Episode 237 - Two Experts On Records Of The PoorMay 20, 2018
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. In Family Histoire News, David talks about the remarkable interview with Cudjo Lewis from the 1930s that recently came to light on “History.” Lewis was the last survivor of the last slave ship, the Clotilda. The guys then discuss the recent controversy surrounding the use of DNA sites to solve a cold case murder. In other crime news, a mother’s obituary has led to the arrest of her “on the lamb” son. Hear what happened. David then describes his recent experience at the National Genealogical Society conference. He also updates us on recent item pickups he has made… and created… concerning his cousin who was killed in World War II. David then highlights the blog site of the Next Gen Genealogical Network at tnggn.org/blog.
Then, Fisher visits with Christy Fillerup, a researcher with Legacy Tree Genealogists. Christy has some great tips on using 19th century “Parish Chest” records to learn more about poverty stricken ancestors. (We all have them.)
Next, Jeanne Belmonte of NEHGS talks about her ancestor who was part of the workhouse system for the poor in the UK. From studying his situation, Jeanne learned about many records both overseas and in the United States that can help us better understand our poor ancestors’ plights.
Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com again shares his great incite with listeners considering how best to preserve their ancestral video and audio material.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Transcript of Episode 237
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 237
Fisher: And you have found us, America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment is brought to you by Legacy Tree Genealogists- LegacyTree.com. Nice to have you along this week and if you’re new to family history, you’re going to love the guests that we’ve got coming up a little bit later on. We’re talking about poor people, and who doesn’t descend from poor people, right? We all descend from kings. We all descend from paupers, but the poor folks, they left a lot of records for various reasons and we’ll get into that a little bit later on in the show. First of all we’re going to talk to Christy Fillerup. She’s a researcher with LegacyTree, and she’s going to talk about some of the records available through a thing called the “Parish Chest” coming up in about ten minutes or so. And then later on in the show a genealogist from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Jeanne Belmonte is going to be on. She’s going to continue with more records that you might find on paupers over in the UK as well as in the United States and how some of those traditions carried over here, so that’s all coming up later on in the show. Right now it is time to head out to Boston and talk to David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, how are you? How was your trip to Michigan and the National Genealogical Society Conference?
David: It was great. I got to meet a lot of our listeners including Kristen Creek from Michigan who listens to the show all the time. She made a point of coming over after my book signing. My Massachusetts book is done and is available, so if anybody has any Massachusetts ancestors, NGS has that available. It went really great. So many people love the show and it was great to meet them. In fact, one actually came over and started singing the theme song and gave me a hug.
Fisher: [Laughs] I love that.
David: [Laughs] And you know something? I just want to say your topic today hits home because I have poor people in my family tree. In fact, my grandfather would always say that he went “over the hill to the poor house” to get a bride. That’s because my grandmother’s name was Lillian Mae Poore.
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right and I seem to recall that somehow one of your ancestor’s records got mixed up. They thought that the person was poor as oppose to the name being Poore.
David: Yeah, I found a nice Revolutionary War diary that way.
Fisher: Wow! All right, let’s get going with our Family Histoire News. Where do we start today my friend?
David: Well, the story that I’m going to tell you about first deals with a former slave born in Africa. In fact, he was a slave that was interviewed in the 1930s. Cudjo Lewis was 19 when he arrived on the Clotilda in Alabama in 1860 on the last known slave vessel to bring slaves to the United States and he was still living when he was interviewed in the1930s. He must have been in his 90s by then.
Fisher: Yes, I think so. And the interview’s actually on History. We’ve linked to it at ExtremeGenes.com, so that’s a good one to check out, very interesting material.
David: It really is and it’s a shame nowadays we’d probably do the DNA. And now there’s a lot of controversy with DNA in the news lately between genealogists on whether or not they want to share on things like GEDmatch.
