Episode 304 - Brianne Kirkpatrick On Helping Those With Unexpected DNA Results / Free Sites For Europe Research / Finding Passport Applications

podcast episode Nov 03, 2019

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher and David begin the show talking about a pair of sisters that learned that they were only half sisters. And one of them has a half brother that the other doesn’t have! Hear what that was all about. Then, a unique mapping project has found its way on line, identifying the location of some 2,700 furniture makers in London over nearly 300 years. What could that lead to next? David has some thoughts. The remains of a World War I soldier has been found, and even thought his identity hasn’t been determined, he has received his due honors. Halloween is now bringing about some historical/ancestral costumes you may be interested in hearing about. David will fill you in.  Then, the guys talk about Ancestry’s next big thing… Ancestry Health. Hear what the genealogy behemoth is up to now! Finally, in Egypt an incredible find has been made involving very well intact mummies dating back 3,000 years.

Fisher next visits with Brianne Kirkpatrick, founder of WatershedDNA.com. Brianne is a genetic counselor, the only known person in the country who specializes in people who get unexpected DNA results. Brianne has advice for people emotionally impacted by such finds, as well as for parents who fear their secret will one day be discovered by their child doing a DNA test. Hear her important advice.

Then Fisher chats with McKenna Cooper of LegacyTree.com. McKenna shares some free European websites that can help you in your journey, including one in Scotland and another in Eastern Europe.

Finally, Melanie McComb, genealogist with NEHGS handles Ask Us Anything and a listener question about passport applications and similar documents. They can be really valuable finds!

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

Transcript of Episode 304

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 304

Fisher: You have found us! It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. I am your congenial host Fisher on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this episode is brought to you by BYUtv’s Relative Race. It’s Season 6 right now, Sunday nights at 8 o’clock Eastern, 5 o’clock Pacific. Boy, we’ve got a show loaded with information today. Starting in about ten minutes I’m going to be visiting with Brianne Kirkpatrick. She is a genetic counselor, and she has a lot to say about people who are dealing with the discovery of secrets and those who are keeping secrets. You are going to want to hear that coming up. And then later in the show, Eastern Europe free sites for you to get to that can help you break open some of your lines there. And right now, let’s head out to Boston, Massachusetts and talk to my good friend, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. It is David Allen Lambert. What have you got for us this week David?

David: Well, I’ll tell you ExtremeGenes.com has got some really interesting stories this week.

Fisher: Yes, it does.

David: The first one goes out to Beantown where the late Sonny and Bertha Horowitz have died. Now, this happened a while back and their daughter, a couple of years ago, Julie Lawson, took the DNA test. And she also persuaded her sister Freda to take one too. What they found out is not your typical results. Both parents had an affair.

Fisher: Yeah. And what’s interesting about this is the one daughter found out that there was a half-brother, but the other sister didn’t share that half-brother.

David: Um hmm.

Fisher: Why? That meant mom had an affair which produced her and then the older sister who initiated all this found out dad had an affair and produced this other child. And so, the one has now gone and met her birth father which kind of annoyed the other. I mean, it’s been a mess and you’ve got to read about it on the website ExtremeGenes.com.

David: It really does open up a lot of the psychological issues that happen when families are merged together. You’re just never expecting some of these results. You’re expecting to find your family tree, and not a new half-brother.

Fisher: Or a birth father for a sister.

David: That’s true. And I can tell you that the brother looks just like the dad.

Fisher: Yep, he sure does.

David: [Laughs] You know, we take for granted the furniture that we have in our homes, and sometimes furniture comes over from the old country. In London, England there is a great little piece on furniture makers. Over 2,750 furniture makers are being layered in a map dealing with London from 1640 to 1914. And what’s really interesting about this is the application of this type of website with the maps and showing where they were located is applicable for genealogists. You could go through it and if they’ve mapped up where all the locations say where the butchers were living or all the location where the weavers were living. How amazing that would be based on censuses of England or even for that matter America. 

Fisher: You are right about that. In fact, York is famous for their butchers and there was a little street, a narrow street where often a lot of the waste from the animals was out there sitting or running through the streets. And that would be very interesting to see where some of the people’s ancestry was at that time.

David: I remember going to York. Some of the windows were so close together you could shake hands with your neighbor the way they kept them.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s true.

