Episode 232 - Cousins All: The Black O’Kelleys And The White O’Kelleys

podcast episode Apr 15, 2018

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David begins by updating everyone on the World War II footlocker he just received that had once belonged to a Lambert third cousin, who died in the war.  David then shares the news of a court ruling concerning Rhode Island Colonial records that were being offered for sale on eBay. Hear what the judge had to say about that. Then, a 93-year-old is finally getting his Bah Mitzvah, 80 years after he should have. Catch the amazing details. Next, a British family has beaten 20,000 to 1 odds with the birth of their latest child. Find out what makes this baby so unique. David then spotlights blogger Natalie Pithers, who shares some tips about breaking down brick walls on her site, genealogystories.co.uk.

Next, Fisher visits with the O’Kelley cousins. They call themselves the Black O’Kelleys and the White O’Kelleys. Even though Nikki Williams Sebastian, Joyce Ann Huston, Brad Reneer, and his mother, Argie Shumway, don’t carry the name anymore, they share a common ancestor… a slave holder from Mississippi. Despite being “distant” cousins, there is nothing distant about their relationship. The O’Kelleys explain how both side have researched this branch of the family for decades, and how DNA proved what they already knew… they are family!

Then, Tom Perry talks about the importance of preserving what you have preserved. What does that mean? For example, if you have digitized old slides or photos, you have to be sure that the digitized version lasts forever more. The Preservation Authority will explain the process so you don’t wind up, literally, with nothing!

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

Transcript of Episode 232

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 232

Fisher: Hello America! 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. Great guests today, several people we met at RootsTech back in late February, early March. That is America’s largest family history conference. It was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s four people, two black, two white, all descended from the same slave holder and they have come to love one another and they’re involved in each others’ lives. It’s the black O’Kelleys and the white O’Kelleys and we’re going to introduce you to all of these folks coming up in about 8 or 9 minutes, so stay close for that. You’re going to love the stories. Hey, just a reminder if you haven’t done it yet, sign up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter.” It is absolutely free. We’ve got links to all kinds of stories that you as a family history researcher would enjoy reading about. We’ve got links to old shows, new shows and a blog from me every week and it’s absolutely free, so sign up at ExtremeGenes.com. All right, let’s head out to Boston right now and talk to David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And when last we left the Chief he was expecting a foot locker, right?

David: Exactly. In fact, it arrived right before a major rainstorm. [Laughs] Got in the house safely. I was biting my nails worried that no one was going to be there and it was going to get soaked with all the papers and things inside, but yeah it’s safely inside now in our guest room. It’s a World War II foot locker from Camp Shelby, Louisiana where my third cousin Douglas A. Lambert was when he was with the 339 Regiment, part of the 85th Division in WW II and it was loaded with treasures.

Fisher: Wow! What were some of the items in there?

David: Well, the real surprise was a 55th wedding anniversary of his parents who had been married back in 1914. I’d never seen a picture of his mom and dad, other than a photocopy. So that was fun. The document from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the family thanking them for the service of their son and sending sympathy, obviously a secretarial signature, but this is a month before Roosevelt died.

Fisher: Yes.

David: There was also a regimental picture which I’m not sure where he is because nobody put an x who he is [Laughs] because all the guys look alike.

Fisher: Oh, yeah.

David: And the other thing of course was his Purple Heart and sharp shooter medal which I didn’t even know was part of it that was sent to the family posthumously.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So his medal was probably something he had in his foot locker and it was put in a shadow box. Sadly, it was hot glued. 

Fisher: Oh. [Laughs]

David: Needless to say Goo B Gone is a wonderful product.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Yeah, and on the back, “Douglas A. Lambert” now shines like he did when the family probably first opened the box. I’m very honored to have this and I’ve begun a process to look for his obituary in the local town paper, seeing what records survived for him on a state level because of the federal records in St Louis were burned.

Fisher: Yep.

David: And to learn everything I can about the 339 and 85th Division and the day that he died on March 11th 1945.

Fisher: Incredible stuff. What a haul David. All right, let’s get on with our Family Histoire News for this week. Where do we begin?