Fisher: Yeah, this is interesting because they broke the case of the Golden State Killer recently by going to GEDmatch and other sites and comparing DNA they got from a suspect and actually identifying who this person was. And so now everybody is going, “Oh my goodness the privacy in my DNA is being used for other things.” But you know, the fact is it’s not just my DNA or your DNA, it’s DNA we share with other people within our families.
David: It really is. And it’s not just DNA, obituaries can catch criminals too. [Laughs] Did you hear the story about the person whose mother’s obituary had the alias so they were able to track down a person who’s been on the run for 37 years?
Fisher: Yes, absolutely. [Laughs] And then they did actually have to test him to make sure that he was the same guy but when you see the pictures you go, “Yup, that would be the guy from the early 1980s that disappeared from jail.” That was a nice find, thanks Mom! [Laughs]
David: [Laughs] Exactly. Hey listen, by the way, I was thinking about NGS, there was one I forgot to mention to our listeners. Now there’s actually a Virtual Genealogical Society. In fact, 500 people signed up for it at the NGS Conference, and they were running a special for $10. I think it is now $20, but it’s going to be virtual meetings and content. It should be an interesting concept.
Fisher: Yeah, it sounds like it.
David: Oh by the way, the ongoing saga about Douglas. A Lambert, my World War II distant cousin whom I got the trunk and Purple Heart, I decided to go to a local Army and Navy store that’s going out of business and I had them make dog tags on an old 1941 dog tag typewriter.
David: Made a little video of it. Oh yeah, it’s great. And so I go back home that day and in the mail my patch that I ordered from eBay showed up, so I was able to put it in the glass case I have with his Purple Heart and his Infantry Badge, a patch and now his dog tags are being made up with his serial number.
Fisher: So did they actually have blank dog tags there?
David: They do. They can make them up. It costs under $8 even with the chain.
David: So yes you can have a dog tag redone if you have the information on it. One has the contact information and the other has his tetanus shot, blood type, his name, range of his service and serial number.
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s incredible.
David: I had to guess at the blood type because I don’t know it, so I did what mine is, type O.
Fisher: [Laughs] And you know the amazing thing about it is that it is better than 3D printing.
David: It really is and these will last a lot longer than I’ll be around and the paper. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.
David: Well, every week I like to reach out and give a blogger spotlight and this week I’m going to give a little love to the NextGen Genealogical Network which I’ve mentioned before. Great People, and on their website tnggn.org/blog they’re now having members of NextGen do guest blogging. So, a friend of ours, Devon Noelle Lee who we know from Texas, she’s on there recently. And I’m hoping to write a piece and hopefully you too, Fish. I mean, I think it’s going to be a great way for people who don’t have a blog to get out there and try one out, maybe influence them to write their own.
Fisher: Nice idea!
David: Well, the only thing I have to mention now is if you’re not a NEHGS member, remember you can use the code “Extreme” and save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org. That’s all I have for this week, heading off to New York for my next conference very shortly.
Fisher: [Laughs] You’re a busy man David. Thanks so much for your time and we’ll talk to you again next week.
David: Sounds great.
Fisher: All right, and coming up next we’re going to talk to Christy Fillerup. She’s a researcher with Legacy Tree Genealogists LegacyTree.com. And Christy’s going to start talking about a thing called the “Parish Chest” and this is how they kept track of the poor folk over in the UK back in the day. And later in the show we’ll talk about some American poor folk records as well with Jeanne Belmonte from NEHGS. We’ll pick it up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 237
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Christy Fillerup
Fisher: Welcome back! It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And we’re talking “poor folk” today and I’m excited to have from my friends over at LegacyTree.com/Genealogist Christy Fillerup. Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Christy.
Christy: Thank you. Thank you for having me, excited to be back.
Fisher: You’ve been blogging lately about a little thing called “The Parish Chest.”
Christy: I have.
Fisher: And I have had a little experience with that but not a lot of success, but of course that’s always going to depend on the parish, the individual, the era, all those things that you’re looking for, but let’s talk about what’s going on there because that’s where the poor folk are hidden often and sometimes they leave some pretty fine records.
Christy: Absolutely. And the interesting is they’re leaving records because nobody wanted them.
