Episode 203 - Microfilm Gives Way To Digital At Family History Library / Dealing With Slave Holder AncestorsAug 20, 2017
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David opens “Family Histoire News” with word of new progress coming in the War of 1812 Project. Having been delayed for a time, the Federation of Genealogical Societies begins the next phase of noting our ancestors’ service in that war soon. Hear all about it. Then, it’s word of the passing of the world’s oldest man, who had an amazing history. Hear how old he was and the things he experienced. Then, David shares a report that the inspiration for the famed “Rosie the Riveter” poster has been identified… and she’s still living. Find out who she is and more about the real “Rosie the Riveter.” David then shares a fascinating story about how people slept in earlier times. It’s nothing like today! Next, it’s another astounding DNA victory uniting a family separated for 46 years. Hear their story.
Next, Fisher calms the nerves of researchers everywhere in a sit down interview with Diane Loosle, Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The Library, through FamilySearch.org, recently announced that it will no longer be lending out microfilm to satellite libraries around the world. But the move is based on good news! Hear what that is, and more of what’s to come from the Family History Library and FamilySearch.org
Fisher then visits with Beth Wylie, blogger of LifeInThePastLane.org. Beth talks about her recent post describing the challenges she has experienced in dealing with the discovery of having had slave holding Southern ancestors, and her plans for sharing what she learns with descendants of the slaves her ancestors held.
Then, Tom Perry is on the road from Massachusetts where he is speaking at the NEHGS Preservation Conference. Tom addresses a question from a listener concerning an old camera found in his aunt’s attic. Hear Tom’s advice.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 203
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 203
Fisher: You have found us! It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment of the show is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA. And there’s been a little controversy over the last couple of weeks as the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah announced that they’re no longer going to be sharing microfilm with satellite libraries throughout the country’s Family History Centers. And some people are very concerned about this and so we thought, okay well, let’s go right to the source. We’re going to have Diane Loosle coming in on the show in about eight minutes. She is the head of the Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and she’ll explain what’s going on with that and why you shouldn’t be too concerned about it. She’ll also tell us about some other things that are happening. It’s going to intrigue you concerning family history work and the Family History Library of Utah. Plus, later on in the show, it’s been an interesting interview. I’ve kind of had this in the can for a few weeks because I wasn’t quite sure when to run it, but it’s an interview with a blogger named Beth Wylie. She runs a site called lifeinthepastlane.org. Not long ago, she wrote about the struggles of being a descendant of slave owners in the South. And with recent news and challenges in Virginia, I thought maybe it was time to hear what Beth has to say about how she’s dealing with some of the challenges of her ancestry. But right now let’s check in with my good friend David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.
Fisher: Hello David.
David: Hello from Beantown. How are you doing Fish?
Fisher: I am doing great. It was so nice... I was on vacation last week, went off to “Beantown,” Boston, Massachusetts. I took in a Sox game. I went boating with a cousin in Connecticut and hung out with you guys at NEHGS. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever actually visited there David, and what an incredible facility in Boston!
David: Well, thank you very much. We’re pretty proud of it here after 172 years. I must say that it was interesting that you came during one of our busy seasons. We had our “Come home to New England” program. And you actually helped one of our assistants at the reference desk find an ancestor she didn’t know.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] She was supposed to be helping me and we got talking and I realized, “Oh wait a minute, we share an ancestor in the 18th century.” And she didn’t have the information, I did. So yes, it was really quite fun. [Laughs]
David: Yes so our HR department will be calling you to work the reference desk for when we have our next conference! Just wanted to let you know!
David: Well, my first story for the Family Histoire News is some sad news but after living 113 years Israel Kristal a Polish survivor of Auschwitz has passed away. He was the oldest man in the world.
Fisher: Wow, 113!
David: He was. In fact, he just recently celebrated his bar mitzvah because he was, in World War I, a liquor smuggler... carrying liquor across the line.
David: So apparently he was a fast runner. Israel’s life was very long but unfortunately during Auschwitz he lost his first wife and two of his children.
Fisher: Oh my goodness.
David: But he did live a long life and probably was an inspiration to many people.
