Episode 225 - Got A Witch In Your Background? Here’s How To Research Her (or Him!) / The Archive Lady Returns With More Amazing Finds And Tips For Your Visit

podcast episode Feb 18, 2018

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin with the story of a woman who recently visited her attic and discovered ancestral letters written home from the battlefields of the Civil War. Get the details. Then, a 425 year old letter has been discovered, and you won’t believe where. David explains. Then, the guys talk about the Search Angels of Facebook who are there to help adoptees find their birth families.  Plus, a fascinating contest is coming up for attendees at RootsTech. David has the 411.

Then, Fisher visits with Robin Mason, a fan of witches everywhere, but particularly in her home state of Massachusetts. Her site, WitchesMassBay.com, has become a great resource for anyone wanting to research their witchy ancestors, including walking tours of various towns, and lists of the accused and the executed. Find out what you need to know about how to research the witches of New England through Robin Mason.

Next, Fisher chats it up with Melissa Barker, “The Archive Lady” from Houston County, Tennessee. Melissa came kicking and screaming into the world of archives and now loves it! She wants to give you an idea of what ancestral material may be waiting for you to discover at your area archives. Her local discoveries are always fascinating, and her tips are invaluable.

Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority, talks up a unique program that allows you to insert audio files on photos! Think of what that can do for the value and usefulness of what has been kept in your family all these years. Tom and Fisher also have a special event planned for this year’s RootsTech, and you’ll especially want to know about it if you’re planning to attend.

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

Transcript of Episode 225 

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 225

Fisher: And we are on the countdown to Roots Tech 2018. Hey, it is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this is Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremGenes.com, the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment is brought to you by 23andMe.com/DNA. Welcome genies, it is great to have you back. We’re talking witches today. Robin Mason is going to be my guest coming up in about 10 minutes and she’s put together an amazing resource for anybody who suspects perhaps you have a witch in your background. And she’s got the resources to help you find out more about them, perhaps when and where they were persecuted. What happened to them? What was their fate? Did they escape? Were they executed? Robin talks witches, coming up in just a little bit. And then later in the show, “The Archive Lady” is back, Melissa Barker and she is absolutely amazing. She was kind of dragged, kicking and screaming into this idea of being an archivist and found out how much she loved it because she finds so many strange things in there. Interesting things that you as a genealogist, as somebody who might be interested in your family history can also find in archives located near you. She’ll tell you how to do it, give you some examples of what she’s found in her place that are really quite typical of what you might find somewhere else. Hey, just a reminder by the way, sign up for our Patrons Club at ExtremeGenes.com. Just click on the Patrons Club button and it’s like not much. The cost to park for a ball game would be more expensive than joining the Patrons Club. [Laughs] And you get all kinds of great benefits, including our “Ask Us Anything” YouTube session every month. We also give you bonus podcast, early access to the podcast of the radio show as well. We’d love to have you there, and you can also go to Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes. And right now it is time to head off to Boston, Massachusetts and talk to my good friend the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Very difficult to fit on a business card. It’s David Allen Lambert. How are you David?

David: I’m doing great. We’re watching the snow fall here in Beantown on this wintery day.

Fisher: And we’re getting close to spring training so this is just kind of the last of it, right?

David: The truck just left two days ago.

Fisher: It did, from Fenway Park,

David: From Fenway, yeah.

Fisher: Okay, for your Red Sox, very nice.

David: Yeah.

Fisher: Well, let’s get on with it, with our Family Histoire News today. Where do you want to start?

David: I’m going to start right nearby in Andover, Massachusetts where a lady had gone into an attic looking for photos for her daughter’s school project and unearthed family letters from the Civil War for her great, great grandfather a Florence Burke, an Irish immigrant and it tells all the stories of the battles that he was in and unfortunately he was killed at the Battle of Petersburg in 1864.

Fisher: Wow, what an incredible find. You know, I think there are a lot of people who have no idea what’s in their attic or what’s in their basement or maybe in a box in a closet somewhere. Wouldn’t it be great to kind of capitalize on all that material, make people conscious of what might be there, and inspire them to go up into the attic and see what they come up with and share it with folks? We’re going to have to talk about this on our Facebook and on our Twitter accounts there David. 

