Episode 318 - Photo Colorization Comes To My Heritage / “Your DNA Guide,” Diahan Southard, On Her New Book To Simplify Your DNA Experience / Memory Web Co-Founder Chris Desmond On Preserving Your Photos

podcast episode Feb 23, 2020

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin the show talking about a remarkable new tool from MyHeritage.com which allows you colorize your old photos! Everyone is having a blast with it as it works well for most photos.  Fisher and David talk about some of the emotion they felt seeing their old photos in a whole new way. David then announces his appearance on the History Channel on February 19th talking about Black Patriots for Black History Month. The show is hosted by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Next, an African-American cemetery from the colonial era is getting the DNA treatment. A company in Texas hopes to identify descendants of those interred in the cemetery in New Hampshire. The guys then talk about the recent find of underground Nazi bunkers near the beaches of Normandy. Hear what was in them.  David is excited that NEHGS has received a collection of Roosevelt family papers from the family of Theodore Roosevelt. Hear what the collection contains. David’s blogger spotlight shines on Carl Benedict McCarthy of New York City. Find his blog at ofaplace.com.

Next, Fisher visits with Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, who has written a book to help you strategize on meeting your DNA research goals. It is called “Your DNA Guide, The Book.” It is in presale right now at YourDNAGuide.com and you’ll be able to get your signed copy at RootsTech! Diahan explains how various DNA research goals require different strategies. She will share a couple.

Then, Fisher visits with Memory Web co-founder Chris Desmond who talks about some strategies for organizing, digitizing and sharing your family photo collection. He also explains how the Memory Web app simplifies organization like no one else can.

Sabin Streeter is in this week from PBS, filling in for Dr. Henry Louis Gates, talking about the latest episode of Finding Your Roots.  Sabin shares some remarkable stories from the show, one that is particularly fascinating concerning the origins of an ancestor of Tonight Show drummer Questlove.

Then, David Allen Lambert returns for another Ask Us Anything listener question. This one has to do with the War of 1812.

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

Transcript of Episode 318 

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 318

Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Wow, do we cover a lot of ground coming up today! We’re going to be talking to Diahan Southard. She is “Your DNA Guide.” She has written a brand new book and she’s going to be debuting it pretty much at RootsTech coming right up. We’re going to talk to her about that, some of the tips that you can learn from it. She is absolutely one of the very best at teaching the basics of genetic genealogy. Later in the show, we’re going to talk about preserving photos, and you’re going to hear a lot about photos today and you’ll hear why, coming up in just a couple of moments here. Chris Desmond from MemoryWeb is going to be on. We’re going to be talking about his system for that. Of course, at the back end of the show, as always, we’ll do another segment of Ask Us Anything. But right now, it’s time to head out to Boston and speak to the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. it’s the man with three names. It’s David Allen Lambert. How are you David?

David: Better than my grandfather who had four names.

Fisher: Four names?

David: He used all of them intermittently. [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh no. Really? He swapped them out. That’s not good at all. David, I’ve got to tell you I am just whooped because here, just a couple of days ago, our friends at MyHeritage released a new tool and I know you know about this

David: Oh, I know all too well.

Fisher: And for everybody listening who is not familiar with this, we did post some examples on Facebook. But, MyHeritage has come out with a new tool and you can colorize your photographs and it is just outstanding! And if you know anything about colorization, it typically takes an awful lot of time, often takes a lot of money to pay somebody to do it. And right now, as a member of MyHeritage, you have this amazing tool to colorize your own photos. Now, this doesn’t mean they replace the old ones because obviously, the original look special in their own right.

David: Hmm.

Fisher: But some of these pictures came out especially outstanding. And I think the first day I worked eight hours on this stuff.

David: [Laughs]

Fisher: I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much time in front of a screen and wasn’t exhausted at the end because I just kept going and going. And it’s so easy, you upload a photo, you push the button, it converts it and you go on to the next one. And so, you’ve got to check this out. I’ve got a picture of my dad on his high school baseball team in 1929. The whole picture is colorized with the whole crew. It’s unbelievable. An 1892 New Year’s Eve party with the Fishers in New York City, unbelievable. I will say, some of them, often because of the quality of the picture itself didn’t come out nearly as well, but for the most part it’s like 90% dead on. It’s terrific.

