Episode 205 - Family Vacation Triggers Slave Research Journey / Tips On Using Compilations

podcast episode Sep 03, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David is on the road in Pittsburgh for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference. The guys start out talking about a fascinating “genie” David ran into at the conference. David then talks about a pic of a unique grave he uploaded to FindAGrave of a 19th century baseball Hall of Famer. David next reports on the status of the Clayton Library, a key genealogical library in Houston. The earliest photo of a president will soon be up for auction. Who was in it? The guys will tell you. Then, it’s a warning… don’t pose your kids in 800 year old stone coffins! Hear what happened when someone recently did. Then David spotlights blogger Carol Petranek from spartanroots.wordpress.com and her recent blog on Greek genealogy.

Next, Fisher visits with Christopher Child, Senior Genealogist of NEHGS. Chris and his family took a family vacation several years ago that took him to the Smithsonian. A display of a house there led him to begin a fascinating research project to discover anything about the life of a Massachusetts colonial era slave. All the Smithsonian knew of the slave was that he existed, “belonged” to a family named Dodge, and was named “Chance.” Christopher shares his research journey, connecting the dots from simply the name to a whole lot more.

Then, Fisher visits with Lorraine Bourn from LegacyTree.com. Lorraine shares some great tips on the benefits and pitfalls of using “compilations” in family research. It’s a great 101 course for newbies, and refresher course for the more experienced.

Next, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority reports from Pittsburgh as he continues his Preservation Tour 2017, holding free photo scanning parties for people across the country. Tom shares advice to pass on to flood victims in Houston on how to begin restoring damaged photos and videos.  Houston has (fortuitously) been on Tom’s Tour schedule for some time. He will be there October 20-22 and for several days after and is looking forward to helping people restore and preserve their memories after the horror of Hurricane Harvey.

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

Transcript of Episode 205

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 205

Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family 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 is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Boy, we’ve got so much to cover today. First of all, our guests, we’re going to talk to Christopher Child. He is the senior genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He went on a little family vacation, and as is the case for many of us who take a trip, sometimes we run across something and say, “Oh, I’ve got to look into that.” And that’s what he did, and came up with some amazing information about a colonial era slave. You’re going to want to hear his stories and how he found them. And then, later in the show, a little 101 and maybe a refresher course for people interested in compiled genealogies, information that is collected in one big group, and what you can trust, maybe what you can’t. We’re going to talk to Lorraine Bourne from LegacyTree.com. And Tom Perry continues on the road today. Now, he is in Pittsburgh for the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference going on right now, but he’s heading to Houston, coming up in October. He’s going to do a free scanning party there, hopefully give some people the opportunity to recover maybe material that they lost relating to their family history. And later in the show, he’s going to tell you what you can do to deal with damaged materials from flooding. That’s at the back end of the show. Right now, let’s check in with Pittsburgh. Find out what’s going on there with David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you, David?

David: Hey, things are great out here in Steel City, and having a wonderful time at FGS, as the Federation of Genealogical Societies celebrates their 41st conference here in Pittsburgh. I was on a cruise on the Allegheny River last night, and I had a lady come up to me and introduce herself as a listener, one of our Extreme Genes genies, and I want to just say hello to Debbie Mayor who told me her maiden name, which means a lot more to people historically. She’s a Hatfield.

Fisher: Wait a minute, one of those Hatfields?

David: Uh huh.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: She is related to the same family.

Fisher: That’s crazy.

David: Okay. Well you know, I’ll tell you, one of the things I like to do when I’m out here is, if you love baseball and early baseball, like I do, I went out to Calvary Cemetery in Pittsburgh, and that is where Pud Galvin, 19th century ball player, died at the ripe old age of 45 in 1902. What I noticed on FindAGrave is there was just a picture of the lot marker, nothing with his names and dates on it. And, when I went through it, to my surprise, they had just put in weeks ago a new stone. It hasn’t even had a news conference or anything. So, I went down and there was someone in the office who also uses FindAGrave.

Fisher: Yeah?

