylor was part of organizing it. How did you get involved?

Melanie: So, I’ve been involved with NextGen for almost two years. And I actually got involved with the organization after hearing a talk by Jan Baldwin about how to get younger genealogists involved in society. And one of the things she mentioned was that there actually is a non profit organization that’s devoted to creating a community and creating things like meet-ups so that others like myself can go into a conference and finally become a genealogist. We shared research about NextGen, and that’s how I started in my current role.

Fisher: That’s awesome. Now you started into genealogy at what age?

Melanie: I started officially at 18 when I had to create a family tree for my genetics class. I started getting involved very closely especially with my father’s line to find out information about my grandparents and go further back.

Fisher: That’s awesome and have you actually had NextGen benefit you in some of your own research?

Melanie: Oh absolutely. I’ve always been using different things on social media to reach out to others to help breakthrough someone’s brick wall and one of the biggest ones I had was actually with Jan Baldwin when we met at the New York State Family History Conference last year. I had mentioned that my third great uncle Peter Dougherty supposedly came to Kansas, but I didn’t really find any evidence on his land records. And I said, I have no idea where to look and that’s kind of overwhelming a little bit. So we actually sat down, went to the bureau of land management sites and actually put in his name. He came right up. There was not like I had to scroll through fifteen entries, he came right up for that area and I was actually able to see a patterned image, so I actually saw that he got the land. It was approved and everything that grew.

Fisher: And so kind of gave you a time span for when he came out there.

Melanie: Oh yes absolutely. And he was one of the earliest members of my family to come out. He came out about 1876, 1877 over to the US and then started having the application approved by late 1880s, so definitely one of my earliest ancestors in the US.

Fisher: Isn’t that fun. And did you have the rest of the family follow as a result of that?

Melanie: I did. I actually had a lot of members of the family but I didn’t really know how we all connected. One example was that Peter Dougherty’s father, I didn’t really know if he ever ended up in Kansas. Through the land records and all the other census files I found, I was actually able to confirm he actually did come over from, after he went to Rhode Island. He actually came over to the US to actually join his son and then he stayed until his death when he died at about I think over a 103 years old.

Fisher: Wow! In those days that’s pretty ancient.

Melanie: Exactly. I’m hoping we have good genes here.

Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly. Nice. So, there’s a great benefit right there, certain testimonial for NextGen. How many members do you have right now?

Melanie: We have over three thousand members in our Facebook group and we have almost twenty three hundred on Twitter and about another thousand Like our page. So we have a very large community online that’s participating.

Fisher: And growing.

Melanie: And there’s no fee involved to join.

Fisher: Yeah. It costs nothing?

Melanie: It costs nothing. We don’t charge any fees and we offer a free quarterly newsletter, a blog, and a YouTube channel. So, anybody’s welcome to collaborate and help us grow that community.

Fisher: So, in this community you kind of help each other out if you had a lot of that collaboration going on?

Melanie: Yes. We actually do a lot of things like tweetup so tweetup would be an example of how to make a conversation of a topic on Twitter and sometimes we’d find that someone will offer a tip that maybe will help out another researcher and we find out later oh, that tip brought them to another research point they were able to complete to be able to help cross collaborate between other genealogists online.

Fisher: That is very fun. Now, what is the age group? Do you have age limits so you have to be at least this old but not older than this?

Melanie: So, for a lot of our events we always recommend that the person joining is at least eighteen, you know? And if it’s someone that’s under eighteen we’d want their parent involved just to make sure because we’re interacting with other adults. But we don’t have any age restrictions. We do focus on the eighteen to fifty demographic but we have people of all different ages that help us you know, they can even serve as a mentor and help us continue on with anything we need in our mission.

Fisher: Boy that sounds fun. Who’s the youngest one you’ve got by the way? How old?