David: Yeah, today is actually the 100th anniversary when my great grandmother died. My eyes welled with tears because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a picture of her in color. She died in 1920.

Fisher: Wow! So, how did it come out overall? Do you think it was pretty good?

David: I thought it was excellent. Then I pulled pictures of my mother as a child and family reunions and things like that and I was just amazed! I have to tip my hat to Dan and all the team at MyHeritage for getting this available to genealogists because it brings them back to life for us once again.

Fisher: Yes. It’s interesting because I was doing it so fast and I was saving them into a folder on my desktop and then I stopped and I said, “Well, let’s see what I’ve got so far.” And then I started scrolling through them all and I got emotional. It was like a whole different experience with the same pictures I’m so very familiar with. Because it was suddenly like they were right there, and as my wife said it’s suddenly, oh, that’s how they looked in real life.  They weren’t black and white.

David: It’s very true. Well, remember the other day in December when I went to New York for a little while?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Couldn’t talk about it?

Fisher: Yeah. You were on a secret mission                                                

David: [Laughs] I was. And on February 19th at 10 p.m. on the History Channel, you get to see my smiling face as I am on Black Patriots: Heroes of the Revolution and this is going to be hosted by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Fisher: How cool is that!

David: Well, I’m really honored to represent NEHGS and be there and to talk about these heroes of the Revolutionary War that are often forgotten. Speaking of African Americans in the Colonial period, there is an African American cemetery that was found back in 2003 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Now they’re using DNA from a company in Texas called Othram and they’re going to try to extrapolate DNA to find descendants that live somewhere in New England or elsewhere from these 18th century enslaved individuals.

Fisher: Wow!

David: So, that’s exciting news.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s exciting. That’s going to be an interesting story when it happens.

David: Well, you know, the stories just amaze me how things can resurface because I remember hearing about it when the cemetery was found. In another story that you’ve heard of course about the 75th of D-day and you’d think that all the Nazi bunkers were found. Yeah, they found some more.

Fisher: Yeah?

David: These were located at Normandy at the Maisy Battery, basically two miles in from Omaha beach. I know you put the story on Extreme Genes, so why don’t you tell a little bit about what they found.

Fisher: Well, they found helmets in there. They found left-over parts of gas masks. I mean, there’s all kinds of stuff and they’re open to the public now. So, if you wanted to go to Normandy and check out these Nazi bunkers, you can do it, which is absolutely unbelievable.

David: You know, American Ancestors and the New England Historic Genealogical Society are the recipients of a collection of Roosevelt family papers from the Theodore Roosevelt Association of Oyster Bay, New York. Countless letters and photographs and genealogical material are now here at American Ancestors for scholars and researchers to use.

Fisher: Boy, I love that. I’m related to Teddy Roosevelt. I figured this out at some point. It’s amazing if you really get into your ancestries, especially if you’ve got early American ancestry from the South or New England, how many presidents you’re tied to.                                                                                    

David: My blogger spotlight this week shines upon Carl Benedict McCarthy of New York City who has a blog, not about New York City but where his ancestors came from in the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts where they lived for over 400 years. The blog is ofaplace.com. So, again, check out Carl McCarthy’s blog about how he’s looking at his ancestors from afar and blogging about it.

Fisher: All right.

David: Well, soon we’re going to be at RootsTech my friend and look forward to seeing a lot of our Extreme Genes genies and maybe we can have a meet and greet at the American Ancestors booth and I know you’re going to be at Legacy Tree.

Fisher: Yes, Legacy Tree Genealogists on Friday afternoon, actually recording a session right there with Paul Woodbury. And speaking of DNA David, coming up next I’m going to talk to Diahan Southard. She’s written a new book called Your DNA Guide -The Book and she’s got a lot to share with us about how you can get better at your genetic genealogy. It’s on the way in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 318

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Diahan Southard

Fisher: You know, in the entire industry I don’t think there’s a better teacher of the basics of genetic genealogy than my next guest, Diahan Southard, who’s stationed in Florida. Diahan welcome back to Extreme Genes. It’s great to have you.

Diahan: Thank you Scott. It’s always a pleasure to be with you.

