Episode 211 - Ordinary Person Makes Extraordinary Find / The Archive Lady Returns With More New FindsOct 22, 2017
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with a welcome to several new members of the Extreme Genes Patrons Club. He’s then joined by David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org who shares “Family Histoire News.” David begins with the latest news from “Reclaim the Records.” The group that is making a name for itself forcing government entities to make indexes to records available to the public, has pulled off another big score. David will tell you what it is. Then, a pair of infants that shared space in a hospital on the day they were born have met up again. And now they’re married! Hear the details! Next… want a ride in a B17? You can, but it’s going to cost you. Find out where you may want to go. David then talks about a new idea for connecting to your ancestors that has caught fire on his blog… collecting coins from the years your ancestors were born. Find out what it has done to interest his daughter. David’s blogger spotlight this week is chiddicksfamilytree.wordpress.com, where Paul Chiddick asks “What Does the Future [of Genealogy] hold?”
Next, Fisher visits with Lisa Murphy of Orem, Utah, an “Ordinary Person With An Extraordinary Find.” Lisa’s grandfather was a family enigma. He died without ever telling anyone exactly where he was from, and very little about the family itself. But along comes DNA and… well… you know the rest. Hear the story Lisa and her family has learned about her long deceased grandfather’s origins.
Then, Fisher talks new archive discoveries with “The Archive Lady,” Melissa Barker of Houston County, Tennessee. Melissa is always digging up inspiring items in her archive to encourage people to get back to where many family treasures may be waiting. Hear what she’s found this time.
Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, returns to talk about audio… wire recordings, eight track tapes, vinyl records, and cassettes. Hopefully you’re not throwing any of these things away! Tom will tell you what you need to do with them things, and what NOT to do!
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 211
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 211
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. This segment of the show is brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA. Boy, we have a lot of ground to cover here today. First of all, our guest coming up in just a little bit... I’m going to talk to Lisa Murphy. She is an “ordinary person with an extraordinary find” and it’s just unbelievable what she has been able to do with her family, with DNA, and discovering the roots of her grandfather who came over from Italy and never spoke a word about where he was from. And everybody thought that when he had passed, all of his secrets went with him. [Laughs] But DNA of course changes that. We’re going to hear Lisa’s story coming up, and then a little after that we’re going to talk to Melissa Barker. You may remember her as the “Archive Lady” from Houston County, Tennessee. She’s got some new finds to share with us this week and I’m looking forward to hearing about that because as you know we love to encourage people to go out and not just search online, but go to places that have records and have the history right there that you can touch, you can feel, you can search, you can hold. Melissa’s got the stories coming up a little bit later on. Hey, welcome by the way to our brand new Patron’s Club members. Bill Harvey, Matthias Uthoff, he’s from Germany. He signed up to be part of it. Robin Falke, Sebastian Gansauer, he’s another one from Germany. [Laughs] Kristine Bartley, Maryann Sezaki, Ryan MacMichael and Becky Humphrey, all new members of our Patrons Club, and you can sign up now at Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes, or just click on the Patrons Club link at ExtremeGenes.com. And congratulations by the way to our monthly winner for our “Weekly Genie” Newsletter, Gary Swan, he’s going to get a free one hour consultation from David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org who, coincidentally just happens to be on the line with me right now from Boston. How are you David?
David: Hey, things are looking great in Beantown, the leaves are piling up and there’s a little chill in the air.
Fisher: That’s what it’s supposed to be doing this time of the year. And I would imagine some of the chill has to do with the Red Sox being eliminated from the playoffs. But, I shouldn’t digress like that, but anyway, how are you?
David: That’s good, just put it on the downslide for the beginning of my news story, but that’s okay! Some exciting news, Reclaim the Records has done it once again, Fish. They now have the marriage index for New Jersey from 1901 to 2016 available.
Fisher: Yes, this is the index, by the way, not the certificates. And by the way, next week we’re going to have Brooke Ganz on to talk about this great score and some other things they’ve got their eyes on right now. They’re making life very difficult for a lot of the record holders around the country who just don’t want to do their part to make these records easily available to the public.