David: Well, staying in England for a little bit for Family Histoire News, we’re not entirely sure about the identity, but I can tell you that another hero from World War I has been interred. Recently, in 2017, a body was found during work in France. Obviously, a soldier because it was near a battlefield, and he has now been buried in a new military cemetery in France. He’s of unknown name, and also of unknown regiment, but where he was located would probably indicate he was of the British forces.

Fisher: Wow, isn’t that something? We’re still finding these people a hundred years later. And what I like about it is they’re still getting the care that they deserve.

David: Yes, the Commonwealth Graves Commission is amazing and I keep on seeing these new stories popping up. I’m always glad to share them. You know Halloween, what can we buy our relatives? Well, for my kids it’s always they figure out their own costume, but maybe dad now has a new one. There is a website called GearHuman.com and it is amazing. They are making these hoodies, Fish, with Revolutionary War uniforms, Civil War.

Fisher: [Laughs] I Love that!

David: Teddy Roosevelt, Napoleon. So, you can go as your favorite historical figure from your ancestor. So, imagine going to the Sons of the American Revolution wearing a hoodie from George Washington’s uniform with epaulettes. It’s kind of fun. 

Fisher: Ooh, I like the sound of that.

David: Well, the next story really is kind of a buzz in the genealogy community online. The “new kid on the block” doing DNA medical. It’s now AncestryHealth. They offer two tests. One of them is called AncestryHealth Core. That’s for $49, and that gives you health and wellness reports, guidance and resources on how to use results to better your life, and family health history tools, Now, for $98, twice the money, it now also includes the first six months of membership. That gives you health and wellness reports, guidance, family history tools, advance technology and new reports that will be coming up as they go deeper into this other aspect of DNA.                                            

Fisher: Wow.

David: Well, the next story kind of puts a close on my Family Histoire News. The Ministry of Antiquities in the Republic of Egypt, they have recently found over a dozen sealed coffins we would know as mummy cases, and these are all intact. They haven’t been opened up. They haven’t been pilfered. So, you know what that means? They found people’s ancestors and they may, by using the DNA of the enamel on the teeth, be able to determine if they have some relatives in the area. [Laughs]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Fisher: Oh wow! [Laughs] That’s incredible.

David: Well, that’s all I have from Beantown this week, but just remember, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors, you can join and save $20 by using the coupon code “Extreme.” And just a quick shout out to all of our friends in Iowa. I lectured at the Iowa Genealogical Society. They send their love.                                                                                

Fisher: Oh, I love that. That’s great! Back at you, Iowa Genealogical Society. And David, next week we want to get a full report on what happened in London with RootsTech over there, the first one!

David: Yeah, I’m looking forward to giving you all the details.

Fisher: All right my friend. And coming up next, it’s a woman who remains the only genetic counselor out there. She’s Brianne Kirkpatrick. She’s the founder of Watershed DNA, and she’s observed a lot of changes ever since all the surprises started coming out over the past few years. And she’s got some great advice for those who are dealing with the revelation of secrets and those who are keeping secrets. You are going to want to hear what she has to say coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 304

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Brianne Kirkpatrick

Fisher: Welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and you know, it seems like every time a story comes up about somebody getting surprise DNA results, there’s often a quote in that story from my next guest Brianne Kirkpatrick. She’s a genetic counselor. She’s a writer. She’s the founder of Watershed DNA, and Brianne, last time we talked, I think you were the only person in the field that was a genetic counselor and I think you still are. You are certainly the queen.

Brianne: Well, thank you. Yes, I am still the only genetic counselor that’s specializing in this area. Hopefully, that will change at some point. I definitely think that there is a need and demand for somebody who can kind of be the point person when one of these surprises comes out, to figure what somebody needs, how do we get them, the support that they need, and things like that.

Fisher: Now, we were talking off air as we were setting this up and you were telling me there have been a couple of changes since we last talked, I want to say a couple of years ago, that you’ve seen, that you’ve observed. And what are those?

Brianne: Yeah. So, I’ve noticed that I’m getting contacted by more people that are maybe not directly affected by the DNA discovery, other people in the family. So, for example, I’ve had the wives of biological fathers, birth fathers who’ve reached out for support and information. Also, newly discovered siblings who didn’t know they had an adopted sibling in the family, even children of people who are involved in a DNA family surprise. And most interestingly, I’ve had a couple of sets of parents who had been keeping a secret from their child about that child’s paternity, and have decided that it’s time to share the news with their child but aren’t really sure how to do this because they’d been keeping the secret for so long. So, I just noticed that because of how many people are affected by even just one DNA surprise, there is a lot of people who are looking for and needing support.