David: Well, we begin with a story in Rhode Island, the littlest state in the United States and this deals with court records, not the type that you’re going to find in the court but ones that you can find on eBay. You know as well as I do, there are treasures on eBay all the time. Sometimes there are ones that shouldn’t be on eBay. So a Superior Court judge blocked the sale of these court records from the 1740s. And it’s amazing the things that you’ll find in court records as you know. In fact, they gave an example from the Newport Superior Court records where they denied the naturalization petitions for two Jewish men because they didn’t profess to the Christian religion. And there are records of African American slaves and all sorts of things and just to think that this could have been lost to history and just gone into private hands. Now it’s in the hands of the archives and it’s going to be protected and used by genealogists.

Fisher: Boy, that’s a great decision and you know there are documents like this that show up on eBay all the time, and it’s great that some of them can get into our private hands, but something like this belongs in the archives of the state, no doubt about it.

David: Well, my next story is a happy one. For a man who spent over three years in Auschwitz in Dachau, during the Holocaust, this young boy never got a Bar Mitzvah, but at 93 his family in Dayton, Ohio surprised him and he finally got to celebrate with his family something that he should have done when he was thirteen.

Fisher: Wow! What a great story.

David: So my congratulations to Samuel Heider and what a wonderful thing his family did for him.

Fisher: Absolutely.

David: Okay, our next story goes all the way back to England. Now this time we’re dealing with odds, not the type that you hear in Vegas but how about 20 000 to one. Five generations of a family there had never been any boys until recently.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So his great, great grandmother who is 86, her daughter, her granddaughter, great granddaughter, now great, great grandson, finally there’s a boy!

Fisher: Sweet!

David: Isn’t that amazing when you think of the time frame?

Fisher: Yes it is.

David: I think about it. My youngest daughter is fourteen and her third great grandfather is a generation difference, would have been born in 1799. So, say in 20 years if this woman is only 106 and he has a child, she could be his third great grandchild. Six generations.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

David: The math just doesn’t work in my family because everyone will sort of like, “Ah, we’ll get around to having kids in our forties.

Fisher: [Laughs] At some point.

David: Well, each week I like to spotlight a blogger and my blogger spotlight goes out to another Brit. This is Natalie Pithers who has a blog called GenealogyStories.co.uk. She likes to focus on all sorts of things from brick walls to tips and if you have British ancestry or genealogy in general, you will find her blog entertaining. Her recent one is focused on brick walls themselves.

Fisher: And I should mention David that if you’re looking for a link to what you just gave you can do that at ExtremeGenes.com. We provide a transcript with every show right there so you can just click on it from ExtremeGenes.com.

David: Hey, don’t forget, if you’re not a member of AmericanAncestors.org you can go online and join and save $20 by using the key point code “Extreme” for Extreme Genes. Well, catch you next week, Fish.

Fisher: All right David, thanks so much. Have fun with your foot locker and we’ll talk to you then. And coming up next we’re going to talk to the black O’Kelleys and the white O’Kelleys, all descendants of the slave holder and they developed a bond that few people ever have. You’re going to want to hear their story. It’s coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 2 Episode 232

Host: Scott Fisher with the O’Kelleys, guests Joyce Ann Huston, Nikki Williams, Brad Reneer, and Argie Shumway

Fisher: Well, it wasn’t that long ago that we enjoyed RootsTech 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. And I was hanging around the media center and came and found my wife who was just outside of the entrance, and she was taking photos of a very unique scene. It was a couple of white people with a couple of black people and they were all cousins, and then we got the story and what a story it is. And I am so happy to get a reunion of everybody together here. We have Joyce Ann Huston, She’s in St. Louis, we have Nikki Williams, she’s in Atlanta, they call themselves the “Black O’Kelleys.” And we have Brad Reneer and Argie Hoskins Shumway they’re from Utah, they’re the “White O’Kelleys” and it’s so great to have you all here. You guys were having a great time getting together. How often do you see each other?