David: I think so. I think you’re going to have to come up with a hashtag so people can follow it and link for it through Extreme to share theirs.

Fisher: All right, how’s this? Hashtag archive in the attic. (#archive in the attic)

David: I love it! I love it.

Fisher: All right, so that’s what we’re going to do. Go look in your attic, see what you find and let us know, okay? We’ll use that. #archive in the attic.

David: I’m going to start with my own tonight. [Laughs]

Fisher: Okay, sounds good. All right, what else do you have bud?

David: Well, you were speaking of things that you occasionally can find. I know both of us are collectors have stumbled upon some gems in our days, but in Australia, a book that ended up in the Salvation Army den. The person at the used bookshop was curious about this document sticking out of it from 1583.

Fisher: Whoa! 1583 in an old book of what?

David: Actually it’s a very “curiouser and curiouser” topic. It’s Alice in Wonderland.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s bizarre.

David: [Laughs] It is. Well, the fun thing about it is it intrigued the store owner to not just sell it or put it online for sale. They wanted to find out why the book had this piece in it and they went digging. They contacted a researcher who believed the document that had even been published in a book early in the 1900s was destroyed in a fire. Now, this has a connection for someone to their family back in the 16th century in West Yorkshire, England.

Fisher: That’s incredible. What a find and what great detective work too on behalf of these bookstore people.

David: Most of the time all I ever find in books I take up are ATM receipts.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: But who knows, in 500 years those could be worth something too.

Fisher: [Laughs] There you go.

David: You know, there’s a lot of love for genealogy and for people that are seeking their past, but how about if your past is more recent as is the case for adoptees? And there are a lot of people we call “search angels” that can volunteer and help them go through the processes of having their adoption records unsealed or they even find the original birth record to make that connection, one of the great things people know as DNA. In the DNA we can now have these connections that we can find relatives who we may not have known we had. I had a “cousin” pop out of the blue whose wife wrote to me, “Are you related to so and so?” I said, “Yeah, that’s my uncle. I didn’t know he had another son.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: My uncle was dead. The son isn’t and he’s got a beautiful baby girl and so I have new cousins because of this.

Fisher: Wow!

David: And they’ve had a reunion with my last surviving uncle which would be the brother of his dad and it’s great. You know, I tip my hat to these people that help others.

Fisher: Do you think your uncle knew about this son?

David: He had no idea at all.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Well you know, it just goes to show you that you just never really know what you’re going to find. I even have a story in my own family. We have a new sister that was put up for adoption that we’d never known. She found us.

Fisher: Incredible. 

David: We love my sister Donna very much now. Hey Fish, I know that you’re going to RootsTech and I’m hoping that some of our listeners are. NEHGS is offering a contest. If you’re going to RootsTech go to our Twitter page Ancestor Experts and enter to win a two hour consultation with maybe me or one of our other experts that you choose to help you track down your ancestors in your elusive family tree.

Fisher: Wow, that’s a fun thing to do, and that’s for people who are going to Roots Tech. Excellent!

David: We look forward to seeing all of our listeners out there as we’re going to have a meet and greet at the NEHGS booth. And I also know you’re going to have a meet and greet with Tom.

Fisher: Tom. Yeah, Tom Perry, one o’clock on Friday at his booth and we’re actually going to demonstrate a recording on a Thomas Edison wax cylinder. I will be the voice who shouts into the speaker, so that’s going to be really interesting.

David: [Laughs] That’s all I have from Beantown as I watch the snow get deeper and deeper here in New England. Talk to you later my friend.

Fisher: All right, thanks so much David. Coming up next, researching your witch ancestor in three minutes with Robin Mason.