Fisher: You are absolutely right about that, and having seen it first-hand among some friends and people in my own circle who’ve been affected by it. It’s an impactful thing to make that discovery and I don’t know how you deal with that every day. Let me ask you this. You know, we’ve seen kind of a levelling off now of the DNA tests that are being taken. Are we seeing a levelling off right now of some of the surprises that have come along or are we still seeing an explosion of that?

Brianne: I do think that we will continue to see surprises being discovered, and you know, I kind of expect that it will only increase because sometimes it’s not immediately apparent to a person who’s done a DNA test that maybe they aren’t matching their family the way that they thought. And as people become more experienced with DNA matching databases and genetic genealogy in general, some of the surprises that have kind of been there for a while are going to be discovered. Some clients have reached out to me and said, “I did my test a two years ago, but it wasn’t until my sister did her test at Christmas that we realized well, we’re half siblings and not full siblings.”

Fisher: Right.

Brianne: So, yeah, I don’t think we’ve seen a levelling off of the surprises, no.

Fisher: Wow. There are so many complications with these unexpected discoveries you know, because nothing’s changed and yet everything’s changed because it goes right to the core of your identity and your roots. What do you tell people when they make a discovery, say for instance, that their father wasn’t their father?

Brianne: Well, I make sure people realize that they’re not alone in discovering what they have and for feeling the way that they do. Because I realized a lot of people initially think, “I’m the only one. I’m so alone in this.” And when I let them know that there are support groups that are available, there is a non-profit called NPE Friends that has developed because of the needs for people who make a discovery to realize that they’re not alone. So, I make sure to validate the way that they’re feeling and help them realize that there are ways to get through it, and seeing the experience as a traumatic discovery, a traumatic situation for a lot of people, so helping them connect with a therapist or counselor that specializes in trauma and helping people through these traumatic discoveries is a really key component to helping people get through it.

Fisher: So, you mentioned earlier you got calls from parents who were saying, “We’re thinking it’s time to reveal the secret.” And I would assume part of the reason that they would want to do that is because of the fact that DNA tests could ultimately out them and then they no longer control the narrative, right? I mean, it’s one thing to say okay, I’m going to shock you by telling you the truth. It’s another thing to be found out that you’ve been keeping it a secret. And that’s much more devastating to somebody I think to realize that there’s been something of a betrayal, right, or trust with parents.

Brianne: Exactly, because the parent-child relationship really depends on a foundation of trust.

Fisher: Yes.

Brianne: And so, when that trust is broken, you know, where do you go from there? And the good news is that it is possible to rebuild that trust, but I do recommend parents to, number one, get on the same page. So, if husband or wife, or partners are not on the same page about sharing the news with their child yet, I recommend they work with a couples’ therapist. And I’ve done some coaching of parents through writing a letter to share the news with their child and both of those couples have been working with the couples’ therapist. So, I think it’s important that number one, parents are on the same page, and number two, that there’s kind of a balance of urgency in sharing the news, because DNA tests can out it at any point, to also making sure that they are on the same page and have thought about how they want to communicate and what they want to tell their child in terms of how much details to go into versus just sharing news and things like that.

Fisher: Well, and I would imagine that’s the whole point of writing a letter. You can choose your words. You can kind of control it because it’s not a conversation. It’s not full of emotion. You’re thinking it through very, very carefully to kind of set the stage for what’s going on there, right?

Brianne: Right. And with a letter compared to a phone call or just springing it on to a person, it gives the parents a chance to make sure that they say everything they want to say instead of kind of being caught off guard or in a panic, using words that really don’t communicate with any one of them.

Fisher: Sure.

Brianne: So, so far it’s worked pretty well. And there’s no one size fits all to these situations. Every family is different and every relationship is different. Secrets are a matter of “when” a secret might come out, not a matter of “if’ at this point in time.

Fisher: Yes.

Brianne: And I don’t want that to panic people, but on the other hand there is that sense of urgency that, depending on how you want a secret to come out, you can either take active steps towards that or maybe passively just being prepared.