Argie: Not often enough.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Joyce Ann: [Laughs]

Fisher: I think that I can tell, because you guys were just having a party there and my wife was getting sucked into the spirit of things, “all right, you guys pose this way, pose that way” but it’s a great picture and you can see that photo on ExtremeGenes.com. And I’m going to start with Joyce Ann and Nikki and get your stories, your backgrounds. How did you connect with Brad here and Argie?

Joyce Ann: Well, this is Joyce Ann speaking. I’ve been doing family research. I started around the mid ‘90s or so. And doing the paper trail I ran into Argie’s account on Ancestry.com. And we always had the family history, every reunion we have we would hear the story about our Ellen Fisher and her trials and tribulations as a slave on the plantation of the O’Kelleys, and that we you know, came from Mississippi. And so, I found Argie’s tree with some of the names that appeared on the death certificate of the O’Kelleys that had been found. And that’s when I was able to reach her, to Brad, and we started our paper trail and coming together at that point.

Fisher: So, what you’re saying is, as I understand it then Joyce Ann, is that you descended from the slave, and Brad and Argie here descended from the slave holder?

Joyce Ann: That’s correct.

Fisher: And at that point of course, you didn’t have any evidence yet of relationship, but nonetheless, I think in those circumstances that’s often assumed, right?

Joyce Ann: No, you can’t assume anything. Because sometimes the slave or the descendant would take the name of the plantation owner regardless if they have DNA relation to them.

Fisher: Okay.

Joyce Ann: So, but for my family history and the way our family looked, it was pretty obvious that there was a mix in our blood.

Fisher: Okay.

Joyce Ann: And around 2012 we were contacted by another descendant in that tree to do a DNA test, and that’s when we confirmed it without a doubt.

Fisher: That’s unbelievable. Now, you and Nikki came together at what point? You live in different parts of the country. Are you close relatives or did you find each other in your research, Nikki?

Nikki: Oh no, we’re close relatives. We’ve known each other our whole lives. I’m from St. Louis. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri.

Fisher: Okay.

Nikki: And as an adult I moved to Atlanta. So we’ve always known each other our entire lives and we have our family reunions every two years.

Fisher: And so you shared this interest then obviously in the family tree research that Joyce Ann was doing.

Nikki: Yes. Joyce Ann was there. Joyce Ann came way before I did. [Laughs] She had a lot of work done. Joyce Ann developed our family history books and I would just read through those, and I just thought that was amazing and I was hooked from the reunions, from our family history, I always wanted to find more.

Fisher: Isn’t that fun.

Joyce Anne: Well, let me also add that Nikki always brings in a new perspective of things. When she saw the first book she said, “You know, we need to get a website going.”

Fisher: Yeah.

Joyce Ann: I didn’t have that before. So, boom, there we go, we sorted our website.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Joyce Ann: And then later on Nikki says, “You know, we should be in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Let me figure this out.” And then by going through Argie’s tree again, she found our patriots.

Fisher: Wow! Well Argie, let’s talk about this. First of all, I think you are the senior member of this foursome, yes?

Argie: Sounds like it. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Joyce Ann: Yes, she is.

Fisher: [Laughing] I’m speaking in terms of research here people, not in terms of chronological age, but when did you start working on your O’Kelley research?

Argie: I work on a lot of the lines. My O’Kelleys came from my great grandfather who married an O’Kelley. My grandfather’s picture hung in my grandmother’s home and I used to think, “Who is this man?” “I want to know about this man.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Argie: My grandmother was from Natchez, Mississippi, and she started telling me about her father, Daniel Fairley, who was married to Leonora O’Kelley. So, that’s when I started researching not only the Fairleys but also the O’Kelleys.

Fisher: So, was that the ‘80s that you were into this or even earlier?

Argie: I was twelve years old and I’m 82 now. 

Fisher: Wow!

Argie: So that gives you an idea how long ago I started thinking about the O’Kelleys.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow. So when Nikki and Joyce came along then this was really kind of a new angle to the whole thing, right, especially when it came to the DNA.

Argie: Yes, but we have actually put it all together before the DNA. The DNA just validated what we already knew.