David: Our next story deals with not a “super centenarian” but somebody getting close to a hundred. She’s 95 years young and the name Naomi Parker-Fraley may not mean anything, but if you’ve ever seen the “We Can Do It!” with Rosie the Riveter with the pumped up arm and the bandana, that is her.
Fisher: Yes, this is only a recent discovery. People didn’t know who inspired that particular poster which didn’t really become popular till the 1980s, but it’s been determined now pretty much that it was this gal.
David: It really was. In fact, I can tell you every time I go to Washington DC, my wife asks for Rosie the Riveter cups, pins and pens. So, my wife will be very excited to know that the real Rosie is still alive.
Fisher: That’s amazing, isn’t it?
David: It really is. I tell you some nights I sleep better than others. I got a new mattress recently and I was thinking to myself you know, all the history and diaries we have, how did our ancestors get through featherbeds and all that? Believe it or not, our ancestors did not sleep like us. A report on a website called Slumberwise.com says that our ancestors slept twice in the night. They say that they would sleep for a few hours and then they would be up for a couple of hours and then they would sleep through to morning. Now, I don’t know about you. I get up in the middle of the night sometimes but it’s not usually for two or three hours.
Fisher: No, but I would imagine they were taking care of a fireplace to keep the heat on in a cabin or something like that.
David: Either that or taking care of animals early in the morning, to feeding them and going back to bed again. Even Chaucer in Canterbury Tales speaks about the “first sleep” and the “second sleep” of people. And that goes back to medieval days.
David: DNA I tell you, it amazes me all the stories. This story deals with a Massachusetts lady... Elsie. Had her two children in Puerto Rico taken away after a failed marriage back in the 1970s. She has now been reunited with her two children after 46 years.
Fisher: Isn’t that incredible? The two boys were farmed out to different adoptive families and then the one found the other boy somehow. And then they went together through DNA and located a cousin who knew the location of their mother and that she was still living in Massachusetts and what a joyful thing for that entire family.
David: It really is. And I’m very delighted to know it’s not just connecting our ancestors but it’s connecting families and reuniting them again.
Fisher: It’s the miracle of our times.
David: It really is. This week’s blogger spotlight is featuring the voice.FGS.org. Many of you may have heard of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. In fact, in a couple of weeks from August 30th and September 2nd FGS will be having their annual conference but in their FGS blog they speak of wonderful things that’s going on in the genealogical industry, including the update to the 1812 “Preserve the Pensions.” As many of you know FGS has raised money to help keep the pensions digitized through the efforts of so many genealogists like yourself. However, it’s kind of been stalled. This tells us that in September preservation and digitization will continue pass the letter M. So, if you’ve been looking for that pension after that part of the alphabet you’re all set now.
Fisher: It’s good to hear. I’m waiting for “S” to come out and it’s been a long time.
David: Well, if you are not a member of NEHGS AmericanAncestors.org you can sign up for a free guest membership. And if you decide that you want to join after giving us a test drive go ahead and use the checkout code “Extreme” and save $20. Well, that’s all I have from this side of the pond here in Beantown. Enjoy the rest of your summer and hope to see you soon.
Fisher: All right, thanks so much David. And coming up next in three minutes I’m going to talk to Diane Loosle. She is the Director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. They recently announced... no more sharing microfilm! Why is that? What’s happening? There’s good news in here. You’ll catch it coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 203
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diane Loosely
Fisher: And welcome back, it’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes an ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. And there’s been a little bit of whining in some quarters in the genealogy world lately because FamilySearch.org has announced that they’re no longer going to be making available microfilms to be shipped to libraries all over the place, and so we figured all right, let’s go straight to the source here and Diane Loosle from Family Search International. How are you Diane?
Diane: I’m just great. It’s good to be here.
Fisher: And you know, this is a question that’s come up with a lot of people saying wait a minute, I mean I’ve got to get my microfilms because I’ve been doing research on a long term project. What say you about this? What’s going on with it and why is it being done?
Diane: Well, this is a really exciting place to be because we’re moving from a time when we fulfilled your needs to get access to records via microfilm to completely digital. And we’ve been capturing records now only digitally when we go out and we don’t microfilm anymore. We capture them digitally. And now we’re to the point where we’ve converted the majority of what’s at the vault to digital images and so you can access those online, which is great news for you because you can do it from home.