David: My next story, actually, takes place right here in Massachusetts where back in April 1990, two babies were born, Jessica Gons and Aaron Barows. Now, they were born at the Morton Hospital and probably would have never met again until somebody in high school re-introduced them. They found out they had the same birthday, and in fact they were the only two babies born that day in the hospital. Guess what? They’re married now.
Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that great? There’s a great genealogy story right there. Their kids, their grandkids, their great grandkids are going to talk about it. And there is a picture, by the way, of her in the hospital, and just behind her in the background is another baby right there. It’s a little out of focus, they can’t tell, but it may very well be, probably is her husband, because he was the only other baby born that day in that hospital.
David: [Laughs] Forensic genealogist. Get to work.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. Where’s Maureen Taylor when we need her?
David: Maureen, help! Okay. My next story has to do with World War II, and of course, we have many World War II veterans that are still with us, but not a lot of flying airplanes. In fact, this is a story about a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber which is part of the Salute to Veterans Tour, and this is going on in Indiana where they’re offering rides and ground tours of this B-17 Madras Maiden. And if you have a spare $450, you can go for a ride.
Fisher: Wouldn’t that be fun? To fly in a B-17, just like your grandpa or great grandpa.
David: Or your dad. Depends how old you are. [Laughs]
Fisher: Right, exactly.
David: Well, you know, that brings me to my next story, which actually starts off with my Dad. The other day, I was showing my 14 year daughter, Hannah, a coin from 1925. That’s when my dad was born. Well, she didn’t know my dad. So, to hold in her hand a coin as old as her “papa”, as she calls him was kind of fascinating. Then she turned to me, “But, do you have any for Mae?” Mae is the middle name of my grandmother, and her great grandmother, which she got her middle name from. And lo and behold, I said “No, I don’t,” so I bought an Indiana penny from 1896. It dawned on me, why not create a family tree of coins, representing the date of birth for each one of my ancestors, back to my great, great grandparents?
Fisher: I love that!
David: I started it. It’s fun. It hasn’t cost me a lot of money. I did a blog on Thepastfinder.wordpress.com, which is my most recent post, and it’s called, “Can You Spare a Penny for Your Ancestors? Collecting the Coins of Your Family Tree.” It’s been pretty popular, and you know what, it’s so easy to do, you just go into eBay, plug in a year and the country, and what’s nice about it, you’re teaching your kids, your grandkids, not just their ancestor with an item that’s from the time of their living, but you’re also giving them world history and geographical history, and it’s great stuff.
Fisher: It’s a great idea, David, and I’m going to do it. I love that idea!
David: My blogger spotlight this week goes out to Paul Chiddicks, who has a blog on Chiddicksfamilytree.wordpress.com. His topic is, “What Does the Future Hold?” And this of course has to do with genealogy. So, it’s an interesting insight into this genealogist’s idea what the future of genealogy holds, which may be akin to how you feel about it. So, take a peek at Paul’s blog post, and if you do have an interesting blog, let us know. Maybe you’ll be featured next week on Extreme Genes Blogger Spotlight. As you know, NEHGS has the opportunity for you to become a member, and if you want to save $20 on that opportunity, you can use a checkout code “Extreme” and go to AmericanAncestors.org. That’s all I have from Bean town. Check your pocket change, Fish. You may have some ancestors or relatives.
Fisher: [Laughs] You might be right, David. Thank you so much. And by the way, we’ve got to welcome, WIBW, 580 AM at Topeka, Kansas. They’re our latest radio affiliate, Number 56, and we’re thrilled to be part of their weekend line-up. Take care, David. We’ll talk to you next week.
David: Take care, my friend.
Fisher: All right. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to an “ordinary person with an extraordinary find.” You’re going to love this story. Coming up with Lisa Murphy, she’s out of Utah, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 211
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Lisa Murphy
Fisher: We are back. It’s America’s Family History, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you MyHeritage.com. And I am excited to be talking to Lisa Murphy and this kind of fits into the theme we sometimes do on the show called “Ordinary people with extraordinary finds” and Lisa, your find absolutely qualifies as you tracked down the ancestry of your grandfather who kept his mouth shut his whole life. Did you know him?
Lisa: I knew him as a young child. I think I was about ten when he died. So I do have some memories, but not a lot.
