Episode 265 - George H.W. Bush: (Almost?) Everybody’s Cousin/ Internet Archive- A Genealogist’s Gold Mine

podcast episode Dec 23, 2018

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher speaks briefly about a recent breakthrough he has made through DNA, opening a previously unknown descent line from an immigrant ancestor. David opens Family Histoire News with word of special markers being places on the graves of participants in the Boston Tea Party which celebrates its 245th anniversary December 16th. David then points listeners to a great article about five things a 23andMe test can give you. Then, it’s a unique opportunity for high school kids to learn “cursive” writing, and help index old records. David describes a special program happening now in the Northeast. David then salutes actor Kirk Douglas who just turned 102 years old! David’s Blogger Spotlight then shines on Roberta Estes and her site dna-explained.com. David notes, in particular, her recent blog “Connect With Your Inner Viking.”

Then, Fisher talks with renowned presidential and royal researcher Gary Boyd Roberts about the late President George H.W. Bush. Gary shares fascinating stories about other presidents that Bush (and son G.W.) relate to and how you may very well be related to them yourself!

Next, Curt Witcher of the renowned Allen County Public Library Special Collections Department in Fort Wayne, Indiana, talks about a gold mine of a genealogical site… the Internet Archive. Curt outlines its beginnings, what’s in it and where it’s headed. He also talks about the famed Allen County Public Library, its online assets, and the gem of a research place it is, especially for those in the Midwest. You’ll be as enthused as Curt when you hear him talk about it!

Then, Tom Perry returns to talk preservation for the holiday run up.

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

Transcript for Episode 265

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 265

Fisher: And welcome back genies. It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This episode is brought to you by Restore, the unique software from Vivid-Pix. Take the Vivid-Pix Fix right now and get a twenty percent discount too right up to the holidays. Well, nice to have you along! We’ve got a star-studded show today. First of all, as you know with the passing of former President Bush here recently, Gary Boyd Roberts is one of these people who digs into the ancestries of the presidents and he’s got some great insight on the ancestry of President Bush and how he might relate to you because apparently he relates to a large swathe of the population and how he relates to other presidents. It’s going to be a fascinating conversation coming in, oh nine or ten minutes or so. And then later in the show Curt Witcher is going to be on. He’s one of the heads of the Allen County Public Library. The Genealogical Division’s Special Collections. And Curt is going to tell you about the Internet Archive and he’s going to explain their origins and how this got going and what you can find on it. It is a great asset if you are research your family. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, make sure you do so just go to ExtremeGenes.com you’ll find the form right there. It’s absolutely free. We share links to fascinating stories for people interested in their genealogical work. I’ll give you a blog each week and of course some links to current and past programs as well. Right now, let’s head out to Boston, Massachusetts to talk to my good friend the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historical Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David Allen Lambert, how are you?

David: Hey, I’m doing great Fish.

Fisher: Hey, I tell you I’m a little bit tired here David. The last couple of nights I had a breakthrough on behalf of some of my DNA matches that I found. One was through illegitimacy and because another test came in of somebody I thought she might be close to, we validated who the grandfather was of this person. She wants to have a family reunion right now. She’s pretty excited about it. And then this other one actually led to the discovery of a child of one of my immigrant’s kids. And in his case we didn’t know he had any children, so this is a whole new branch that opened up. I was up to about midnight last night, putting those things in there so other people can find that information as they come along. The person I connected with can’t believe it and she’s been looking for years and years and years to understand it. So, it’s been tiring but a lot of fun as well.

David: Well, you’re going to be up to midnight tonight because it sounds like you’ve extended on your Christmas card list.

Fisher: Yeah, just a little bit. [Laughs]

David: Well, my ancestors would be mad at me about this because on December 16th,1773 here in Beantown we had a little party, a tea party.

Fisher: Yes you did.

