Episode 215 - Genealogy and Army Repatriation / New App Means Photo Info Travels With The Photo

podcast episode Nov 19, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  The boys discuss a spooky occurrence at Fisher’s home recently that may (or may not) have involved Fisher’s long deceased ancestor. David then shares the news of an exciting new partnership involving Ancestry and NEHGS that could mean new finds of your ancestors. You’ll want hear about this 10 million name database the two organizations will be working on together. Then, David notes you’ll soon be running out of time to take advantage of a bargain price on MyHeritage’s DNA kit. Hear how low they can go! Next, David talks about the non-story that everyone in England seems to be talking about. It concerns Prince Harry and his girl friend. See what you think. David then talks about the story of why facial hair, while popular again now, lost its glamour in the early 20th century.  David’s Blogger Spotlight this week shines on genealogylady.net  by Debra Sweeney. She often writes about family letters and family diaries.

Next, renowned genealogist Megan Smolenyak talks about Army Repatriation. As an “army brat,” Megan’s pride in the military has turned into a passion as she assists the government in verifying descendants of military people lost overseas. Some of her cases go all the way back to World War I. Megan explains all that’s involved in her very fulfilling work, and how a pair of her cases resulted in the awarding of the Medal of Honor.

Then, a new app is out that will help you with your next step up from photo digitization. It’s called MemoryWeb.  Fisher rarely spends show time to talk new products, but this one could be a game changer. Hear what creator Chris Desmond has to tell you about it.

Then, Preservation Authority Tom Perry shares some of his unique ideas for unforgettable family history oriented gifts that cost little or nothing!

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

Transcript of Episode 215

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 215

Fisher: And welcome to another episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show! It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment of the show is brought to you by 23andMe.com/DNA. And we’ve got some very special guests today I’m looking forward to introducing you to in about eight or nine minutes leading off with Megan Smolenyak. She is a professional genealogist, well known within the industry and she’s also into army repatriation. And this is really interesting stuff. If you’ve never thought about what happens when they find the remains of a military person from the United States and they can’t tie them to a family, this is where Megan steps in. She’s going to explain some of the things that she does and she gets some of the families back together and some of the unique stories she’s got as we consider of course Veterans Day weekend. And then later in the show we are going to talk to a guy named Chris Desmond. He’s from Illinois and he’s put together an incredible app. And this has to do with organizing all your photographs and keeping track of them by who’s in them and the era and all this. And you know, we don’t usually get into a lot of products because they typically tend to come and go over the years. But he’s got something going here that’s pretty unique, so you’re going to want to hear what Chris Desmond has to say a little bit later on in the show. Just a reminder by the way, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter, it’s absolutely free, comes out every Monday. Thousands of people are already part of it. We’d love to have you on there as well and we’d like to invite you to join our Patrons Club. And this is just very simply a very inexpensive way for you to support the show and there are all kinds of benefits involved in that. We give you a little love on the show. On the website, we also share our podcast early with you, and give you a couple of bonus podcasts each month, and “Ask Me Anything” live YouTube session each month. So, you can sign up very easily through ExtremeGenes.com. Just click on the Patrons Club or go to Patreon.com/Extreme Genes. And what a special treat today in the studio, David Allen Lambert. How are you?

David: Hey, I’m doing great! Wonderful to be here again.

Fisher: Nice to have you in the studio. It’s been a while. I’m thinking it’s been at least a year since you took the time to swing by.

David: Well, you know I figured that I had to especially after what’s going on in your home these days. Won’t you tell our listeners what happened?

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, this was kind of weird. I was invited the other night to speak to a group of about thirty people in my local area about family history and genealogy. I talked about my scoundrel ancestor who’s actually one of my favorites you know, just because he is a really interesting guy, former firefighter. And in fact, in my living room I have a picture of him framed, a 5x7 sitting up on a little stand in a shelf, kind of like a box shelf you know.

David: Sure.

