Episode 328 - Focus on Photography: Photo Detective Maureen Taylor on Photographing Your Pandemic History / as Important as the Picture: Metadata and a New Push to StandardizeMay 17, 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 open the show with news that the National Genealogical Society conference for 2020 is going virtual. Hear when it is and how you can be a part of it. Then, a “social distancing happy hour” has resulted in a couple of families getting to know each other and learning that they’re related… and not that far back… in Norway! Next, it’s amazing how close America came to losing baseball great Babe Ruth in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Hear the story of how close he came, and how close America came to never having seen the later “Sultan of Swat.” Another cold case has been solved and it never gets old. Find out about the latest crime breakthrough using DNA.
Next, Photo Detective Maureen Taylor talks about creating a “pandemic archive” or “coronavirus photo album.” We’re each having our own experiences in this mess. Maureen has some great thoughts on what to photograph and how to put it all together for the benefit of future generations.
Then, Chris Desmond from Memory Web and Robert Friedman from Permanent continue the photo theme. Visiting with Fisher, they explain the new group they are a part of that will hopefully result in the creation of standards so that metadata… all the information about a photo such as who, where, when, what, etc…. stays with the picture as it is shared from platform to platform. Without the metadata you lose all context about a picture. It’s an important project that we can all play a role in.
Next, David Allen Lambert returns to join Fisher for Ask Us Anything. The guys tackle a question on an odd DNA result as well as another on pension records from the Spanish American War.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 328
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 328
Fisher: And welcome, socially isolated Genies, to another episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And of course, we’re doing the show direct from Fisher Castle, as always now these days. And I know so many of you are working from home as well. We’ve got a great show today lined up, and we’re talking about photography today and making a record of what’s going on with the pandemic, what your experience is like, because as I like to say, “We’re living in somebody else’s past. Let’s get a good record of that and make that available for our descendants down the line.” We’re going to talk to Maureen Taylor. She is the Photo Detective. She’s got some great ideas and some great plans on this and some places for you to look at because her state is actually putting together a pandemic record that everybody can contribute to, so it’s kind of a unique thing there. Plus, I’m going to talk to my good friend, Chris Desmond. He is from MemoryWeb, also Robert Friedman from Permanent. The two of them are on an interim board of a new organization called The Family History Metadata Working Group. And the idea is to kind of standardize the way we take Metadata and move it along with photographs. What does that all mean? I know it’s very technical. We will find out a little bit later on in the show. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” yet, now is the time. Just go to our website ExtremeGenes.com or sign up through our Facebook page. You get a blog from me each week, links to present and past shows and links to stories that you’ll find pretty fascinating as a genealogist. Right now, it’s time to head out to Massachusetts, somewhere near Boston, where David Allen Lambert is standing by. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you doing David?
David: Hey, I’m still upright. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, that’s always good because I know your area has been hit pretty hard, hasn’t it?
David: Yeah, we have, but you know, we’re giving it our best shot to stay healthy and keep our distance. Genealogy is doing the same thing because my first story for you has to do with the upcoming conference that was scheduled this month in Salt Lake City. The National Genealogical Society, as many of you may have heard, has gone virtual, not viral. [Laughs]
David: The idea is viral though, well, because many groups are now going virtual with their conferences. So, on May 20th they will have a live version at 11 a.m. and they will also have an on-demand with many of the speakers that would have been normally seen in Salt Lake City, will be available opening on July 1st after they tape all of them. I’m giving a talk on Spanish American War veterans and I uploaded my PowerPoint to them just the other day, so a new experience and a new world.
Fisher: You know, the idea though is fantastic because I’m thinking there are so many more people available to actually attend the NGS conference by doing it this way so that would be great. How do people find out more about this?
David: They can go simply to conference.ngsgenealogy.org.
Fisher: All right, let’s move on with our Family Histoire News today. Where do you want to start?
David: Well, I guess we could start with “you never know who’s related to you.”
David: Or how to plan a “social distancing happy hour.” Well, this is what neighbors did and these neighbors in California realized that, oh wait, four houses down the street another Norwegian family are actually related.
Fisher: Yeah, they started to notice that they came from the same area. So, one family reached out to a relative back in Norway and I guess she had the family history there and they looked it up and they found that they share second great grandparents. So, they’re third cousins. They live just a couple of doors down apart from each other in social isolation in California, and they say the hardest thing about this is they can’t go give a hug to their new relatives, but they’re all very excited about it. And what a great discovery, right?
David: It really is. I think it would be great to see how much DNA they share too.
David: That would be kind of fun. Well, I really appreciate the next story you put on Extreme Genes because of my love for the Boston Red Sox and hometown Beantown here. Babe Ruth, when he was, you know, one of ours, not the New York team. [Laughs] There is a great story the Smithsonian put out when Babe Ruth and the great influenza gripped Boston.
David: Boston is one place where the pandemic of influenza in 1918 really hit hard. It started with soldiers that were heading off to war. Many of them actually never made it overseas as they died in the camps, on the ships in Boston Harbor where they had a lot of the recruits. And Babe Ruth, being a very extroverted person, was very much going around and shaking hands and talking to veterans on his trips. He had just come back from Hot Springs, Arkansas. And that night he had a 104 fever and we almost lost him.
Fisher: Yeah, we might not have had “the” Babe Ruth that we came to know, you know. It might have been this young guy who was such a great pitcher and hitter but never got to fulfill his potential because he died of the Spanish Flu back in 1918 in Boston. He never would have been a Yankee. There would have been no “House That Ruth Built.” All that stuff would have never happened. It’s just amazing how close he came.