David: And what is nice about that 245 years later they have decided now to put little plaques in front of the graves of the people that participated. It’s an interesting historical event and as a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, I’m actually on a committee that we’re investigating other tea parties and also if some of the people who claimed have been at THE tea party may have actually been there.

Fisher: Hmm.

David: Well, on ExtremeGenes.com you’ll find a wonderful list of five things from Men’s Journal. From 23AndMe your results can tell you of course, the different continents your ancestors come from, you have long lost relatives you never knew you had, kind of like you Fish, finding those e-cousins.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: You can find out why I’m bald or balding.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And why my brother isn’t, and that’s one of the things that’s number three. Number four, you can find out different health conditions you may be susceptible to. Number five, you may also find healthy habits for your genetics that may be better inclined for you to do. Now, the best part of it though, I must say, is when I get to find out my brother or I have more Neanderthal than the other.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] That’s true. You can do that with 23AndMe, right?

David: You can. Since my brother has more than I, I can now say that I knew why he climbed the heck out of trees when he was a kid. Makes more sense.

Fisher: Yeah, perfect.

David: You know, one of the things that puzzles me is that in schools today they don’t ever teach handwriting. But NEHGS’ Molly Rogers, who is part of our team to put the Catholic records of the Archdiocese of Boston online, has done a great job of going out to some of the schools and teaching high school kids how to be involved. And some of them have signed up, almost a hundred, to help out with the project that American Ancestors is doing, which is great.

Fisher: Wow!

David: They’re learning history and also learning something called “handwriting.”

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Something you and I take for granted. I think it’s a wonderful collaboration.

Fisher: Well, it’s an important thing for somebody to teach kids to do, especially if they ever have any aspirations of researching their ancestors or history.

David: You know, I’ll tell you, I get a good laugh when you always put a little cartoon up on my Twitter on @DLGenealogist. And there’s a cartoon of someone today showing a box and holding a photo, “Oh, look, this is my great grandfather. How cool and mysterious he is.” And then they shoot the head with the future where someone says, “Hey, I just downloaded an archive with of my great grandfather’s Facebook updates. He hated Mondays and loved telling people when he was bored.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Is that what’s going to be what our descendants are going to find?

Fisher: I’m frightened that you might be right about that, yeah.

David: Well, somebody who was born way before the internet, I want to wish a happy 102nd birthday to Issur Danielovitch. Now, you’re probably wondering who that is?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And maybe some of your listeners are too. Well, that’s Kirk Douglas. On December 9th he turned 102. The great Spartacus is still married for over 60 years to his lovely wife Anne Buydens who is a young 99 compared to his 102.

Fisher: That’s incredible!

David: The town of Amsterdam, New York where Issur or “Kirk” was born has now put up a historical marker, 102 years after the fact. I think that’s kind of nice.

Fisher: No, that’s incredible. That’s great and well deserved.

David: Absolutely. A wonderful thing to have happened to him and I wish him many more happy and healthy years. All right, my blogger spotlight shines upon Roberta Estes’ website and blog called DNA-explained.com. A really curious little post she put up is discovering your inner Viking which is a great little post she did about her DNA that is Viking related, before her trip to Oslo. So, you can see her pictures from the trip, also find her DNA results and you may ponder about your inner Viking.

Fisher: Sounds like a great blog.

David: It does at that. Well, that’s all I have from Beantown this week. And remember, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors, you can join by saving $20 by using the coupon code “Extreme.”

Fisher: All right David, thank you so much. Good stuff. And coming up next were going to talk to another guy who’s had a long running association with NEHGS. He’s Gary Boyd Roberts. He’s a Researcher into Presidential Ancestry, and he’s got a lot to say about the ancestry of former president George Herbert Walker Bush, coming up next, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 265

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Gary Boyd Roberts

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment is brought to you by Legacy Tree Genealogist. Of course, last week we had a national day of mourning for former president George Herbert Walker Bush. Bush 41 as he was affectionately known. And I thought we’d get on Gary Boyd Roberts. He’s one of the great researchers of presidents in the United States in genealogy, also the kings and queens of Europe. You are just deep in the weeds of all this stuff, Gary.