David: You wouldn’t believe it, he was there at the same time, and taking the picture. My tradition is, first come first serve, and I had an iPhone. Mine went online before his did, so you can go and look for Pud Galvin on FindAGrave with David                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Lambert with a credit, for the first time in 115 years this poor guy has a stone.

Fisher: You are such a nerd! And he’s a Hall of Famer, though. I get that.

David: He is. Elected In 1965. 63 years after he died.

Fisher: All right, let’s talk Houston a little bit here, David. I mean, the flooding is going on there, the Clayton Library is there, it’s very well known. For people who aren’t familiar with it, for genealogists, do you know anything about what’s going on with them?

David: You know, I went onto social media and tried to reach out to our listeners and to friends of mine from the Houston area because I just was out there in March, lecturing, and I asked, “So what’s going on with the Clayton library?” My good friend who’s a director there, Sue Kaufman, through her and other affiliates we found out that they’re fine, the people and the staff are okay, and the library is safe. And this is one of the biggest concerns, because I know you’ll talk later with Tom about this, is that how much family history have we actually lost for future generations that has been destroyed now in the water.

Fisher: Absolutely. And hopefully we can get some of that recovered.

David: That’s true. The first thing I want to mention on Family Histoire News is a photograph a daguerreotype, that is going under the auction block with the idea that it can reach up to a quarter million dollars if not more. Who is it? It’s our president, John Quincy Adams. The unique thing about it is, the earliest photograph of any American president dated in March of 1843, a photo given to his friend, Horace Everett.

Fisher: And Horace Everett was in Congress, wasn’t he?

David: That’s correct. So he was an associate with him in Congress, and it was a gift that he gave to him from a photographer. There is actually a possibility that there was an earlier picture in 1842, but it hasn’t surfaced yet. So everyone go out and search those attics. Actually, John Quincy Adams was the first president to be a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society back in the 1840s before he died.

Fisher: I did not know that, amazing.

David: Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you, if you’re going to do selfies, please do not do it in 800-year-old coffins, because there is such a sad story in Essex, England, where a child was positioned in a stone casket and broke it. I mean, the repair is not going to be tremendous. It’s going to cost about $128 to get it mended, as the pieces are still there, of course.

Fisher: Right.

David: But, my rule of thumb is, if you’re going to do a selfie in a casket, make sure it’s a family member doing it for you while you’re in your own!

Fisher: Yes. And, 800-year-old stone coffin, I mean, are you kidding me?! [Laughs]

David: I just don’t understand people, I really don’t. There are so many other better places to do selfies. Here is this week’s blogger’s spotlight, and this is highlighting the blog SpartanRoots.wordpress.com, where Carol Petranek talks about Greek genealogical research. In fact, her blog from the end of August deals with researching in Greek churches using their records. So, I don’t know about you, but this research in Greece has always been Greek to me, so I am learning as genealogist about research I never even had a clue about.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

David: Well, that’s about all I have this week, other than to tell you that if you like to join NEHGS after becoming a free guest member, you can join with savings of $20 off the membership by using the code, “Extreme.” Well, signing off from FGS and just to let you know, if you didn’t make it this year to the conference in Pittsburgh, go to the FGS conference next August in 2018, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, hosted by the Allen County Public Library.

Fisher: All right David, that’s great. And we should mention by the way, if you sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter for the month of September, we’re going to draw at the end of the month from among our subscribers, and one of those people is going to wind up with a free consultation, a one hour consultation, from David Allen Lambert. So you can sign up now at ExtremeGenes.com, or through our Facebook page. David, have a great conference. We’ll talk to you next week!

David: Okay my friend, talk to you soon.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Christopher Child. He is the senior genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, talking about his research into a colonial era slave that he only learned about when on a family vacation at the Smithsonian, more on that coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 205

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Christopher Child

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. You know, it is not uncommon for genealogists like ourselves, to go somewhere historic and read about something they don’t know about and say, “Wait a minute, I can find out about that.” And that is exactly what happened to my next guest. He is the senior genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He’s been on the show before, Christopher Child. Welcome back Chris, nice to have you!

