Episode 28 – One Extreme Genie… and Fisher’s Ties to Ed Sullivan on The Beatles 50th Anniversary!

podcast episode Feb 10, 2014

Social media and the internet has solved the mystery of a young girl staring hauntingly out a window in 1908.  She was a child laborer working a cotton mill in North Carolina.  Who was she and how was her identity finally made known?  Fisher explains the answers and complexities that were overcome. Plus Fisher talks about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and Fisher's family's ties to the "Really Big Shew!"

Transcript of Episode 28

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 28

Fisher: Hello genies and welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth and what a week it has been. Roots Tech of course, just wrapped up yesterday in Salt Lake City, Utah, North America’s largest Family History Convention. There’s a lot of information to sort out from it all and we’ll be sharing it with you over the weeks ahead. And of course, my blogs from the event are still up on the website ExtremeGenes.com. A couple of our guests this week were at the Convention, Rick Lipper and Chris Hart from E-Z Photo Scan and these guys have created the greatest technology to help you preserve your photos in large quantities. In fact, they hosted a scanning party Friday night at Roots Tech and you are going to want to hear what they have in store for you in 2014. That’s later in the show. Also joining us in about eight minutes, a guy I can only describe as one extreme genie. He is a man who decided to break a hole in a 400-year old genealogical wall by organizing a group of descendents with similar interests. The effort costs thousands of dollars, covering extensive Scottish research but the results were remarkable, and are now being published in three parts. We’ll be talking to Adrian Benjamin Burke of New York City. The guy’s a lawyer and honestly, I don’t know how he gets any lawyering done [Laughs] because he’s constantly on the trail. Time once again for some Family Histoire News from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. MSN has a story this week about a remarkable photograph taken in North Carolina in 1908. It was by Lewis Hine who was called the Father of American Documentary Photography. And the photo captures a little girl of about nine years old staring out the window of the cotton mill where she was employed. It can only be described as haunting. A second photo shows the same girl with a woman and an older girl. Now Hine took about 500 pictures at these textile mills to document the cruel child labor conditions so many children were working under, eventually helping to establish new child protection labor laws in the 1930s. And while most of Hine’s photos had names on them, these two did not. And that bothered a man named Joe Manning. 

Now, Joe’s a Historian and Author and has spent several years trying to track down descendents of the people shown on the photos of this particular mill. And so far he’s found like 350 of them, which helps him to learn the stories of those in the pictures. Joe decided the best way to find out about these photos was to post them on his website, and hoped someone recognized a face. Well, when things sat quiet for a while he decided to turn to the 1910 census and find the names of girls from the area born about 1898 with a sister about two years older and a mother in the household. Well, he came up with a dozen and posted them with pictures and waited again. Well, about two months later Carol Cooke of Louisville, Kentucky, a family history genie of four years went searching for her ancestors and she found her grandmother’s name on Joe’s website, Lala Blanton. Well, she looked at the photos and emailed Joe that she thought that the girl might in fact be her grandmother. A facial recognition expert compared later in life pictures from Carol and confirmed it was indeed the little girl. Well Carol had never heard of the challenges her grandmother faced as a child labourer and was thrilled to learn that the photo was historic and iconic. The mystery girl now has a name. And wouldn’t we all like to come across photos like that. See them at ExtremeGenes.com. You know, it’s been 50 years since the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. And I mention it only because, well for me, it’s a bit of family history. My father Billy Fisher was the arranger for the CBS Orchestra led by Ray Bloch for the entire 23 years of the Sullivan Show as well as when Jackie Gleason was headquartered in New York. Well, dad wasn’t much of a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan but knew that I was excited about this particular British group of long hairs, so he waited at rehearsal for them to show up so he could obtain their autographs for me. But, unfortunately as we all know they were long delayed by legions of screaming fans that greeted them at the airport. They didn’t make it and so the autographs did not happen. Just four months later in June of 1964 Dad arranged for my Cub Scout den to attend the Sullivan Show, even worked it out for Wagon Train actor Robert Horton whose act he had done the musical score for to come out after the show and pose for a picture with us. But Horton apparently forgot and left, so a scrambling show stopper instead brought out Ed Sullivan himself to pose with our group. Well, we were in awe, and I have posted the picture on our website ExtremeGenes.com. In the late 60s Dad would often take me and my bother to the Ed Sullivan Theatre for rehearsals, but that experience in 1964 was an absolute highlight.