Gary: Thank you.

Fisher: And he’s long been associated with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Gary, as you were watching the funeral last week, you had to have been thinking about all the different people this man was tied to that you’ve researched.

Gary: Yes. I have suggested that he might be related to as many as half or more than half of the American people. He has a Mayflower line. He is related to all the Pocahontas’s descendants, although not descended from Pocahontas himself. He has kinships to 18 presidents, including his son, and to 17 first ladies including his wife. You don’t get that level of “interestingness” in everyone’s ancestry.

Fisher: [Laughs] No you don’t. And of course this is in large part because of the position that he held, and also the manner with which he always conducted himself before, during, and after his presidency. And I am related to him through John Howland of the Mayflower and Elizabeth Tilley. Robert Hinckley was one of his ancestors, and is an ancestor of many people in this country.

Gary: Including Obama.

Fisher: Yeah. Robert Cross and Anna Jordan is another well known New England couple. But I think the thing you said about him, the reason he’s related to so many Americans, and then of course obviously his son would be as well, is because of the fact that he has ancestry from many different parts of colonial America.

Gary: Yes. That’s true. One third New England, roughly, one third Mid Atlantic including New York, Dutch, and New Jersey, Pennsylvania Quaker, and Southern.

Fisher: So, when you combine all these and the fact that they go back so far, you think over the centuries obviously they have many, many descendants, and that works into the general population and that actually integrates with the immigrant population of say, the last 150 years or longer. Pretty soon you have a large portion of the American population related to their president.

Gary: Yes. In the period right after the Civil War as people moved west and into the middle states, a great many people of Yankee and of Southern ancestry intermarried and you get mixed ancestry that way. Then, in the 20th century a great many people of Irish, Italian, French, Canadian, Scandinavian earlier, German earlier, and other kinds of ancestry intermarried with this group. And in the 20th century, some black, Hispanic, and Asian people did as well. That is continuing. And so this crux, a solid block of colonial ancestry is now shared by a huge number of Americans and will be shared by more and more Americans, and a larger percentage of Americans as everybody in the country intermarries.

Fisher: Right, including non-Europeans. You mentioned Barack Obama for instance. He’s half European and he’s a descendant of Robert Hinckley as well. So this is interesting... I posted this photograph of him. I met George Herbert Walker Bush for the first time in 1971. I was in radio, and my first job was setting up microphones for remotes for the announcers, and running the remote broadcast. And in Greenwich, Connecticut, the hometown fathers were honoring the “hometown boy made good” as the Ambassador to China. And so here he is, he is like 47 years old, with his wife Barbara appearing at this elementary school cafeteria, which was half full, and so, I’m sitting off of the wings of the stage, and they’re throwing the accolades at this man and I’m just staring at him as a 16-year old kid, thinking, well, what kind of expression do you put on your face when people are saying so many nice things about you? Just as a kid would think. I’m studying him and suddenly he turns and he looks at me, he smiles, and he winked.

Gary: [Laughs]

Fisher: And I’d been caught! And I was embarrassed. And [laughs] later on of course he became vice president and then later he became president, and one day, many years later, 1998, I was asked to mc an event at which he spoke. And I told that story about what had happened when I was 16-years old, not realizing he had already shown up and he’s behind the curtain listening to what I’m saying. And when the event was over, he came over to me and he says, “You’re the guy that did that introduction?” and I said, “Yes sir, I am.” He says, “Sure enjoyed that!” [Laughs]

Gary: [Laughs]

Fisher: And he had caught me again! But I had the experience of getting a photograph with him on two different occasions. And each time you meet him he’s just the same as you see him and just the same as you’re hearing him described, and it really is a loss. I think he was a much beloved man and I think history is going to look very kindly on him for his time in office, as he was part of the transition obviously from the Cold War days and the bringing down of the wall in Germany.