Fisher: Right. I love that.
Diane: You can get access to it. Now, there’s a portion that you have to go to a Family History Center or an affiliate library to get access to. But the majority of it can be accessed from home. And the way you find what is available is through Family Search. You can go to the historical records section and search the records but also if you haven’t gone and searched the catalogue, so when you go under the search tab there’s catalogue, that link, and go search for your location there, then you haven’t seen it all because there’s a lot of our digital collections that are not actually available through the historical records part of our website but you have to go to the catalogue to look at those.
Fisher: And how much is being added say on an average day?
Diane: We digitize about fifteen hundred microfilms a day.
Fisher: And how quickly do they get up?
Diane: They get published almost immediately.
Fisher: Wow! And so these are browseable though they are not indexed yet?
Diane: Yes. Yes, these are not indexed. So it would be like looking at a microfilm but on a digital viewer. So you see the thumbnails of each of the images like you would on a microfilm and you can go through those images and locate. But actually I find it much quicker to actually go through then a microfilm. Because you know on the microfilm you’re doing... like your arm’s about to fall off because you’ve rolled to the end of the film!
Fisher: Sure. [Laughs]
Diane: With the digital images you have a little thumbnail view that you can navigate through.
Fisher: Sure, yeah absolutely. I’ve had that experience. It’s an incredible thing to see what’s happening.
Diane: So, the question people have is, “What about my film?” so we are planning, though it will be a process by which they can let us know, this is the film that I need, if it hasn’t been digitized yet, and then we will prioritize that to be digitized more quickly so that they can get access to it more quickly. Now the thing we found however, is most people that ask us that question about a specific set of films... their film actually already is digitized.
Fisher: Yeah, there’s been a big drop off as I understand it in requests because there’s so much stuff online and not just through Family Search but through My Heritage and Ancestry and Find My Past, what has the demand been like over the last few years? I mean where was it at its peak? Let’s start there.
Diane: Oh we used to get millions of orders you know a year, but in the last while it’s dropped down to the tens of thousands. It’s really significantly dropped off and that was one of the reasons we felt like this was a good time to be able to do this.
Fisher: And what’s fun is you find some new record that you didn’t know even existed, now you’re finding out oh it’s been digitized, or it’s maybe even been indexed.
Fisher: But to make that discovery you go, “[Gasp] Look at that! I didn’t even know that that was around.” And you go through and you find something new and exciting. It’s great.
Diane: Well, and what’s interesting is, so I’m the Director of the Family History Library. I’m there a lot. But I have to actually plan to go do some research. [Laughs] So I planned for two Saturdays in a row to go do some research, but when I went on to the catalogue to check and get the films that I needed, I found that I didn’t even need to go to the Library because they were online. So I could just do it from home, which was really nice.
Fisher: So the Library is turning into a virtual library ultimately.
Diane: Absolutely. Yes.
Fisher: Do you think there will ever come a day where we won’t need a library?
Diane: No. Actually I don’t. And I’ll tell you why. So, about 20% of the collection can only be accessed digitally from a Family History Center, or the Library, or one of our affiliate libraries, and that’s because of contractual obligations that we have. But beyond that, the libraries are a place of discovery. They are a place where you can get help. Where people can sit beside you and assist you in being able figure out how to discover your family. And we have the new discovery experiences that are coming in to the centers to introduce family history to a whole new generation of people, families and kids.
Fisher: And they are so much fun, so much.
Fisher: It’s like the Disneyland of the genealogy world if you’ve never seen one of these things. If you’ve posted pictures anywhere with your family or someone else has and you go in and you can plug in your information and suddenly you’re surrounded by this whole multimedia experience, or you’re discovering oh I’m related to Benjamin Franklin, or something like this. And it’s exciting for kids. You’ve got all kinds of little ditties for people to play with.
Diane: Yes. And they’re having a ball.
Fisher: You’re spreading them around the country too. The first was in Salt Lake City, to the Family History Library, where else do you have them?
Diane: We have one in Layton and we have one in St. George.
Fisher: Okay, both in Utah.
Diane: Both in Utah.
Diane: But our plan is to actually make these experiences available in every Family History Center over time. Not the large touch screens, but available on the devices that are in the centers already so that people can discover in any center anywhere. And then we’re also looking at moving some of the discovery experiences online so you can do it from home as well.