Fisher: And next to it I picked up a 19th century fireman’s helmet and I have it just resting in there on the very front tip. And it’s been up there for several years now. And the other night I fell asleep in my easy chair because my wife goes to bed so early. And at 2 o’clock in the morning suddenly that helmet came flying out of the shelf and it whacked the picture on the way down, knocked the picture over. Everything is fine. Nothing was damaged, but I mean it made a noise that woke both of us up in other sides of the house. And I’m thing, “Something weird is going on here.” Maybe he didn’t like my characterization of him!

David: Ooh, that might have a lot to do with it.

Fisher: I had to secure that a little bit better the next day to make sure he doesn’t do that again.

David: We had a little problem with my deceased grandfather who used to paint by numbers. One of my aunts gave us the painting she had because when she was talking ill of her dad, all in jest, it started swinging on the nail on the wall, so we have that now.

Fisher: By itself?

David: By itself.

Fisher: Oh dear.

David: Don’t have many fault lines.

Fisher: That’s what I’m talking about.

David: Oh yeah, it’s so true.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Not too many earthquakes out in Massachusetts.

Fisher: [Laughs] No! All right, let’s get going with our Family Histoire News for this week, David, what do you have first?

David: Well, the news starts off with Boston, Massachusetts. We’re the home of the New England Historic Genealogy Society. We’re very pleased to announce this week that we have a collaboration. Ancestry.com is joining us to bring forward the 150 plus volumes of over 10 million names of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston Records. This is going to be a wonderful database for people to find their ancestors.

Fisher: Wow!

David: And you know, I’d say we’re looking for volunteers to help index the project. I volunteer for Family Search’s worldwide indexing, so now I’m recruiting the people to come out and help NEHGS.

Fisher: All right.

David: Well, I want to say that you know, people are always talking about DNA tests. And one of the companies out there that offer DNA testing, MyHeritage, they have a Thanksgiving gift for any of the listeners out there. It is available through November 23rd. Instead of paying $99 they’ve slashed that turkey down to $59. [Laughs]

Fisher: Fifty nine bucks?

David: Yes!

Fisher: That’s the best price out there which is fantastic.

David: I’m really not sure why it’s news. You know, Prince Harry is soon to marry a girl by the name of Meghan Markle. Well, they’re cousins through the Queen Mother, you know, Prince Harry’s great grandmother. That goes back to the 15th century.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Don’t really know what the big deal is.

Fisher: [Laughs] I don’t know either. You know, I’ve got this on ExtremeGenes.com and it’s like, why is this news that somebody is related from back in the 15th century? We’re virtually all related from back at that level.

David: My wife and I have multiple ancestors from the 17th century and as I tell my children, if they’re ever alone in a room, they’re never really alone. They’re with family.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well said.

David: Well, my next story has to do with people that have facial hair. Now it’s in vogue again. In fact, there are many people that go out to grow these fabulous handlebar moustache like their great grandparents. You might have seen it in the 19th century. But if you look at your photographs, you might notice that in the early 20th century there was not so much facial hair.

Fisher: Yeah. Why was that?

David: Well, they claimed in the 19th century that it was a way to prevent dust and dirt and to protect men’s skin. By the 20th century something called “microbes” came up and they think that things are hiding out in your beard, your food or disease.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So, needless to say the clean shaven look was the way of the man of the earlier 20th century.

Fisher: And that’s why it changed.

David: Well, my genealogy blogger spotlight this week goes out to GenealogyLady.net. This is a blog by Debra Sweeney who often writes about family letters and family diaries. Just goes to show you any listener out there can start a blog and share the experiences of your family. And don’t forget if you’re not a NEHGS member, you can join American Ancestors and save $20 on the membership by using the checkout code “Extreme.” Well, it’s been fun being in the studio with you Fish. See you soon.

Fisher: All right, thanks so much David. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Megan Smolenyak. She’s involved in a thing called army repatriation genealogy and unidentified military people as we celebrate Veterans Day this weekend on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 215

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Megan Smolenyak

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 23andMe.comDNA. I remember the first time I spoke with Megan Smolenyak. She is one of the great adventures and storytellers and researchers in family history in the country. And she is into army repatriation and I am going to let her explain exactly what this is. Hey Megan! Welcome back to Extreme Genes. How are you? 

Megan: I’m great. Thanks so much for having me back.