Fisher: What do you know about him? What did he tell you about himself?
Lisa: Well, really nothing. He told us his name was Harry Mayo. He told us that he was an orphan. And that he had come into this country to the port of Montreal actually.
Lisa: He said that he was on his own from the time he was thirteen years old. And he remembers as a young orphan in the streets of Montreal stealing milk and bread off of people’s front porches before they woke up in the morning to get their daily delivery so that he could eat.
Lisa: My grandmother was also an orphan so my dad grew up with no aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents.
Fisher: Wow! Did he say where he was from originally?
Lisa: He said that he was born in Le Havre, France. But we always thought that was strange because he was very Italian and spoke fluent Italian and spoke with an Italian accent.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well that might be the first clue, right? [Laughs]
Lisa: That might be the first clue. That’s right. And also, it was strange because his last name was Mayo M-A-Y-O and there is no Y in the Italian language.
Fisher: And so who had an interest in actually trying to crack his case?
Lisa: Do you mean after people grew up?
Lisa: Because the kids asked him questions about himself when they were little. When they grew up to a point they would ask their dad questions about himself and he would get angry. He would start by saying, “Oh I don’t know, that was a long time ago.” And then if they pressed him he would literally get angry and he would say, “I said don’t want to talk about that!”
Lisa: So he would literally get angry if you asked him any questions about his past.
Fisher: Ha! That is amazingly strange. So now he’s long passed. When did he pass away?
Fisher: Okay. And so his kids are still around. How many children did he have?
Lisa: He had four.
Lisa: Three boys and a girl.
Fisher: Okay. And now we have this new era here with DNA, and one of you decides, “Hey it’s time. Let’s get a test and see what happens.” Was the anticipation of doing this test to find out ethnicity, or was it to find matches, or both?
Lisa: You know, I don’t think that we ever really thought about the matches. I think that we had more ethnicity in mind.
Lisa: Of course my dad and my uncle Alvin were one of the first to get it done. And you know it was really kind of in the new stages of DNA before things really began to explode and we figured out what it was all about. But because their Dad was a mystery, they wanted to know what they were made of, you know?
Fisher: Sure. I think most people go on that now. Ethnicity is kind of what the big companies market.
Fisher: And then some people find oh there are matches here too! I mean that happened to a friend of mine who was adopted, and we were actually able to identify her birth mother and birth father as a result. But she had had no anticipation of that when she took the test. She just wanted the ethnicity.
Fisher: So you found matches and when did the matches start coming in, and what did you find out?
Lisa: Well, it was interesting. When Dad and Alvin first got the DNA test, which was well over five years ago, they came back as like one of the only 3% of people that could not be placed. And we were thinking, “Oh brother!” I mean this is truly a dead end everywhere we go!
Lisa: And then they said, “We could tell you that you probably came from somewhere in the Middle East, probably Israel.”
Lisa: So then that gave us another idea about my grandfather. Like okay, was he Jewish?
Fisher: Right, of course.
Lisa: I mean we had exhausted everything. We had looked through prison records, is he hiding a crime? You know.
Lisa: And then when the DNA came through we thought well, is he Jewish? Was he hiding that he was Jewish because lots of times people from the old country and particularly Jews, would hide that ethnicity.
Fisher: Sure. A lot of people hid their ethnicity. Hungarians did.
Lisa: Yes. So then that was one thing. And then five years went by and then somebody contacted my uncle Alvin and her name was not MEO it was another name, a married name.
Fisher: Okay. Yeah.
Lisa: And so she contacted him and she said, “I think we have a match.” But they couldn’t figure out where they matched because of course we had no family tree.
Fisher: Of course, right.
Lisa: Because usually people, when they have a match, they put their trees together and they say, “Oh I see. Okay. Here’s our common ancestor.”
Fisher: Um hmm.
Lisa: We can’t get past Dad so we have no family tree. So, they talked for about a year and they couldn’t figure it out. And then, another family member, totally unbeknownst to the original family member who contacted my uncle, she contacted him and said, “We have a match.” And she sent him a handmade family group sheet.