Fisher: Right. Yes.
Christy: Every person is trying to get rid of them.
Fisher: That’s a funny thing you say that. I think it’s kind of a foreign concept to us, but in particular we’re talking the UK, right?
Christy: That’s right, within the Anglican Church, yeah.
Fisher: And it was just a few months ago I stumbled upon a newspaper article, digitized newspaper article from 1818 and it was about my third great grandfather abandoning his family. And the parish was looking for him and they were offering a reward. They described what he looked like, his height, his hair color, his eye color, his complexion, the shape of his face, what he was wearing. All these things and it described his occupation as well so I knew darn well that this was the exact same guy. And it also told me that I’m missing a child or two that I didn’t know about. But nonetheless, I haven’t been able to find parish chest records relating to this guy yet. So, let’s talk about what this means, where you find them, and who benefits.
Christy: So, a little bit of background. The interesting thing about the UK and England in particular, is that very, very early on had a system where the parish would take care of its own. So if there was a widow or a family that was destitute, the parish was expected to help them at least be clothed and fed and they may or may not be expected to provide work or something in exchange with the parish. But the parish was responsible for them. So the newspaper article you found was probably the parish where the wife was living and they were saying hey, we don’t want to have to pay for this woman and her children.
Christy: So we’re going to go out and we’re going to do everything that we can to find this man. We’re going to publish so that somewhere the parish that he’s living in, they’re not going to want to pay for him, so as soon as they pick up on that they’ll basically run him out of town.
Fisher: [Laughs] Was it illegal to abandon the family? I mean, was there a law involved that he could have gotten in trouble over?
Christy: There was a law involved, yeah. It was actually officially revoked in the Settlement Law in 1834 but it was utilized and prosecuted much, much longer than that. In fact, quarter session records, you said you hadn’t had a lot of success finding parish chest records for this case, but situations that parish think they’re motivated to find this man, there could be records once they did find him in the quarter session records.
Christy: Trying to get him to back pay for what they had put in on his family.
Fisher: Might it suggest where he went or where his family was from if he had rejoined his parents or something somewhere?
Christy: It could, yeah. So, your parish of settlement, which was the parish that was required to pay for you if you became destitute, was initially the parish where you were born. So, if this man’s children were born in that parish that were looking for him they were required. However, if he had returned to his parish of settlement then he could stay there. They were also required to allow him to live.
Fisher: Ha! He was from Scotland but they were living down in Westminster near London and they were in St. James Westminster, and so that was the parish looking for him. So, they gave his age, that he was from Scotland, we’d always wondered about that, there were conflicting records.
Christy: Yeah, there can be a lot of conflicting records and these can give you information that you may not find anywhere else.
Christy: And particularly if you’re looking for maybe a previous marriage of a widowed woman, they can give you where she was born, her maiden name, they can give you when she became widowed because it will tell you when the parish picked up someone to take care of her and her family. There are all kinds of little known information. They can tell you what clothing they purchased for the children, how much it costs.
Fisher: Yeah, it’s amazing the detail that you can find in these things. So, we’ve got the parish chest, which is actually within the church records, right? So if say we were going to the card catalogue for FamilySearch.org you might find some of those there under the specific parish, right?
Christy: That’s right.
Fisher: And on FindMyPast would be another great source I would think.
Christy: Some, yeah. The Family History Library is the best source for parish chests. They only recently within the last, I don’t know, twenty five years or so started going back and digitizing those.
Fisher: But they are not necessarily indexed?
Christy: Oh no, they are almost never indexed.
Fisher: Right, because there’s just too much stuff to sort through.
Christy: That’s right. And they’re not foreign based like a parish register. So you would be going page by page through handwritten, basically just the parish registry notes on the residents of their parish.
Fisher: So if you happen to find something like I did, now you have a parish, you have a date, you know who you’re looking for, that’s a little easier because you’re not just saying, “Oh, they lived there and maybe something happened.” You can actually start to narrow it down to the period of time we’re looking at, right?