Fisher: You know, I’m thinking about this with Veterans Day weekend at hand. The things you’re doing are so important. Talk to people who don’t understand exactly what it is you do about army repatriation.

Megan: Well, it’s essentially, “No man left behind in action” you know we make a commitment that we will make every effort to recover our soldiers and I say soldiers just because I do army cases but of course this pertains to service people from all the different services whether they are Navy, Marines, whatever. But it’s this effort years after the fact that has used new technologies like DNA to try to recover and identify the names of soldiers who are still unaccounted for from past conflicts. So the majority of cases involve the Korean War and World War II, but also Southeast Asia, so Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and even occasionally World War I.

Fisher: That is amazing. What’s the earliest you’ve ever done one for?

Megan: You know, this wasn’t for army per say but I actually worked on some Civil War cases once upon a time. But in terms of my army repatriation work its World War 1 cases. I’ve done, oh I’m going to say about a dozen of them.

Fisher: Wow! That is unbelievable. I’m going to take a break though from that. I do want to hear about the Civil War thing. What were you doing with that?

Megan: That had to do with the submarine that went down, the USS Monitor. And when they finally managed to pull it up from the ocean’s floor, I want to say 2004 or something, much to their surprise they found two skeletons in the turrets, and so then it was a question of could they identify which of the sailors that went down those two happen to be. So that involved some sleuthing. Well actually, some things haven’t changed. One of the things that you notice when you work on a lot of military cases is that we get immigrants from around the world that’s offered immigrants and children and immigrants to serve. So that was true in that case. I wound up researching soldiers that are sailors, men that had come from everywhere, from Scotland to Denmark and a few native born, that kind of thing. But these days with my army repatriation cases you work cases around the globe.

Fisher: Sure. Now World War I, you said you’ve done about a dozen cases of those. Just take us through the process of what happens. Who reaches out to you? What entities say, “Hey, I need a little help, Megan” and then what do you obtain from them to help you and what do you do with that information?

Megan: The army actually forwarded me some information. One of the reasons behind this, the genealogical reasons that many of your listeners are probably familiar with, is the fact that there was a fire back in 1973 that destroyed a good chuck of our military personnel records from the 20th century.       

Fisher: Yeah.

Megan: Basically from about 1912 up until the 1960s. And so you’re prompted to work on a new case with fairly basic information because so many of the records were destroyed. So you get the name of the soldier, you get usually their date of birth, though even that can be iffy, in fact even the name can be wrong, you get the place that they enlisted from, where may or may not be where they were really from, in case they migrated.

Fisher: Right.

Megan: And then you usually get the names of one or two people who were considered the next of kin, most often it’s going to be a parent, but you get a wide variety of case. It can sometimes just be an acquaintance, it just depends. So with that information you’re off to the races. And what you’ve got to do, you have to find what’s called the PNOK and SNOK primary next of kin and secondary next of kin. And there’s a very strict hierarchy as who qualifies for that. It’s almost like heir searching work.

Fisher: Sure.

Megan: And then you have to find three relatives with the same mitochondrial DNA as a soldier, one with the same Y DNA, and hopefully you look for somebody who is fairly culturally related for autosomal purposes as well, so maybe children or siblings that kind of thing.

Fisher: So you’re telling me that they found the remains, they got the DNA, they think they have an idea who it is, and then you’re trying to prove or disprove their conclusion?

Megan: Almost. The cadaver they have to offer. They haven’t always found the remains because for example, with Korea, which the initial efforts we focused on Korea, we’re about seven, eight thousand who are still unaccounted for from Korea, which is a large number but also finite. It was achievable. And so in the case of Korea, we actually tracked down the families of all of those men, and I say men because we’ve only had one case for a female after all these years.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Megan: But we tracked down the families of all of those people so that even going forward, when remains are recovered the first thing they can do is run the sample against this database basically that we have constructed the relative’s DNA samples. But for other conflicts, for World War II, these days most of the cases is World War II, is maybe they have remains, maybe not. It’s a little bit up in the air. But more and more of my cases I’ve noticed the pace of identifications really escalating here over the last year or so. So more and more of them I do think are remains associated ones, but I have an educated guess that they have the remains of soldier X, and so they asked me to research that soldier.