Fisher: Yeah. I had a friend and I had to inform her that her father wasn’t her father a couple of years ago. And it was very traumatic. It took a year to tell her siblings. And to this day she still hasn’t told her oldest son because he was really close to her dad, who has since passed. She was a middle child, like third or fourth out of six, so she was very angry at her mom and also angry at the birth father you know, for getting in the middle of the family, even though that’s the person who actually gave her life. So, it’s a very complex thing psychologically. And you know, I tell her, you know, you can control the narrative as far as what you tell your son at some point. But when cousins come to realize perhaps he doesn’t match, or something like this, or doesn’t match you, where they hear about it or they figure it out from your aunts and uncles, then you’ve lost control of the narrative, and that could be maybe even worse as far as the relationship goes.

Brianne: Yeah I noticed that. There’s a lot of fears about the “what if” and a lot of that what ifs never come to pass. And what I’ve learned from working with clients of all the different positions in a family is that it takes time. You can’t really speed up the process very much. But working with a counselor or being part of a support group those are all ways to help while the time is passing to adjust to the new idea of what family is, and the new idea of your own identity, or the identity of other people in your family. So, I do want to encourage people to know that it will get better. It does get better and families adjust at the new normal, the new reality, but they can do it.

Fisher: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely they can. And we’ve seen it over, and over, and over again. If you were going to recommend a place where people can get support quickly, easily, inexpensively, where is the best place to go?

Brianne: The support groups on Facebook are free. So, a couple of them on Facebook if you search for DNA Surprise, or NPE Friends. There are also some websites. There’s Severance Magazine. SeveranceMag.com is another place I send people to. And then if they are interested in connecting with a counselor or therapist to work with near them, psychologytoday.com has a search tool where you can search for a therapist in your network, in your location, and those would be my top recommendation.

Fisher: There is some sites that have what, over 5000 people on them on Facebook.

Brianne: Right.

Fisher: So, all there to help each other. And it’s usually closed, is it not?

Brianne: Yes. The groups are closed. Some of them are secret, meaning, you can’t even see the group exists unless you know about them and have access to the gatekeepers. So, there’s various levels of privacy. The closed groups, the comments can’t be seen. Secret groups, the members can’t even be seen except by those within it.

Fisher: Awesome stuff. She’s Brianne Kirkpatrick. She’s a genetic counselor. She’s a writer, founder of Watershed DNA. Brianne thanks so much. Really appreciate it because I think it’s so relevant to the times right now, and we look forward to talking with you again in the future. 

Brianne: Thank you. Thanks Fisher. It was great to catch up.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk about some European sites that are free that might help you out especially if you’ve got some Eastern European ancestry, on the way in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 304

Host: Scott Fisher with guest McKenna Cooper

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and you know we’re always trying to find you little tips to help make your research journey into your family discoveries a little bit easier. And McKenna Cooper who is a researcher and editor with our sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists recently posted a blog. It’s a very lengthy title so just bear with me here. It’s the “Statistical Accounts of Scotland: An essential tool for Scottish Family History Research.” That just about took up all your space, didn’t it McKenna?

McKenna: [Laughs] It did.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, welcome to Extreme Genes. It’s great to have you. I was really impressed by a couple of things you talked about and one of them was this Statistical Accounts of Scotland. I’ve never gotten involved in that. And we will talk about the link because that thing is really long as well, a little bit later on. But, tell us about a story that you discovered from this and then what we find on that site.

McKenna: Yes. The statistical Accounts of Scotland were created all across Scotland by local parish priests in the 17 and 1800s and so they have really interesting details of daily life in these little parishes, the main occupations of the people, local sights of interest, and lots of little details you wouldn’t normally get about them where your people were from.

Fisher: Okay. You made an actual discovery using this site that I thought was really interesting.

McKenna: Yeah. So, I was doing some client research and this person’s ancestor was listed as a handloom weaver and also as a salmon fisher in various records that I thought was a little bit unusual to be swapping between those two occupations.

Fisher: Yeah, because you would think that would be two people, right?

McKenna: Right. You would think so, but it was very clear he had the same wife in these records that it was the same guy. So, I looked up this little town of Newburgh in Fife in Scotland, in the Statistical Account and it turns out that the people there were sailors and weavers both and they swapped between the occupations depending on how the fishing was going or how the weaving industry was going.