Fisher: And I’m very excited because you have written a book about this stuff, and I think everybody who’s into genetic genealogy, who wants to understand how to work with the matches, has to have this book. First of all, what’s the name of it?

Diahan: So, it’s just called very simply “Your DNA Guide – The Book”

Fisher: Perfect. You must have slept on that for a long time!

Diahan: Well, it wasn’t my idea actually.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: It was my editor Sunny Morton who came up with that. I had all these great creative names of what we can call it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: And she comes back and she’s like, “Why aren’t we just calling it ‘Your DNA Guide’ like The Book because that’s what it is and that’s who you are.”

Fisher: And that’s who you are. The DNA Guide. Your DNA Guide. So, let’s talk about this. First of all, how long is it, and what level does it deal with?

Diahan: Okay. So, the book itself is about 230 pages and it should reach everyone at every level. That was my goal. I want to make this stuff accessible to anyone, and I tried to break down all the principles in a way that I think anybody could understand. But as you know, this stuff’s hard, right? It’s complicated.

Fisher: Oh yeah. I do it every day and I’m learning more and more, and I learn from my peers as well, and now I’m at a point where I feel really good about it. And just when you think you’ve got this down, you run into something, oh wait a minute, how’d that happen? I was helping somebody last week and we were getting all these matches and then we thought we had figured out who it was. She reached out to this one match, said, “Oh well, I think you’re looking for my dad’s cousin.” And I’m thinking well, how can that be? She’s got matches to both of the parents of this person. Well, it turned out that the cousin had grandparents who were brothers and sisters to the couple who were the parents of the other match!

Diahan: Oh my gosh.

Fisher: So, naturally they fit right in. So it all came together, eventually. But sometimes the narrative changes very quickly, doesn’t it?

Diahan: Well, it does. And so my goal with the book was not to provide just education or an overview. Some books have done that very, very well. For example, my dear friend Blaine Bettinger has written an excellent book on all of the principles and ideas that surround genetic genealogy and that definitely has value. But my goal was most people don’t have time to delve into genetic genealogy entirely. They just want an answer to their question.

Fisher: Right.

Diahan: Right. They just want to know the things they need to know to get to where they want to go. And that’s not everything. So, the goal of the book is to be more like choose your own adventure kind of book, where you are coming to the book with your questions. So, if you’ve got everything else sorted out and you don’t have many questions, you don’t need this book, okay.

Fisher: [Laughs] Right.

Diahan: But if you do have a question, then at the beginning of the book I lay out some basic principles and then I ask you what you want to know. Do you want to find your two times great grandfather? Do you just want to identify a mystery match, somebody who showed up on your match list, you want to figure out who it is? Okay, well, that’s our goal. And then I literally take you through step-by-step. I say okay, start here and do these things. All right, now I want you to look at what you have. Do you have situation A? Then I’ll send you to page 47. Do you have situation B? Okay, well, then you need to go to page 62. So, it’s extremely customized. So, I’ve got all of the steps. I’ve tried to figure out every possible, and of course, I can’t think of every possible, but all of the most common over the last five years that I’ve been consulting with people, I’ve taken all the most likely situations that you’re going to face, and I’ve tried to walk you through each single one individually.

Fisher: It is interesting because I do agree with you that there are certain types of situations that come up all the time. But what’s amazing is each situation has its own little twist. Every situation is just a little but different in one way or another. But I think having a guide to say okay, does it fall into this category or that, because let’s face it we do talk a lot about adoptees. We hear a lot of stories about people finding their birth parents for the first time, or half sibling as a result of something. But there are many of us who want to break through a brick wall, or want to prove that somebody actually wasn’t the blood ancestor of somebody else. And those situations are kind of complex especially the further back they go.

Diahan: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And even though like you said, every situation is definitely unique, there are some basic foundational processes that we go through every single time. And those can be taught, and that means they can be learned. And that means that even someone who feels like they don’t have a lot of experience doing this I’m going to hand feed you exactly the resources you need in order to get to the end of your goal.

Fisher: Now, Diahan, do you deal strictly with autosomal in this book, or do you delve into Y-DNA and mitochondrial also?