Gary: It’s even been thought by some people that he is the most recent president somewhat universally admired. But every president since has either had something going on that out of a large number of the people in the country disliked, or the partisanship grew. And Bush is the last one along with Carter who is still living by the way.

Fisher: Yep.

Gary: And who is only four months younger than Bush. Anyway, Bush especially is the last president that a lot of Americans can and do admire.

Fisher: And some people are suggesting he may have been the most successful one-term president.

Gary: Yes. That may well be true. My book came out in ’89 and in time for the 200th anniversary of the presidency. It was called Ancestors of American Presidents, and it was used to answer letters and correspondence after I published it that he was probably related to half or more of the American people. Then, a great many people did get in touch with the White House, and the White House called me to adjudicate, and he could indeed belong to a whole batch of family history societies and family name societies.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Gary: Because he was descended from that family or have ancestors in that place, and then there were a few like the origin of the Bush family which is unknown a few places that were not so entitled. The most fun one however, was his descent from a Walloon family that was also behind Delano, and LeMahieu behind Cooke, and the mother of the first Delano was a LeMahieu as well. At any rate, both FDR and Bush were descended from this family. And so a chart was drawn up to be shown to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. And the White House called me and said, “Can you authenticate this?” And I said read me the chart. They did, and I said it’s absolutely correct tell the president and the queen to just enjoy it.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s a great story, Gary! So, he’s related to all these presidents, you say like 18 of them right?

Gary: Yes.

Fisher: What about first ladies and vice presidents. Is he related to some of those?

Gary: I don’t know about the vice presidents whose ancestry I have not systematically looked at. A friend of mine, Alexander Batterman in Charleston West Virginia, has been examining all of the ancestry of first ladies. He’s published on everybody except Hilary and Rosaline Carter, and those are due for his next issue of his journal. At any rate, from all of his work and the work I had done previously, I reached a total of 17.

Fisher: Ah!

Gary: Including his wife. They begin with Abigail Adams and end with Mamie Eisenhower and Nancy Reagan. 

Fisher: Interesting.

Gary: And his own wife. But he is not related to his daughter-in-law that I know of.

Fisher: You know, I don’t think we should go through this whole thing, Gary, without talking a little bit about the break in the Bush line. Because there’s really a question as to whether or not he actually is in a male, to male, to male Bush bloodline. Isn’t that true?

Gary: Well, there was a place in Essex that claimed to be the home, and I think was, of a Reynold Bush, who came to New England and wasn’t he the ancestor? Well, we have a Timothy Bush showing up somewhere in Connecticut I believe about 1715 to ’20 and we just don’t know his origin. He might be the great grandson or whatever of this Reynold but he might not. And so, that was one of the negatives I had to give the White House, and the President did not go to that place in Essex because we couldn’t really guarantee that that was where the Bush family began.

Fisher: Right. And the story goes that this son was born more than a year after the death of his supposed Bush father, and so there’s that big question mark, right?

Gary: I’m not aware of that. I’m aware of such a situation on a somewhat related line that married into the Bush family early. But that kind of thing was morally common in our ancestry. I’m amazed at all of the DNA stuff that works. I would have thought that there would have been much more irregularity than there is. When most family associations or family groups test their DNA they find that ninety percent or more share the same thing. I would have thought the variation would have been greater.

Fisher: Yeah. You know, you’re absolutely right. I hadn’t thought about that too much. But it does seem surprising, and I know that they actually have some mathematical rate where you run into, what do they call it, a non-paternal event?

Gary: Yes. Two percent of people are not born to their mother’s husbands. And in the middle of the 20th century from about ’30 to ’80 or so, about two percent of Americans were adopted and often the records of their parentage, their birth record was altered and so a good bit of ancestry is lost in that way. There was a famous incident recently among one of our officers in which he discovered that he and a first cousin did not have the same DNA. He did get himself to confront his mother and she did finally admit that her husband was not his father.