Melanie: I would say we definitely have quite a few eighteen year olds. A lot of them are out of Brigham Young University. We finally have a lot of graduates that come out of there that actually have joined NextGen. They’re helping to mentor and they’re helping to share some of the skills they’re learning and they also learning from others, and some of them even brought in their families. We’ve had a couple of meetups where I actually know some young twenty something’s that actually have brought in their children. We kind of joke we have the youngest NextGen member right there that’s about six months old.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly. Now, tell us about your blog TheShamrockGenealogist.com you’ve been doing this for some time. We spotlighted you a while back on one of your blogs. What are you working on there?

Melanie: Yes. Sure. So, I started my blog last year and I really wanted to detail my journey through genealogy. I felt like there were so many stories and so many things I’ve learned along the way and I felt like if I just keep on my tree it’s not going to get told and I want to share some of those stories that have come out. So I really have focused on in particular my father’s line which does descend from Ireland and Canada and I just want to share anything that can kind of help get around those brick walls we have.

Fisher: Yeah, right.

Melanie: I’ve run into a couple of issues where I had a completely wrong line from my paternal grandmother and I had to scarp it about two years ago because I misread a document that had the wrong birth for her and I had to just completely attach myself to a whole other family.

Fisher: How long did you have that line?

Melanie: I had that line in my tree probably for at least three years.

Fisher: [Laughs] We’ve all been there, believe me.

Melanie: I probably should have done Thomas MacEntee’s “Genealogy-Do-Over” to just help me again because you know publish it out.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

Melanie: And it’s funny because the first to help me realize it was someone who we thought like we were cousins. We call each other almost cousins basically now.

Fisher: That is funny yeah.

Melanie: Even though we came across that we’re not actually related you know, I adopted his family for so long, now I have everything right so everybody’s in the right place.

Fisher: You know, that is a great thing though Melanie, that you don’t have the pride to say oh, well I put it in there, I’m right, or you don’t share it. Because I think a lot of people think that those of us who do this or have done this for while or they look at us as experts, that we never make an error.

Melanie: Right.

Fisher: And that just doesn’t work that way because there are too many common names and common places and common birth dates, even occupations, it really does happen all the time.

Melanie: Absolutely yes. That’s why I always recommend that I keep my tree personally public just so that if anybody has anything they want to share and can help correct me, absolutely, you know? Share what you have and I’ll share back anything you have. There’s no reason to you know, horde the genealogy away and you know never share it again. I do think we need to be more open to sharing what we know and showing how we proved it as well.

Fisher: Well, you certainly see that with the DNA tests. So many people lock up their lines and you cannot see what their lines are. You have to ask permission and it’s like and I don’t quite grasp what they’re concerned about because we’re not going to be stealing somebody’s identity that was born in 1840, you know? [Laughs]

Melanie: Right.

Fisher: I don’t get it.

Melanie: Yeah. I’ve run into that a few times with the DNA where you definitely have to reach out and hopefully you’ll get someone who will open up their tree and share just a little bit more with you.

Fisher: Exactly. Okay, so what’s your latest blog in TheShamrockGenealogist.com?

Melanie: So, the latest one that I have published out is actually about Francis Dougherty who is Peter Dougherty’s father and in his life Catherine Clerkien, and just talking about some of my earliest ancestors that came to Canada.

Fisher: All right, great stuff. She’s Melanie McComb. She’s the Shamrock Genealogist. Go to TheShamrockGenealogist.com and she’s also the social media director for NextGen, which embraces younger genealogists. You can go to TNGGN.org. Thanks so much for coming on, Melanie and thanks for all you’re doing.  

Melanie: Thanks so much for having me, Fisher.

Fisher: We talk preservation coming up next.

Segment 4 Episode 199

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back, Its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. And this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth, and with me today is Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he's our Preservation Authority. Hi Tom, how are you?

Tom: Super duper, thank you.

Fisher: And it was just a couple of weeks ago, we were getting into all kinds of things concerning, what do you do with your material once you have digitized it? I mean, because a lot of people, their tendency is, "Hey, great! I can clear some space and throw it away."

Tom: Noo!

Fisher: But that's not something you want to do.