And as a follow-up, just last fall while my wife Julie and I were visiting New York and because of that family history, the staff for the David Letterman program which now records at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, kindly invited us onto the set of the Late Show. The place looked very much the same as I remembered it back in the day with some renovations. We got to visit with Paul Shaffer the current CBS Orchestra Band Leader and announcer Alan Kalter. Then they sat me at Letterman’s desk with my wife in the guest seat for pictures. More than just a tourist thing, it was true family history nostalgia and I was deeply grateful for the hospitality, though the questions they asked me about the Sullivan days I felt a little bit like a celebrity guest myself! I’ve also posted that picture at ExtremeGenes.com and I figure I’ll just keep going back every 50 years. And coming up next, the ultimate “extreme genie” a lawyer from New York who’s so hooked on family history he’s not doing a whole lot of “lawyering.” We’ll talk about his ruthless determination and strategy for breaking down a 400-year old family history wall and what he found behind it, next on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 28

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Adrian Benjamin Burke

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, and my next guest is a guy I’ve run into along the trail and you talk about an “extreme genie.” He is a lawyer in New York City who got it into his head that he wanted to break down a 400 year old wall because well, it just had to do with his ancestors. Adrian Benjamin Burke is on the line. Hi Adrian! How are you?

Adrian: Good Scott. Thank you for having me. 

Fisher: You know, we’ve been exchanging emails for a long, long time. It’s like the first time we’ve ever actually spoken.

Adrian: True. It’s wonderful.

Fisher: And I will say right away, you are a mad man when it comes to this stuff. 

Adrian: Well, I have been accused of being a bit obsessive about genealogy that is true.

Fisher: Let’s go through this just a little bit. Your ancestry goes back to Scotland and you and I actually share these people, and it comes to a family named Duncanson that happened to have several sisters that all married and then wound up going over to New Amsterdam. And so actually, probably, millions of people descend from these Duncanson sisters who married into Teller, Glen, what were some of the other ones?

Adrian: Oh geez, the Glen family, the Teller family, the Powell family.

Fisher: Right.

Adrian: And the Orchid family.

Fisher: Right.

Adrian: So there are actually quite a number because the four sisters, a few of them had multiple marriages and say within two generations, I haven’t counted it up yet but I’d say there were probably close to a 100 great grandchildren. 

Fisher: Right, at that point.

Adrian: Um hmm.

Fisher: So right now there’s just thousands of people who descend from this family, and the original breakthrough is made in the late 90s by our friend Gordon Remington who’s been on the show several times. The story was great because he’d been in an auto accident and had o recover from some injuries, couldn’t do much, and he ran across some story relating to these families in New York. And he said, “Ha! I wonder if I can find something on that back in Holland.” Which he did and he started putting it together that these weren’t Dutch, they were Scottish! And he did a great article in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society record. Now, fast forward several years later and here you come along and you say, “Hey, I think there’s more to this story.” And you picked it up from there. 

Adrian: Correct. I think it was in 2002 when I read Remington’s article. And what interested me the most was that the Duncanson sisters’ paternal grandfather was the personal minister to King James the VI of Scotland and first of England. 

Fisher: Right. And we’re talking you know about the guy who made the King James Bible? 

Adrian: Yes. And this was the household minister of Reverend John Duncanson who was the minister in the King’s household beginning as early as say, the King was fifteen, sixteen months old at the time. 

Fisher: Right.

Adrian: He was just an infant and he was being nursed by his wet nurse Helen Little, and Reverend John Duncanson stayed with the King about forty years. He didn’t die until 1602 I believe. And the Duncanson sisters’ mother was name Helen Livingston, and given the prominence of the Livingston family here in New York, of course Robert Livingston is quite well known and also in Scotland. I assumed, and I assumed correctly that this Helen Livingston came from one of the prominent Livingston families at the time. 

Fisher: Right. Now you went all out to find this stuff. What kind of law do you do by the way Adrian? 

Adrian: I was hired by a large law firm here in New York City to translate legal records from Italian, French and Spanish, and the past eight years I’ve been doing that and at the same time researching the Duncanson sisters’ ancestry. 

Fisher: Right. And you’ve got a bunch of descendents together who helped fund this thing. I mean, you guys have spent like thousands of dollars on this to break through the line and actually hired somebody over in Scotland and you’ve been over there as well. 