Fisher: Wow. That’s a painful thing. Gary it’s been great visiting with you again, and great stories about our former president, George Herbert Walker Bush. I appreciate your time and your expertise, and it’s fascinating to see the interaction of all these different lines between our leaders and all the rest of us. You have a great day and thanks for coming on.

Gary: Thank you.

Segment 3 Episode 265

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Curt Witcher

Fisher: Hey, we’re back at it! It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by Legacy Tree Genealogists, check them out at LegacyTree.com. And, I had the distinct pleasure back this past year to meet for the first time Curt Witcher. He is the Allen County Public Library Senior Manager of Special Collections. And Curt is an amazing guy who has accomplished a lot of things that I don’t think most people realize. He is one of the people behind Archive.org  It’s the Internet Archive and it is a place of wonder and joy for so many people in the research area. And Curt, welcome to Extreme Genes! You’ve got to tell us how you got involved in this.

Curt: Well, thanks Scott. It’s absolutely wonderful to be here. So, we were introduced to Brewster and his awesome team actually through Microsoft.

Fisher: Brewster Kahle, yeah.

Curt: Brewster Kahle really an amazing genius. I’ve heard him speak in another of different venues and no matter the audience they’re in the palm of his hand in a few moments. So, Microsoft had heard about the awesome collection that we have here. That we’ve built over many decades.

Fisher: And for people who don’t know by the way, it’s in Allen County, Indiana, a beautiful little part of the Midwest.

Curt: Absolutely. It’s a great place to visit and a great place to live. But, Microsoft wanted to come and digitize the entire collection and use the metadata Scott, to enhance search results for people who are interested in family history and genealogy. And of course when they were looking around for a top shelf organization to do the digitizing they went immediately to Internet Archive. We were developing this three part relationship, Microsoft, Internet Archive, and Allen County Public Library. And Microsoft had a strategic meeting and decided. “Well, you know great idea but we’re going to move in a different direction.” So, they basically gave all the digital assets they had contracted with at that time over to the Internet Archive and Brewster Kahle and our library director at the time Jeff Craw, and our team here said this is just too great.

Fisher: We cannot let this go.

Curt: Absolutely. So, between those opening moments and today there’s almost a hundred, thousand items from the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in the Internet Archive. And that Scott is just so fantastic. So, what Internet Archive and Brewster and his team did, they actually set up a scanning center here that not only scans materials from our collection but from dozens of libraries all over the Midwest.

Fisher: Right.

Curt: So, they actually live in our building which is so convenient for us.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Curt: Whenever we have a couple dozen to a couple hundred things to scan, they’re just right in the same building and they do some terrific work again for universities and libraries literally all over the Midwest. Internet Archive has a great presence on the East Coast and the West Coast but not a whole lot in the Midwest until the scanning center here. And as you mentioned Scott, oh my goodness, can genealogists, historical researchers, family historians, can they have so much fun on Internet Archive. There’s just so much info.

Fisher: Well, there is. It’s Archive.org for people who want to check this out. I mean it’s an asset because it really takes the library to anywhere you are. And it’s all absolutely free. And you’re also a destination place, right? For people who are gaining new digitized information and they want to get it out there.

Curt: Absolutely. You’re absolutely correct. So, I tell my colleagues almost to the point I think Scott that they’re tired of me saying this but this is really the best of time for genealogists and the stories.

Fisher: Never been better.

Curt: Never been better. Each day millions of images come online through major information aggregators and Brewster Kahle and his team are certainly the core of that with all the scanning projects that they’re doing literally all over the world. In the British Isles, here in North America, it really is amazing. Then to be able to search the text of all those books and to keep metadata for manuscripts and other digital assets, oh my goodness the discoverability is really at an all time high.

Fisher: Well, and the Wayback Machine thing. I mean that’s just [Laughs] amazing.

Curt: It’s pretty amazing yeah.

Fisher: It is. To see former websites, I mean I had a website for a radio show I was doing twenty years ago and found things posted there I had long forgotten about, that somehow you guys captured.