Fisher: Wow! [Laughs] That would be fun.
Fisher: Are there any records in the world anymore that are still being microfilmed?
Diane: There are records that are being microfilmed for preservation purposes yes.
Fisher: And does Family Search do that?
Diane: We don’t. We’re doing digital capture. In fact a lot of the things that we do now are born digitally. That’s the way that we start. And then it’s just been this conversion process with the microfilm in the vault because that’s what we’re acquired over many, many years.
Fisher: Sure. How many reels are we talking about that you’re going to actually wind up digitizing when it’s all said and done that are in the vault right now?
Diane: So we have 2.4 million, more than half that have been digitized already. There is still a fair amount to go but you have to remember that some of those microfilms would never be digitized because there might be a second copy of one that had already been digitized so we don’t need to do it twice.
Fisher: Yeah that’s right. I’ve seen that with New York records a lot you know, you have these two sets.
Diane: Yeah another filming.
Fisher: Sure. And some are cleaner than the others.
Diane: Um hmm. Um hmm. So we want to make sure we got a good quality scan but we probably won’t do those. And then there’ll be others where for licensing issues we’re not able to share them. So for example, a record custodian, when we acquired them, said specifically you cannot share these digitally. So we won’t be able to do that for those. But that’s the very small percentage. And pretty much anything that’s been circulating microfilm wise could be circulated digitally. The only place where that’s different is over the years the laws around data privacy have changed in the various countries. And so we have had things that have been circulating on microfilm that maybe, because of the change in the law, maybe shouldn’t have been. And so those would have to have been restricted through the course of us going through and changing things based on the law change. And so if we discovered those in this process of making them digital, those will not be accessible. But those are usually very recent things you know.
Fisher: Sure. But how do you sort through 2.4 million going, wait a minute, I’ve got a problem with this one, but I don’t with this. Do you have legal people working on this constantly?
Diane: Yes we do. And it is a big, big job.
Diane: Because we have to go through all the contracts we have for each of these collections. So you can imagine the amount of manpower this is taking to get to this point.
Fisher: And you’re figuring how many years now before the vault is completely done?
Diane: The majority will be done by 2020. There will be a period of time after that that we’ll do some of the things that we probably would not publish online, but we want to make sure we have a digital copy of. So it will continue past 2020 a little bit. But the part that most of the people are going to care about will be finished by 2020.
Fisher: So at what point will all the microfilms... there’s no more distribution of the microfilm to the Family History Centers, none at all?
Diane: So, you won’t be able to order any new microfilms on September 1st.
Diane: That’s when that will come into effect. But that does not mean that anybody has to return their microfilms. All the microfilms that are out there in the Family History Centers and the libraries and the affiliate libraries, all of those can remain and they are automatically converted to long term loan. Which means you can keep them for however long the people there locally want to keep them.
Fisher: So I’ve got some microfilm that I collected way back, I can’t contribute it to now. [Laughs] You don’t want it!
Diane: [Laughs] Right. In fact we’ve tried to contribute the microfilm collection to some various locations. They’re like, “Why would we want that?”
Fisher: What would we do with that?
Fisher: Yeah absolutely. Now I’m just seeing the value of my microfilm reader I bought for fifty bucks from somebody in the 90s. I’m going to have to chuck it at some point here. [Laughs]
Diane: [Laughs] Yeah because it won’t be needed anymore.
Fisher: Exactly. Well let’s talk about acquisition because this is exciting news. I mean you’re saying that from the peak of microfilm orders to now, I mean it’s like a 90 some odd percent drop off because so much material is in there. By the way I should mention that I’ve seen a lot of this stuff show up immediately after Family Search had it on other places like My Heritage and Ancestry, all your partners, Find My Past, and so the distribution is becoming massive very quickly as a result of the digitization process.
Diane: Yeah. I mean Family Search has always been about getting you access to the materials that you need to find your family. And so we work with partners to accelerate that. As a non profit we need to leverage the resources that we have and get it out to as many people as we can. So we do work with various partners that you mentioned and others too.
Fisher: All right. So where is Family Search going now? What are the records that you’re coming up with that we’re all going to get excited about?