Christy: That’s right. They can be particularly useful in locating illegitimacy cases because then you have a pretty tight window of time where you can go page by page versus decades.
Fisher: Would they list the names of all the children in a case like this?
Christy: They would list the names of all the children if all of the children were being cared for by the parish.
Fisher: I see.
Christy: So, if there were older children who were out on their own and providing for themselves, then they probably wouldn’t be listed.
Christy: Only the minor children.
Fisher: And so we’re talking what, over eighteen?
Christy: Yeah. Over eighteen would be the age of the majority. If they were over the age of eighteen but they couldn’t find work then the parish would still be caring for them if they were born there. It would still be their parish of settlement.
Fisher: I see. And so how good has the preservation been? I mean, are there parishes that have lost their parish chest records?
Christy: There absolutely are. The parish chest records are very properly preserved and they can be anywhere from the County of Record Office to the National Archives in London. They may or may not have been filmed. So if there’s no Family History Library microfilm there still may be parish chest records at the County Record Office or even at the local parish church.
Fisher: Wow, there’s your church / state, right, hard at work. [Laughs]
Christy: Yeah, yeah exactly. There are a lot of work and they can be so, so worth it.
Fisher: Yeah, very rich in what they provide. So, what percentage of them would you say have survived and from what eras?
Christy: I would say over 50% probably closer to 75% have survived in some capacities. That does not necessarily mean the full run.
Christy: Some parish chest records date to as early as the late 1500s. There were particular laws that were put into place at that time that required the parish to start taking care of their own.
Fisher: So the late 1500s, and then how late did they continue then?
Christy: So, the parish chest records will include not just care of the poor.
Christy: They’ll also have information on what they call bastardy bonds and they’ll have information on the overseers, and those will go all of the way up through the early 1900s.
Christy: And even later if you contact the parish church. Now, after 1837 the Poor Law Union took over all of the care of the poor. So you would be looking in a different record set for that.
Fisher: Ah, this is where we get into the Dickens time, right? “Are there no prisons?” Yes. “Are there no workhouses?”
Christy: That’s exactly right.
Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]
Christy: When they started recording poor people, and they started requiring them to go to workhouses. And that’s a whole other fun set of records.
Fisher: Wow, that is. But let’s talk about the Bastardy bonds and I’ve looked for these things before. This of course has to do with the illegitimacy and very useful records if you can find them. Where are they found? Say they are in the parish chest records, aren’t they elsewhere as well?
Christy: So, officially they were part of the parish chest records, and parish chest just means everything that the parish created that was not in an official register. But they can be catalogued separately as bastardy bonds, they can be catalogued with the settlement records, so you really have to look at anything that might be associated.
Fisher: Sure. So if you had a record, say of an illegitimate child that you found in an Anglican or maybe a Bishop’s transcript, or in just the Anglican register, and you knew that child was there, there should be a bastardy bond relating to who the father is because they expect the man who fathered that child to pay for the child, right?
Christy: That’s right. And when you’re looking for those you need to start about six to nine months, depending on when the woman’s condition became public knowledge. You need to start that far before the birth. Because if the woman wasn’t born in that parish, if that is not her parish of settlement, even if it’s the dad’s, they can’t discover who the dad was, they’re going to try and send her home.
Christy: Once the child is born, then that child’s settlement is there. They have to take care of it.
Fisher: I see.
Christy: So, if they can get her out of the parish or get her to name the father, they’re going to do everything they can to make that happen.
Fisher: So, do they do that often? Try to get the father named by the woman, and does she try to hide it very often?
Christy: They do, do it quite a lot. In fact, they did it in almost every case where the father wasn’t named. But in quite a lot of cases where the woman didn’t name the father and she may have not named him initially out of fear of retribution, they would bring her in for what’s called an examination and basically it’s the parish interrogating her on who the father is. It was quite an in-depth interview for the mothers.
Christy: And in most cases they did provide the father’s name eventually.
Fisher: Okay. So what percentage would you say the fathers were revealed, and usually that would be in the bastardy bonds, right?