Fisher: Wow! I mean what a fulfilling thing for you to do with your genealogical skills.

Megan: Well, I happen to be an “army brat.” [Laughs]

Fisher: Ah!

Megan: So I have to be, yeah. My Dad is a retired Colonel. He served in Vietnam. We’re very fortunate he came home. My cousin Donny didn’t. My dad went and identified him at Dover. You know, even in that instance we lost him. He came home. At least we weren’t left wondering. And these people were reaching out. You know they have been left wondering fifty, sixty, seventy years, what happened to their loved ones.

Fisher: Yes.

Megan: And so yeah, it is very gratifying to be able to associate this.

Fisher: Now let’s talk about the World War I cases that got the Medal of Honor, and this is a fascinating story because we’re talking a century old case now, a couple of them.

Megan: Yeah.

Fisher: One involving a Jewish soldier and another, an African American.

Megan: Yeah, they have been overlooked. They really had earned the Medal of Honor but they had been overlooked for literally almost a century.  And so the Army came to me, it was in early 2015, and it was looking as if they might finally both receive it, but of course there’s a ceremony. The White House just wants to make sure that the right people are in attendance, their loved ones. And so I was given those cases. In this instance nothing to do with DNA, there was no identifications and they said it was making sure that the relatives had the opportunity to be there and find their closes next of kin. The Jewish case turned out to be quite easy really. But the African American one was much more challenging. In fact, I wound up disproving what had been believed for a couple of decades in terms of who he was related to.

Fisher: Really? And so you went out and then disproved that branch. Was that a surprise to them?

Megan: Yeah it was. It was actually a delicate situation. It made me uncomfortable because you don’t want to burst anybody’s bubble and what I actually suggested when I discovered this is can they please be invited as well because even though they’re not related, it was a case of believing the story great Aunt Tally told him, that people who were still alive just believed stories that their elders had told them. They really honestly believed that they were related to this soldier. And because of that, they had still campaigned for him to get the Medal of Honor for quite some time.

Fisher: Ah.

Megan: So it didn’t seem fair to exclude them, you know? They kind of were his family by proxy, if you will. It was only because of their dedication that this moved forward. So in the final analysis, yes they were invited as well, which was very nice.

Fisher: And how did the new family receive this news, the actual relatives?

Megan: You know what, the fact of the matter unfortunately he didn’t have new family. His family had died out.

Fisher: Wow. All right, now what about with the Jewish family?

Megan: That one was quite easy. He had some daughters who were still alive. They were very proud of this. They were very easy to find. That was one of my quickest cases. It was interesting that pair of cases were pole opposites in terms of their genealogical difficulty. One was very easy, the other one, ooh boy, on Henry Johnson, the African American soldier I wound up digging through thirteen hundred pages of research.

Fisher: Wow! That’s incredible. And you were able to attend this event as well?

Megan: No, unfortunately not. Anything we do is for the family member. You know we just participate in the process but this is all about the family members and giving them some sort of closure, and yes, I know people say there’s no such thing as closure, but there really is some peace of mind that comes from at least knowing what happened and where his or her final resting place is. So I think it’s worth the effort.

Fisher: And certainly a sense of pride when you find out that one of your people won the Medal of Honor.

Megan: Yeah. Isn’t that so? I mean, it was long overdue that they had been overlooked. Really unfortunately because it was the way things were back then, you know, there were elements of racism. In fact, the African American soldier had received The Croix de Guerre from France. He had been recognized by France but not by his own country. So it was nice to finally see that corrected.

Fisher: So overall, how many cases have you done in over how many years?

Megan: Oh, I don’t know the exact number but I think I’m somewhere in the 1,280s. I think it might actually be accurate to say I’ve been doing it since the last century.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Megan: I think I did my first cases in ’99, it may have been 2000. But the cases really, it had some loads. There had been times when I would wake up one day to a whole bunch of new cases, and then I can go six months without a case. But the last year has been just steady. It’s like a fire hose of cases. It’s been just nonstop lately. 