Fisher: Okay, you mean in terms of their relationship?

Argie: Of our relationship with each other.

Fisher: There was actually paper records that kind of suggested that this O’Kelley ancestor was the father of Joyce Ann and Nikki’s ancestor, right?

Argie: Yes. We started saying documentation is something that we need to have so that we can say that not just our oral history is there, but we know from records.

Fisher: What kind of records would people find that would suggest the paternity through a slave?

Joyce Anne: This is Joyce speaking again. I had discovered the death certificates of Ellen’s children, her O’Kelley children which was Dan, Will, and Charles. And we had also had oral history that Ellen had children by the slave owner’s brother but we haven’t had any paperwork to support that. And when I found all three of their death certificates, that oral history was true. James Edward O'Kelley, that’s Argie’s line, had children with two of Ellen’s descendants, and then his brother John Beatty O'Kelley had Ellen’s third child according to the death certificates.

Fisher: Okay. So, according to the death certificate you had the names of the fathers on there.

Joyce Ann: Correct.

Fisher: As they understood it of course, you know, like anybody else we never know exactly how accurate that is but the DNA, it doesn’t care what anybody thinks does it?

Joyce Ann: No. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s the beauty of it. So, what kind of DNA did you use? Was it autosomal strictly?

Joyce Ann: No, we began with Y-DNA.

Fisher: Okay.

Joyce Ann: Another white O’Kelley found our website, thought that we had the same names and asked if we would test so he could prove if he really had a black relative.

Fisher: Okay. And so who did you test on your side?

Joyce Ann: I tested several males.

Fisher: Okay.

Joyce Ann: And we matched this original gentleman. Patrick O’Kelley, he donated the first test and we matched him. So that was our first clue. Argie didn’t do her DNA or Brad until many years later.

Fisher: Okay.

Argie: And to clarify, Scott, we did the Y-DNA and we had perfect matches. And with Y-DNA that means we had zero set matches that’s sixty seven markers.

Fisher: Right. That’s huge.

Joyce Ann: Yes. That’s sixty seven markers. I forgot the ones prior to that, thirty seven.

Fisher: Thirty seven, yep.

Joyce Ann: Yes. But we had zero set matches from men who were direct descendants of these sons that Ellen Fisher had from James O’Kelley.

Fisher: So let me ask you all, what was your reaction when you got that? That had to be a great moment.

Argie: It validated what we already knew. It was a great moment. It was a great moment to share with Brad.

Fisher: Brad, do you remember that day?

Brad: Well, a year and a half ago when we were tested, I remember that quite clearly.

Fisher: Okay, all right.

Brad: And that was a lot of fun because at that point I had met Joyce Ann’s mother Loyce. She had come to visit my mother, Argie here, and we were just charmed. I mean she was just so much fun. We just loved having her visiting and to verify that she was a close relative was a lot of fun.

Fisher: Yeah, just from a few generations back. Absolutely.

Nikki: Scott, just one thing, sorry this is Nikki, one thing I wanted to add about my great aunt, Loyce Huston is Joyce Ann Huston’s mother, and she was my mother’s aunt. And one thing I wanted to stress about my Aunt Loyce is she, I guess Joyce will agree with that, she kind of spearheaded us in meeting Argie and Brad. I think she kind of, the way I saw it, she checked them out first to make sure [Laughs] that everything was okay.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Joyce Ann: No I travelled there first. No, no, no, that’s not true. I traveled to Utah.

Nikki: Oh you traveled through, that’s right. That’s right.

Joyce Ann: Yeah. Well Argie, was that around 2005 or something like that?

Argie: Very close to that time.

Joyce Ann: Yeah, so I went to Utah to meet Argie and we did a research. It was my research trip and she was so generous with all of her books on the O’Kelleys. So we had the first meeting.

Fisher: Wow. That had to be quite an experience for you both.

Joyce Ann: It was a beautiful experience. I fell in love with her over the phone and even more so when I met her.