Segment 2 Episode 225

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Robin Mason

Fisher: And welcome back, its 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/Genealogist. And you know, I’ve been talking a lot the first part of the year about my little discovery about finding a pirate in my line and it’s interesting. I think we all have ne'er-do-wells in our past. And some are a little less interesting than others. But when somebody falls into a broad category, like pirate, everybody lights up and the same can certainly be said for witches, which happens to be the specialty of my next guest, Robin Mason. She’s in Bedford, Massachusetts. She’s the one behind witchesmassbay.com, which is, the witches of Massachusetts Bay. Hi Robin, welcome to Extreme Genes.

Robin: Why thank you Scott.

Fisher: What got you going on your witches?

Robin: So, my fifth grade class went to Salem, Massachusetts and we went to the Salem Witch Museum and the wax museum there, and I was hooked. That was all I needed.

Fisher: Now, do you have any ties to the Salem Witch Trials yourself?

Robin: I do not. I have connections to other witch trials but my family is on the accuser side.

Fisher: Oh, okay.

Robin: So they’re the ones who were putting people in jail.

Fisher: Right. Well I have that kind of thing too. In 1653 in Fairfield, Connecticut I had an ancestor named Susanna Lockwood. Her maiden name was Norman and she was one of the accusers of Goodwife Knapp who was ultimately hung and it was just a brutal story to read about. So let’s talk about your website because this is very fun for anybody interested in tying in, in particular in this case with witches in Massachusetts Bay Colony, and these all go back to the 1600s. You’ve got a whole list of different towns on the website... Amesbury, Andover, Beverly, Boston, and I have no connections with any of them. Still, I am fascinated by what some of the stories are about some of these towns. Tell us about one of these that may be one of your favorites.

Robin: So, everybody thinks that the Salem Witch Trials were only people from Salem, but Salem was really the place where people went to the court to be accused and then they were hanged there. But all these other towns, there’s like almost twenty towns that were involved in the Salem Witch Trials. And the one that started it all was Salem Village, which we now call Danvers.

Fisher: Right.

Robin: And that has been under the radar as far as the tourism, but there are some cool sights to see like the original old house of Reverend Samuel Parris He was the minister, very contentious man, he was always fighting with the people in Salem Village. And I think the stress of it got to his daughter Betty, who was nine years old and she started having these weird fits. So she would be stumbling around. She would be saying something is in pain. She would be twisting her body. She would be throwing herself in the fire, just weird stuff.

Fisher: A mental illness. Sure.

Robin: Yeah. And then her cousin starting doing the same thing and she was like twelve, and so people were wondering what on earth is wrong with these girls and they brought in a doctor and he said, “Well, it’s witchcraft,” and then more people started getting the same symptoms and as the symptoms grew, more people were accused.

Fisher: Is this where Rebecca Nurse’s homestead was also? Danvers as I recall.

Robin: Yes it is.

Fisher: Okay.

Robin: It’s beautiful. It’s well preserved. There’s a caretaker who does live on the site so you can go into part of Rebecca Nurse’s house, and what you’re walking through is going to be the original part where she had her kitchen. And also on the same lot there’s a couple of other buildings and one is a replica of the Salem Village Meeting House and that was used in a movie so it kind of gives you a whole feeling of what it felt like to be in Reverend Samuel Parris’s church while he’s ranting and raving about witches and devils and whatnot.

Fisher: Wow!

Robin: It actually is kind of impressive. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] And I look at your site and this is really good stuff because if people want to plan a trip to a place like Salem or like Danvers, you’ve got great references there for that. But also if they just want to research something about the area or their ancestors from that area, there’s so many people with New England roots this would make a great deal of sense because you’ve linked to online resources there as well.

Robin: Right. And to some libraries in case you want to contact a librarian and say, “Will you do some research for me?” Because some of them will do it for a fee, you know, look at obituaries, or court records, or what have you.

Fisher: Sure.

Robin: And I also included some events that are related to Salem Witch Trials or they’re related to the 17th century. So it reminds me to attend these things because I was really upset I missed one that I would have loved to have gone to. [Laughs]

Fisher: Uh oh. [Laughs] I got you. Well, let’s talk about some of these other towns here now. Where is Peabody, Massachusetts and what’s the connection with witchcraft with that town?