Tom: No, no, no, no, no. As we have talked about on previous shows as well, anything that's optical, which are like negatives, slides, home movie, film, any of that kind of thing that you can hold up to the light and actually see an image through, don't ever, under any circumstances get rid of those. If you have to buy a safety deposit box if you don't have room, do it. Give it to somebody that you know will take care of it, because as technology changes, you can always one up it. Like the way we're doing film, like when we did your film, what, four, five years ago?

Fisher: Yes, uh huh.

Tom: I mean, it was mindboggling how different it was when you did your VHS. But yet, the stuff we're doing right now on our new equipment is even more brighter and clearer. It’s just like, you know, how can perfect get more perfect?

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Tom: But it does, you know. Like, how can you make anything better than a Mac?

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Well, a new Mac, you know.

Fisher: Yeah, exactly. And keep in mind, people can actually do some scanning and it might not be the level that you want it to be done. But you save the original until maybe you can afford to do something at a higher level.

Tom: Exactly. We have people all the time that had it done years and years ago. The old VHS days are filmed to VHS and the operators told them, "Oh, you don't need your film anymore. It’s on tape now. You can chuck it." And most of them, they're sheep. They listen to what the goats tell them and think that that how it’s supposed to be.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And they go, "Okay, throw it away." Because we have people every week bring us in videotapes that are old film and we put a note and talk to them and say, "Hey, if you can find your old film, we'd love to redo this for you, because it’s going to look like this now instead of this." which we have displays in our showroom, and they go, "Well, they told us we didn't need it anymore, so we threw it away."

Fisher: Ugh!

Tom: So whether you use us, you use somebody else, if you just want to get something digitized and can't really afford it, you're doing it with a little home rental unit, that's fine, knock yourself out. However, keep your original stuff, so one day, whether it’s you or your grandkids, maybe somebody's going to hit the lottery and can do everything that you have. At least they're going to have the original material to rescan.

Fisher: You know, we haven't spent a lot of time over the years talking about preserving negatives. Now I have sheets of old negatives from back in the 1980s that we kept at that time. And that's a different process, isn't it, for keeping them safe?

Tom: Oh, absolutely. And that's what's important, what you brought up is, "Okay, I've got everything digitized, I've got it preserved. Now how do I preserve what I just preserved?"

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Tom: And you know, it kind of gets to where are we on this tree? The original photographs, negatives like you mentioned, they need to be preserved, too, because you want to keep those for future times in case something happens to the prints or better digitizers come out and they're going to look better and you think, "Again, how does something look better than perfect?" well, because times change. I started out as a photographer working with my dad back in the '70s and we'd put them in those little plastic sleeves, there was nothing special about them and they were great. However, if you ever get into an intense heat situation, the film itself has a higher flashpoint than the sleeves that they're in.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So if you left that in a hot spot or even had a fire and even if they were in a safe spot, just the heat, the intense heat from that place can melt all that plastic to your negatives and then your negatives are ruined. Even though your negatives are still good, if you peel off that plastic, it’s going to ruin the emulsion.

Fisher: Sure

Tom: So you want to get archival sheets. We don't sell them. You can find them online. Type in on Google "Archiving negatives" do some research, look at some family history sites, see what people recommend that they've had success with. Because you need to think down the road, worst case scenario, "What if I have a flood? What if I have a mudslide? What if I have fires? How are these things going to react in this kind of a situation?"

Fisher: Right. And you've got to keep them away from the cold ducts, the heating ducts, all those things we've talked about many, many times in the past. Keep them off the floor and areas where there might be a flood in your home, water might seep in. You've got to protect them the same way.

Tom: Absolutely.

Fisher: All right, more on preservation coming up in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 199

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we're back for our final segment of Extreme Genes for this week, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your congenial host with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. You know, we've been talking about all the high end digital stuff. Wow, we save it to the cloud, we do all these great things, and now, a lot of people throw out the originals which is just a disaster, now that we've kind of talked to you off the cliff concerning that.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: What do we do with this stuff? How do we preserve it? What's the ideal, Tom?