Adrian: Yes. I went over there just a couple of years ago after much of the research had been done. And what was really wonderful was, I started preparing for the trip many, many months in advance and I knew I wanted to hit some of the major markers that the families’ ancestors had. One of them for example was a church called Saint Ninians which is in Sterling, and the Duncanson sisters’ maternal grandfather was Reverend Henry Livingston of Saint Ninians and I arranged ahead of time with the Sterling City Council to get access to the church yard. It’s now in ruins. All that remains is the church tower and there are grave stones around it. And it’s entirely closed off. So what I did was, I explained to the council that I was a descendent of the Reverend Henry Livingston, I was going to be in Scotland and I really wanted to visit the ruins of the church that he preached from. And they were very accommodating. I arrived, I got the key to the gate, went in, I was able to explore the church yard. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Adrian: Many of the gravestones have skull and crossbones on them, a little bit more by modern standards, and I was able to basically stand where the alter would have been. And it’s now just an overgrown field. And I did the same thing in our law where the Duncanson sisters’ father, Reverend James Duncanson preached from the old medieval Saint Mungo's Church which is also in ruins. And I went to the Castle Tower of Alloa and persuaded the nice ladies who volunteer there to let me in the church yard ruins as well and I was able to spend about an hour or two just prowling around the bend and cemetery. It was great fun.

Fisher: Oh it is great fun to do that kind of thing. You sent some pictures over too. We’ve got them posted on our website at ExtremeGenes.com and people can see this. You know, I think the thing that’s important for everybody to understand, even if you’re not related to these people, this process that you’re going through is something that anybody can do for their ancestors and to track them down. And it is an adventure. It’s almost like being in your own Hardy Boys Detective novel. 

Adrian: It is. And I think what was really unique about this project was as you mentioned before, I brought together four descendents of these sisters and we pooled our money and I took the lead in organizing the actual research. We hired a researcher in Edinborough in Scotland. We hired a woman by the name of Diane Bapty who is an excellent researcher in archives and she went through unpublished manuscript materials that basically no one’s ever gone through before, at least with this kind of purpose looking for this Duncanson and Livingston family. And the results were tremendous, and then I made similar discoveries of my own from my living room just on the internet using the Google Books database and I was able to complete two identifications of ancestors just using Google Books. But you have to know how to do it. It’s not easy.

Fisher: No it’s not. Although if you start doing it and playing with it, you can self teach I think.

Adrian: Yeah. Well that’s what I did. 

Fisher: Right.

Adrian: We came down to learning how to imagine different spellings of these words in 16th, 17th century records. They never spelt a word the same way twice.

Fisher: No they didn’t. [Laughs]

Adrian: And Livingston was spelt Levingston, Livingstone, Livingstoon, all different combinations. And believe it or not, I was able to identify the sisters’ grandmother by doing just that. I typed in Helen Levingston instead of Livingston and a document came up from a published book that was made about 150 years ago and that was what allowed me then to identify Helen’s mother. And it was just a matter of luck. 

Fisher: Well, not luck, it’s hard work. You know, you make your own luck in my mind. 

Adrian: Right, exactly.

Fisher: And you have absolutely been doing that. And the thing I’ve always kind of maintained is a couple of things that come to mind. Number one is that there is no correct spelling. We think these days about well, this is how my name is spelled. But there are so many reasons that it can be spelled in different ways as you go back that you can’t think that way anymore when you’re researching. And the other thing is that there is behind these brick walls that we have in our lineages sometimes you know like in your case, 400 years old. I guess I’d say our case because we share this.

Adrian: Of course, we’re cousins.

Fisher: We are. But there’s a city behind that wall and it’s so fun to break through and find all the lines that go in so many different directions, including lines going back to Robert the Bruce. 

Adrian: Yes. Yes. In fact, Duncanson sisters descend from King Robert the III of Scotland. That’s the most recent ancestor. And it’s interesting because Catherine Duncanson who was the youngest of the four sisters was actually the first to arrive in what was New Amsterdam, now of course it’s New York City in 1639. And she descends from King Robert the III in just nine generations making her I believe the earliest immigrant to Colonial America with such a short royal pedigree, if you understand what I’m saying. 

Fisher: Interesting, yes. Now let’s talk about Helen Little a little bit. You mentioned her earlier, and she was the wet nurse for King James the VI he of the King James Bible, how did she wind up in that situation? What do you know about her?