Christy: That’s right. I would say the fathers revealed in the bastardy bonds that exist, probably 75 to 80% of the time.
Christy: When she doesn’t name the father, they may try and send her out of the parish if they can, or she may get sent to the quarter session, which was the local court.
Fisher: And they would try and work her over as well.
Christy: That’s right. They just really didn’t want to pay for the child.
Christy: Illegitimate children often fell on the care of the parish.
Fisher: Of course. Of course.
Christy: They were very motivated.
Fisher: She’s Christy Fillerup, she’s with LegacyTree.com/Genealogist and she’s just given us a remarkable review of incredible records that you might look for over in the UK from the Anglican Church, the Parish Chest Records. And great stuff Christy. Thanks so much for coming on and sharing that.
Christy: Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Fisher: And coming up next, from the New England Historic Genealogical Society I’ll be talking to Jeanne Belmonte about more poor folk records, on the way in minutes on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 237
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jeanne Belmonte
Fisher: And welcome back, it is America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and we’re talking poor people today. And if you’ve got poor people who are your ancestors and who doesn’t? That’s pretty much everybody because we all descend from kings and we all descend from paupers. But there were certain records and of course we were just talking to Christy Fillerup about the Parish Chest Records over in the UK. Very interesting to find out what might be available for you there and right now we’ve got Jeanne Belmonte from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Jeanne, you are very into this as well. What got you started looking at the records of the poor?
Jeanne: Well, I found out when I was first researching my Liverpool, England roots and I couldn’t locate a death record for a great, great grandfather. I was disheartened to see that he died of tuberculosis in the Brownlow Hill Workhouse in Liverpool, in an infirmary. And that kind of got me into looking into UK workhouse records and what the situation was like that would drive someone into the workhouse who was that severely ill.
Fisher: Right. Was this a debtor’s prison basically?
Jeanne: No, it wasn’t. Workhouses were set up for the poor that had nowhere else to go. They may have lost their homes, they couldn’t afford to live. Often times it was considered the last resort. It was never anybody’s first resort to go into the workhouse.
Jeanne: And they would be required to do work to live. They would get three meals a day, often consisted of bread and porridge. And sometimes water or ale if the water wasn’t potable and they would be required to work. The men generally would be required to pick oakum out of rope to be recycled into new rope. Men often broke stones. It was very hard labor which is why it was always considered a last resort to go into the workhouse.
Jeanne: The minute you entered, families were separated, women on one side, men on the other, children were taken into their own wards.
Fisher: Would they ever see each other?
Jeanne: Sometimes. Generally they were kept separate. Some workhouses did allow families to see each other, the children to see their moms. Children were taken care of a little bit better. They also had in their workhouse system as time went on they had cottage homes for children. They were educated to a point, mostly so that they could develop to go leave the workhouse and go out and work for themselves.
Fisher: Yeah. How did anybody ever get out of this situation then?
Jeanne: It was voluntary. You could leave anytime you wanted basically. You entered voluntarily, you could leave voluntarily. A lot of people chose to stay because they had nowhere else to go. Many times it was the ill as in the case of my great, great grandfather who went into the workhouse infirmary. He died in 1890. Fifty, sixty years before the NHS so there was no medical. They were used basically as pseudo hospitals.
Jeanne: A lot of workhouse infirmaries eventually turned into today’s hospitals in the UK.
Fisher: That’s unbelievable. So, the records from these workhouses, are they good?
Jeanne: They are. I know from my experience using the records because I have researched using the originals in Liverpool at the archives over there. You usually get admission dates, why they were admitted, who admitted them, and when they were discharged. In the case of William Snow, he was discharged at death.
Fisher: So, were the Almshouses of America kind of similar to these places?
Jeanne: Um, yes and no. They were a place for people to go that had nowhere else, that may not have had any family to take care of them as they aged. A lot of the almshouses were farms.
Fisher: Yes. I had a third great grandfather in New York at the Bellevue Almshouse and it showed on the record as a farm. I didn’t realize that they were literally farming.