Lisa: Now, my grandfather did tell us that his parents were named Pietro and Caterina, so we knew that. And he also told my grandmother that he had a brother named Marion who had died of an infection as a child. So we knew that. We had also found a previous wife of his by various means back in the ‘80s. We didn’t even know he had been married before. And she told us in a letter that he had told her about a sister named Grace who was living in New York. But he had never mentioned a Grace to us. But by various means, we had collected these four names and he said all these people were dead.
Lisa: So this woman sends him this like type written family group sheet and I don’t know, it looks very, very old.
Lisa: And on it, it had the parents Pietro and Caterina, and then it had eleven children on there!
Lisa: And of the eleven there was one named Grazia or Grace.
Lisa: And there was one named Mariano or Marion. And it said that Marion had died of an infection as a child. Then there were all the children’s names and who they married and what children they had. So there were a lot of names on this sheet. But in the very, very end in the right hand corner it named a child Nunziato, and it said he immigrated to America, and went to Boston and Toronto and disappeared. And we knew that we had our match!
Fisher: Wow! What a day that had to be for the family!
Lisa: It was sixty five years in the making. I mean my Dad is eighty five years old. Imagine being eighty five and finding out your father’s true identity, his true name, seeing his birth certificate. The whole family has been on fire.
Fisher: Oh, I can only imagine. Now you’ve met a lot of matches now, so were you able to link in with the original contact? Do you now know where you’re related to them? And how this all comes together?
Lisa: Oh, well, the story just gets more magnificent every day! And there’s not a day that goes by that something just mind blowing happens. Some new revelation happens. It’s just mind blowing. Like every day is an adventure. And so what I did was, I created a family Facebook page and I called it the Nunziato- Mayo family. So I just added all of our family members, the Mayos on there because everybody started getting online. Because once we had a name and a place, the information was very easy to find.
Fisher: Sure. Yes.
Lisa: My brother is getting online and he’s finding so and so’s death certificate and the picture of their grave site, and their immigration record, and I’m getting online and my sister is getting online. And you know there’s all these various threads you know like running through the family by text and email. And there are different people on different threads so it’s hard to keep up. So what I did was, I created the Facebook page so that we can have a common dumping ground so that when somebody found something they could put it on the page and everybody could be there and everybody could see it. And then I thought, you know, I wonder if any of those MEO Mayos are on Facebook? And so I just started searching on Facebook for them and both my sister and I started messaging people and at first they were a little bit tentative because like they had this big Italian family and they’re like, “Who are you?” You know, like... what?
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes. Where do you fit in? Well, that’s often the way, isn’t it?
Lisa: Yeah, yeah, and also you know, they’re Italian Sicilians and I think some of the older generation were like, “Wait a minute, let’s check these people out first.” You know?
Fisher: [Laughs] Just a little bit suspicious there, right?
Lisa: Yeah there were a couple of them that were... like one said, “Well, you know my Dad needs to check you out.” You know.
Lisa: He was our cousin Vinny. [Laughs]
Fisher: Cousin Vinny. Let me tell you!
Lisa: [Laughs] That’s right.
Fisher: Okay. So there were eleven kids in this family. Your grandfather was one of them. How many of the different branches now? The other ten, well I guess it would be nine because the one died young, how many of those other branches are you in touch with now?
Lisa: We’re in touch with five.
Fisher: Wow! Five of the other nine.
Lisa: Well, four in America and one that is still in Italy.
Fisher: That’s incredible. Are you going to go over to Italy? Are you going to see the home country? Are you going to see the home city?
Lisa: Oh my gosh we have to. Of course we’ve Google Earthed it already.
Fisher: Sure. Yeah. [Laughs] Taken a little tour, okay. Have you planned a reunion with any of these people yet?
Lisa: I want to. I’m in the process of planning one for next summer. And, oh, I’ve got big plans! I’ve got such big plans.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well listen to you. That’s so exciting. She’s Lisa Murphy she’s from Orem, Utah and her family has had a huge breakthrough thanks to DNA not only huge in terms of exciting, huge in terms of numbers. That’s fantastic. So, congratulations! She’s an “ordinary person with an extraordinary find.” You can do the same thing. Lisa, thank you so much for your time.