Robin: So, Peabody used to be part of Salem and is part of where John Proctor used to live. He was hanged in 1692. He originally lived there. His house is still there.

Fisher: Wow!

Robin: It doesn’t look like an old house.

Fisher: Ha!

Robin: But part of it is. And then Giles and Martha Corey also lived there. He was famously pressed to death for not giving a plea in the courtroom and his wife was hanged a couple of days later.

Fisher: Now as I recall, if you actually admitted to it then they would spare you the death penalty, yes?

Robin: Sort of.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay.

Robin: Sort of. Judge Stoughton really wanted to get everybody who had anything to do with witchcraft especially the ones who confessed, he wanted to get rid of all of them.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Robin: But he was stopped from doing so. Governor Phips was like yeah no, we can’t keep on killing off all the neighbors. But there is one guy who was accused and then he decided to come out and say, “No, I’ll confess to this” thinking it was going to prevent him from being hung. But he was hanged anyway.

Fisher: Wow! That’s incredible.

Robin: He was one of the last guys to be hung.

Fisher: Now, Stoughton was actually one of my wife’s ancestors. And it’s funny because all of us can kind of find some, at least in a roundabout way, to connect sometimes with some of these witch trials if they have any kind of New England ancestry at all, right? I mean because there are just so many descendants now. How many? I’m hearing tens of millions descend from people tied to witch trials either from the judges, the juries, the accusers, or the accused.

Robin: Absolutely. There are so many people who are related to Rebecca Nurse and her two sisters. I call them the Towne sisters because that’s their original name. And two of them were hanged and one survived and escaped. And a lot of people will say, “Oh yes, I’m related to them.” And I get it online all the time. So by the time it’s the tenth generation, you’re talking a lot of ancestors on your own side.

Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly, yeah, just tons and tons. Let’s talk about your research job down here, Robin. This is amazing because you’ve got the list of everybody who was accused of witchcraft from 1620 to 1691. Now 1620 of course was when the Mayflower arrived and I’m assuming there weren’t any accused witches in the first couple of years because there just weren’t that many people here. They were way too busy for that. When was the earliest accusation that you actually were able to find?

Robin: Well, the one that we know of is 1648.

Fisher: Okay.

Robin: But there were people who have accused others of being witches, and you will find them under slander in the court records. Unless it says, “You’ve been accused of witchcraft” you don’t know if it really is that. But you can kind of assume it is.

Fisher: You’ve got this one dropdown that you say “accused of witchcraft” from the very beginning from when the Mayflower arrived in 1620 up to 1691 which was the year before the Salem Trials, which is what all of this ties into. How many people before Salem do you have, and this is just Massachusetts, there were other states like I mentioned the one in Connecticut that I have ties to from 1653, but how many did you have in Massachusetts for those seventy one years?

Robin: So it’s about thirty, although some people would go higher. It depends if you count Hugh Parsons who was there a couple of times. And on this list you’ll see people who were accused and actually hanged in Salem. So like Susannah North Martin, she was accused in 1669. Well, she was hanged for it in 1692. So, a couple of people show up a few times. And Bridget Oliver is who we call Bridget Bishop from Salem in 1692.

Fisher: Wow!

Robin: She had three husbands.

Fisher: These lists are just absolutely amazing. Family connections, place names, digital collections and books, digital records, multimedia online, if you want to research your witch that ties back to early New England and Massachusetts, Robin has it all on this website. It’s witchesmassbay.com and you can find out about road trips you can take to these towns, special events that are happening there, she writes a blog you can subscribe for more, but Robin, this is really fascinating stuff and I really appreciate your time and all the effort that you’ve put into putting this whole thing together because I think we’re all fascinated by the witch trials.

Robin: [Laughs]

Fisher: They’re just amazing things that happened and it’s hard to imagine that it did happen.

Robin: True. I think the key to the trails really is that it hasn’t gone away.

Fisher: No....

Robin: Today there are witch trials in Africa.

Fisher: Okay. Wow.

Robin: People are accused of witchcraft and they’re killed for it. And I think the witch trials are also about discrimination and social justice and we can all learn something from hearing their stories.