Diahan: So, there are resource sections on Y and mitochondrial, but basically, I’d say hey, if you’re looking for a male ancestor of any kind, find a direct male descendant and have them tested. That’s definitely going to help you.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Diahan: But other than that, it’s all autosomal really.

Fisher: Oh, all autosomal. Interesting. So, let’s take a case, you know I think we do spend so much time talking about adoptees and finding their folks that we tend to not talk as much about what many of us do or most of us do I would say of getting the DNA is trying to figure out okay, breaking through a break wall. And I’ve had some good luck with that helping on my wife’s side in particular. But I’ve got for instance a second great that I’ve never been able to figure out in 37 years, and yet I’ve got a lot of matches that just don’t fit anywhere else. And you wonder, well, could it be from there? And when you look at their trees, we don’t find anybody in common. It’s really frustrating when it comes down to that. Is there a strategy that you would deal with this kind of situation?

Diahan: Ooh Scott, I’m so excited! I can’t wait for you to try it. I can’t wait for you to try the book with your experience.

Fisher: Okay.

Diahan: You are exactly the kind of case that I’ve written the book to help for.

Fisher: Sweet!

Diahan: Absolutely. So, what I would recommend for you is something I call “the leftover strategy.” So, there are four key strategies outlined in the book that you’ll probably come across at one point or another. If you’re looking for an ancestor that’s not your biological parent, you’ll probably need to employ one of these strategies. So, the leftover strategy is what I call it, is when you do exactly what it sounds like you’ve already done.

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: You’ve basically assigned everybody in your match list to an ancestor, except this handful of people, right?

Fisher: Right. Yeah.

Diahan: You can’t fit these people into one of your other lines so they’re the leftovers.

Fisher: Yep.

Diahan: And then I teach you how to deal with that group of leftovers to figure out how you’re connected to each other.

Fisher: Yeah, and it’s strange because these people, there’s a lot of shared matches that shows up on Ancestry but it doesn’t show that any of them have anybody in common that I can say hey, wait a minute, looks like this one may be a descendant of these same people, and then start to narrow it down from there. So, it’s very challenging.

Diahan: Yeah, definitely. And that is the strategy. You’re right. You do need to look for commonalities between how these people are connected to each other. So, one thing that the book will take you through that may help is you have to decide what I call “What is the generation of your connection with each match.”

Fisher: Um hmm.

Diahan: So, you’re looking at this group of matches and some of them have small trees and maybe some have big trees, but when you look at each person and you think, when should I be connecting with this guy?

Fisher: Right.

Diahan: So, let’s say his name is James, right, and James is your fourth cousin according to Ancestry, right, but is he really your fourth cousin?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: Is James, you know, 94 years old, which means he’s actually some sort of removed cousin, or perhaps 20 years old.

Fisher: Yeah. Maybe a third cousin once removed or something. Yeah.

Diahan: Exactly. So, we take it through these processes to figure out okay, what is your relationship to James really? Or what is our best guess at your relationship to James? And then based on that, when do you connect to James?  Because if James is 20, and he’s your fourth cousin, then he’s actually maybe your fourth cousin twice removed, or once removed, right?

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: Which means you have to go back to his four times great grandparents before you’re going to find your common ancestor.

Fisher: Right. Yeah.

Diahan: So, if he doesn’t have that much genealogy, then you’re not going to see a common person, right, between him and the rest of the group. 

Fisher: Yeah.

Diahan: So, it really tells you how much genealogy you need to do.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Diahan: If you really want to accomplish this, you need to push James’s genealogy back to his four times great, all of them.

Fisher: Yeah. That’s it. I mean, at the end of the day we have to do other people’s research, right?

Diahan: Yes.

Fisher: [Laughs] And a lot of it sometimes.

Diahan: Um hmm. Exactly. But if you’re in a position you’re at where you’ve been working this for 30 plus years, and basically all of your other lines are pretty good, then you have time and motivation to do other people’s lists.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

Diahan: You really do.

Fisher: Yes I do. It doesn’t mean I have to share it with them. [Laughs]

Diahan: Well, that’s your choice of course.  But it’s actually really satisfying to take some of these small trees and start to push them back. Because so many of the records are still available for someone like you whose been doing genealogy and who’s totally capable of this and you just kind of start clipping along. You’re like, man, this ancestor fits here, and this one fits here, and I’ve got these records for this. It’s actually really fun.