Christopher: Nice to be here.

Fisher: You did this not too long ago. You took a little trip to the Smithsonian. You’re on vacation with your family but your mind refuses to go on vacation with you. What happened?

Christopher: Yes, so this was 2010. My wife and I took a vacation down there. We had checked out all the different Smithsonian museums, it was a lot of fun. We checked out the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. While we were there, the place that sort of drew me in was the exhibit called “Within These Walls.” Now this is an exhibit where they took a house from Ipswich, Massachusetts and they have it actually there in the museum. And it examines the lives of five different families from the colonial period to the 20th century that lived there, and talks about their lives and what not. Now, I was interested in it because it was from my home state of Massachusetts. And the one family that really drew me in was the Dodges. So at that point the exhibit said between 1777 and 1789, Abraham Dodge, his wife Parthia and their African American slave Chance, resided in the house. And in terms of what they had to say about Chance, they said Chance was a bit of a mystery. They really didn’t know much about him. The only record at that point that they had was the will of Abraham Dodge where he left his service, a grown man, Chance, to his wife and that’s essentially all they had. So I snapped a couple of pictures on my phone about what they had about the Dodges and Chance and thought “I’m going to take a look at this when I get back home.”

Fisher: [Laughs] And you really did! I mean you didn’t forget about it by losing that picture in that whole stash you took on vacation. Well, as we all know African American slaves especially in an era like that… there’s just not usually a lot of records of them. Do tell us what you found, how you found it, and what we now know about Chance and what the Smithsonian now has with this display, thanks to your incredible work.

Christopher: Sure. So, like you said, a lot of research for African Americans in this period when they were enslaved and then after emancipation, can really be hit or miss. You might find one record here and maybe not a lot of others. So what I did was, I went on Ancestry.com and our website AmericanAncestors.org and then on Family Search.org, essentially what I did was I did first name only searches. So I searched for Chance with no last name. And I limited the geography to Essex County, Massachusetts. And one problem with this is “Chance” is also a word. So you can come up with things where “chance” is just casually mentioned as a word.

Fisher: Sure.

Christopher: But I found a lot of different things. I found a lot of sort of false positives or what not. But the big record that was sort of the big breakthrough was, I found a record that was in the Boston Evening Transcript. Now if you’re familiar with this, initially the post was from AGBI, the American Genealogical and Biographical Index. And that’s an index that’s kept by the Godfrey Memorial Library in Connecticut. And one great thing that they did was, they indexed the Boston Evening Transcripts genealogical column. This is a column that ran around the turn of the century and a lot of genealogists would post clues or things they were working on or what not. So this turned out to be a posting from 1912, and whoever posted it, they were often just identified by their initials.

Fisher: Sure.

Christopher: So this person was listed as ELB. And the clue that they listed there was [for the family] Bradstreet, “I have a very old Psalms book, evidently once the property of the family of Reverend Simon Bradstreet who was the Pastor of the second church of Marblehead. On the inside of this book is “Sarah Bradstreet, her book,” and on the back cover it’s written, “Chance was born on the 16th of September 1762.” So that indicated there was someone named Chance who was in 1762 but it didn’t describe a last name.

Fisher: Right.

Christopher: So that gave me a clue that there was someone named Chance and I couldn’t find a birth of a Chance in vital records and this Bradstreet family lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts, which is not that far from Ipswich, it’s about 14 or so miles away.

Fisher: And how many Chances could there be, right?

Christopher: Sure. And it’s not a usual name that was given to people of European descent in New England. Sometimes slaves were given little bit different names than the European population during that period of time. So that gave me the name Bradstreet. So I decided to figure out what I could about Sarah Bradstreet and her father Simon Bradstreet. So Simon Bradstreet as I mentioned, he was the Minister of the Second Church of Marblehead. And I found his probate record in our collection of Essex County probate records. He died intestate in 1771, and this was just a enormous inventory. He has lots of theological histories and things like that. The inventory stretched oodles of pages and Chance was in there. He had essentially a list of two human property, and it said, “Negro woman Phyllis” and “Negro boy Chance.” So there I clearly determined that the Chance that was mentioned in that Psalms book…

Fisher: Sure.