Lisa: Oh it was such a pleasure. I never get tired of talking about this.
Fisher: [Laughs] I bet you don’t. And who does? And coming up next in five minutes, we’re going to talk to Melissa Barker. She is the Archive Lady in Houston, Tennessee. What has she found? You’ll find out coming up on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 211
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melissa Barker
Fisher: And we’re back, it’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGens.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. It was a while back we introduced America to my next guest. She is known as the Archive Lady. She is a professional researcher, still specializes in Tennessee research for many clients but one day got roped into putting together an archive for her county. It’s Houston County as I recall, in Tennessee, is that right Melissa?
Melissa: It sure is. Houston County, Tennessee.
Fisher: Yep. She’s Melissa Barker. Nice to have you back! I love having the “Southern belles” back on the show.
Melissa: Thanks Scott! It’s great to be back, especially in October which is American Archives month.
Fisher: That is correct. I remember you were telling me on our last visit that you weren’t too excited about what was going to be required in putting together this archive for your county. And you have since fallen in love with it, embraced it and I think the exciting thing about it is you’re around material that isn’t necessarily available online which is the case for most all archives.
Melissa: That’s true Scott. You know, many, many of our archives across the United States and across the world have records sitting on shelves that are just waiting for researchers to discover.
Fisher: And I’m a big advocate for old time research. I’m not really one who considers all the time you spend going through all the various sites as being genuine research. I mean obviously it is because you’re finding documents that other people have digitized and that’s great but we become addicted to them in thinking, “Well if it isn’t there, it’s just not to be had.” But that is not the case. There is probably a lot more material available that’s not online than there is online. Melissa, talk about some of the things you found recently because you never call me unless you found something new, and unique, and exciting to help give an example to people of what they can find in an archive.
Melissa: Oh well, since we last talked, we have found some very interesting items in our archives. One of the things that we have gotten recently is some stuff called Loonie Money. Have you ever heard of loonie money?
Fisher: Loonie money, no, I don’t think I have.
Melissa: Well, loonie money is either in script like paper money or it’s in coins.
Melissa: And it’s from the local stores. The store owners would pay to their employees this money but the catch was that you could only spend the money in the store. [Laughs]
Fisher: In the company’s store. So this was a nice way around paying and of course they were making profit on it as well. Mark the prices up in the company’s store, right?
Melissa: Correct. So we have two examples of some loonie money in our archives. One was for the H.H Bucko Mercantile and the other one is for the Daniel Mercantile out of Ellis Mill, Tennessee. And so it’s wonderful to find these items because it’s something that researchers have never heard of but maybe their ancestors used.
Fisher: Right. Now it’s interesting you mentioned that because in researching my great grandfather’s coffee, tea, and spice mill in New York City, I often go through eBay and I ran across a coin from an Albany based coffee and spice mill, and I wondered why their name was on this thing. It’s from the 1860s and I’m thinking that must be loonie money like you’re talking about.
Melissa: It sure could be.
Fisher: All right, what else have you found recently?
Melissa: Well, recently I had a local contractor donate an almost 100 year old vacuum cleaner. He was cleaning out an old house and found this vacuum cleaner and it’s like one of the Bissells you can buy today that have no motors, you just push them along the carpet and it picks up stuff.
Melissa: But it’s all made of wood.
Fisher: A wooden vacuum cleaner. So it’s not electric? Because I’m thinking 100 year old vacuum cleaner, how could that be? I don’t know when the first electric ones came along but this is a wooden thing?
Melissa: Yes it is completely wooden and there is no motor, you just push it along the carpet and it picks up the dirt and it’s totally wooden. It was made in 1920 and believe it or not, it still works.
Fisher: Now what’s that doing in an archive? I’m curious.
Melissa: [Laughs] Well in our archive here in Houston County, we are the only facility in the county that collects and preserves our local history. And when I stated the archives about six, seven years ago, we decided that we wanted to collect anything and everything having to do with Houston County, including artifacts and historical items because we put them on display for people to come to the archives and see.
Fisher: Right and what a great idea to attract people to come by and check it out. What else have they donated to you, by the way?