Fisher: She’s Robin Mason. She’s the one behind witchesmassbay.com “Witches In Massachusetts Bay,” a great resource for all of us. Thank you so much Robin for coming on. I enjoyed it.

Robin: Well, thank you so much for having me.

Fisher: And coming up, tales from the archive with The Archive Lady Melissa Barker, in five minutes on Extreme Genes. 

Segment 3 Episode 225

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melissa Barker

Fisher: Hey, it is time to talk archives in 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 FamilySearch.org. Sometime back I made the acquaintance of a woman who calls herself “The Archive Lady” and she actually started an archive in her community in Houston County, Tennessee, and you didn’t’ do it without a little kicking and screaming as I recall Melissa.

Melissa: No, It’s kind of ridiculous to call me a reluctant archivist.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Melissa: But I wish I had found this job about twenty years ago because I absolutely love it.

Fisher: Isn’t that crazy how it works? Well, you know when I say archive I think there are a lot of people who go [Ugh] they cringe, it’s like going to the school library and having to go through books and documents! But I will tell you, that is where the genealogy gold is sitting in many cases and of course you’ve been on the show many times before Melissa Barker, and we have talked about some of the incredible things that are available there in archives not only where you are but obviously across the country. That’s kind of why we do this segment so people can understand what is possible. And you’re always finding new things not only within your community but within the archive that you might not have even known you had. So where do you want to start this week?

Melissa: I’ll tell you what. Let’s start this week with some Houston County School Board Minute books.

Fisher: Now wait a minute, are school minute books something we can get anywhere?

Melissa: Uh, it depends on if they were saved. But most of our local school boards kept minutes of their meetings. And a lot of times in many areas they have been kept over the decades and they are actually chock full of information about our ancestors that actually went to school, taught in school, and believe it or not you can find information in them about your ancestors that didn’t even go to school.

Fisher: Really? Now why would that be?

Melissa: Yes. [Laughs] Well because the school board minutes everything is talked about, about the school. And especially if you can get a hold of school board minute books before the consolidation of schools in the 1960s and ‘70s because this was when we had the one room school houses that were dotted all over in our communities.

Fisher: Right.

Melissa: Now we’re down to just two, three, or four in the whole county. But those little one room school houses you know it took a lot of people in the community to keep them going and so you can find your ancestor that didn’t go to school, that actually maybe worked for the school system, maybe they delivered coal to the local one room school house and they had to send in an invoice to get paid.

Fisher: Wow. So that’s the kind of thing that’s in there. Any of it kept in like a diary style?

Melissa: Yes. School minute books are usually in one of those big books you know that we see all the time and they’re by date. You can look them up and each meeting is dated. For instance, I have an example here, on July the 3rd, 1908 (this is one of my favorites) It says, “All teachers shall be instructed to prohibit dogs from staying or prowling about the school houses while school is in session.”

Fisher: [Laughs] So the rules were mapped out right there and this is because the local school board set them, right?

Melissa: Exactly and can you imagine being a teacher and part of your job is making sure the dogs aren’t around the school houses? Don’t you have enough to do? [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] You would think. Well, what does it say about some people individually in some of these records that you’ve got?

Melissa: Well, one of the most interesting things that I have found in our school board minute books, are contracts for school bus drivers. There was a Solomon J. Rye, on August 4th, 1934, entered in a contract with this local school board to be a school bus driver. Now, I know from family to locally he never attended school himself but he was a school bus driver.

Fisher: And so he‘s in the local school board minute books.

Melissa: Yes!

Fisher: That’s crazy.

Melissa: Yes, it’s crazy. And he was tasked in the contract, he had to supply the fuel, the school supplied the vehicle, and also in these contracts if you’re looking for information about local schools where your ancestors attended. The bus routes are even listed in detail in these contracts.

Fisher: [Laughs] And you know what’s fun about that is, if you were write a story about your ancestor and maybe wanted to bring it to life a little bit, you could talk about, well he got on the bus here and he took the route that went this way, and could describe the detail of one of the routines of one of your ancestors’ lives.