Adrian: Well, she’s a fascinating figure primarily because so little is known about her. The only thing that’s ever really been said about her was that she was a drunk. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Adrian: And that when she was nursing King James as an infant, her intoxicated breast milk caused him many illnesses and contributed to his later health issues. In fact, my basic thesis is that was not the case, or at least she’s been misbranded I believe. She was a very important figure in King James’s life because she stayed with him for at least forty years. And that’s not something you would expect if he blamed her for causing all his health problems when he was nursing. And her family stayed with him as well. And this is how it comes into the Duncanson family. Helen Livingston’s mother was Agnes Gray who was the daughter of Helen Little. And so, Agnes was just a child and lived in Sterling Castle with her mother and at least a couple of her sisters. And when she grew up she married the Reverend Henry Livingston whose family also served the Stewart family. His brother served under Queen Mary, and again they served with King James. And so the Duncanson sisters, their entire immediate ancestry all centers around Helen Little and the court of King James.

Fisher: It’s a fascinating thing and of course there are many descendents. Especially if you live in the New York area and you descend from those from New Amsterdam, you may have the blood of the Duncanson sisters in you through the Tellers, the Glens, the Allans, the Orchids, you can check out your line and see if you tie in. Adrian, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. I hope you don’t lose your job with all the work you’re doing. 

Adrian: I hope not too. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Keep up the good work. We look forward to seeing where this goes.

Adrian: Thank you. Thank you very much.  

Fisher: All right, and coming up next, a couple of the Roots Tech stars on digitizing your ancestral photo collection, next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.                      

Segment 3 Episode 28

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rick Lipper and Chris Hart

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth, with a couple of news friends that I met at Roots Tech this past week, Rick Lipper and Chris Hart of E-Z Photo Scan. Hi guys, welcome to the show!

Rick: Good, yeah. Thanks. 

Chris: Hey, great to see you. 

Fisher: These guys do some amazing things in the world of preservation. They kind of hang out with our Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, and you are doing a national effort to help people understand and to give them the means to preserve massive quantities of old photographs, and I love what you do. Rick, tell us about it.

Rick: Well, actually what we’ve done is we incorporate some new technology that’s been out for a couple of years now to help folks move away from the flat bed scanning of their photographs and their heritage photos. 

Fisher: One at a time, in the office, yes. 

Rick: Yeah, one at a time in and out or maybe that multi format unit that’s a scanner and a fax and all that. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Not that I have one of those.

Rick: No, no, no. And do it in high quality and high speed. And be able to do literally shoebox after shoebox and get that whole collection done and preserved in the right way, in high quality. 

Fisher: Okay, so what does the right way mean?

Rick: The right way mean, it’s preserved in a high resolution.

Fisher: Right. 

Rick: And it’s preserved on a media that’s going to last a long time for us.

Fisher: Right.

Rick: And it can be shared then for not only now but for generations to come. 

Fisher: Yeah, that’s the thing, and you guys have done great work. You’re based in Florida. 

Rick: We are. 

Fisher: Just a little north of Orlando. 

Rick: That’s right.

Fisher: Beautiful area, smart man. 

Rick: [Laughs]

Fisher: I love one of the things that you did during a disaster. You actually went out with your machines and helped people save their photos, after what was it, a hurricane? 

Rick: Well, we had some tremendous rains come through and that brings some flooding and the human devastation first of all, you want to take care of that first. But then, they start looking around and they go, “Oh my! In the closet was my photos!” 

Fisher: Right.

Rick: “My photos, my photos!” 

Fisher: “My parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents, my kids.”

Rick: Exactly. So we lent our resources and helped these folks out a little bit and we were able to save some of these stories, and there were some amazing stories.

Fisher: Well you know, I went through a flood, nothing like what you’ve described, where I had tremendous damage, I mean thousands of dollars in damages in my home, my yard. And did lose some photographs, where they actually wound up sticking to the glass frame. And you know, you can never peel it out again. And what do you do with things like that? But you’ve got this solution for stuff like that. 

Rick: Yeah, we actually had an interesting case where we had a newscaster, a television newscaster. And the only photo of his mother as a child had been damaged. It had been adhered. Some material had gotten onto the photo, had gotten onto the plate glass that had been protecting it, and it got glued down. 

Fisher: Ugh.

Rick: And he came to us and asked if there is anything we could do. “This is the only photo of my mother in existence as a child.”

Fisher: Oh! 