Fisher: Well, I don’t think there’s anything anybody could do more to honor our veterans than what you’re doing. She’s Megan Smolenyak. You can go to her website MeganSmolenyak.com. Thanks so much for your time Megan. Thanks for all you’re doing and have a great Veterans Day weekend.

Megan: Oh thank you, you as well.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to delve into something that Tom Perry and I have talked about quite a bit when it comes to preservation, that is, how do you deal with a metadata associated with all these photographs that you’ve taken and digitized? Well, Chris Desmond my next guest has come up with a great app that might work to solve that problem. We’re going to get into that how he got started with it, how you can get a hold of it, that’s on the way in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.     

Segment 3 Episode 215

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Chris Desmond

Fisher: Welcome back, it’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and this segment of our show is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. And I’ve got a guy on the phone right now from Glen Ellyn, Illinois. His name is Chris Desmond and he is the creator of a fascinating new site, it’s called MemoryWeb.me. (Not .com) You go there and you’re going to have to actually buy your own domain. [Laughs] It’s MemoryWeb.me. And Chris, welcome to Extreme Genes! It’s nice to have you.

Chris: Awesome to be on, thank you Scott.

Fisher: Once in a while we run into new products that are out there that we like to share with people. Although, I would say yours by definition isn’t all that new because you’ve been around pretty much as long as I have now, 2013. Tell us about how it works, what you do and how you came up with this thing.

Chris: Sure. There’s three of us that founded the company and back in that time, 2013, I was actually just digitizing old photos at our house over the holidays, and flipping them over, looking at all that rich detail of the people, location and date. And, I wanted to have the details, of the back of the photo details, travel with the photos so when I scan them, I’d try to put them into the photo or the digital file by putting it in the title or putting it in different areas, and I was getting really frustrated.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

Chris: Because there was no good way to do that, and so, I started looking around for different apps at that time that allowed you to do that, and was pretty disappointed. And, we were kicking around the idea for a while, and we decided, you know what? Maybe we should just go for it and do it ourselves. And, that’s when we actually filed a couple of patents on some of the ideas and actually got a couple issued, and then just a couple of years ago, we decided to develop the iOS app and we have that out in the app store under Memory Web.

Fisher: That’s amazing. You’re absolutely right. You’ve actually identified a problem there that I think most people run into at some point, because digitization is a massive project for most folks. I mean, I look back at my photos from the 30s and 40s that my Mom left and my Dad left, and while there are some, there aren’t that many, but then as time goes on they become massive, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, and you know, printed photographs, and the old printed photographs, you scan them. How do you identify those, and like you say, how does that metadata travel with the pictures. What a great idea.

Chris: Exactly. And, the way we look at it, it’s kind of like Dropbox meets Google Photos meets Ancestry.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Chris: Because, while we’ve been around for a while, we’ve actually, developed a company, we started going down the path to being a photo app, okay, a photo app on steroids, with all the different things we can do. And then we realized, just this past year, we were like, you know what, we’re missing the mark. We should go back to why we developed the app and really focus on genealogy. So linking genealogy to your entire photo archive, having it organized, pushed to you and being able to tag all that rich goodness, that’s what we focused in on, and once we did that, the light bulbs were going off for everybody, and when we were at the RootsTech conference in August, people were like, “Where have you been?”

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

Chris: So, it’s been great.

Fisher: That’s awesome. So how do you deal with it? I have a picture, for instance. My wife’s great grandmother was part of a family reunion in the late 1920s, and it’s just a long, massive crowd picture. It’s one of those things that’s like six feet long and about eight inches tall, and there’s 50, 60, 70 people in there, maybe more, I don’t know, a lot of folks. How would you deal with something like that?

Chris: Great question. And so, that’s one of the photos I used to struggle with, because, you try to put all those names in the title of a JPEG file and you’re done, because you lose that amount of characters.

Fisher: Right.

Chris: So, and that’s part of the reason why we developed this. So what we do is, let’s say you just take it to the simplest approach. You take your iPhone, and you take a photo of the family reunion photo. So you have a pretty good photo of it, high-resolution. iPhones are really great right now, they allow you to do that. What’s the problem? If you took that photo today, it’s today’s date, and the GPS location of where you took that photo.