Christopher: …was an African American slave. So then that gave me my next clue that I had definitely identified a Chance that was a slave in the 1760s. Now what I then set out to do was try to figure out how can I connect the dots to make Chance… from 1762… was he the same person living in Ipswich in the 1780s? So I sort of followed what happened to Chance and Phyllis from then on and essentially what I surmised was that Simon Bradstreet is succeeded as Pastor by his son in law Reverend Isaac Story. I found a few interesting things that were published in the newspaper that talked about how Isaac Story had inherited the slaves of his father-in-law and there’s this posting in a Massachusetts paper that essentially says that his father-in-law had performed a wedding of one of his slaves improperly and that Isaac Story had to perform the wedding again. And this clearly was eluding to Phyllis as the woman listed in Bradstreet’s property.

Fisher: Okay.

Christopher: So definitely from there I get that the two slaves of Bradstreet then go to the son-in-law Isaac Story. So what I then do is, I essentially do a series of Google searches on the assumption, could Isaac Story have sold his slave Chance to Abraham Dodge? I contacted a Marblehead historian named Bob Booth and he also pointed out that Isaac Story and Abraham Dodge had a family connection. So Dodge’s brother was married to Story’s sister.

Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t this amazing? I mean all these years later, 250 years later you could put all these things together. It’s just like this little microscope you can see them all. And you start sorting all this out. So he did wind up in Ipswich. He did wind up with the Dodges and you’ve got him right in the house that you saw displayed at the Smithsonian.

Christopher: Yes. So after these searches I searched for Story, for Chance, for Dodge and all these things. I actually found a lease. Isaac Story leased Chance to Abraham Dodge for 30 pounds, essentially leased him for 12 years and a third. So it’s extremely spelled out, but I definitely found the correct guy that Chance then goes there.

Fisher: Sure.

Christopher: So sometimes you don’t get such a clenching document that clearly puts everything together. So yes, he was in Marblehead then he got leased to Ipswich and then from after that we did find out he returned to Marblehead afterwards.

Fisher: And did he become a free person at some point?

Christopher: Yes, and that’s the thing that becomes a little vague when it comes to Massachusetts history with abolitions. So there was a court case in 1783 the Quock Walker case. Essentially it ruled that slavery was unconstitutional according to the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution. But how quickly African Americans that were enslaved became free is not entirely clear. It didn’t necessarily happen overnight. We know by the 1790 census, no one was enumerated as a slave in Massachusetts. But Abraham Dodge wrote his will three years after that court case in 1786 and he is still referring to Chance as his property. So the lease in 1777 could have kept Chance in poor servitude even longer than other slaves in Massachusetts.

Fisher: Oh, interesting. So that would have actually taken it almost up to the census record at that point. So there’s no record of Chance in there other than perhaps as a notch in the household?

Christopher: Yes. We’re not sure where he was living in 1790. We later got him on some Marblehead record and some poll lists, where he’s called Chance Bradstreet. And he returns to Marblehead by the 1800 [census]. 1810, he’s definitely a free person of color living back in his hometown of Marblehead.

Fisher: So how does a person who’s been a slave his entire life and well into adulthood, transition into a free life. Do we know anything about what his life was when he went back to Marblehead?

Christopher: Even for people who weren’t enslaved at that time, sometimes the amount of information you can find on someone can be kind of minimal. The people at the Smithsonian after I reported this did find a few other records about Chance later. They found some records of him selling fish. Marblehead was on the waterfront. So he probably was engaged in something to do with the port. But we’re not entirely sure everything that went on in his life after being a free person.

Fisher: And, do you know how long he lived?  

Christopher: Yes. We found his record. He dies in Marblehead in 1810, so he’s there in the Marblehead records. The Phillis person who I suspect is likely his mother. She also dies in Marblehead in 1815. And she actually died in the Marblehead poor house and they have the record of her death that actually describes her. It says, “Mrs. Phillis Bradstreet, a very respectable lady, once a princess in Africa dies at 76 years old.”