Diane: [Laughs] Well, so actually...
Fisher: All the low hanging fruit is pretty much done, right?
Diane: Well, yeah. It depends on the country. There are parts of the world where we haven’t gotten into various archives and things and worked with them. So coming up shortly we have a big push on the Nordic countries actually. We’ve got Denmark, Sweden, and Finland where there’ll be some interesting collections coming available. We’ve been doing some with Ancestry with Mexico which is going to be a wonderful thing, and a few others. But one of the things actually that we’re most excited about is the fact that in Africa you have people that are not documented. And the only way you know about them is oral history. And there are people in the villages in Africa who are the village “rememberers...”
Fisher: Right! [Laughs]
Diane: ... who keep track of the generations in their heads and can recite them to you. It’s amazing.
Fisher: She’s Diane Loosle. She is the head of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah with Family Search International and it sounds like a lot of good news associated with this whole thing about microfilm loans going away strangely enough. Coming up next, with all the turmoil happening in the South and talking about the Civil War, I thought you’d want to hear from Beth Wylie. She’s a blogger who recently wrote about her challenges of dealing with her slave owner ancestors. You’ll want to hear what she has to say coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 203
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Beth Wylie
Fisher: And we are back! It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. I think it was last week or the week before that David Allen Lambert and I were talking about a blog site called “lifeinthepastlane.org” and an article that was written there by Beth Wylie of Oklahoma City, talking about the complications of Southern ancestry. And I have Beth on the line right now. Beth, nice to have you on the show!
Beth: Oh it’s a delight to be here, thank you!
Fisher: You’ve got a lot of Southern roots. Let’s see, you were born in Louisiana. You were raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. You live in Oklahoma City, which is largely I would say Southern culture there, a little Midwest, right?
Beth: Yes, it’s a good mix of the two.
Fisher: And how long have you been researching?
Beth: Oh, on and off since I was in high school. My grandmother was an amateur genealogist and she planted the seeds really early in me. I recall going to a family reunion in Union County, Arkansas, which is pretty rural, when I was a child and seeing all the boards with the family photographs. So that really kind of was of the beginning of my exposure to it and in high school I kind of picked it back up. And for the last five to ten years I’ve really been more and more involved with it and then I started my blog.
Fisher: And it’s a great blog. And it’s really interesting to see your evolution that you’ve kind of been going through as you’ve investigated your Southern roots. We have a lot of Southern listeners on this show as well. I’m sure maybe many of them have similar experiences. For those of us who don’t have Southern roots, and I count myself among them, talk about the journey that you took as you first get into genealogy and the excitement of that, and then some of the challenges you faced. And I will say this by the way, that every part of the country has something that they deal with from the past, maybe even in your own lines. So it’s not just the South that this situation is created from.
Beth: Sure. No, absolutely. And I think for myself when I started, I didn’t really have any ideas of where my paths would lead. I obviously was born and raised in the South, and at least a few generations previous to me would be Southern, but then as you get in to it and you really kind of realize how deep that lineage goes. You kind of discover some things that are not the most pleasant. So, I’ve discovered that many of my ancestors were slave owners and as I mentioned on my blog, in reading their last wills and testaments, where they bequeathed their enslaved individuals to their children. It’s just very eye opening and very jarring. It kind of gives you an unsettled feeling though, you know?
Beth: You want to admire your ancestors and you want to honor them. But you also have to recognize that they did some things that were not great.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. I think the slavery issue really has been the curse of this nation, from the very beginning and it continues to plague us today as we try to resolve the past.
Beth: Absolutely. One of my favorite historians Ken Burns also refers to it as America’s original sin. And I do believe that with all my heart.
Fisher: Yeah, I think that’s true. In the beginning you talked about how you were going to reunions and you were looking at pictures and you were getting excited. You didn’t think about those things, I bet, at those times.