Curt: Yeah and Brewster is always imaginative and using his really sharp technological expertise had to see what else he can do in the 21st century space. He’s just all about trying to build, as he likes to say, the 21st century Alexandria Library.

Fisher: That’s what it is, online. So anybody can access it.

Curt: Absolutely.

Fisher: I mean, when you about all the knowledge that’s available, sometimes, has it ever crossed your mind Curt, maybe I’m looking for too much stuff and occupying myself with  too much knowledge? It’s like you don’t go out. You just do things that are a little more mindless or more physical because there’s such a reward center things happening there. [Laughs] As you just find more and more stuff.  

Curt: Well, that can be a challenge. Another kind of complimentary challenge Scott is you can get distracted online and go down a completely different path.

Fisher: Yeah the rabbit holes.

Curt: Two hours later you say, “Wait a minute I was looking for this thing. How did I get way over here?”

Fisher: [Laughs] I do that every day.

Curt: [Laughs]

Fisher: And there’s DNA too you know when you get all that going and my goodness.

Curt: Absolutely.

Fisher: Well, let me ask you this. Years ago it was said, well maybe five percent of the world’s records have been digitized and are online which I think frankly would probably be a huge number, would it not?

Curt: It wouldn’t be.

Fisher: Do you think it’s that high? Do you think it’s that high now? Do you think it will be that high? What are your thoughts on that?

Curt: Well, I would differ to someone I really respect in the genealogy and technology space and that’s Dick Eastman.

Fisher: Yes.

Curt: About six months ago in one of his online newsletters he articulated that at that time, we’ll call it mid-2018 that he believed just about five percent of the world’s records are available online. So, I think twenty years ago when people said five percent they were being very optimistic at that time.

Fisher: Right, yes.

Curt: If you take a look at it and you’ve been around the country and in cemeteries, and courthouses, and libraries, I think he’s about right. I think about five percent sounds like a solid defensible number. When you take a look at all the material that’s in just one world county courthouse and then you go back and check how much of that material is actually online through Ancestry, Family Search, Internet Archive, its like, oh my goodness there’s a whole lot here that’s not online.

Fisher: A ton! And that’s the thing I think we get kind of hooked into the idea that we’re genealogists when we just look at the big websites and see what’s out there. If it’s not there it doesn’t exist and while I can’t find anything more so I guess I move on because there’s nothing more to be found.

Curt: Exactly.

Fisher: And it’s a very dangerous mindset. You’re cheating yourself out of a lot of possibilities if you aren’t going out and hitting the Allen County Library, the Family History Library, the Municipal Archives in New York City. I mean, there are so any places with so much stuff. What a great opportunity we have now to maybe even at least get online lists of what those things might be.

Curt: Absolutely and I like what you said there. You said it can be dangerous.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Curt: You used that mindset that if I don’t find it online it doesn’t exist. Oh my goodness, Scott before computers you and I had to physically go somewhere to do any genealogical research.

Fisher: Yeah.

Curt: Now, we can have a great head start. We can have great compliments to physically visiting places. But to say that we don’t need to go to courthouses and libraries, and archives because it’s all online, your word is great, that’s dangerous. We’re cheating ourselves out of part of our story.

Fisher: Yeah. You know, I like what you just said, it’s a great head start online with the various sites but it’s not the end-all of you’re really looking and digging deep. And I think some of the best things I’ve ever found have been in archives long before any of it wound up online.

Curt: Right.

Fisher: Well Curt, thank you so much for sharing some of the information about the beginnings of Archive.org. I know there are a lot of people who are completely unaware of it and it’s going to blow their minds when they see what all is there and what continues to be added. He’s Curt Witcher. He is with the Allen County Public Library the Senior Manager of Special Collections. Curt, just a joy to have you on, thanks so much.