Fisher: Oh yeah.

Diahan: They haven’t done it. A lot of times it won’t actually take you that long to push other people’s genealogy back to the generation you need it to be.

Fisher: Right. Right. Well, and one of the complications with this guy is, we think he’s got a fake name, a stage name. He was in theatre. We’ve never ever found anybody with the spelling of his name ‘Waldreaon.’

Diahan: Nice.

Fisher: It’s just complicated. And I do love the idea of the leftovers and I use it all the time. I mean, at its most basic form, right if you’re trying to figure out which side of the family somebody comes from, well, do you know who your mother’s side is? Great. Well, we eliminate all of them. The rest of the matches have to come from your father’s side, you know.

Diahan: Exactly Yeah.

Fisher: And you can do the same going back another generation, another generation, two about like you say about, about third greats is my guess.

Diahan: Yeah.

Fisher: Maybe a little bit further but in most cases I would say thirds, wouldn’t you?

Diahan: Yes. That’s where I like to stop.

Fisher: She’s Diahan Southard. She’s written a great new book. It’s called “Your DNA Guide – The Book.” Where do they get it Diahan?

Diahan: So, they can get it at my website, which is YourDNAGuide.com or of course, if they’re coming to RootsTech in just a couple of weeks, I will be at my booth and they can buy it there. We’re in pre-sale right now, so of course that means a discount. So, after RootsTech, the first of March then we’ll be back to retail price. But you can save about 20% by ordering now through the pre-sale.

Fisher: All right. We’re looking forward to it. I know it’s going to be a million seller!

Diahan: [Laughs] Thanks Scott.

Fisher: [Laughs] You’re the best. Thanks, so much Diahan. And coming up next, it’s the cold weather. It’s a great time of year to be preserving your photographs. We’re going to talk to Chris Desmond from MemoryWeb about some tips that you can incorporate into your strategy, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes. 

Segment 3 Episode 318

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Chris Desmond

Fisher: And, welcome back. It is America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. As you know, I get a lot of questions from people asking about what they do at this time of year because they want to get organized. The holidays are done. They’re stuck indoors because it’s winter time. And I thought this would be a great time to get my friend Chris Desmond on the line. He’s with MemoryWeb.me. It’s the amazing app that helps you organize your photographs. We can talk about this whole thing in general, Chris. Tell me, how have you organized your stuff? Obviously you started the app because you wanted to figure out how to handle your photographs. What have you done to make sure that you’ve got everything in order?

Chris: Thanks Scott. You know, ironically, as you mentioned in the intro, we started the app because it was just after the holiday season and we got all cleaned up and we said, okay, we’re indoors because we’re in the Midwest and want to go through and actually digitize a lot of the photos that we had because we don’t want to take a chance that anything happening in the house. We wanted to have it digitized and backed up in the cloud. When we started doing that, we started getting nostalgic. All these stories come out. You start reaching out to family. But ultimately, you want to make sure that all that rich data that deals with the people, location, the date, the story, gets inside the digital version of the actual photo. And this is the best time to do that because, why not? And that’s how we started the company and this time of year is where we have a ton of our users sign up and are really into their family archive projects. Once you kind of take a crack at it, a lot of times it’s overwhelming for folks but once you get into it folks find that they take chunks at a time.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Chris: It might be even just one photo. Like the most cherished family photo, ask yourself, have you digitized it yet and added the metadata?

Fisher: Right.

Chris: If you haven’t, start there. Just cross one off the list.

Fisher: Yeah.

Chris: If you do that, you get a sense of accomplishment and you go for the next one if you can.

Fisher: Absolutely. This is the interesting thing too, at this time in history we can not only do photographs but we can digitize documents and that’s what I like about the fact that I’ve got some very precious, very ancient papers like a family Bible record and I have them in plastic sleeves and protected. But I want to be able to see them. I want to be able to view them. I want to be able to share them. So, you digitize them once. You take the originals and store them away. Keep them safe in plastic sleeves, off the floor in case you ever have any flooding or any problem like that. And then you can use the digital image any way you want because you can never damage that.