Jeanne: They did farm, and some of the almshouses in the US were smaller. The ones in the UK were huge. I know Brownlow Hill is considered one of the biggest ones in England.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Jeanne: But they were smaller. I know there was a smaller one I’ve done some research in, in New Hampshire but the records are gone.
Jeanne: A lot of the records don’t survive.
Fisher: The smaller ones?
Jeanne: The smaller ones.
Jeanne: People know about them. They talk about them. They know they were there. You may find an admission record or in the town records someone seeking admission to an almshouse or seeking what’s called.... I use the British term out release.
Jeanne: Meaning, they were given money to live with someone else which is what they did too in the US. They actually farmed out families.
Fisher: Did some of this replace the churches and how they used to care for the poor you know, the parish churches?
Jeanne: Um, the churches always had their form of charity. This was something that was done by the towns. Some of them were run by the churches. A lot of them were county owned. In England it started off, there were churches that ran the workhouses and then the poor law unions came into effect and they were the overseers of the poor which is the term that was used in the US.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Jeanne: As a matter of fact, the Boston overseers of the poor records are available on microfilm. We have them here at NEHGS.
Fisher: So, are there records like that in the Family History Library that you’re aware of?
Fisher: Okay. And they cover mostly the United States, or the UK, or both?
Jeanne: To look for the records, believe it or not I always start with a Google search.
Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]
Jeanne: Google is your friend. I always start with records of if you know the name of the almshouse or the city that it was located in and sometimes you’ll get a pop up there they are. After that, it’s straight to the family history library catalogue.
Fisher: All right. That makes great sense, yeah. You’ve got to check the area and check the time periods as well and what they may have on him. Now, there are some things online where they have digitized it but you have actually be in a library or Family History Center to actually see the stuff, but for the overwhelming majority that is not the case.
Jeanne: Yeah, I have found that to be true and it’s remarkable that the records that do survive, you’re not going to get the case histories like some people want but what you’ll get is admissions and you’ll know when your ancestors were there. It gives you what I always say, the place and time.
Fisher: Yes, that’s right. You can start to put that in the timeline of your ancestor’s life as you put their history together and now I find that stuff extremely useful. Although, I do like to know what were the circumstances? Why was that person there? In the case of Bellevue, it was a hospital, it was an almshouse, it was a farm, it was a prison. They had all kinds of multiple uses so it’s always kind of difficult to tell exactly what my guy was there for, you know?
Jeanne: Usually, I check if they died in the facility to see what the cause of death was, if it was something that may have been a long term illness. They may have been admitted into the infirmary.
Fisher: Yes, and I think that was the case. I think that was the case with him in particular because he’d come and go and that’s pretty common isn’t it for these people to be in and out and in again?
Jeanne: Yes. A lot of women used them as pseudo maternity hospitals especially in the UK. They would go into the workhouse, have their babies and then leave with their children.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Jeanne: There was actually a Secrets of the Workhouse documentary that aired in the UK and they gave an instance of a woman going in and out of the workhouse four times to give birth to four different children.
Fisher: Oh wow. So, what other countries by the way are into these particular poor houses basically?
Jeanne: Most had some form of poor relief. In Italy it was the churches that did a lot with the poor relief. They did a lot with the poor and the orphans.
Fisher: So you might find that in the church records in Italy.
Jeanne: You might find that in the church records as they did it. I’m not quite sure about other European countries because my focus has just been on the US and the UK. I know Ireland had their own workhouses and their records. Some of them are online and some of them are on at the archives over in Ireland.
Fisher: Sure, but they’re getting better and better. Ireland is getting amazing.
Fisher: Because they obviously see the tourism opportunity with far more Irish people over on this side of the pond and then there.
Fisher: She’s Jeanne Belmonte. She’s with the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Thanks so much Jeanne! Great stuff, it’s great to know those records are available. Obviously there’s different stuff on every record set but you’ve got to look to find out what might be there for you. Thanks for coming on!