Melissa: Exactly! And the last example I have for you on these minute books is actually my husband’s grandfather.

Fisher: Really?

Melissa: Yes. One of the most wonderful things about working in a local archive where my husband’s family is from is coming across information about his family. And his grandfather Conway Springfield was his name. On November 14th, 1941 he was paid $3 for working on the local Steward school.

Fisher: Okay. And that was something of course you wouldn’t have known and probably he didn’t remember himself in the old days.

Melissa: Exactly. And guess what? He did not go to school either. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] So you’re finding people who never went to these schools and yet they’re showing up in the school board minute books. Another example of what you can find at local archives wherever you are. So, what else have you come up with lately, Melissa?

Melissa: We actually had a couple of wonderful donations of records. We get donations of records from people all the time and that’s where lots of genealogy gold is found. We had a lady come by and she brought me some books, and she said had been at a state auction and bought a box of books and these two particular books were in the box. When I go to looking at them, they were diaries.

Fisher: Oh!

Melissa: And I thought, oh great diaries! Some juicy stuff is going to be in here.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Melissa: And so when I opened them up they were different. These were work diaries for a Priestly E. Clark. He worked for L&N Railroad which is the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and his diary is dated from 1935 to 1938 and it was just his jotting down his daily work. What he did every day.

Fisher: How fun is that. That would be a great diary to find. Have you found any family members related to this person?

Melissa: Actually, our county mayor is a Clark and he is related.

Fisher: How about that. So have you had him over to look at this?

Melissa: He actually has looked at them and found them extremely interesting. And the entries are all like one liners. It will say like, “Went to Hanzelle to repair the trestle. Went to Clarks for repairing steps of the foreman’s house.” But the most interesting thing, and you know me, I love to get to know my ancestors. I want to know what they had for breakfast. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Melissa: And at the back of his diary he lists his wife who was Bella Clark.

Fisher: Okay.

Melissa: And it lists his shirt size, his hat size, and his shoe size.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow. Well, that’s kind of unique stuff. And you know some people who may have the bigger picture of family history go, “Well, how does that fit on my tree?” this is the detail that really brings some of these people back to life. It’s the Lazarus effect, right? 

Melissa: Exactly. Now I’m trying to figure out how I can connect my own ancestry to Priestly Clark so I can claim these records. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] You want to know this guy even better. What is the relationship by the way, between Priestly Clark and your mayor?

Melissa: A great uncle.

Fisher: A great uncle. Did he know him back in the day?

Melissa: He did not. He passed away before he could know him.

Fisher: Real quick, what else have you found lately? We’ve got about a minute to go here.

Melissa: Okay. The last one is kind of a sad thing but it shows you that everyone has a story to tell. We had some records donated on a Cliffanna White and her father’s name was Cliff, and her mother’s name was Anna, so she’s Cliffanna.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Melissa: She was born in 1934 and died at the age of 18 in 1952. But there’s a whole box of records that were saved. And she graduated from high school in 1952 and in the box is a scrapbook, a photo album, there’s letters to her best friend talking about her wishes and dreams for the future.

Fisher: Ohh.

Melissa: And her acceptance letter from St. Thomas School of Nursing in Nashville that she received two months before she died.

Fisher: And what did she die of?

Melissa: The death certificate actually says cause of death unknown.

Fisher: Ohh, well hopefully you can find some family that will be benefitting from those records. That’s incredible.

Melissa: It is. And it goes to show you that our archives are full of wonderful records that are just sitting there waiting for genealogists to discover.

Fisher: Exactly. And that can be anywhere in the country. You’ve got one near you and that’s why archives shouldn’t make you cringe, they should kind of get you excited. It’s like going through grandma’s closet the way I look at it.

Melissa: Absolutely.

Fisher: She is The Archive Lady. She is Melissa Barker. As always Melissa, great having you on the show and we look forward to talking to you again.

Melissa: Thanks Scott!

Fisher: And coming up next, it’s time to talk preservation with Tom Perry on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 225

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Well, we all have something that needs to be preserved and that's why we keep this guy on board, the Preservation Authority, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And Tom, good to see you again sir.