Fisher: Well, isn’t that funny you know, this is the thing because I just feel, and I’ve always felt that genealogy and family research throws away all differences because we find out that we’re like what, 99.9% the same, that the differences are all in one tenth of 1% of our DNA. I mean it’s insane. And so this kind of experience and the fun and joy you’re all experiencing really tells me this is part of the answer, people, you know? Of how we get the world straightened out. And I’m excited that we’re all part of it and doing this kind of work. All right, we’re going to take a break here and when we come back we’re going to talk a little bit more about the impact of this coming together that has had on both sides of the family as we visit with the Black O’Kelleys and the White O’Kelleys on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in five minutes.   

Segment 3 Episode 232

Host: Scott Fisher with the O’Kelleys, guests Joyce Ann Huston, Nikki Williams, Brad Reneer, and Argie Shumway

Fisher: We are back, it’s 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. And, we’re talking to the O’Kelleys today. The black O’Kelleys. The white O’Kelleys, the cousins related through a slave holder and a slave back in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, back in the day.

Nikki: Well, to be specific, Perrytown, Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi.

Fisher: And during the break you guys were telling me that, Brad, your daughter lives near Joyce Ann in St. Louis, is that right?

Brad: Yes that’s right. And we were headed out that way to visit and thought, well, hey let’s meet Loyce’s family. And Joyce Ann when she does something she does it big.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Brad: So I thought we’re going to meet Joyce Ann and maybe another brother or something, and she just had this big reunion planned for us and it was great.

Fisher: Wow!

Brad: We went in there and we just felt like family. They really made us feel welcome.

Joyce Ann: And Brad also had another son with him so it was a reunion. And then I said, wow this was such a big turnout. I let some of the immediate people here know and then they had us on TV.

Fisher: See, this is great. Big love fest and everybody sees this is how it’s done people.

Brad: It was interesting too I thought. I think there are a lot of similarities in our family. Joyce Ann is an accomplished musician, performed in Las Vegas for many years. My son is into music and by the end of the evening they were in the basement jamming together.

Fisher: [Laughs] and I should reintroduce everybody here. We’ve got Joyce Ann Huston, she’s in St. Louis. We’ve got Nikki Williams Sebastian, she’s in Atlanta, they’re the black O’Kelleys. And then Brad here, Brad Reneer and his mother Argie Hoskins Shumway she’s the long time researcher of the family, they’re in Utah. And it’s just a joy to have you all come together here on the show and talk about this amazing experience you had coming together through research and now through DNA just a few years ago. So, I’m interested on both sides, what was the reaction of your families to learning that you had cousins from the black side and the white side?

Joyce Ann: Well, I’ll say speaking for the black side, we already knew it, we just didn’t know who they were.

Fisher: Right.

Joyce Ann: So, when the news came that they were coming in to visit everybody was so excited. I didn’t start out with a large group but as the word spread more wanted to come and many were sad that they couldn’t make it. So what happened is my mom had come out to a state with Argie a year or so ago and she became an LDS member and they became very tight and then unfortunately my mom passed away September of last year. Well, Argie and Brad came to St. Louis to attend her service and when I replayed our television cast, the whole room stood up and applauded, gave them a standing ovation. And then they became super stars at my mom’s service.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Argie: Oh, isn’t that great? A bonding. And this is so wonderful because if everybody in the world had this kind of family bonding there wouldn’t be the problems that we have.

Fisher: Exactly. Why do you think they stood, Joyce Ann?

Joyce Ann: That the love was sincere. You could see it and the interviews between Brad and Argie, and Brad’s son Ben was also a part of that video cast. And it was all sincere. We all spoke about it. Definitely it was harsh what Ellen had to go through.

Fisher: Yes.

Joyce Ann: And how we got to be where we are today but everybody just wanted to embrace them because they could see they’re just wonderful people, loving people, and sincere, and it exudes from them. So what everybody did was they stood in line to wait to have a one on one with both of them.

Fisher: Wow. That had to be quite the experience, Brad?

Brad: It was. My son Benjamin, who was at that first reunion, when he was asked about this, said that it’s great that something so wonderful can come out of something which had its beginning so unfortunate.