Fisher: Right.

Chris: That’s not right. So you need to fix that. So, right when you take that photo, in the app, you open it up, and you’re able to then change the tags and correct them, so then you can correct the exact date you have. You can actually put in the GPS location and where the family reunion was at, and then you have your choice of how you want to do the people, so, some people, when you have a long running total of people that you’re only going to put in maybe once in your collection, you might go ahead and put that all in the caption. You know, you kind of go through and do it that way.

Fisher: Sure.

Chris: Or, or and, when you do have people that are actually part of your family or that you’re going to want to make sure are tagged so that you can navigate those things, you can then add the people tag in your collection, and that’s one of the things that really makes us unique, is because the tagging that we have inside the app, once you add those in there, those tags become navigational. So, pause on that for a second.

Fisher: Yeah.

Chris: So, we call those dot tags, and those dot tags, when you see that photo and you see the tag, people, location, date, you can select that tag and it’ll take you to all the other photos you have in your entire archive, with the common tag, and then you can see all those photos with all new tags, and so the way that we work is that it’s a web of photos that never leave, meaning they keep on going from one area to the next, and so it’s a way that we web your information so that you just constantly excited about seeing your collection come alive.

Fisher: So, you could actually take an era then and say, show me all the pictures from say, 1910 to 1919.

Chris: Yeah. We have a scroll that goes through and does that already. Or you can have a collection that does that. It just kinds of depends upon how you want to see the information. We try to do all the heavy lifting for you, so that your stuff, most people have huge collections of 10s or 100s of thousands of photos, and we want to make sure that’s all navigational, easy to find, on your iOS device.

Fisher: Boy, I love the sound of that. I guess the question would be, have you figured out a way that we can digitize faster? [Laughs]

Chris: We actually on our website, there’s some quick tips on what to do. I love it. You happen to have those 1970, 1980s photos. Take the negatives to the camera shops, and let them take just the negatives and make a copy. That’s the most efficient thing.

Fisher: Sure.

Chris: But for all those other photos, I mean, they have shoebox digitization, and such other companies do that, we just really come in and say, okay, now they’re digitized, what do you do with them?

Fisher: That’s right.

Chris: We also allow you to mass tag things, because I mean, what if you have a whole era, like you said, of photos, and they might have the same location or the same date, you can tag 500 photos at one time with the same tag, just to make it easy.

Fisher: Wow, I just love the sound of this. That’s great. All right, so people can go to MemoryWeb.me.

Chris: So, MemoryWeb.me, just to clarify, is the website for the general information. You can actually then get linked up. The primary use we have is right on iOS devices. So, people have iPhones, iPads, i something, download that. But then, you know, we also have you sign in once you’ve done that, on the MemoryWeb.me website. So, I just want to make sure that’s clarified. We are going to be coming out with a platform for Android, but that’s in the works right now. For what we charge, we allow you to have a host of your entire photo collection, and it’s all private. So you get to try it out, keep the tyres on for the first 90 days, but after that, we actually have to pay for our storage and stuff.

Fisher: Sure.

Chris: We just try to make sure it’s a baseline charge, and it’s $9.99 a year.

Fisher: Wow!

Chris: For standard resolution, or $14.99 a quarter, or $49.99 a year for the highest original resolution, and why that’s important is, many, many folks want to have an original photo, and they want to be able to keep it that way, and that links me to the one last thing I want to tell you about what makes us different. When photos leave MemoryWeb, we actually correct the tags in the digital photo, so that they will travel with the photo forever. So, when you were talking about that family reunion photo a while ago,

Fisher: Yeah.

Chris: If you were to all of a sudden send that to a family member, the tags now are embedded inside the photo, corrected. And, if you want to, you can have the tag on the photo. So, if you wanted to post that photo to Ancestry or FamilySearch, you actually can have it tagged just below the actual photo there.

Fisher: Sweet! Wow. What a great idea. He’s Chris Desmond. He’s in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He’s with MemoryWeb.me. Sounds like a great product, Chris. I’m going to have to check it out.

Chris: Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Fisher: Great to have you on. Talk to you again.

Chris: Okay.