Tom: Good to be here. Totally excited! If I was any more excited and I was a piece of dynamite, I'd explode.

Fisher: Okay! [Laughs] And we've got an email here from Michael Levine. And Michael asks, "Do you know of a program that could attach a WAV file to a picture?"

Tom: Ooooh!

Fisher: Now see, here's a guy who's thinking out of the box, but as I think we've all learned in this day and age, we think we've come up with something new, there's always someone out there who's thought of that. And in our case, that would be the madman himself, the mad scientist, Marlo!

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Heritage Collector. And what he says here, Michael says, "It would be great to be able to interview someone while having them look at a picture and have the picture and the audio attached together for future viewing and listening." And that's exactly what Heritage Collector does.

Tom: Oh, it’s absolutely perfect in so many different ways. Just like one of the examples let's talk about is, you can make up a calendar and have a photo of grandma or whatever and have a QR code in the corner. Anybody with a Smartphone can just shoot the QR code, and it'll bring up Aunt Martha talking to you, telling her story, describing what this photo is or a group of photos. You think this would be hard to do, but this is really, really simple. You get Heritage Collector, it’s like what I call, family history preservation for dummies, because it’s so easy to use.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah.

Tom: And Marlo does this at least once a month, he does these webinar type things that are all free. You can sit there and watch it. You can actually interact with him, so if you've run into some kind of a problem or you think, "Hey!" a light bulb goes off, "This is something that would be cool!" Present it to Marlo, if it’s not in the software already, next month it probably will be!

Fisher: [Laughs] Its really true. This guy has devoted his life to creating these things and making this better and more accessible. And your idea, Michael, is absolutely dead on. I mean, what a great idea to have somebody talking about who's in a picture. I was just talking to my wife's mother's cousin the other day. She's very senior. She's going to be sharing some photos with us. And it just about made me fall over when she talked about the 100s of pictures she's already thrown away, because her kids and grandkids would never know who any of the people were in the picture.

Tom: Wow!

Fisher: Now you think about this, if those were scanned and you could take a WAV file or even an MP3 and attach it to a photograph and have her actually explaining what the picture's about, those would all be worthwhile photos to preserve.

Tom: In fact, when people come into our store, people write us emails, I always put at the bottom of my information going back to them or a conversation I have, I say, “Now make sure you take this stuff, go back to grandma or grandpa or mom and dad, whoever it is and sit down and record them talking about this. And if they’re people that don't like to be recorded, use your Smartphone. There's free apps to turn it into a digital recorder, a voice recorder. And don't tell them what you're doing. Just leave it in your pocket and it'll still get good sound and then you'll be able to have that.” There is no reason to ever throw a photo away. Even if you don't know who the people are, somebody out there knows who they are.

Fisher: Well, I'm grateful for the fact she says she's kept the oldest ones. And she's described a couple of it, are going to be real gems for the family, like my wife's great grandfather and his three siblings all together. We don't have any photo like that, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. But imagine, to get the audio of somebody who knew these folks, talking about them a little bit and the history of it attached to the picture. It’s a great way to go. And Heritage Collector, I think, I don't know this, Tom, but is that like the only software that you can use that does this?

Tom: It’s the only one that's complete turnkey solution that will do everything. And the neat thing about it is, when you're buying, say, a Maserati, you don't have to buy a Navigator if you don't need one, you might like your Garmin. You might not want one built in. You might not need leather seats, that's how Heritage Collector is setup. You can buy one module to get started and then buy the next module, like you're building a house. Right after the break, if you can't afford to scan your photos, I've got a way that you can preserve them for free and put audio tags on them.

Fisher: All right, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 225

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, we're back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show for this week. My name is Scott Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth. And we're talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. And Tom, we're talking about this email we go from Michael, asking about attaching a WAV file to a photograph so people can actually describe what's in the picture. And he was wondering what software might do this and we recommend Heritage Collector. We should mention by the way, we have no interest personally in Heritage Collector.

Tom: Nope. [Laughs]

Fisher: We're just big fans of this particular software.