Melissa: Oh, we used to have a railroad that came through here. Our county was big because of the railroad. So we have lots of railroad memorabilia. And other items that locals just come in and they’ll have it in their hands and say, “Do you want it or not? I’m just going to throw it away.” So of course I grab it as fast as I can. [Laughs]
Fisher: Oh absolutely. I’m always just horrified, I mean from negatives and photographs that’s one thing and you would think that would be more obvious but some of these trinkets, that sounds great! I wish every archive would do something like that. All right, what else have you found within the archive that kind of raised your eyebrows, Melissa?
Melissa: One of my favorite things that I have found here recently was, we were working on the voting and election records of the county and we ran across a city of Erin ballot which is the main city here in Houston County. And the ballot was for 1952, nothing really unusual about that until I looked on the back.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Melissa: On the back was a hand written fudge pie recipe.
Fisher: Ooh that sounds... I just had brownies last night, by the way they were delicious, and that sounds similar. I love that, fudge pie, huh? And this was from a ballot from 1952 for what kind of election?
Melissa: It was a local city election for the city mayor and the aldermen and things like that. So I took the recipe and I made the pie and it was really good.
Fisher: Really, did you serve it up for everybody around the archives?
Melissa: I did. I took it to the court house, served it up and told them this was a 1952 recipe.
Fisher: That is absolutely amazing. So I’m confused though, I mean if you had a ballot, how would it wind up in the archive? Unless you know they were keeping some of these things to keep track for a recount potentially or something like that. And why would somebody write a recipe on the back of it?
Melissa: I have no idea. I can just envision someone, one of the little ladies sitting there signing people in to vote and talking to the other lady and says, “I have this great fudge pie recipe.” And the lady says, “Well can I have it?” And she writes it down.
Fisher: [Laughs] And hands it over to her and it somehow winds up back in your hands. That’s incredible.
Melissa: Yep. It’s one of the finds that I just love because it shows that people were people just like we are today.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely true. But what a great concept though, to gather things from around the area, bring them into the archives and then lure people in to do some research there and see what they can find, like you have. What else have you uncovered lately for us?
Melissa: Well, working on our picture collection right now and one of the things I’d like to tell your listeners about is, looking for those unidentified photographs in archives. Many archives have them and if you know what your ancestor looked like you might find more photographs of them in those unidentified photographs.
Fisher: Boy, that’s funny you mention that. There’s a state archive near me and I actually discovered a photograph of my grandfather and his seventh child from 1921 after his first wife died and he had to take it back to his mother to take care of while he was looking for a new wife and going back, and taking care of his own kids who were out of his state. So yeah, there was that picture there and it was a complete shock to me. I would imagine that’s fairly common for archives all over the country if you know where to look.
Melissa: Exactly, yeah. Most of our archives have photograph collections but they don’t necessarily advertise this, they have parts of their collections that are unidentified. And so when you’re researching an archive make sure to ask about those unidentified photographs, you might be able to identify some for them.
Fisher: I would assume that you would look under things like police photographs, fireman photographs, if they belong to different groups.
Melissa: Absolutely. Lots of times they are archived that way according to group, or according to surname, and so always talk to your archivist wherever you’re researching and pick their brains about what they have in their collections.
Fisher: And I would say also what would be a great thing to do, if you have unidentified photographs do not throw them away, take them to your local archives and maybe someday somebody is going to come across it and say, “Oh I know who that is.” Scan it and put it online for everybody’s benefit.
Melissa: Absolutely because you may have the only known photograph of someone’s ancestor, if you donate it to an archive and it can get identified, what a wonderful treasure.
Fisher: Well she’s the Archive Lady. She’s Melissa Barker. She’s from Houston County, Tennessee. Thanks so much for your time Melissa and we’ll talk to you again soon!
Melissa: Sounds great Scott!
Fisher: And coming up next in three minutes Tom Perry talks preservation on Extreme Genes.
Segment 4 Episode 211
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Welcome back, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. Talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. Tom it’s been a while since we talked about audio.
Tom: Oh it has. We've had so many things with all the floods and the hurricanes and the earthquakes, how to prepare for them, how to take care of them. And we've totally neglected audio for weeks.