Fisher: Oh, wow. So, the minister wrote this whole thing up about that particular parish?

McKenna: Um hmm.

Fisher: Wow.

McKenna: Yeah, he said it was a provincial town inhabited chiefly by sailors and weavers, possessed of small properties and nearly on a level with respect to riches.

Fisher: [Laughs] I love the way they wrote back then. That’s great. But he said they swapped back and forth between those, so that kind of cleared up any confusion in your mind about who you were looking at, right?

McKenna: Yeah. So, it sounds like when the cloth prices went down, they tended to fish more.

Fisher: Um hmm. And then when the fish would go sail off to someplace else they’d probably do more weaving, right?

McKenna: Yeah, I suppose so. Yep, and if the weather was bad or something.

Fisher: All right, so this is really hard to do, the website for the Statistical Accounts of Scotland, but I’m going to make an attempt and I would just say this to anybody listening, you really want to get to the link. You can do it through our website ExtremeGenes.com. We’ve got a summery there of course, with a link to it as well as the transcript to the show that will have a link as well. So, it is StatAccScot.EdinA.ac.uk. That’s why we have to have a link on the website because that’s impossible. But it is free, right?

McKenna: It is free and if you just Google Statistical Accounts of Scotland it comes up.

Fisher: Oh, well that’s a much easier way. Why did you put me through all that McKenna?

McKenna: [Laughs] Sorry.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, let’s do that of course. Now, you had another free site that was mentioned in there for European research and that’s a thing called, “Mapire” and I’ve never been to this before, it’s Mapire.eu and it covers mostly what? The old Hungarian empire and then plus some others that are kind of coming along? What’s in that?

McKenna: Yeah. So, it’s a collection of historical maps of Europe, mostly the old Austria, Hungarian Empire which covers Hungry, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, a lot of those countries.

Fisher: Um hmm.

McKenna: And it was created by a lot of the Hungarian archives but they also have partnerships with a couple other archives in Europe, and so they have maps from all over, historical maps.

Fisher: You know, that is so important and I did this recently in researching one of my ancestors over in England. When you’re looking for somebody, they’re often of the same name, they often share the same time where they were christened. You want to find out where some of these places are in a map that you’re associating with. So, for instance, we had a first child born to my ancestral couple in 1805 and then we started looking for, okay, where’s a christening for the father 25 years earlier roughly, and found that there is one just three miles away from the village where his child was christened in 1805 and everything kind of came together from there. So, when you can look at a map and look up some of these places and then start comparing the villages you are aware of that are associated with that family, you can start to figure out whether it makes more sense that they were from nearby or maybe it doesn’t work that way at all. I don’t know. But that sounds like a great tool. Mapire.eu and both of these things are free, right?

McKenna: Yes, both of them are free.

Fisher: What else do you have McKenna?

McKenna: So, on Mapire there’s a collection of cadastral maps which were land-use maps but they’re really cool because they’re extremely detailed. So, if you can find your village in Hungry, for example, it will show you where the forest was, even what the buildings were made of. So, the brick buildings are in a different color than the stone buildings. Also, it includes the house numbers and sometimes even names of the tenant farmers.

Fisher: Oh, wow.

McKenna: Yeah, if you can find the house number listed in a parish register, you can go find exactly where the house was on the map and even what kind of material it was made of sometimes.

Fisher: Well, that would be so much fun and I think many of us have done this over times when we found a location of where an ancestor lived, and now you can actually go visit that place.

McKenna: Yeah.

Fisher: And periodically, when you do that you might find... I remember I went to Germany not long ago, and I went to this little village our people were from and I just went down the area where my people lived and there were still folks with the family name on the mailbox from 400 years ago, you know. And it was like, okay, there are people here who are related to that family still and sometimes you can visit with them and get more information out of them.

McKenna: Yeah, it’s super cool. The maps on Mapire are actually dual-referenced so you can look at it right on top of a modern map and see if your house is still standing as well.

Fisher: Oh! That’s incredible. Who created this thing?

McKenna: The archives in Hungry. They worked with several scientists to create the geo-referencing but it’s all listed on the website.

Fisher: It sounds like it’s got a lot of great features there.

McKenna: There’s even 3D maps and you can do side by side themes and those are really neat.