Rick: We worked with the photo, we were able to digitize it, preserve it, restore it and bring it back. And when we brought it back for him, it brought tears to his eyes. 

Fisher: Wait a minute. Hold on a minute, a TV newsman was in tears? 

Rick: Yeah. [Laughs]  

Fisher: This is hard to imagine. 

Rick: But you know that’s the thing, it’s just about touching lives and preserving and you guys do this so well. Where’s this going in the future? 

Rick: Well, you know it’s not only just individuals but it’s businesses as well. Some of our clients are businesses. In fact, Chris spent almost a year with a huge client, maybe he’d like to tell you a story or two about that.

Fisher: I’d love to hear that, Chris. 

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. Ripley Entertainment, their worldwide headquarters are in down in Orlando, and they contacted us and they said, “We’d like to preserve 100 years of Robert Ripley’s cartoons.

Fisher: Oh! [Laughs]

Chris: Yeah, photographs, all the supporting documents and everything. Originally they wanted us to flatbed everything and we said, “Sure, we’d love to take up about a ten year residency with you and we’ll happily do that.” But yeah, we presented them with the equipment and everything that we have right now and we were able to talk them into letting us do it and we were able to do one hundred years worth in like Rick said, in probably a year which in the end of it come to find out the last endeavour to do that took about two and a half years.

Fisher: Wow!

Chris: So they thought we were crazy.

Fisher: Because you could do it that fast.

Chris: Yeah, yeah.

Fisher: And you did. So you reduced the time by stupid amount, I mean 80 percent or something. 

Chris: Absolutely, absolutely. 

Fisher: And so how many cartoons or whatever it was are we talking about here?

Chris: When you look at a hundred years worth of Ripley’s Believe it or Not cartoons, you’re looking at one cartoon per day.

Fisher: Yes. Oh! [Laughs]

Chris: Yeah and including Sundays, yeah. 

Fisher: Okay. 

Chris: It adds up a little bit yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: All right, yeah. Oh wow! Thirty six thousand or something like that, that’s insane! 

Rick: Yeah. It was a lot. But interestingly enough, the fact of the matter is that we rent this equipment out and have scanning parties for family reunions and folks. So they don’t have to buy this equipment, you can just rent it and use it.

Fisher: Right. Oh yeah, yeah because it would be very expensive I’m sure.

Rick: So folks can come together and they can bring their photos, and it’s not unusual for a family reunion to do ten, fifteen thousand photos in a weekend. 

Fisher: What?! 

Rick: Yeah.

Fisher: Ten to fifteen thousand in one weekend? [Laughs]

Rick: And these folks come back and they tell us these stories, and of course we ship this equipment all over the country and they tell us the most amazing stories about how family members, distant relatives will have come together and said, “I didn’t know you had this, of this person.” And of course you know, any picture that you don’t know who that person is, is kind of useless.

Fisher: Yes, I have a bible that has a bunch of old pictures not marked. No idea who they are.

Rick: and if we don’t take the time now to use the technologies that are available and take the knowledge of this, the people around us and utilize that to preserve that knowledge and record it then it’s going to be lost forever. 

Fisher: Now, we saw Photo Face Match at Roots Tech as well. Now imagine taking some of these unmarked photos that show up through your scanning parties at these reunions and then you start matching up known photos of these people and you go, “Wait a minute, look at this, 80 percent likelihood it’s the same person.” What a powerful tool of technology that is to go with what you do. 

Rick: And there’s other technologies like you saw in our booth, where we now have the QR codes where you can add additional information. Where you can actually record a person’s voice and add it to the picture and you can hear the person speak long after they’re gone. 

Fisher: Wow! What a great tool. I mean, where it keeps going, it doesn’t seem to have any end of imagination for so many people. 

Rick: We are actually probably at this point limited only by our imaginations.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] Well, tell some more stories of some of the recoveries you’ve had as a result of your technology? 

Rick: Well, you know, every week brings a new story. I think of just this week, just before coming out to Roots Tech we had a gentleman who passed away and a group of folks got together to have a memorial service for him, and his life was literally in a shoebox of photographs. And they brought them in to us and they asked if there’s anything we could do. We said, “Sure, we can digitize these and make them available.” We did it for them and we put them together. They put together a beautiful memorial service and had some of his friends and whatever relatives were available for him. It just kind of warms your heart that now this person who isn’t here with us anymore here on this earth, has an opportunity to live on. 