Chris: Yeah. It’s funny you bring that up because just a few weeks ago David Allen Lambert who obviously you know very, very well.

Fisher: Yes, I do.

Chris: You guys are always together and on the show. [Laughs] Love that guy. A few weeks ago, he said, “Hey MemoryWeb, I know you guys have a lot of things digitized and I remember at one point I was talking with you at a conference and you went through some documents you had and even report cards. Do you by chance have an old report card that you can share with me?” He was working on some project. I don’t know actually what it was. And sure enough, the story I told earlier about digitizing my family archives, my grandmother is the one that had the archive. And her stuff, her report card was one of the archives I digitized. It was 1932, back when you got the paper report card, hand written by the teacher, signed off by the teacher in pen and the parents had to sign it too. And I found it within fifteen seconds because I took the time to put the metadata into it.

Fisher: Right.

Chris: What is interesting is, as you think about it, you’re like, it’s a document why is it in a photo? Well, when you digitize it, it becomes usually like a JPEG or similar file type. But you can add the metadata. So, I added her name because it was her report card. The name of the school, the date, the location, all of these rich metadata fields and when we did that now that’s always with the photo. It allows me to quickly find things in my collection. So, part of the issue that people have with their own archive is that they have all this stuff, it’s everywhere and they can’t get to it. Everybody is at that situation where we’re telling a story and say, oh, I’ve got a photo of that or, I should show you a photo of that.”

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Chris: You can do that if you take the time to digitize your things and then add the metadata. So, when we quickly shot that off to David Allen Lambert, he was so happy and then we saw it on Twitter within two hours. So he didn’t waste any time and you know how that worked out.

Fisher: Yeah. David gets kind of enthusiastic about his projects. You know, a nice thing about that is, you think about it, you can really only take one image and put it in one folder at a time. Unless you make multiple copies so you can try to find it somewhere else. So metadata makes an enormous amount of sense and you can of course sort by it. You can sort by the dates. In this case it would be the name of the school. The name of the person whose report card it was, maybe even the name of the teacher, right?

Chris: Yeah, but it’s even better than that because I think everybody uses this service called Google. And when you go to Google, you see that bar and you type in a couple of words and your results come up. That’s the way your photos and metadata should be. So while you can look at it in different ways like by person, by timeline, this is where if you’ve done it and you have the right type of platform, in ten seconds or less you should be able to find it like a Google search of your entire archive of your metadata.

Fisher: Yeah.

Chris: You know what words are in there. You always remember something about the photo. You remember, oh, it was a date, a certain location, certain people in there. I use certain keywords maybe in describing it. But as long as you know something about it, you should be able to quickly find it and you should be rewarded for the effort you’ve taken in these tough winter months if by chance you’re in the Midwest. You have snow on the ground and it’s too cold, what else is there to do but perhaps scan photos.

Fisher: I was shoveling snow this morning as a matter of fact, Chris. [Laughs] It’s Fisher here. I’m talking to Chris Desmond. He’s one of the founders of MemoryWeb.me. And we’re talking about preservation of your photographs and your documents through digitization, and also, creating metadata. I just don’t think there’s enough conversation about metadata at this point, Chris. I think you’re kind of a cutting edge kind of guy here. How would somebody start would you say, if they’ve got a big box of photographs? I mean often there are thousands of them. I’m thinking the best way I would go about it would be to, say hit a Family History Center and run it through their digitizing scanner which goes very quickly. So you can at least start with that.

Chris: You know, that is a great option. And we get that question so often that we actually wrote a blog about it. The steps that one takes to really, what we call, unlock the shoebox. If you go to MemoryWeb.me, and you go into our blog you’ll see that. What we actually do is reckon then whether the best practice that we gathered over the years, going to your library is definitely an option. If you happen to have a local photography store, I have one in town where they will do all of the digitization for you and they have what they the shoebox special. That had cost me about $50 to get 500 images digitized and they do it one by one and that’s great.

Fisher: Wow.