Fisher: Wow. Do you use this quite often in your research? Because Eastern European research has typically been very challenging and this sounds like something that could really open the doors for a lot of people.

McKenna: Yeah definitely. I’m an Eastern European specialist and a lot of times the town names have changed between you know, three different languages ,and so often if I’m having trouble figuring out where exactly a place was, pulling up a historical map can be really useful to show especially villages that don’t exist anymore, where exactly they were and what they were called.

Fisher: Um hmm. Is it often just a name change or is it that a village that was lost in a war and they rebuilt it and gave it a new name?

McKenna: Often time the name changed because the regime changed.

Fisher: Um hmm.

McKenna: So, this is when Austrians were in charge, it was in German but then it reverted back to maybe the Czech side and now it’s in Czech and things like that.

Fisher: Right on the boarders. Unbelievable. She’s McKenna Cooper. She is a researcher and editor for our friends at Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’s telling us about Mapire.eu and the Statistical Accounts of Scotland, whose website is way too long for us to go over one more time. [Laughs]

McKenna: [Laughs]

Fisher: But like she says, Google it, you can find it. It’s really useful as well. Hey, great tips and great story too about the guy with the different occupations at different times of the year. It sounds like it’s really helpful stuff. I appreciate it McKenna, and we’ll talk to you again some time.

McKenna: Thank you for having me.

Fisher: All right, and coming up next it’s another “Ask Us Anything” segment with Melanie McComb from the New England Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 304

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melanie McComb

Fisher: And it is time once again for “Ask Us Anything” on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth with my good friend, Melanie McComb from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. She's a staff genealogist there. Welcome back, Melanie. It’s great to have you.

Melanie: Thanks for having me back, Fisher. Always a pleasure.

Fisher: And we have an email from Ken in Las Vegas, and he says, “I see a reference to a passport number on a ship manifest. Is there any benefit to tracking down their application for the passport? Would it still exist and how do I find it?” Good question, Ken. What do you say Melanie?

Melanie: Great question and definitely something that I've come across. So, the National Archives here in the US, they have worked with Ancestry and FamilySearch to digitize their passport applications. And these go back actually pretty far. You know, we think about passports being one of the modern forms of ID to travel, but they actually were issued back as far as 1795 for this collection, all the way to 1925.

Fisher: Wow! Are they all done yet?

Melanie: I think so. I think they’ve actually finished this collection a few years back, so it’s definitely worth taking a look. And a lot of it is already indexed too, so you can actually search for your ancestor in this collection.

Fisher: The early ones though did not have really a lot of information in them, did they?

Melanie: Correct. Right. It’s the later ones where you’re going to start seeing more of the photographs and more detailed information on their addresses and where they’re going. It’s going to be more basic just to capture a form of ID when they’re travelling overseas.

Fisher: I think there's so much great stuff in there. You mentioned the photographs and I found the only photograph that anybody in our family has ever seen of the brother of my grandfather.

Melanie: Oh wow!

Fisher: And he was working as, I think they call it a scullion. So, I learned about a new occupation, which was basically, he was just, you know, cleaning the dishes on the ships so he could go overseas. But his photo was on there. It had testimony as to his birth and knowledge of the family, because he didn't have a birth certificate. And so we got a little history there. But you’ll get full birth dates, birth places, relationships, testimonies from other people sometimes but the photographs starting, I want to say in the mid 19 teens, 1913, 1914, somewhere in there. And a lot of those are available right now through Ancestry. And are you saying we're going to see those too on FamilySearch?

Melanie: Correct. The same collection is also duplicated on FamilySearch, so you can actually search them for free, even better.

Fisher: That's awesome, yeah!

Melanie: And there's so much biographical information, you're right, and I recently did a blog post on a more distant cousin of mine, second cousin three times removed, who was a war veteran that was disabled. He was actually blind. And my great grandfather accompanied him and that was noted on the passport applications.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Melanie: What's also great about the applications is that they even tell you on what ship they're expected to go out on, so then you can go and look for the next passengers’ record showing where they're going to and see what else you can find on their journey.

Fisher: Yeah, wow! So, Melanie, are there other types of ID for international travel that people like Ken might be able to get?