Fisher:  Absolutely. And I think a part of it is like this movie “A Wrinkle in Time” that Oprah’s in, and they make a mention in there about, do you realize how many different decisions go into making who you are? Really if you go back to the beginning it’s millions of decisions. And for us to focus on the negative things because everybody has descended from something negative, something horrible and we’ve all come together from wonderful love stories I’m sure as well. But we are all unique that way and if we’re able to, like you say, put this aside and say, hey look, wait a minute, we don’t have anything to do with that but we’re the results of it and we can make this a great thing. It’s fantastic to see and that’s what actually drew me to your story, was just the obvious love you all felt for one another.

Argie: Thank you Scott, for calling it a love story because that’s what it is a love story. A family love story. 

Joyce Ann: Well Argie, can you tell him a little bit about the reaction in the beginning when I approached some other people or let me say, how about the white side reaction to it. Can you tell him a little bit about that? Like that lady who wrote that book and stuff.

Argie: I think sometimes an uncomfortable situation causes us to interpret it in a way that is uncomfortable for us. But I think that she was willing to reach out and contact me, and cross that bridge so that we could be where we are today.

Fisher: So, tell me about this, what was the situation there, Joyce Ann?

Joyce Ann: I found her book and I saw these names and I wrote to her. And I said, I believe I’m related to you all. Do you know Argie Shumway? I’d like to speak with her. So she contacted Argie, wrote an email, something like, “This black woman is claiming to be related to us. I don’t think this is necessarily true. You don’t have to talk to her if you don’t want to. But Argie didn’t have any issues with it so she went forward and we did meet. But along the way, I continued to stay in contact with this woman. She just never really accepted that her ancestors were involved in the slave traditions.

Fisher: Right, right.

Joyce Ann: It wasn’t a family love story like we’re talking here but you were asking why did that probably happen?

Fisher: Yes.

Joyce Ann: At Loyce Houston’s memorial service why did people applaud?

Fisher: Yes.

Joyce Ann: I think people applauded because we saw their response was just genuine. And that in regards to slavery in American history my family saw that Argies family, they get it. They understand it. They accept it, bad things happen, slavery did actually happen. It affected people’s families and it impacted families for generations. That was just the root behind the warmth that they experienced because we were just acknowledging that they acknowledge that they did it. That slavery happened. And you know, it is what it is and we were moving forward.

Fisher: And the impact.

Joyce Ann: Yes and the impact of it. They did it.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s the hard part because really nobody has ever figured out a way to go backwards.

Joyce Ann: Um hmm.

Brad: For me, a lot of it came because my mother raised me in a way that I was taught to not judge people based on race. And she also taught the importance of family. And how everyone has their problems, their challenges but we look past those and we embrace family. And it was neat going into Joyce Ann’s home that first time and having all these people come in that I’ve never met before and frankly, some of them looked at me a little bit like, who is this guy and what is he doing here?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Brad: And is he really part of our family? But by the time I left, I got so many hugs and so many expressions, people just calling me cousin. People texting me, Joyce Ann’s brother Lamont, “How you’re doing cousin? Giving me advice on the drive home.” I just left there feeling like this was long lost family that I had been missing without knowing it.

Fisher: And with that I’m going to have to say we’re out of time. I cannot thank you all enough. It’s been an amazing couple of segments here talking with Joyce Ann Huston, Nikki Williams Sebastian, Brad Reneer and Argie Hoskins Shumway. Thank you all so much for sharing your story and a great lesson for a lot of people to think about as we move forward. DNA is going to bring about more and more of these things. I know they’re happening everywhere but it’s really fascinating to get under the hood of this thing with you all and the experience. Thank you all for coming on Extreme Genes!

Nikki: Thank you.

Argie: Thank you Scott.

Brad: Thank you.

Joyce Ann: We appreciate you having us. The DNA revolution is here and now, everybody let’s come together.

Fisher: Absolutely. Tom Perry is coming up next to talk preservation in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 232

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

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. Tom Perry is in the house from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Hi Tom, how are you?

Tom: Super!