Fisher: Well, you know, audio is one of those things I think a lot of folks think it’s just irretrievable when something isn't the way it used to be. For instance cassettes, right? You must hear about that all the time.
Tom: Oh yeah. People come in, and in our showroom, we have some tapes that are like major melted damage, all kinds of things, and people go, "Oh, you can fix those?"
Tom: "Oh yeah, you know." And I show them the sample of one, here some little girl put this on the top of a lamp and it melted. And it was something very important to them, the people had passed on that had made the tape, and they go, "Is there any way you can recover that?" And I go, "Yeah, sure!" Because the thing you have to understand is, a flashpoint of the case, whether its audio or video and the tape itself are a lot different. So you can have a case totally melt on you and the tape is usually still good. Sometimes we might have to go in and repair the tape, which is no big deal, but we surgically take the cassette apart, put it in a brand new shell, and 9 out of 10 times, it just plays fine.
Fisher: Isn't that amazing. But sometimes I know the tape gets caught up inside either the audio or the video cassette case. That's usually a problem for the ordinary person.
Tom: Exactly. In fact, preventative maintenance on that is, if you find an old tape and you find an old tape recorder, don't put that tape in that old tape recorder, because even if it sat for two or three years, there's gunk that's going to get caught on the pinch rollers, on the heads, all kinds of things. And what will happen, as soon as the tape touches it, it’s going to start wrapping around it instead of going back through the other place.
Tom: Then you pop your cassette open and you see this tape going everyplace. If you've already gone too far, don't try and take the tape out and bring it to us. Bring the whole cassette in to us, and that way we can probably recover more, because we know how to take it apart. So bring the whole thing to us if that happens. But if you have a whole bunch of tapes and you want to listen to them before, you can always have them cleaned. We can clean them. There's probably places in your local area that does repairs. Talk to them and say, "Hey, I've got an old cassette machine. Can you clean the heads?" Most people can do it themselves, just not hard. And I'm sure there's YouTube videos that show you how to do it. Just make sure that when you do it, you use a good quality isopropyl alcohol. Use ones that are at least 90%. Don't use the dollar store types that are 50%, because you're adding too much water in there. So go in and clean them with some good Q tips. And then you can go ahead and run it. But make sure you don't just put it in a machine you have no idea what the history is, because it could ruin your tapes. If you can't do that, look at your tapes and read and see which one is the least important and try that one first.
Fisher: Boy that's a great idea! Are cassettes the most common bits of old audio you receive at your store for digitization?
Tom: Absolutely. We receive more of those than anything. But then second place is really kind of interesting. The second most one we get are what they call the wire recordings. It looks just like fish line, but it’s made out of wire. And the neat thing about it is, the wire doesn't degrade like a tape does. And so, we have people that bring these in from the turn of the century and you'd swear the person's standing right next to you that's talking, because they last forever.
Fisher: How old is the oldest one you've had in that you've been able to listen to?
Tom: You know, I can't actually put a date on them. I mean, I've had stuff that's been like way, way, way old. And I would say, you know, pretty close to turn of the century type stuff. And the strange thing is, we've had it on display and people have come up to us at one of our scanning parties or at a family history conference we went to, and they go, "Oh, we had some of those. We thought they were old fishing line of grandpa's, and we didn't even know he fished!"
Fisher: Oh no! And they had thrown them out?
Tom: They had thrown them out. And those things are priceless.
Fisher: What's the quality like on those?
Tom: Oh, it’s amazing!
Tom: Oh, it’s better than an audio cassette.
Fisher: Yeah, I would say it had to be, right? Because it’s metal.
Tom: Exactly. And so the metal doesn't degrade like a tape would, so it lasts forever and ever and ever. These things will be around way after have just totally flaked away.
Fisher: Well, next time you come in Tom, you're going to have to bring one of these wire recordings as I've never seen one.
Tom: Yep, they're cool. They look just like the old fish line, except they're metal.
Fisher: And we'll find out some of the other items you typically see that might be a little more unusual to our listeners and me, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 211
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here. And Tom, last segment we were talking about the most common audio that you get in for digitization at your store and that would be cassette tapes. And then you mentioned the second most common thing were old wire recordings, which I've never seen. And how amazing they are and how far back they go. What else do you get? What's the next thing?