Chris: But the better thing to do, Scott, is that if you by chance have the negatives of your 35mm camera or from anything else, you want to have those digitized. That’s actually going to be a better resolution and a better photo for you. We talk about that in our blog. That is really the first step I recommend using because it’s quicker, better resolution, and then you get a higher quality going forward. But if you don’t, your hard copy is fine. But then there’s like what do you do, how do you do it, how do you sort them ahead of time? What do you do when you get them back? All of that we do have on our blog because it really is meant to take the big project process and simplify it for the common person, which we were when we first started too.

Fisher: All right. He’s Chris Desmond from MemoryWeb. Chris, great thoughts on getting into the projects that we should be on this time of the year, because in the summer we want to be out playing, right?

Chris: Yes, and baseball is the preferred sport you want to be out playing.

Fisher: Yes, it is! [Laughs] It always is. Thanks so much for coming on. And of course, you can check out that blog at MemoryWeb.me.

Chris: Correct.

Fisher: All right Chris thanks for coming on. We’ll talk to you again soon.

Chris: Thanks Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, as part of the PBS series Finding Your Roots, we’re going to talk to Sabin Streeter, in for Dr. Henry Louis Gates this week to fill us in on the latest episode of the show and what you can expect. By the way, it’s a good one, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 4 Episode 318

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sabin Streeter

Fisher: And welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. Dr. Henry Louis Gates is out this week, but we've got his man from the PBS show, Finding Your Roots, its Sabin Streeter on the show today. How are you, Sabin? Nice to have you on!

Sabin: I'm good. Thank you so much for having me on. It is a privilege. We love your show.

Fisher: Well thank you so much. And tell me now about this past week's episode and the things we should look for, because people can stream it now that the show is aired.

Sabin: It’s a fantastic episode. This is an episode called, The Slave Trade, and it’s an episode where we focus on three guests, so Marie Ava DuVernay, the musician, Questlove and actor S. Epatha Merkerson, all African Americans all who have stories that give us for our show an unusual amount of detail about the inner workings of the slave trade, how their families were shaped by the slave trade and how the slave trade itself worked. And the reason these are unusual is because many of our African American guests, we are lucky to be able to go back and learn anything at all about enslavements. For the most part, you can't find them in the records of the people who owned them, you cannot find them at all, you can't know anything about their live in slavery.

Fisher: Right.

Sabin: You look for the records of slave owners who might have owned them. And you know, the only way you can really do this, hoping that they kept their slave owner’s last name, which is a sort of perverse process. With these three guests, we were able to find a lot more about what happened their enslaved ancestors. With Questlove for example, we discovered his third great grandfather I believe it is, we find him in the 1880 census in Mobile, Alabama, it says he was born in Africa and that's super unusual!

Fisher: Yeah!

Sabin: Yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: Straight back!

Sabin: That is super, super unusual. Yeah, so he would have been born around 1820 in Africa. Well, the slave trade is outlawed in 1808 and so that means he was brought in illegally and then it turns out, we did more research, we discovered that he was brought in on the very last slave ship, Clotilda.

Fisher: Yes, which they just found not long ago.

Sabin: Yeah, they think they found it. But in any case, it is certainly historically a very significant ship that the story is just insane. In 1858, you know, importation of slaves is illegal.

Fisher: Right.

Sabin: And these Alabama planters, you know, getting together, having some drinks, making a bet with each other that they can go get some slaves from Africa and import them. They hire a ship boat captain, he goes over to Africa, he buys a bunch of slaves. He brings them back into Mobile in 1860 as a bet.

Fisher: Wow.

Sabin: And two of Questlove's ancestors as it turns out are on the ship and we have the journal of the ship. There was a whole court case around it. There were a lot of newspaper articles around it, so we have levels of detail about Questlove's two ancestors that you just don't ever get. We know the ship they were on, we know where in Africa they were taken from. We have a journal from the captain that drove the ship there and back.

Fisher: Incredible!

Sabin: And we have this newspaper article of these two crazy planters who thought this was an interesting idea to bet, you know, over such a thing.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sabin: So, with S. Epatha Merkerson, with a DNA story, we were able to tie her family back through DNA to this group of people who were sold by Georgetown University, 272 people sold.

Fisher: Oh yes!

Sabin: That's a very famous DNA story. It’s a great story.

Fisher: Yes.