Tom: Yep, we just love Marlo and the work that he does. It’s incredible what he has done for this industry. What I was explaining before, so many people want to do a slideshow, it’s not really that expensive. However, if you have no budget, you have no budget. If you've got a Smartphone, a video camera, anything, all you need to do is, set it up on a little tripod, get out the pictures and hold them down so they're showing on your device, whether it’s your iPhone or whatever and hold them in front and talk about them, then take up the next picture and talk about it, take up the next picture and talk about it. And if you're there with your mother or your grandparents, have them sit there too and just talk about the pictures. And with an iPhone or any kind of an Android device, any of those Smartphones, you can go in when you're done and edit it right there. You don't have to have any special skills. All you have to have is two fingers and say, "Okay, I want this part. Cut this part out." It’s so easy and it’s totally free. So if you have those photos and you can't afford to even get a Shotbox to be able to scan them, this is a way that you don't even have to scan them. Just hold up your camera or your video recorder or an iPhone or any kind of a Smartphone device and hold it up and as you're looking at the pictures and you and mom and whoever talking about who the people are. Because too many people say, "I'm going to do this tomorrow. I'm going to do this tomorrow. I'm going to do this tomorrow." then they come in and say, "Can you do the funeral video for me?"

Fisher: Yeah, because we ran out of tomorrows.

Tom: Exactly. So there's no reason not to do this. It’s totally simple. It’s free. It can't be any easier. If you go, "Oh, well I don't know. All I've got is a dumb phone." Well, I guarantee one of your kids have a Smartphone or one of your neighbors.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: Or get a hold of one of the little kindergarteners down the street and have them come and do it for you.

Fisher: Isn't that funny how easy it is for the kids who grow up with it, they just understand. I get calls from my grandson. He's six years old.

Tom: They're wired different.

Fisher: They are wired differently, exactly.

Tom: Another thing, I got an email just the other day from Lee Ann Evans, she has some 8mm old movies that she wants to have scanned, but she doesn't want titles or anything like that. She wants to do it herself. This is basically the same kind of thing. All you need to do is, get your digital file. Then once you get your digital file, just set up your camcorder and talk into it and say, "Hey, this is this. This is this. This is this." And it makes it so easy. In fact, if you can afford that top of the line Shotbox, the most expensive one they have is only $200. You can put your photos in there, set your camera on the top and put it on video mode instead of photo mode. And then just keep changing the photos and talk about the photo, then move it, talk about the photo, move it, talk about the photo. So you've got all the photos recorded, you've got the narration down on it. And you might even want to make up some little cards, so you want to write, "Our Christmas vacation 1976," and put those in with the photos. So when you're going through the photos, not only is it a reminder to you, "Oh, now we're coming to Christmas 1976." It’s a great title. It makes it so easy and it’s almost free!

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. And just a reminder by the way, coming up at RootsTech, we're going to be demonstrating an old Edison recorder on a wax cylinder in the Expo Hall. And that's going to be at one o’clock on Friday, March 2nd. So this is going to be a lot of fun at Tom's booth for TMCPlace.

Tom: Yep, we'll be there. We'll have the Extreme Genes stuff there. I'll have one of my employees that just, I mean, he's only sixteen years old, but he is so into this old stuff. And he's shaving them, getting them all ready, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Fisher: All right, Tom. Good to see you again. Talk to you next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, we covered a lot of ground today. And if you're listening on radio and you missed some of it, well, catch the podcast. We post it every Monday at ExtremeGenes.com, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio and iTunes. It’s easy to find. And you can also join our Patrons Club. It’s your chance to support the show for less than the cost of a breakfast at Mc Donalds each month. We give you bonus podcasts. We give you early podcasts and a monthly "ask us anything" session on YouTube, so we'd love to have you be part of that. You can also signup for our Weekly Genie newsletter, it is absolutely free. Just find the link at ExtremeGenes.com. Hey, and don't forget to sign up for RootsTech! It’s coming up real quick in Salt Lake City, Utah. Go to RootsTech.org. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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