Curt: Thank you Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next it is preservation time as we close in on the holidays. We’ll be talking with Tom Perry our Preservation Authority, that’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 265

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Oh, I cannot believe we're down to crunch time for the holidays. Hey, its Fisher here, it’s your Radio Roots Sleuth on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com, talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He is our Preservation Authority. And Tom, I'm glad you took a little time out of your very busy schedule. This is your tough time of year, isn't it?

Tom: Oh yeah. We are really swamped, but we've got some room for those last minute guys.

Fisher: Yeah, I would imagine. But there are certain types of things you could do quickly and still get them in, in time for the holidays, so you can give a family history gift to your loved ones. But there are some things that take just a little bit longer. So let's kind of go through the list, what's really easy to do, fast and furious for you, Tom?

Tom: Okay, usually the fastest and easiest thing to do of course is a VHS to DVD or BluRay. We do it in real time, so a standard VHS tape's going to take about two and a half hours to do, but we can do a lot of those at the same time during the week. So those aren't problems. We can scan photos pretty fast. Slides take a little bit longer, because the dyes in them, sometimes they need some more adjustments than others. Your MiniDV tapes, your 8mm videotapes are fine. Audio is really, really pressed right now. People have just found a plethora of audio this year.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: We have reel to reel cassettes that are really lining up, but we can sneak you in. And most of these things are for about anybody across the country. So whether you're in Dotham, Alabama or Orlando, Florida or Huston, Texas, talk to your local people find out where they are and everything. And if they can take care of you, we really prefer you stay in local as much as you can. But most people that do film the correct way take about two weeks, because these so many steps to go through when we're digitally scanning it frame by frame and not just projecting and shooting it, which is quick. But digital scanning it takes a couple of weeks. Most people have to have their stuff done by Friday 21st or you're not going to have Christmas.

Fisher: Boy that's really true! You know, when you talk about home movies like that, that is certainly the case that there are certain people who will digitize it for you by simply projecting it onto a screen, right, and then videotaping it.

Tom: Oh yeah. They shoot it with like a MiniDV camera or one of these cameras that has a little chip in it and they call it good. You know, that's the way we were doing it 20, 30 years ago, and the difference is incredible!

Fisher: Yeah, it really is. In fact, you did this for me even just a few years ago. And of course it’s always getting better and better and better. But I love your way of doing it where you actually digitize it frame by frame. So we had for instance that situation where we had a little scene with my grandfather, my brother, my dad, and myself as a toddler sitting at a picnic table. And in those 240 frames, it’s like 24 frames a second, right?

Tom: Correct.

Fisher: We found one frame where everybody was looking up at the camera at the same time. And from that, I was actually able to make a 5x7 picture. It’s the only photo I have of the four of us together because my grandfather died later the year after that photo was taken. Then my brother passed away at 21 years old. I want to say eight years later. And then my dad passed away when I was 17. So this is the only picture of all of us together, and it was one out of 240. And we wouldn't have been able to get that if you hadn't gone and digitized everything frame by frame and made them into jpegs.

Tom: Oh, that is so wonderful. Multi generation photos are so important. And don't think, "Oh, we'll do it later." If you have a situation like that, you need to do it. We were so lucky with my mother, my sister, my niece, her daughter and her daughter, there's five women in five generations and we have a picture of them now. And if you wait for tomorrow, you might not have tomorrow. So you need to take care of stuff like that. If you've got it on the old film, let's get it done before all the colors fade out of it and you've lost it.

Fisher: Yeah, that's really true. You do have to make adjustments, don't you, Tom, for each piece of film that you get, right? Because some of them are going to be faded in a different way or maybe the color has changed or the type of film that was used or the age.

Tom: Yeah, even whoever did the processing for your film. Like if you had it done by Kodak, you're miles ahead of having it done at a corner stand, because Kodak stuck to the standards which they set for everybody, but some people try to make the chemicals last longer and they're not as good.