Fisher: That’s right. And I would imagine the relatives could all get a copy of that disk and the presentation.

Rick: Oh, that did. In fact we made multiple copies so that everybody had a copy, and it was kind of our gift to them. 

Fisher: Could you see the day where a funeral notice has a disk attached to it? 

Rick: [Laughs]

Fisher: Where they hand those out to everybody. Does that seem unreasonable?

Rick: No absolutely not. In fact, it’s now with the technologies, with the photo books and this kind of thing. It’s not unusual for them to actually be able to hand out a memorial book.

Fisher: Unbelievable. Great stuff! Guys, it’s a pleasure to have you here, and thanks so much for dropping by. And you know, we’ve got to plan a scanning party. 

Rick: Hey, let’s do it. Actually, let’s do a bunch around the country. 

Fisher: That sounds like a great plan. We will make plans for it. We will be in touch. They’re from E-Z Photo Scan, it’s Rick Lipper and Chris Hart, thanks for joining us. 

Rick: All right let’s get to it.

Chris: Thank you.

Fisher: And while we’re in the preservation mode, our Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace is coming up next. A little Q & A listeners questions he’s going to us for you next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 Episode 28

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. And we've been talking a lot about preservation today, and of course, in pops our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. It was great to meet these guys, Rick and Chris and few moments ago, and I know you work with them closely and you're all on the same page about preservation.

Tom: Absolutely.

Fisher: And we actually have some questions that have been sent in to the website. Question number one from, looks like Lisa Numan, she said, "I have a DVD of our son's wedding and wondered if we can capture photos from it. Their photographer disappointed them. And I thought this might be a way to obtain some photos for them. Possible?"

Tom: Oh, yeah, it’s possible. In fact, with today's new technology, it makes it even better. In the old days, we had to go and convert the video, you know, it’s made up of lines, like an old television. If you took a picture of the screen, you get lines and stuff. Nowadays what you can do is, get your DVD, put it in a BluRay player, even if it’s only a DVD, because it’s going to up convert it and make it better resolution, which we'll get to even more, and play it on your LED or your plasma television. Set up a tripod, put your digital camera on the tripod, set the screen so it’s not like what they call cantilevers, so its, all the corners are square, and hit pause when you get to the picture you want and shoot it with your digital camcorder.

Fisher: Really?

Tom: No lines, no nothing. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Fisher: Wow! That is, I would've never thought to do that.

Tom: Oh yeah, it’s very simple to do. And if you don't want to deal with it, send it in to us and we'll do that. Just tell us where the frame is, if it’s one minute and thirteen seconds or whatever, then we can take the picture for you, or you know, it’s a DIY project if you want to do it yourself.

Fisher: All right, we've got another question from Florida, Ryan Perkins writes, "My great grandmother delivered a portion of her life story around 1967 on a reel to reel audio, the tape is intact, however, the player is not. Can you download from a tape that is that old?"

Tom: Oh absolutely. In fact, we did some of these for you in the past, like your Paul McCartney tape. We can take reel to reel that's standard 1/4 inch, whether it’s one track, two track or four track. Send it in to us, and we can transfer it to either a CD or MP3s or both, whichever you want. And if the tape's really old and it breaks, we can edit it also. We can go in and edit, we can enhance it, we can fix splices. So even if it’s in poor condition, don't worry about it. Sometime you'll get old tapes that are actually flaking, put it in a Ziploc bag, get the air out of it, send it off to us and we can do a process that's called baking. We actually physically bake your tape and it makes the.

Fisher: What!?

Tom: Oh yeah, we actually bake it. The old shake and bake.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: We actually bake the tape and it gets the particles to re adhere to the polyester that the tape's made out of, and then we can transfer it, and it just sounds beautiful.

Fisher: And there are old tapes that also go in both directions that I have.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Are those recoverable as well?

Tom: Absolutely. We can go up to four tracks. So basically, if you're looking at stereo, a stereo tape would be, there's two tracks, but they're both going in the same direction.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: One's playing in the right ear. One's playing in the left ear.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Well, sometimes what they do is, they record mono, they record the right track on one direction, then the left track coming back.

Fisher: Yes

Tom: And so, if we have those, we can do that as well. If you have ones that have four tracks, as long as they're still 1/4 inch tape, we can transfer all four individually as well.

Fisher: Boy, it gets complicated though when you get back. And some of that technology is so ancient at this point.