Melanie: Yes. There's also a visa that someone could apply for when they're coming here to the US or going overseas where they're still going through the federal government to get permission to travel. Though they typically going to be handled through the US Citizenship Immigration Services, they do have a search fee required to conduct a search, but then they could obtain those visas, unless you're going to be more recent. So, you start seeing visas start really being issued around, you have the 1940s, 1950s. So, if they look into their grandparents, there could be other applications, and they do have those on file.

Fisher: Hm! But they're not online yet anywhere.

Melanie: Correct. Right. Due to the privacy, depending on the country, a lot of our records are going to be after about 1925, that's when they're coming under the purview of the federal government, because they could be living individuals involved.

Fisher: All right, thanks so much Ken for your question. And you know what Melanie? We ought to talk about other countries and what they've issued for ID, for passports and the like, and what might be out there as well. We'll be back in three minutes with more on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 304

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Melanie McComb

Fisher: Back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I’m still thinking about Ken's question here on “Ask Us Anything” about passport applications, and I just remembered that old TV show where the guy would always say, "Let me see your papers." [Laughs] And Melanie McComb is on the line. She's a genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Melanie, what about foreign countries? Now, they must have passport material as well, but I'm not as familiar with information about other countries being online. Anything from Britain or France or Germany or Eastern Europe that you're aware of?

Melanie: Yes. And there are several that are starting to become digitized and come online as well. So, one collection that I like to look at is the Lithuanian internal passports. And what was interesting about this collection here, and these run from 1919 to 1940, these records were actually used as more of a form of ID when you were travelling within the country, rather than travelling overseas.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Melanie: So you had to have it on your person if you need to present it to a police officer or any other government official or something.

Fisher: So, you're saying that you could actually find indexed references to that so somebody had a Lithuanian ancestor in that time period, that there might be some information on them there?

Melanie: Correct, right, and here's one collection that's available through Ancestry and My Heritage where they have indexed the information. If you could find the name, you'd also see the household number and passport number that is online, and then you could actually contact the state archives in Lithuania for a copy of the original passport application.

Fisher: Wow! Yeah, what would be on that application potentially?

Melanie: Sometimes they can get into the compiled record information, on where they were born, some of the makeup of the household, possibly maybe a street address or at least a region within the country that they're living. So, it could even be maybe a photograph that you could look for, because sometimes they've got them, too. See what's out there. But I mean, it’s exciting to know that these exist. So, I highly recommend, if you have anybody over, take a look to see if the passports are available through the index online.

Fisher: All right, any other countries?

Melanie: Yep. So, Romania has added a recent collection. I've even seen one through countries like Portugal. Portugal has actually added their registers and applications files and they actually go back as far as 1800 to 1946.

Fisher: Oh wow! Incredible! What about some of the countries that were involved in World War II? I mean, I know they have a lot of concerns about identification and we certainly see that bleeding over and the questions about DNA and what you can do and what can't do there. Are they keeping their old applications pretty tight or is that something that we might be able to see eventually?

Melanie: I think we'll start to see that over time. We're finding that a lot of the Russian archives are becoming more and more available.

Fisher: Right.

Melanie: So, I think that they're starting to work with some of the different agencies that either do family search or other areas. And what's nice about it, even if they just provide us the index, that's actually helping their archives, because then we could request it from their archives, they get the revenue from that and then they comprise the data and then we can share that that data exist.

Fisher: That's incredible, yeah, absolutely. What would be in a Russian application?

Melanie: Ooh, good question. I think the Russian were very detailed at what they were looking for. What's not included in those records. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] That's true. We're talking the Soviet Union days, right?

Melanie: Exactly, yeah. Even countries like Estonia and different parts of the Russian Empire they were capturing all your vital information, where you live, who you know, and then if they are true passports. If someone did leave, they had to get permission from the government to leave. So that could be something else that you might want to look into.

Fisher: Oh wow!

Melanie: To see if they did go overseas, did they keep a file with the government knowing where they went.

Fisher: Great stuff. Thanks so much. And great question too from Ken. He inspired a lot of conversation. If you have a question for “Ask Us Anything” all you have to do is email us at [email protected]. Melanie, great to have you on again, and we'll chat at you real soon.

Melanie: All right, sounds good. Thanks so much.

Fisher: Hey, that is it for another week! If you missed any of the show, of course catch the podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes or ExtremeGenes.com. Don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. You get all kinds of great links to stories you'll be interested in as a genealogist, links to past and present shows, a blog from me each week and it’s absolutely free. Talk to you next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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