Fisher: Wow! So she was quite young when she had Chance, back in the 1760s?

Christopher: Yes. So I believe probably in her 20s at that point.

Fisher: What an incredible find and what a fun thing for you too Chris, to wind up helping the Smithsonian and that will be part of their display forevermore.

Christopher: Yeah, so they’ve really done a nice exhibit. They’ve launched this new wing called “The History of Democracy” and they have a whole bunch of new exhibits but this exhibit has a little bit of an update and they’re doing some more updates in the coming months. So it’s nice to see some genealogical work be tied to one of these great exhibits.

Fisher: And of course this whole story is published now in Smithsonian.com. And you can find the link to that on ExtremeGenes.com, read about it and see some of the pictures. The house is amazing because they’ve basically taken the front off of parts of it, so you can see what the whole thing looked like inside. And of course filled with period furniture and the like to get an idea what their lifestyle was like. That had to be a lot of fun.

Christopher: Yes, indeed it was a challenge but I’m glad it worked out. As genealogists we always love a challenge. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out, but this one really sort of struck some pay dirt there.

Fisher: Absolutely. He’s Chris Child. He’s the senior genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Thanks so much for coming on Chris, and we’ll talk to you again!

Christopher: Thanks.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Lorraine Bourne. She’s with LegacyTree.com talking about how to use compiled sources.  Some tips on using those to your best advantage, coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 205

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Lorraine Bourne

Fisher: And we are back, it’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And you know, we’d like to share ideas with people about how they can go about doing their family history, especially if you’re a newbie. We’d love to give you a little 101 once in a while, and to help us with that today we’ve got Lorraine Bourne on the line. She’s with our friends at LegacyTree.com. How are you Lorraine?

Lorraine: I’m doing great, thank you.

Fisher: You did a nice piece recently about tips for using compiled sources and by compiled sources we’re talking about folks who have maybe written a family history or there’s a county history that might talk about your ancestor, or compilations of tax lists and things along these lines. There are a lot of pluses to these things and a lot of minuses as well. Let’s talk about this.

Lorraine: Some of the pluses to compiled sources are, they can direct you to records. If you’re not really quite sure where you’re going, there’s a lot of different types of compiled sources. They can be printed sources or they can be information online. And using some of this information can help direct your research, and they can also save you significant amount of time in when you’re trying to do your research. But the downside of some of these sources are, they could have incorrect spellings or incorrect information, perhaps some of the information is missing when somebody abstracts the record, they abstract what is important to them.

Fisher: Right.

Lorraine: And you might find more information in your own family history that will help direct you with these compiled sources to show that this is incorrect information. So you’ll want to go to original records using this information, and this information can save you significant time in just pinpointing that record and really laying in on it. 

Fisher: You know it’s interesting, sometimes you will run across a family history and you’ll go, “Ah ha!” That golden moment, and you think you’ve got your ticket to the next few generations. I’ve seen entire books written on a completely incorrect premise. And you look at it and realize, “How in the world did they do this? And how has it been around so long and still on shelves and libraries and people copying it over and over and sharing it online?” And then the name copiers are grabbing it and it’s almost impossible to exterminate.

Lorraine: It is, and some people will try to keep reiterating those mistakes over and over even when they’re corrected, which is unfortunate.

Fisher: Right.

Lorraine: Because that’s when their family history is stopped. And many of these records, we have to give these people a little bit of leeway because many of these earlier records were compiled when they didn’t have all the sources and these pieces of information that we have today, and they did the best with what they could. And so you look at what’s the most accurate but start looking at what errors they might contain too, and you have to look at these sources and evaluate them in a way that you can say, “Okay, this source has lots of documentation so it could be correct, or this source has nothing, so I need to look at that information in that area surrounding this information to see if it’s accurate.” It’s always important to use compiled sources along with the original records, but compiled sources can be invaluable. They almost always contain a little nugget of truth that can help you. So it’s always important to look at both types of sources together when you’re conducting your genealogy.