Sabin: And she is a descendant of those 272 people who were sold by the priest who ran Georgetown in 1838, south Louisiana. And the people sort of, you know, stayed together as family units that's just been sort of mapped out. And Epatha had no idea she connected to these people, but because it was Georgetown, because they were priests, because they kept such good records, we have very detailed stuff about the movement of the slaves, the family structures when they were owned by Georgetown. And she found out she has, you know, Georgetown has tried to make some, tried to make good on these things a bit. They've recently named a residential hall after Epatha's fourth great grandfather who was the oldest person sold as a slave.

Fisher: Wow Sabin, this sounds like a great episode! Of course it’s on every Tuesday night on PBS, so we encourage you to check your local listings, find out the time in your area to see this episode and of course catch it online right now, as this episode is already available to stream. Thanks so much, Sabin and we look forward to getting Dr. Gates back next week.

Sabin: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns from AmericanAncestors.org to field one of your questions on Ask Us Anything, when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 318

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: And it is time once again for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And David Allen Lambert is back with us, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, our question today is from Lou in Rhinebeck, New York. And he says, "My ancestor was from New York and was in the war of 1812. He was captured by the British and taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Where might I find his records?" Good question, Lou!

David: Oooh, well, that actually is something I had a consultation on not long ago. So, the War of 1812 the American prisoners in Halifax were not held in downtown Halifax. They were held on Melville Island, which I think has a yacht club there now.

Fisher: Oh, okay. [Laughs]

David: Of course, in 1812, there were up to over 1800 people housed there in the barracks and there was even a 350 prison ship called The Magnet that was off the coast there. So they were running out of room on the small island, but there is a cemetery, people did die, and there are records. Now the thing about the records, some things you're going to find in the national archives in England, because obviously its British troops.

Fisher: Right, and British territory.

David: However, you're still also going to find things at the public archives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You may even find things in Ottawa, at the Canadian National Archives. The other thing that you're going to do is, you're going to find that some things are online, Family Search for one. If you put in "War of 1812, New York" and you search through the records, you may find something. You may find it on Fold3 or on Ancestry.com just by looking under the subject matter in the catalogue. So, look for War of 1812. You can even look for Nova Scotia and see if there's anything under Halifax for prison records or logs and whatnot that may help you.

Fisher: Wow, that's a lot of stuff! And I should mention too, if you don't have a subscription to all of the sites David just mentioned, if you go to a family search library, family history library near you, one of these satellite libraries, they have access to all of these accounts for free right there. So, it’s a good place to go. War of 1812 is fascinating, and this is one where I learned that I had a guy who actually was in it for about a month and he was in as a substitute. And the whole thing with the substitutes is amazing, because they actually answered to the person's name that they were substituting for.

David: And do you have the name of the substitute? Have you researched the person he was serving for?

Fisher: Yes, he lived in that same area and he had kind of a unique name, so I guess the guy had money and this kid wanted to fight. [Laughs] So that's how it went. And he actually answered to the name of the man he was substituting for and then later went and applied for the soldier's pension, but of course it was under the other guy's name, so he wasn't able to obtain that. But the substitute thing actually came into play in the Civil War, it was in play in the Revolution, and there are a lot of people who fought that way, but I found it a fascinating thing that they'd actually answer to that person's name and not their own.

David: Well, I suppose in one way, they probably hauling that place mark over that person's name as a recruit. I’ve actually seen records and pension that [a man] served as a substitute for [a] Thomas Johnson. And so, you find out who he got paid by, then it’s almost interesting to research as an associate who that substitute was and look at Thomas Johnson, maybe he was wealthy or a wealthy man's son.

Fisher: All right. Well, thanks to Lou for the question from Rhinebeck, New York and hope that answers your question, and kind of took us down the rabbit hole a little bit there, David, but it was all good. Thanks for coming on. And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can email us at [email protected]. Hey, that is it for this week. Thanks to our guest, Diahan Southard for coming on. She's written a new book called, Your DNA Guide - The Book, also to Chris Desmond from MemoryWeb, talking about preserving your photos, Sabin Streeter from the PBS series, Finding Your Roots, in for Dr. Henry Louis Gates this week and of course to David Allen Lambert. And don't forget by the way to check out that colorization program that's available now on MyHeritage.com. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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