Tom: Okay, number three isn't a big surprise, but its vinyl records. And when I say vinyl, I'm throwing everything into that batch, because it’s not just vinyl. We have the old steel records, the aluminum ones. We have all kinds of things. In fact, I even remember back when my oldest brother was getting ready to go to boot camp during the Vietnam era, there was a little, almost like a phone booth that you go in, you drop a quarter in, you talk to it and a record pops out.
Fisher: Sweet! And then you drop it in the mail. They have a container for you.
Tom: Exactly. We have people that were over in the service wherever around the world, and they would send them to their family, their family would send them to them, and thank heavens they preserved them. And so, we have a lot of people that bring those in. We even have people bring in the old cereal boxes back. And I think it was during the '60s.
Fisher: Yes, yes! I remember those!
Tom: They'd have like little Christmas songs on the back whatever, and you'd cut them out, put them on your turntable. And all they were, were, you know, kind of a varnish type stuff on the back of the cardboard, so they didn't last long, they cracked easy, and so they weren't the best in the world. And an interesting thing about that is, I've always told people, "Don't throw them away if they're broken or chipped, because one day they'll come out with it because they have the technology of a record player that's a laser!”
Fisher: Um hmm.
Tom: And lo and behold, about a year ago, they actually came out with one. The only problem is, it’s for really high end people, because it’s like fifteen grand for the machine.
Tom: And there's no way we can justify it. So hopefully one day, just like anything that's new, in a few years, the price will come down, because I would love to have one of these, because every once in a while, we get warped records in or records that are severely scratched or broken. But I've always told people, "Don't throw them away, because one day the technology will be here." It is here now. We just need to wait for the price point to drop or get a winning lottery ticket.
Fisher: [Laughs] So when you come across an old record, an old piece of vinyl, obviously a personal recording, not a problem for you to copy. But when it comes to commercial recording, that's a problem, back to certain date I would assume. What date do you go by?
Tom: We don't actually go by date. There's a law that's called The Fair Use Act, and it will allow you to take one media and change it to a different form of media, which is called a Convenience Factor. So if you have an old album, an old Christmas album or something like that that you'd like to get transferred to CD, we can do that, but the law requires you, you cannot sell that CD, you can't give that CD away, you can't give the record away. Legally, you're supposed to keep the record and the CD together at all times. It’s more like they're allowed… it’s a convenience factor. "I don't want to get out my turntable. I want to listen to a CD." So that's fine, as long as you keep the things together. But if you try to copy it or do anything like that, then you're going to run into copyright violations.
Fisher: All right. That was number three. We're running out of time. What's number four?
Tom: Number four is really strange. It’s called "wax cylinders." It’s called the Edison wax cylinders.
Fisher: Oh wow! We're talking way back now.
Tom: Oh yeah! Oh way, way, way, way back.
Fisher: Were they voice recordings or the commercial ones or do you get them both?
Tom: Yes! We get them all.
Tom: They're really interesting. The biggest reason we don't get more of those is, because since they are wax, if you don't take good care of them, they’ll melt, they’ll get abrased. They won't work right. But even if those are cracked, we can usually fill them in with a polymer and still transfer them. So that's always an option. And then the weirdest one I would say is, you cannot believe the number of eight track tapes we get in.
Tom: And we do eight track tapes actually both directions. We have people that have like a '69 collector Mustang that want to have new music on their eight track, so we make them an eight track out of current music and that blows the minds of the people of the car shows.
Fisher: [Laughs] That's great stuff. Thanks so much Tom. We'll talk to you next week.
Tom: My pleasure.
Fisher: Hey that's a wrap for our show this week. Thanks so much for joining us. Remember, Extreme Genes Patrols Club members catch the podcast first, and get bonus podcasts twice a month, as well as an “ask me anything” live YouTube session. Sign up for our Patrons club at ExtremeGenes.com, just find the link there or go to Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes. Also signup for our Weekly Genie newsletter, you can find that at ExtremeGenes.com. It’s absolutely free. We've got thousands of followers there, for my article each week and all kinds of great links to great stories. Talk to you next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!