Fisher: You know, you think about this, the compiled trees, say on MyHeritage.com or Ancestry.com, or FindMyPast.com. Those are compiled sources as well. And a lot of times people will put good information in there without any sources and you can hopefully reach out and get them to maybe provide some for you. I’ve had that happen before where somebody posted something and I said, “Hey, where did you get that?” Knowing that I hadn’t been able to find anything on that for some time, usually it’s just some speculation but once in a great while they’ll come back and share something with you that blows the whole thing open. You go, “You’ve got to be kidding me! You had a Bible? You had a family note? You had something that was recorded somewhere?” Those compiled records can be invaluable.

Lorraine: Oh they can. And I had pinned a Bible record from one of my family members on my own personal genealogy just from that very situation. I researched out the family and found ancestors and descendants from that family and was able to reach out to one of them because I had very little on my family side that that family had done a lot of documentation on their own family and they had the Bible information for the births and death dates that I needed for the people that I was trying to research. So it’s really great to have that.

Fisher: Yeah, it really makes a difference. You know let’s talk for a minute about the compiled family histories. And I remember the first time I went to Salt Lake City, Utah and I went through the Family History Library and I discovered that entire floor that was devoted to published books done on various family names. That was a revelation to me at that time that these were available like that. So I started going through the various names and then I’ve come to realize over time that many of these books were written by amateurs and people who were beginners and put together a lot of things where it was okay the first couple of generations, but after that it started to get a little bit shaky and as you mentioned, you really have to develop something of a keen eye to make sure that you’re not going to duplicate bad information for generations still to come.

Lorraine: It’s so invaluable to do a little bit of additional research on your own. If you’re concerned about a genealogy that you’re looking at, doing even just a spot check of the family can also help look for a death record if there is one, a tombstone if there is one. You have to be careful sometimes even though with tombstones because there can be some inaccuracy, even with the online tombstone information which are compiled sources as well because they can give you the information about a person but there’s no tombstone there. So you have to treat that just the same as you do your compiled sources. Just because someone says they might be buried here, it wouldn’t hurt to check the cemetery. It wouldn’t hurt to check out a few pieces of information about the family, and if it checks out pretty well, then you’re looking at something that may have been done well.

Fisher: How about county histories? To me, I put a lot of credibility into those. First of all, because there’s not necessarily a lot of analysis that goes into linking families. It’s just material that was left that people have compiled into these books. And I usually find that those are really helpful.

Lorraine: They absolutely are. Sometimes when you can’t find your family anywhere else, you try to scroll through those microfilms. You try to find those pieces of information. Sometimes sorting those books can give you a lot of good information. Like give you the church they were associated with, or it might tell you when they first obtained their land or entered the area, or sometimes it tells you your family members were pioneers that settled in the area and what groups they came from, and where that group came from. So you never know what golden nugget you’re going to find in a county history.

Fisher: Oh I found stuff about my wife’s ancestor who was a sheriff in Iowa. It talked about him being a drinking man. [Laughs]

Lorraine: [Laughs]

Fisher: And how he took off to start carting farm supplies across the west. I mean, it’s amazing some of the details that are found about people not written for a family history context, just about people that those folks were aware of or had known at one point in their lives.

Lorraine: Yeah it’s so invaluable and it’s always a joy to find those little nuggets because then you start to understand the people who you descend from.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. What are some of the other sources that you put a lot of credibility into?

Lorraine: Usually tax lists are pretty good, when you use them you still have to be careful name spellings change. Wills can be very credible, but again name spellings, changes in the way a name is spelled can help you understand that people back then didn’t always have the spelling conventions that we have now.

Fisher: Right.

Lorraine: But the compiled sources when you’re looking at these wills, you’ll several of these spelling variations, or you might look at the tax records and find several different spelling variations. And it helps you when you’re researching your family to know the many different ways names are spelled. Even the most common names sometimes are really spelled different, you wouldn’t expect it.