Beth: No, no not really. And my parents always took me to historical places growing up. All our family vacations were to battlefields or historic buildings, Washington DC. Growing up in Louisiana, we were very close to a lot of historical sugar plantations and Nacogdoches. We went to Natchez, Mississippi. They never kind of instilled in any sort of way that this was the better way to live or the way things should be. But they also didn’t touch on the bad things about that livelihood. So it was kind of a thing you learn about in school, but as you get older and you see more things in the news and just your own personal experiences with individuals, you realize that that’s a very dark period of our history. So, my goal for myself is to, as I research my own family, my plan is to start putting any kind of information that I have about those that they had enslaved, on my blog. I’m currently working on a project now where I found a photo of my family, my Garrison family in South Carolina, the dates approximately 1875 to 1885, I’m trying to kind of date it based on the people that are in the photo. There is a woman that is in the photo that is an emancipated slave, I assume. And so I’m trying to maybe put together who that person is.
Beth: So that’s an upcoming blog post that I’m trying to research right now.
Beth: I’d like to give her back her identity if I can.
Fisher: Absolutely. How are you going about that?
Beth: I’m trying to first date the photo based on the family members that are in it. Some of them are young children, some of them are old. So trying to kind of put the family pieces of my family together so I can accurately date it, but also looking at census records. I’ve gotten somewhat far with that but I think I’m going to have to broaden my search a bit. I believe I know who she is, but I have to verify it with other documents.
Fisher: Sure. Now, as you’ve gotten into this, you’ve probably like many of us become the family historian for your family on all these different branches, true?
Fisher: And in the beginning, they turned to you with enthusiasm about it. How have they taken to the fact that you’ve got some concerns about the past?
Beth: Oh I think they agree with me. And I think they appreciate the efforts that I’m going through to maybe help others. We don’t talk about it super specifically. But they are aware of it and we just kind of... it is what it is. But I want to take it further and do what I can to help.
Fisher: Sure. Now, have you had any interaction with some of the descendants of slaves that your ancestors owned?
Beth: No, not yet. And I actually am working on another project and have been contacted by someone who has a DNA match to me, but we’re not exactly sure where that match is, and she’s African American. So we are kind of trying to work through that and we’ve got a third person now that also connects perhaps. So maybe by process of elimination we’ll be able to figure that out.
Fisher: Isn’t that amazing, that we can do that kind of thing now? [Laughs]
Beth: It is.
Fisher: I mean, it always keeps coming back to that, right... DNA?
Fisher: Have you found a lot of African American matches?
Beth: No not yet.
Fisher: Just this one?
Beth: Just this one. She actually reached out to me.
Fisher: So, as you’ve gone through this journey and you’ve felt the darkness of some of the things that are back there for you, has that affected your self-image at all?
Beth: That’s a good question. I haven’t really thought of it in that way. There’s certainly a lot of people that believe that current generations shouldn’t be held accountable for the sins of their ancestors.
Beth: I haven’t really decided how I feel about that, to be honest with you.
Fisher: I’ve got quite a few scoundrels back in my line that had nothing to do with this particular issue, and most of them I just pretty much laugh at. But as you mentioned Ken Burns comment, it’s the original sin of America. Slavery, I think that’s kind of a different issue and a challenge to us culturally right now, but I don’t know how it’s ever compensated for other than just trying to be as inclusive as we should be and should have been all along.
Beth: Absolutely. And I think that’s why I feel like it’s part of my obligation and my pleasure actually to be able to, if and when I can help people to do so with their own searches.
Fisher: Has this dampened your enthusiasm for research at all?
Beth: No. It just gives me a different perspective on it.
Fisher: What else have you found in your research that you’ve blogged about in the past?
Beth: Well, I found out that my third great grandfather, he was held prisoner in a Northern prisoner war camp during the Civil War. Peter Garrison was my third great grandfather. He actually served in the Confederacy. He was older than most of the people that were enlisted. But then I also have many Patriots [from the Revolution]. I have a woman that may or may not have come across on a ship of brides to Virginia when it was a colony.
Beth: So I’m trying to pursue that if it’s true.
Beth: It’s kind of right now one of those family legends that I’m not really sure if it’s been distorted over the years, but I find that to be a fascinating part of history and it would be really interesting to find out more about that because I can’t imagine having to do that myself. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, exactly. [Laughs]
Beth: What kind of state her life would have been to have chosen that. So you never know what you’re going to find!
Fisher: Absolutely. It’s “lifeinthepastlane.org.” It’s the blog from Beth Wylie in Oklahoma City. Hey Beth, enjoyed talking to you today, thanks for coming on!