Fisher: And up next it’s Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, talking about cheap and almost free things you can do that will make great Christmas gifts. That’s on the way in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 215

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back, it’s America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fish here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And we're talking preservation with our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. This segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Welcome back Tom!

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: I know you are just worn out practically and we aren't even into the holidays, because there's so much going on at your store. And I know the deadline is like right here!

Tom: In fact, it being so cold, I'm actually losing my voice talking to people on the phone, having people come in. There's just so many things going on right now. But yeah, you need to pretty much now fish or cut bait because if you wait past Thanksgiving, it’s basically a crap shoot. You might be able to get your stuff done, you might not. So if you have some precious memories, whether they're photos, slides, film, any of those things, you want to move now! Especially optical stuff, slides and film, because they take more to get them transferred and negatives also. Videotapes, you can wait a little bit longer, but any of the other stuff, you need to get it into your local transfer facility ASAP!

Fisher: Sounds like somebody might have to take a day off or a half day off or something, just to get those in to the various digitization shops around the country.

Tom: And that's what a lot of people do, the keep procrastinating. So take a day off. Take one of your sick days and just set out to not be bothered by your phone. Turn your phones off, put everything away and just work on getting your memories together so you can get into your local transfer center and get them done.

Fisher: Yep. Now I'm looking at this list we've been talking off air about, all the things that people can do on the cheap, either free or virtually free. There are all kinds of projects that people are going to value more than anything you could buy on Amazon. And let's go through this list a little bit, Tom.

Tom: Okay. Yeah, because you buy somebody a flat screen TV, hey, that’s cool. They're going to love you for three years.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Tom: And then they won't love you anymore. But you give them family memories, and your kids are going to love it, your grandkids are going to love it. The farther the generations go, the more they're interested in it. Like look at yourself. If you had memories and photos of your great, great grandfather and grandmother, you'd be thrilled to death! So think down the road that these things are going to last forever. And there's so many things you can do on the cheap. Everybody's either got some old DVDs or CDs or even BluRay disks or they're so cheap to go to the dollar store. You can buy the cheap garbage ones, which you would never want to use to put your precious memories on. However, you can get photographs, scan them, print them on your home printer, then cut them out and glue them on the disk and make ornaments for your tree. You can make mobiles to hang up. And they are so cool.

Fisher: Oh, and they're shiny on the one side, so they reflect all the lights. That would be fun!

Tom: Oh yeah! As they spin around on your tree, you'll have Aunt Martha on one side and the shiny color that changes as it turns is great. And the funny thing about these is after Christmas is over, save them and put them in your garden in the summer and they keep birds away from eating your crops.

Fisher: [Laughs] You are amazing. You don't do this for your customers, do you?

Tom: No, I just do it for myself.

Fisher: For yourself, okay. And did you have an Aunt Martha by the way? You've talked about her for years.

Tom: You know, that is really funny. I've had several people email me and say, "Who is this Aunt Martha?"

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And I was just thinking one day and the old “Dennis the Menace” black and white cartoon, the little old lady next door, her name was Aunt Martha. And that just came into my mind and I've used it ever since. I don't know of any Marthas in my family.

Fisher: Okay. Let's talk about some more free stuff or virtually free stuff people could do.

Tom: Okay. One thing that's really nice, just talking about photographs, you can go to the dollar stores and you can get some pretty nice frames for a buck. And go and get your photos, put them in there, do different collages. I've even seen people that got like old wood frames that get some photos that they had scanned and made prints on thin paper. They kind of almost do a paper mache thing, like put these different pieces around the frames and let them dry and then put a photograph in them. And it makes them so interesting. And a thing  that even makes them better, you can go either buy an app for your phone or you can go online and get a free QR codes, those little square codes that you use on your phone. Put them on the photographs and setup a recording of Aunt Martha or anybody else, so when the kids scan it, they're going to hear Aunt Martha saying Merry Christmas or whatever the story is.