Fisher: All right, Tom, when we return in three minutes, we'll talk more about some things you still can get done in time for the holidays on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 265

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We're back. It’s our final segment this week for Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And Tom Perry is in the house, he's our Preservation Authority. And Tom, at this time of year now, we're so close to the holidays. I bet you, people who are looking at this and thinking, "Oh, family history gifts I can still do that." It’s getting pretty tight for some of the more elaborate digitization projects that you might be involved with, but maybe there's a way to enhance one that you've already had done.

Tom: Exactly. That's really a good point. Like if you've already had all your stuff transferred to DVD or BluRay or a thumbdrive or even a haddrive, one thing that makes a gift really wonderful is to take the time to go through it once and write down, "Menu 1, these are the things that are on in. At Chapter 1, there's this, Chapter 2, there's this" and kind of put an index together for it and package it inside the DVD case or wrap it up with a USB or something like that. Because remember the old days when you were at your neighbor's house and their dad brings out the slides and brings out the screen and you go, "Oh, my gosh! I've got to sit through all his slides."

Fisher: Yeah, I had a friend of mine, and every time I'd go visit him, he'd want to bring out the film projector to show us movies of his wedding.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: I was there! That was good enough. I didn't need to see the films again. And I got a big kick out of seeing my mom and dad's stuff, because they looked so young! [Laughs]

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And it was a little weird and the styles were different. And that was really a lot of fun, too. But you're right. I mean, the thing now is we can actually pick and choose and create into chapters what we want to see. The other thing that came to mind is, this is a fun thing to do when the family gathers. Put some of these things together and say, "Hey, help up to make this more usable by sharing some of your memories with that." And this is an opportunity for people to go through and voice some things on it. You've mentioned this in previous episodes, maybe record them in audio only and get their memories on that and then add those memories onto the video and mix it with some music. You've got quite a piece then, you know, when somebody's saying, "Well, look, this was Aunt Myrtle back in 1959. And she had just gotten her brand new car, and her boyfriend, I can't remember his name." And, you know, this type of thing. I think that would be really useful in making all of these projects more usable and more enjoyable.

Tom: Especially when you do it when nobody knows what's going on. Like if you've got a family party or even just a small get together for an hour or two, set up a television, play the DVDs, have your iPhone or some kind of recording device, like a PZM mic, which we've talked about on previous episodes, and just sit there and just record what they call "the nat sound" the natural sound. And people are going to be talking about like you said, "Oh, I don't remember what the boyfriend's name is." But somebody's going to say, "Oh, I remember that. He was so and so from this." Whether you're having dinner or whether you're just having a little party or whatever, record everything. Just the audio is fine. That's all you need, because you've already got the pictures. Then you go and put these things together, add your indexes, and you're going to have a treasured gift to give next year for Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever your holidays are going to be.

Fisher: Yeah. You know, the problem with the holidays Tom is, we all panic at this time of year, and that takes a lot of the joy out of it, right and a lot of the fun. It’s like, wait a minute! You've got an opportunity at the holiday itself to get ready for next year and that will mean a lot of pressure off you and people in your field are going to be able to turn these things around a lot faster.

Tom: Oh absolutely. And a lot of the DIYers, they're going to be able to do this kind of stuff themselves and have some absolutely incredible memories. And you need to remember how to do it. Just have your photo album sitting these with one of your extra iPhones or an Android sitting there with the record mode on. It doesn’t take much memory. And you'll just be able to get some of the coolest responses of who these people are and what's going on. And then later on, go and listen to it all and you'll just be absolutely impressed with all the different options that you're going to have by having these simple recordings.

Fisher: Tom, great advice as always. And we will talk to you again next week. Thank so much.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Well, I've got to tell you, we had some heavyweights on the show this week. Thanks so much to Curt Witcher from the Allen County Public Library, talking about the Internet Archives. And also to Gary Boyd Roberts for sharing his thoughts on the ancestry of former president George H.W. Bush and how he might be related to more than half the country! If you missed any of it, catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. Have a great one. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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