Jeanne: Oh you’re welcome! Great speaking to you and everybody else!
Fisher: And coming up next, Tom Perry talks preservation on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 237
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Welcome back! It is time to talk preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. How're you doing, Tommy?
Tom: I'm doing super, super here. I'm still here in Mexico. We're borrowing a studio from the Luis family. They've been really kind to us. Trying to get them all set up and rocking and rolling to bring our services to Mexico.
Fisher: Wow, unbelievable! All right, we've got an email from Heather Crandell. She said, "Tom, I'm looking to rent or borrow a machine similar to the one in the photo." Oh, let's me hold that right up to the microphone here for everybody to see.
Fisher: "To scan in all my negatives. There are a lot. Do you guys have access to anything like this?" All right, first of all, let's tell everybody what this is.
Tom: Yeah. It’s a little device. If you're driving, don't climb up on your speaker to look at the photo that Scott just held up.
Tom: It’s a little, teeny machine. The one that she actually sent us a photo of is called a ClearClick. It’s pretty much a cookie cutter box. There's a lot of different people that have the exact same machine, they just put their name on it. And as we've talked about on the show before, a good place to go to research this kind of stuff and buy it is, B&HPhoto.com, which is B&H Photo. They're in New York. And I buy a lot of stuff from them. They're really good people. However, the machine that she sent us a picture of, it’s very, very inexpensive, it’s less than $200. And like we've talked about before, you know, you kind of get what you pay for. If this is your only way to preserve your negatives, if this is all you can afford then do it, because doing something like this is better than doing nothing at all.
Tom: The one on B&H Photo is called the Wolverine Data F2D titan, which is basically the same machine. You can run like 35mm, 110, 127, 126 and even the old APS film through it. And each frame takes about three seconds to scan, so it’s not very long. But you have to realize that this $200 box is not going to get you the really high end stuff that we recommend. So obviously we don't use one like that for our 35mm. And I believe from the pictures she sent us, she's alluding that that's what she has is a 35mm film. You know, we do it on a real high end scanner. And another one that's we've talked about previously that we talked about even at RootsTech which they were actually selling there is an Epson V as in Victor 550. And we actually use one of those in our studio. It’s an awesome machine. It has light on both the pan and on the lid, so you get a really, really good scan. You know quite a bit more money. However, you're going to get such a better scan, it’s going to be faster, the quality's going to be better. If it’s something that's a little bit out of your price range, talk to friends, talk to family, even talk to neighbors, people maybe in your religious group or your synagogues and say, "Hey, you know, I want to do all this scanning. This machine's a little bit out of my budget." Get some people together and buy it. And if you don't want to keep it, then sell it on eBay when you're done, and you'll recover probably 70-80% of your costs anyway.
Tom: So this is a really good way to go.
Fisher: Well, you've recommended that many times over the years, Tom, for more expensive equipment. And it really does make a difference to bring in lots of other people and get that price down.
Tom: Oh, it does. And the thing is, you know, like there's a saying out there some place, like the excitement of a cheap price diminishes way faster than the sadness of poor quality.
Fisher: Yeah, right. [Laughs] You're absolutely right. It’s just a matter of making sure that you put your money into those things that are most important to you.
Tom: Right. And this is something you're going to have forever. We have people come into one of our locations all the time that asks us specific questions about things. And they say, "Hey, you know, this is kind of expensive." You know, I said, "Why don't you look at what your budget is for your family for Christmas and maybe that would cover it." Because if you do something like this, you're going to have from generation to generation. You buy him a 44inch television for $1000 and hey, that's cool for two or three years maybe and then there's going to be something new out that’s so much better.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely right. All right, Heather Crandell, thank you so much for the question. Hope that answers your question and good luck with your project with the negatives, that sounds like a lot of fun. And by the way, Tom, this brings to mind a lot of questions about how to prepare negatives to get them ready for scanning and all that's involved with dust and water spots and all that. You think that's something we can talk about in the next segment?