Fisher: All right. We've been talking recently until we got all kinds of last week about dealing with those things you preserve. Now that you preserved them…

Tom: …How do you preserve them? [Laughs]

Fisher: How do you preserve them? This is true. I mean, what we're talking about is, you take these original old formats, you know, VHS or film or negative, now you've digitized them, now how do you save the things you've digitized, because they do deteriorate quicker than any of the original stuff.

Tom: Exactly. You need to make sure when you go and digitize your old negatives or photos or whatever you have, you want to make sure that they're going to be on a media that you're going to be able to read 10 years, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 years down the road. So it’s actually preserving both. Okay, you got it digitized, that's not the end.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: You want to make sure it’s on like a Taiyo Yuden disk.

Fisher: Yep.

Tom: You want to make sure you have a copy in one or two clouds that are unrelated, you want to also have them on like a thumb drive, you want to have them on your hard drive and then you want to spread them out. Make sure you use the best disks, which are Taiyo Yuden. If you want to know how to spell it, go to our website its right there. Make sure the vendor you're buying it from has multiple stars so that they're good. Because there's nothing worse than preserving all your stuff you've hung onto for thirty, forty, fifty years and then three years down the road, it doesn't work anymore.

Fisher: Sure, that makes sense.

Tom: And that comes back to why you always want to keep your old stuff. I know some people are the opposite of me, they throw everything out. They don't want to keep anything.

Fisher: Well, I think as we get older and I know I'm going through with Julie, we talk about it all the time, it’s like, "Ugh, I'm afraid of doing to my kids what my mom did to me." I mean, just left me with so much junk that we had to sort through. And you really want to make sure that you're well organized for that day.

Tom: Exactly. It’s kind of like a library, you know, you have your Dewey Decimal system where you go in and find specific books and things. You want to make sure you store those properly in the right kind of boxes. You want to tape them up so moisture doesn’t get in, rats don't get in, mice don't get in, all these kinds of things. So you need to know how you're going to preserve those, because once you've got them digitized, if you have cool software like Heritage Collector, you'll be able to look at your software and say, "Okay, this is here, this is here, this is these people, this is that."

Fisher: Right.

Tom: But if for some reason you're doing research, like we were talking off the air, and you need to go back to that old Bible and you need to look at something that maybe you've kind of lost on the disk that you don't understand what it is.

Fisher: Or how about the back of photographs, what might be on there.

Tom: Exactly. And that's a perfect point. We have people all the time come into our store that have stuff on both sides, and we say, "Hey, if you want both sides scanned, we can do that, that's no problem.” Just separate them and say, "Okay, these are the ones I just need the front. These are the ones I have things on the back." Because a lot of times, you're going to look at the picture, "Oh, I know who these people are," but are your kids? Are your grandkids going to know? Maybe your oldest son does, but does your youngest daughter know? So that’s why it’s important to get a system like Kodak had where it scans the front and the back and they're right next to each other. So like you say, you look at something, "Oh, wow! What is this? You know, I can't read the writing." so maybe if you go back to the photo, you'll be able to read a little bit better, because you don't have the time to go through every single photo and check everyone. That's why you always want to keep the original stuff, because your might need to go back to it someday.

Fisher: Right. And you can go through and you can find if there are duplicates that maybe aren't as good or you want to share with somebody to get them out of the house, but to try to find the way to do this properly, that's what we need to dig into today.

Tom: Exactly. And whenever you're digitizing stuff, never assume that it is a duplicate, like you mentioned, because I've had pictures come through that I'm scanning for a customer and go, "Why would they have put all three of these photos in here when they're duplicates?" And so I would stop and look at them and go, "Ohh!" and I’d see a little bit of a nuance that's different that I wouldn't have noticed.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: But then I saw three pictures, so I kind of delved into it. Well, they knew, because it was their things. So they need to have an explanation where we did these.

Fisher: Yeah, exactly. All right what are we going to cover in our next segment?