Beth: Oh thank you for having me, it was a delight.
Fisher: And coming up next, one of our listeners has discovered a camera, a real old one in their late aunt’s attic. What’s in it? Tom Perry the Preservation Authority will help him find out, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 203
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, its Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and it is preservation time with TMCPlace.com's Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority. And this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And Tom is on the road again. He's been enjoying the summer road trip in a place he cannot pronounce.
Fisher: It’s Worcester, Massachusetts. I know it looks like “Wor-chester,” but it’s “Wooster,” Massachusetts.
Fisher: “Wooster,” yes!
Tom: Worcester, Massachusetts. [Laughs]
Fisher: Absolutely. And you've got a lot going on there, because it’s the Preservation Road Show with our friends at NEHGS and you're one of the speakers there, so congratulations on that. How's the trip been going by the way?
Tom: It’s been interesting. I'm glad to be in Boston now where things are kind of a little bit settled down. We stopped in Indiana to pick up our Jayco trailer. They built a special trailer for us for the road show where we can do scanning and all kinds of cool stuff right on the road to help people in parts of the country that don't have access to it. However, our beautiful suburban which I love very much, it’s a 2007, we had the right rear sensor go out. They had to pull the wheel off to put a new sensor in and found a great, big screw in the wheel.
Fisher: Uh oh!
Tom: Then when we went to pick up the trailer, they go, "Hey, the trailer brakes on this thing aren't working." [Laughs] "Go and get some new trailer brakes!"
Fisher: [Laughs] But they got you on the road. You made it to Worcester and that's all that matters.
Tom: Exactly. And the people back there were so nice. It was a small little town. And there's twenty different RV manufacturing companies there. It’s very Amish country. We stopped by some Amish places and got some of the best food, the best hospitality anywhere! It was so exciting!
Fisher: Well, the questions do not stop, Tom, even though you're on the road. And we got one here from Guy Hampton who listens to us in Las Vegas on KXNT AM 840. And he said he went up into his aunt's attic and found a very old film camera. He doesn't know if its stills or if its movies and he doesn't know what to do. I know you've got some good advice for him.
Tom: Okay, what you want to do is, you want to go into a dark room down in the basement or something. Don't go into a room and close all your drapes and think that there's no light in there. Because even though you can't see, the film could still be exposed. So what you want to do is, go down into a dark room, make sure there's no lights, there's no light coming in from outside, nothing, not even the little red light on an alarm in your ceiling or something, because anything like that could affect the film. Then open and put your hands inside and feel. And if you feel a plastic film cassette, then you're probably okay. You can pop it out. And if any of it gets exposed, it’s going to be a little one inch piece, so it really doesn't matter.
Tom: But if you get in there and you feel that there's two reels, like little teeny reels about the size of an Eisenhower dollar, then you've got regular 8 film. And if it feels like there’s about a half inch to an inch wide, you've got the kind that's called "the double run." In the old days, what you did is, you popped your film in the camera, you shot it, then you flipped it over and shot it again, so you ran it two ways. So in essence, it was 16mm film, but when they developed the film, they split it in half and you get two 50 foot rolls. So people are always confused. They come in and go, "Oh, hey, I've got a 50 foot roll here." Well, no, it’s actually a hundred feet, because it’s a fifty foot double roll. So what you want to do, if you feel those rolls, it would be better to take that film, send it in to a place in Atlanta and have it developed and have it come out blank, than to have recorded over something that might become an heirloom to your family.
Fisher: Now I know he hasn't given you a whole lot of information here, Tom, but how old just from the description he gave you do you think this camera may be?
Tom: I'm probably guessing at the latest the '60s. Probably realistically, it’s probably more like the '30s or '40s the way he's describing it. And so what you want to do once you're in this dark room, take some tin foil with you too. Then very carefully, take those rolls out and wrap them into tin foil really, really tight so no light can get to them. And then there's a place in Atlanta called "Film Rescue" which will develop film, because they make the chemistry, because Kodak stopped several years ago. So he only does it like four times a year. So what you want to do is, you want to call him, say, "Hey, here's the model of my camera." Read of the side to him what it is and then he'll probably be able to figure out when it is, when the time is to send it in, so he can get it developed.