Tom: Sounds like a plan.
Fisher: All right, we'll get to that, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 237
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Hey, we're back! Its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Tom, Heather's email just in the last segment there really brought up some thoughts here about preparing negatives for scanning. First of all, how is it different, scanning negatives than, say, scanning photographs?
Tom: Well, the biggest things with negatives is, you have this emulsion on the back side of the negative that if you get water spots, they're going to be almost impossible to clean off. And people try to do it and they end up ruining their negatives. So what I recommend is, first off, blow off the dust. And if you're going to use that canned air, remember, this is compressed air, so if you move it around, it’s going to freeze and it can damage your negatives. So if you can hold it very still and move the negatives in front of it, that's fine. But I recommend going to some hardware store or someplace like Sears, their catalogue and buy an air compressor, a very small compressor that you use to fill up your tires on your bicycle, because that's just taking air in one end and blowing it out the other. And they usually have good filters on them. And that way there's no way you're going to freeze your negatives or hurt them. Just make sure you're in a very, very clean area, because if you're sitting there with this dirty box and these negatives, the air's going to go other places, get into the box, blow the dust all over and you're basically defeating your purpose. So like we've talked about in segments before, you want to have a cleaning area, you want to have a post cleaning area and you want to have a sorting area.
Tom: So you want to get these negatives in a place where they're not going to be blowing up more dust, and kind of blow them off that way. If you have water spots on the non emulsion side, which is usually the shiny side, with a Qtip and some really distilled water, you can usually wipe those off. But if they're on the emulsion side, do not touch them! Under no circumstances touch them! Because you're going to make all kinds of problems. Whereas once you have them scanned and you have them scanned at a really high dpi, you're going to be able to see the little loop of the water stain. However, you have like Digital Eyes, you have Photoshop, there's so many programs out there where you can erase the water spot and make it look wonderful. Whereas if you actually damage a negative, it’s going to take a lot more work to try to get it right.
Fisher: Boy! You know, I've never actually scanned negatives, Tom. So tell me, is there a way to actually do that with a home scanner?
Tom: With most home scanners, you can't. Whenever you're going to scan something like a negative or a slide, you want to make sure your machine has both a light in the base of it and also in the lid. And a lot of them have like mirrors in the lid and they say, "Oh yeah, this is going to work great." Well, it’s a cheap way to do it. You want to get one that has a light in the top and the bottom. Just like we talked about in the first segment, one that I really highly, highly recommend is the Epson, V as in Victor 550, which is awesome. And if you want to go to something cheaper, like the Wolverine, you can always do that. But I recommend getting together, getting a group, buying it. Sell it on eBay when you're done, getting your money back. But you want to go to something great. Like a lot of people get confused when you're talking about HD, full HD, 4k, ultra HD, what all these different things are.
Fisher: I'm confused. I'm confused right there. [Laughs]
Tom: Okay. [Laughs] Let me go over it really quick and simple. Standard high definition is, they call it 1280x720, which is a pixel count.
Tom: So hey, that's really, really good.
Tom: But then if you go to full HD, it’s like 1920x1080, which is how we scan our film when we're transferring for customers. And then the big thing nowadays is 4k, which is ultra high D, which is 3840x2160, which is huge!
Tom: And when these first came out, they were like $3500. And now I saw a 44 inch ultra high D for like $1000 at Sam's Club, it’s like, wow! These prices are coming down, which means scanners usually come down, because the technology is getting better and better and it’s getting less expensive to create it.
Fisher: All right, as always, great stuff. And if you have a question for Tom Perry, you can email him at [email protected] or you could post it on his Twitter page at @AskTomP. Thanks so much, Tom. Talk to you again next week.
Tom: My pleasure.
Fisher: Hey, that's all we've got this week. But you can keep up with this of course all throughout the week at ExtremeGenes.com and of course on our Facebook page. You can follow us on our Twitter @ExtremeGenes. Hey, and don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter. We send it out every Monday morning with all kinds of great links to shows and stories that will be of interest to you. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!