Tom: Oh it is. We've got several players. In fact, we had one at Roots Tech to show off to people that, you know, had never seen one before, especially on Saturday, we had this big kids thing at Roots Tech and it was cool for them to see what a reel to reel track machine looked like, what wire recorders looked like, and it was really interesting.

Fisher: All right, we've got another question coming up after the break about regular 8mm and super8 home movies and how you take care of those. It’s coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 28

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back genies, it is Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. Your Radio Roots Sleuth, Fisher here with Tome Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And Tom's been taking questions from listeners. We've answered a couple of them last segment. And we have another one here from Nancy Lincoln, she asks, "We're interested in having some regular 8mm and some super8 home movies transferred and would like to know if you can do that sort of work and how much a foot would a typical dealer charge?"

Tom: Okay, that's a really good question. We’ve talked about this a little bit in the past. Let me go into a little bit more detail on it. Whenever you're transferring film, whether you send it to us or you have a local person do it or whoever you choose, there's some very specific questions you want to ask. You want to ask if they're truly doing it in high definition, if they're doing true high def or they're doing an up convert to high def, if they're actually physically scanning the film or if they're projecting the film and then shooting it.

Fisher: Wow, this gets complicated! Now go through each option here.

Tom: Okay. So what you want to do when you talk to somebody, say, "Do you scan my film in high def?" And if they say yes, then say, "Do you do it in 1080p, 16x9?" If they don't answer yes to all those questions, you don't want to choose them. You want to go to somebody that does. And the best way to prove if somebody is indeed scanning, tell them that you want jpegs of every frame of film so you can make prints later on.

Fisher: Right, of each picture. And I love that. And as we've talked about, you've done that for me. And you get photographs out of that, that you could never capture or find anywhere else, because each frame is a picture.

Tom: Absolutely. And it’s a good quality picture. It’s not like something that you've sat and scanned that has lines or something through it. It’s absolutely incredible, the 1080p, 16x9. So you want to make sure they do that. If for some reason you don't want photographs, you still want to ask them and tell them that you do want that, because if they say, "Oh yeah, we can do it." and then you don't want it, that's fine. But ask them. Tell them that you do want that. And if they say, "No, we can't do that." they're not truly scanning your film. So make sure you request true 1080p, 16x9, nothing that's up scanned. And also, if you're a professional editor, you want to make sure they can do it in a RAW format where they actually go edge to edge on the film, which means you'll actually see the holes that's in the film, the little sprocket holes. So if Aunt Mary's kind of below the hole, you can still get her. And make sure if you have any questions, just send the question to [email protected], and we'll give you a twenty five dollar credit on our online Shop.TMCPlace.com. Send us a question, we'll read it and you'll get a twenty five dollar credit.

Fisher: All right. Great service! What else do you have for us today?

Tom: Okay, real quickly. A lot of people have come into the store and called us and say, "Do I really want to transfer to DVD? Technology is changing so fast, I don't want to get stuck with a format that's going to be out of date five years from now. "

Fisher: Of course.

Tom: So basically, it’s not like the old days when they had betamax, when they had VHS, VHSC, video8, MiniDV, all these different formats that were totally foreign to each other. Now that people have got really, really smart, DVDs are backwards convertible, BluRays are backwards convertible. So basically, go and buy a BluRay player, it will play your BluRays, it will play your DVDs better than your DVD player, plus it will also play your CDs. So don't worry about getting old technology. DVDs will be around for a long time. Even if they go away in five, ten, fifteen twenty years, which I doubt, the new thing that replaces them will be back convertible that will play everything that came before it. So, don't wait. Go and buy yourself a good BluRay player and get it hooked up to your television. Don't wait.

Fisher: Well, you know, you really can't worry about what's going to happen down the line. It’s going to be in somebody else's hands eventually.

Tom: Exactly. And with everything being backwards compatible, you don't have to worry about other problems like you did in the old tape days. One thing, even if you don't have a new high definition television, go ahead and buy a BluRay player. Make sure you get one that has the connectors that are yellow, red and white, because you can hook those up to your current TV, and then when you can afford a big screen, you've already got your BluRay player that's going to play your DVDs better. And then once you get your widescreen television, just buy an HDMI cable, plug it in your BluRay and you're ready set to go.

Fisher: All right, great advice, Tom. Great to have you again! Thanks for joining us. We are done. Next week on the show, what you may have missed at RootsTech and a whole lot more. Have a great week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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