Tom: Well, the ideal way, you know, everything's based on what cost it, but my favorite way to preserve the old stuff that you have now preserved digitally, the negatives.

Fisher: The physical, the physical things.

Tom: Right, perfect word, the physical, your negatives, your old film, these kinds of things. The best place for them obviously is a safe deposit box, not counting what happened in 9/11.

Fisher: Sure, yeah.

Tom: Because you put those things in there, they keep it always at a temperature. Not just the local banks, there's government involved, everybody's involved and they're going to make sure that these things are always kept in a certain way. They have to cross every T. They have to dot every I. It’s not like some guy is going to think, "Well, I'm going to turn down the air conditioner a little bit today and save a little bit of money for my bank." That's not going to happen.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So that's the best place to put it, in a safety deposit box, because even with floods, earthquakes, those things are going to be safe and that's the best way to preserve them. And just hand them down generation to generation. And if you have a kid that's totally not interested in it, he's not going to clear out the safety deposit box, because if you put one of these perpetuity type things together so its paid for a hundred years down the road, he's going to leave it there, because there's nothing he can do with it.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And maybe one of his kids will catch the vision.

Fisher: All right, but that's if you can afford it.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: And that would be a little bit of money over the course of it. It’s like fifty bucks a year or maybe even more, but that's not that different from what it costs to preserve certain things on a cloud, right, actually a lot less expensive.

Tom: Oh, it is, it is. And it’s a great way to do it. And if you can’t do that, you know, a lot of our listeners are hunters and they have great gun cases. And most of the gun cases are really high end type things. And when they put their guns in, there's lots of dead area in there. You could take these kinds of items and store them in the proper envelopes and the proper sheets between them and put those inside of those, because most gun cases, if there's a fire, there's a sealant that leaks around the door that seals off the door. So it’s not just a fire getting in, it’s the heat itself. But those things are built so well that somehow with this chemical that's released in them, it still keeps it at a reasonable temperature in there. So that's a great place to keep them.

Fisher: Well, and darkness is such a key to this thing as well.

Tom: Oh!

Fisher: Whether its paper, whether is prints, whether its negatives.

Tom: Oh, absolutely. And we tell people all the time, when you're going through, doing your different boxes, cleaning your stuff, do it in the basement, do it away from light. Florescent light is less intrusive. Don't use those super bright LED lights. Don't use quartz light, because they put a lot of intensity in. But you could be working in your living room, set them down, the phone rings or you're cooking and you forget them, they're sitting there for two or three hours in the UV sun blowing through your front window that could do more damage to them than they have been in the last twenty years.

Fisher: Ooh! Just the thought of it, you know. And I'm a collector of a lot of material, not just related to family history, but baseball history and old letters and things like this. And in the beginning, when I didn't know better, I would frame them. Yes, I'd put them in UV glass, but even over time, it still fades behind some of that. So you have to be very careful with it.

Tom: Exactly. That's why we tell people, if you have a big thing like a newspaper you mentioned, go to a professional scanner that does billboards, so they have the big, huge scanners, have them scan it. Have them scan it in color so it still looks kind of brown and then frame the copy. Nobody's going to know that walks into your house whether that's really the original or if that's a copy, because the copies nowadays are so good. So that way, you can keep the original in a safety deposit box. You go and see the Declaration of Independence, I guarantee you're usually not looking at the real one, you're looking at a copy of it. But it looks cool!

Fisher: Absolutely. All right, Tom, great stuff. We'll talk to you again next week. Have a good one!

Tom: I'll have a good one, and we'll get to the DVA then.

Fisher: That puts a wrap on this week's show. Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks to our guests Paul Woodbury from LegacyTree.com, and Melanie McComb the Social Media Director for NextGen, which focuses on younger genealogists. If you missed any of the show, make sure you catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio or ExtremeGenes.com. And while you're thinking about it, go to our website, ExtremeGenes.com and get signed up for our free Weekly Genie newsletter. Hey, take care. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!




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