Fisher: Wow. All right, we're going to get more into these things we can do on the cheap or virtually free, coming up in three minutes when we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 215

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, we’re back at it, Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. We're talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And we're kicking around some gift ideas. Now as we mentioned of course, you're just about on the deadline right now for guarantees that you'll get your more expensive stuff done, the videos and the films and the digitization and all the things that go with that. But there are things that you can do for virtually nothing or nothing. For instance, the QR codes idea that you mentioned briefly last segment Tom. Talk about that for a minute. I mean, there's ideas you can do with QR codes that create, say, talking calendars.

Tom: Oh exactly. And on the extreme side, you can actually buy software like we've talked about it all the time, Heritage Collector software. They actually have software that you take the photos, you don't have to go and look for QR codes, they'll assign them to you, they'll tell you how to upload audio to them, how to upload video or whatever. These are not just generic things that exist on videotape or audio cassettes you've had transferred. These are things you can make up brand new. Like you can put on maybe your grandkid’s calendar a QR code on their birthday, and then you make up a special message that says, "Hey! Happy Birthday Amy! This is awesome, you know. We love you so much." and tie it to that QR code through Heritage Collector, and then on their birthday, they pull out their iPhone or their Android and they shoot it, and there's grandma wishing them happy birthday. And it just makes it so personal.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: It makes it so fun.

Fisher: And you know, think about it too. Imagine somebody who's on their deathbed and they want to leave a message for their family down the line, I mean, what a great way that they could do that.

Tom: You know, and that's really important too. If you have parents that are kind of getting a little bit older, now's the time you want to take advantage of that. Sit them down, run your recorder. Record them. Tell them to tell you about their family history. And if you have ones that are kinds of shy, just make sure you don't let them know that your iPhone has an app that you can record them.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And just hit record, because those things will be priceless down the line.

Fisher: Absolutely. Now talk about the mugs we were kicking around during the break. This is kind of an interesting idea.

Tom: Oh yeah, this is fun. If you have a college, like maybe your favorite college is Notre Dame or whatever. Whenever they order mugs or different things like that, they order like maybe a half a million of them, and they maybe only sell 400,000. Where do those other 100,000 go? They go to the dollar store. So go to your dollar store. And even if you hate the Dallas Cowboys, but they have a mug there that's got the clear wrap on it and you can see there's a piece of paper inside that has the Dallas Cowboy logo, they usually will come off really easy. If not, just get an Xacto knife or a single edged razor blade and go along the bottom and break the little glue seal. Take the tumbler off the clear part. Take the Cowboys out and shred it, and then put your family photo or whatever you want in there, put it back on. Put a couple of little dots of super glue and you've got a really, really cool Christmas keepsake that costs you a dollar plus whatever the laser printer costs you at home.

Fisher: Wow, what a great idea! And if everybody had the same mug, you know, because the kids, they all want the same thing.

Tom: Oh absolutely!

Fisher: Wouldn't that be fun!

Tom: Oh yeah! You go buy a dozen of these, put different photos in them. And then some people have grandma, some people have great grandpa. And this is another thing that's good for the younger kids, which you mentioned. They can cut out the people in the photographs and put them in the mug. And they'll look really, really cool. And it will be a keepsake forever. And you can buy a lot of them. You can find lockets that have somebody else's picture that you couldn't care less about. Take those out and put your family in there. And there's just so many ways to buy stuff at a dollar store. Walk up and down all their aisles and get some ideas.

Fisher: And how about putting in an ancestral picture on one side and a little history of them on the other side on the mug?

Tom: Oh that's perfect!

Fisher: All right, great stuff as always Tom. And good luck over the next few weeks.

Tom: Yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: See you next week.

Tom: Thanks. My pleasure!

Fisher: Hey that's all we got this week. But if you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast, you can go to ExtremeGenes.com, iTunes Radio, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio, we're there. And by the way, you can also download our free app from your phone's store. It’s good for iPhone or Android. And you can catch up on all of our past episodes. And if you missed anything or you're trying to remember something that was said, make sure you go to ExtremeGenes.com and check out the transcript of the show that's attached to the podcast. It makes it real easy to do. Hey, we've got another bonus podcast coming up real soon for our Patron's Club, so make sure you get signed up for that. I mean, it’s real cheap and a great way to support the show. Go to Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes or click on Patron's Club at ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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