Fisher: All right, Tom, let's take a break, more with Tom Perry on preservation coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 203
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And we are back! It’s our final segment of Extreme Genes for this week, America's Family History Show. We're talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. And we got this great email from Guy, talking about this old camera he found in his aunt's attic some time ago and he doesn't know how old it is, he doesn't know if there's any film in there. And Tom, you're saying, open it up in a dark place, make sure there's not even a little red light in the ceiling, because that could mess up any film that might be in there. What else do you have to tell Guy?
Tom: Okay, one thing that's really important which you mentioned, you want to keep the light away from it. So once you take these little wheel type things out of it, you want to make sure you wrap it in tinfoil, so that there's no way any light can penetrate it, because you want to keep it in that so that you can get it developed. Because like I say, even if this film is blank, it’s worth taking the chance and developing something like that, because that could be some movie film of like your great, great grandfather and grandmother. And there might not be any other photos of them. Now one thing that's really good to do nowadays with Google, there should be some kind of a number on the side of the camera or a serial number or something on the bottom. Go into Google and type those numbers in and you might see your camera pop up and it'll say, "Okay, this is the kind of film that went in it." because any information that you can collect on this, when you get a hold of the guy at Film Rescue in Atlanta that you can pass onto him, then that's going to get him better ammunition to know, okay, this is what chemistry I need to develop it. We'll do the right kind of thing. And then of course once it’s been developed, then we can scan it and give you incredible pictures, jpegs if you want or turn it into a film or a BluRay or a DVD or put it in the cloud of whatever, because this could be something that's like finding an old Daguerreotype of a great, great, great ancestor or something.
Tom: This is really, really special stuff.
Fisher: And you're saying the earliest it could be is probably the '30s and the latest is the '60s. Boy that's a wide span! It could cover many different generations.
Tom: Oh exactly! In fact, these cameras were not cheap. And the film was really expensive, too. So a lot of times, they handed them down, father to son, father to son. And so, they could have gone through two or three generations. Nowadays everything's disposable. You buy a video camera, "Oh, there's a new camera out. Give this to my kids to play with. I'm going to use the new camera." Back in the day, they didn't do that and they were very, very careful about shooting film. They didn't just go shoot. Like I've got probably about 17,000 photos in my iPhone, which in the old days when I used film, it would be unheard of, because those are expensive.
Tom: So this could be something very, very special and unique.
Fisher: Now would there be any way to know if this kind of camera would be exclusively for color film versus black and white or were most of them for both?
Tom: Most cameras could take either kind. What you'd have to do, like I said is, go to Google and Google in the name and it'll tell what can go in it, what didn't go in it. But most of the old 8mm film, it took the same kind of sprockets. And so when it came out with the color film, they still used the same kind of sprockets. The only difference is, the lenses were better, so it might not be the same quality. We just transferred some film from somebody from 1908!
Tom: That was 16mm black and white. Oh yeah! And it was absolutely, incredibly gorgeous! I mean, I am just amazed at how beautiful it is!
Fisher: How can something like that survive without being damaged?
Tom: Whoever had it, they were a wealthy family. You could tell that just by what was on the film. And you could see they had a nice house, a lot of beach scenes. And the person that shot the film, you can tell the guy knew what he was doing, so he took care of his film. And even though it took several generations to get to us, it was incredible when it got to us. And that's the thing that's so neat about technology, if we would have scanned this film, say, even ten years ago, it wouldn't be any as near as sharp and beautiful as today. This is why we say on this show, don't ever throw anything away that's optical! Film or negatives, never ever throw them away even after they're scanned!
Fisher: All right. He's Tom Perry, he's the Preservation Authority in Worcester. Can you say "Wooster,” Massachusetts, Tom?
Fisher: [Laughs] It doesn't work. It never works.
Fisher: He's there for the NEHGS Preservation Road Show. Have a great trip, stay safe and we'll talk to you again next week buddy.
Tom: Sounds good. Thank you. My pleasure!
Fisher: Hey, that is a wrap for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget, sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter if you haven't done so already. And those who are subscribers by the end of August, you're going to be eligible for a drawing we're going to do for some great software from Heritage Collectors. And this allows you to tag your old photographs, maybe use them in calendars. You can sign up at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Hey, talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!