Fisher: She’s Lorraine Bourne. She’s with LegacyTree.com genealogy. And we sure appreciate you coming on the show.

Lorraine: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

Fisher: Coming up next, Tom Perry our Preservation Authority talks about rescuing water damaged documents. Pay attention for your friends in Houston. It’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 205

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Boy what a week it has been, of course, with all the news coming out of Texas, southeastern Texas, particularly Houston. And you know, I keep thinking not only about the property loss, but about the family history loss. Hi it’s Fisher, its Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And this segment is brought to you by 23andMe.com DNA. And it’s time to talk preservation with Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority. He is on the road with his preservation tour at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hi Tom, how are you?

Tom: I'm super duper! I just love meeting new people, especially the fans of our show that just appreciate what we try to bring to them every week. It’s our honor to do it. And it’s fun looking at all these photos, doing the scanning parties and just having all kinds of fun with these people. Everybody are Steeler fans here. I can't figure out why!

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, I'll tell you, the thing that's crossing my mind right now is what we've talked about on this show for how many years about things that can happen that can take away all your memories, all your photos, your videos if you haven't gone about what you need to do to preserve these things. So now we have the situation in southeastern Texas. We're hearing about homes that are fifteen feet underwater! And you just wonder, can any of this stuff be salvaged and how do they go about getting started on that? And for those who might be listening in that area or have friends there, here's some steps that you can take to help these people preserve their memories.

Tom: You know, that is so true, we've been talking over the years about Katrina how that devastated so many people and they lost so many memories. And unfortunately we were unable to help them at that time. But now we have so much more technology. There are things that we can do. And even though this storm has actually been worse than Katrina, there are things we can do. And so I don't care if you live in Florida or New York or wherever you live, if you have friends that are in the Houston area that's been affected by this flood, make sure they listen to this episode, because we want to try to help them take steps right now. But we can help them when we get there in October to try and preserve their memories as best we can.

Tom: Well, and let's talk about that just for a moment. You are scheduled to go to Houston, isn't that interesting? You've had that on your schedule for some time for your Preservation Tour and then Dallas after that. And we'll talk more about that coming up in the second segment. But right now, let's talk about, if I'm sitting there, I've rescued some drenched photo albums and I'm in the Houston area, what should I do with those?

Tom: Okay the best thing to do is, you want to get things dry. Then you want to be really, really careful, because the photo side of the picture is the most susceptible to damage. You can get some old newspapers, anything that is water absorbent. You want to lay those out on a clean, dry area and put all your photos on those "face up" so they're not touching anything. Because they are going to curl and you're going to have some things like that, but we can rescue them from that. So the biggest thing you want to do is get them dried out and away from each other. Because if you leave them in a stack, what they're going to do is, the paper's going to become soft again like when they first made the paper and they're going to glue to each other, just like you put Elmer's Glue or something on them. And you won't be able to get them apart very easily. If you're lucky, you're fortunate to have some twine or something that you can hang around your house with clothespins and hang them up there, that's another option. And just let them air dry. But if you don't have that opportunity, lay them down. If you have a food dehydrator, you can actually put them in your food dehydrator at a really, really low temperature and that will take a lot of the moisture out. So the biggest thing you want to do is, you want to get the moisture away from these things. And if you have any photo frames in this that you just mentioned that was several feet actually underwater, get those pictures down. And the frames might be special to you, but sorry, you're just going to have to fish or cut bait this time. You need to take off the back of the frame. You have to cut through the paper, take the cardboard off, very carefully remove the staples, take the photos out. Get them away from the glass. If they started to stick to the glass already because it’s been dry for several days by the time you have the opportunity to listen to this, you want to make sure that you don't pull it off the glass, because that will damage it. But now that it’s wet, you should be able to take it off. Very, very carefully, take it really slowly. But if it sticks too much, you want to just stop there. And don't go any further or you're going to ruin the photo.