Tom: Let's talk about exactly how we put all these things together and how you want to protect your photos, how you want to protect your VHS tapes, so you can store them. And also, don't ever throw photos away. If you have photos you want to throw in the garbage, put them in an envelope, send them to me, I'll take them.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, its coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, Americas Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 232

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We're back, America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, talking preservation. First of all Tom, before we get into preserving the originals that you've already digitized.

Tom: And that's what we talked in the first segment, about disks. Disks are great. Everything's digitized now, but if you don't have a good quality disk, you've actually gone backwards instead of forwards.

Fisher: That's a good point, because you think you've digitized something, you think you've preserved something and all you've done is created a little temporary thing that lasts a couple of years and it’s gone. And now, if somebody destroys the original or you've throw it out because you didn't know better, then you've lost it all.

Tom: And as technology gets better, I've told the story about people have old slides and then they find some more slides, we transfer and they go, "Why do these look so much better than the old ones?" Well, because of new technology, new dpi, new lenses, all kinds of things. And if you threw your slides away, we can't redo them for you.

Fisher: Exactly. All right, we've got to get back now on track here. We were talking about preserving those things that you've already digitized or preserved visually or as far as audio is concerned. What do you suggest Tom as far as those things go?

Tom: Okay, one thing that's really important and a lot of people are confused about this, videotapes, they just thing videotapes degrade so fast. Well, not really, if you take good care of them and keep them away from any magnetic devices. Keep them in a cool, dry area. If you're in the deep south like Florida or someplace, you have humidity. Take precautions to keep the humidity away from them. And whenever you want to store tapes, you want to store them on their ends. Don't lay them flat, because the control track is on the bottom of the tape and if one of the springs or something cuts loose and it lays there and adds pressure to it, then your tape's going to lose its control track, which is basically its brain that tells the tape what it's supposed to do.

Fisher: Now does that apply just to VHS or does that also apply to like Super 8s?

Tom: It will apply to any kind of videotape.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: You want to be really careful. Audiotape also. Audiotape has a lot more flexibility in it than do videotape, so videotapes have to be a little bit more careful. But then we get into reel to reels, which can be all kinds of things. You've got to understand that when reel to reel tape was made, they didn't have the technology that they had when cassettes came out. So they have problems if it’s not stores in ideal situations, it can start to flake off. We have a thing which we've talked about years ago called Shake & Bake, where we can take those old tapes that are flaking and make them playable again. And so then we can get them transferred, because a lot of places, they'll take that tape, they'll run it through their machine and it disintegrates totally, "Oh, but that's fine, I've got a CD." well, if something happens to your CD, you don't have your tape anymore. That's why we want to fix something before we transfer it. That's why when people send us super8, 8mm, 16mm film, we go through and clean it first, because we want that film to come back to the customer in better condition than when they brought it in to us.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So then they can archive it properly.

Fisher: Boy that's really good points here. I mean, the bottom line here is, we can fool ourselves into thinking we've preserved something, when we've only made a real temporary digital thing if we haven't preserved it in the cloud, if we haven't preserved it on another place, all the things you mention in the first segment. And then we wind up not taking care of our original stuff. We've lost it all.

Tom: Exactly. It’s like you can go back to your history and say, "Oh, we had great teachers, we had great fathers, we had all these great people. I don't need to take care of my kids, because they're fine."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: No. Every single thing has to be taken care of properly. You need to think forwards in order to take care of the things that happened before. And it’s really, really important you never lose sight of that, that you need to preserve the old stuff, not just digitize it.

Fisher: All right Tom, thanks so much, and we'll see you again next week!

Tom: I'll be here.

Fisher: We have once again covered a lot of ground on the show this week and we're so glad you came along for the ride. Hey, if you haven't done so yet, be sure to sign up for our free Weekly Genie Newsletter. I write a blog in there each week, provide you with links to old and new shows, plus links to stories that as a genealogist, you're really going to appreciate. Hey, next week I'm going to talk to a young guy you may have seen on network television. He's twenty one years old and he's devoting his life to interviewing at least three World War II combat veterans every day. Yeah, and you've got to hear his stories how he got started in this, what he's doing with these stories and how his finding these incredible World War II combat vets. That's next week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Take care. Join us then. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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