Fisher: All right Tom, great advice. We're going to talk more about this and your scheduled trip to Houston to help people preserve their memories, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 205

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back. It is Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, on the road in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania doing his Preservation Tour and scanning people's photos across America for free. And Tom, you put a picture in my head last segment when you were talking about how people could perhaps hang up their photographs using clothespins somewhere. Because that's basically how people used to do it right out of the processing room, right?

Tom: Oh absolutely. I had a dark room when I was like fourteen years old. And that's what I did. I just strung twine or some kind of rope or something through my bedroom. In the old days, we used wood hangers. Now they have plastic ones that you can go and buy and those are a little bit better. Just be really, really careful they don't come in contact with the photo itself. If it’s a photo that goes edge to edge, just make sure that you put it on an edge that's, you know, not as critical as the other one, because if they're the wooden clothespins, it’s going to get a little bit of wood smear from it. If they're plastic clothespins, they should be okay. But just be really, really careful how you're doing it, because it’s better to have 90% of something, than 0%. And this goes for negatives, this goes for slides, this goes for everything. And if you have slides, the best way to air them out is, put them in a carousel and just put those in an air dryer if you have it or set them out someplace cool and dry. Do not set them in direct sunlight! Because that could dry them too fast and the edges are going to warp on them. And then you're going to have to put them in new cases. So just be smart and careful about it. But like I say, it’s better to have 90% of something than 100% of nothing.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So you want to be really, really careful how you go about doing this.

Fisher: Yes. Now this may seem like a silly question, but obviously CDs, DVDs, they should fare fine with water. But the question in my mind would have to do with, what about old cassette tapes and VHS. What's the affect of water on those?

Tom: Okay, that can be very bad, too. We have cleaners. And a lot of times, we have stuff that goes through mudslides we're able to clean out. You’d be soaking them if they had mud. So if yours are just wet at this time, what you want to do is, you want to get them away from the water. You want to get them into a dry place and stand them on the end, so that where the tape is, that's the end down so the water will drain. If you have them standing on the end or the back, the water's going to coagulate there and cause all kinds of problems. So you want to put the door, that's the side that you set into the VCR, you want to put that down so the water can drain out. And put them on a towel or paper, anything you can that will help draw the water out of it. And like I say, please tell your friends in other parts of the country about this, because they need to get started on this soon, so that when we're there for the Texas Family History Genealogical Society meeting, we can actually help them restore their pictures, get things scanned. But if you wait too long, these things are going to be damaged or they're going to be totally lost, especially slides and negatives. Because when they get wet, they get soft and it’s really easy to accidently touch them and just smear them. So this is one time that white gloves would be really, really good. And only hold them by the edges. Don't touch the faces of them, because the emulsion of a slide or negative will come right off onto your thumb.

Fisher: Now let's talk about your date. You've had this on the calendar for some time and its fortuitous and I think it’s great that you're going in a couple of months, which gives people a chance to get their lives back together and organized. When is this scanning party you're going to be doing in Houston and then the one that follows it in Dallas?

Tom: Okay, it’s October 20 through the 22nd at the Omni Houston Hotel, Westside. And it’s being put on by the Texas State Genealogical Society. They have very kindly invited us to come there to set up a free scanning party to help the people that are attending this. So this is a must do event. And we're trying to work out logistics, so even after the convention's over, we'll be able to set up some kind of a site someplace where we'll be able to for the next week continue to do some different scanning before we move onto Dallas. Because we want to help as many people as we can. All sponsored by Extreme Genes.

Fisher: Okay, we're going to have this on our website, but of course, Tom, have a safe trip and enjoy your time in Pittsburgh.

Tom: Thank you. My pleasure!

Fisher: Wow, there is a lot going on! Well, that wraps up our show for this week. I wish we could do another hour or two or three! But of course you can follow us on our Facebook page for Extreme Genes and on our ExtremeGenes.com website. Also don't forget to subscribe to our Weekly Genie newsletter. You can do that through ExtremeGenes.com or the Facebook page. Next week we're going to talk to Lieutenant Colonel Enoch Woodhouse, 91 years young and a former Tuskegee Airman! Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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