David: It really is and I’m grateful that the great “Bambino” survived the flu of 1918 and hopefully, all of our listeners will survive COVID of 2020. Well, you know, DNA has been great for genealogists but it’s also been great for crime solving because now in Portland, Oregon, police have solved a 21-year-old murder that took place. Back in 1999, a young man was murdered and now his killer has been found.
Fisher: Yeah, these long-standing cold cases are amazing but when you opt in, who knows what you can help with? And it’s great to get another killer off the street. We’re not getting as many as I think we did before the whole mess with GEDMatch last year. But it’s nice that we’re still seeing some progress in taking some of these people off the streets.
David: That’s very true. Well, that’s about all I have for this week from American Ancestors and from Beantown. I hope that everyone is doing well and my thoughts go out to all of you, and enjoy your genealogy. And if you have a chance, don’t forget to ask us anything. We’re always looking for your questions.
Fisher: Right and we’re going to get to that a little bit later on in the show when you’ll be back, so thanks so much David. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to talk to the Photo Detective Maureen Taylor. She’s got some great ideas for you to record all the things that are going on with this pandemic right now and how you can share that information with your descendants many years down the road. That’s coming up when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 328
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Maureen Taylor
Fisher: Well, here we are. All stuck indoors. I’m actually doing Extreme Genes from my home these days and I know so many of you are working from home as well. Hey, its Fisher here for Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show with my good friend Maureen Taylor. She is The Photo Detective. And Maureen, you have a great thing working right now. This idea of creating, do we want to call it a COVID or coronavirus photo album, to just keep track of the history of it, because we are living through history.
Maureen: We can call it anything you want. The Pandemic Archive, the Family Archive. But I think it’s a timely topic obviously. We’re all stuck in the house. The whole world has come to pretty much a pause.
Maureen: And our lives are different. You know, you think about the 1918 Flu Epidemic.
Fisher: Oh, yeah.
Maureen: As family historians, there’s very little mentioned and it’s hard to find that information on your family.
Maureen: People didn’t talk about it. So, let’s document what’s happening now as it happens. And I have some really dynamic women here in the state of Rhode Island that created actually a state based COVID archive.
Fisher: Oh, wow.
Maureen: And for the state, they even have guidelines on how to create your own personal archive. In general, it’s applicable to the moment in which we’re living.
Fisher: Sure. Yeah.
Maureen: And it brings us all together. So, it’s things like take pictures around your neighborhood of the changes if there are things that are different. One of their suggestions is to take a picture of your freezer.
Fisher: I like the idea. We’ve been doing some of this stuff, both my wife Julie and I, Maureen and it’s amazing when you open your eyes and think this way that hey, we’re going to create an archive. You’ll see something and you’ll immediately think oh, I’ve got to take a picture of that. Because if you’re not thinking that way, you might just go “oh, look at that, how interesting. And you ignore it.
Maureen: Right. And these are challenging times, right, for all of us.
Maureen: We’re all experiencing it differently. We all have people that we’re worried about. But they’re like asking you to not only look within yourself, and maybe write down a story or keep a video log of what you’re feeling at the end of every day. Say you’re a first responder, or someone who works in a hospital, right before you come home, say a few things into your voice memo. Take a picture of nature.
Maureen: Like I had a turkey in my front yard last week.
Fisher: Oh, how weird.
Maureen: I mean in the city of Providence, Rhode Island.
Maureen: And there was a huge, huge turkey in my front yard.
Fisher: You didn’t go out and try to snatch it up, did you? You’re not that hungry.
Maureen: [Laughs] No I’m not that hungry.
Maureen: But I was thinking, what are you doing here? Where did you come from?
Fisher: Uh, huh. Right.
Maureen: You’re a single turkey.
Fisher: Did you take a picture of it?
Maureen: I did. I got him when he was in my neighbor’s yard so it’s a little far away.
Fisher: That’s okay. You know, it’s interesting though because you’re right. I mean, we’re hearing now about sheep taking over parks, and animals like alligators. There were like five alligators that took over a beach that’s usually for tourists in South America, because nobody is there and there’s nobody to chase them off. You know? [Laughs]
Fisher: And certainly we’re going to see those things everywhere. We’re seeing people coming back from overseas and having people do drive-by greetings for them right in our cul-de-sac here, and that’s made for some interesting photos. Also, some businesses that are mostly shut down right now that are posting little sayings like Biblical things you know, about keeping hope. And I thought well, that’s a unique thing you wouldn’t normally see also.
Maureen: Exactly. Or for kids, have them capture their thoughts about living at this time. Have them draw pictures. Have them write a little story about what they think the future will be like. I saw this hysterical video of this little, she had to be four years old, it was online some place and somebody had videotaped her and she was like, “I don’t know, but I just need to go out. I really want to go out.”
Maureen: But my mom says I can’t go out. But that’s my problem I just want to go out. It’s sort of like that’s how we’re all feeling.
Maureen: And it was a great moment and that’s the kind of thing you can keep for your archive. You don’t want to forget this. We want the future to look back and say, “This is how we coped.”
Maureen: Keep one of the masks that you wear, or a few of the masks, when we’re finally done wearing them.
Fisher: Or just take a picture of the mask. You don’t need to keep them. You know.
Maureen: Or take a picture of the mask.
Maureen: I don’t know, my masks, these creative types have been making are works of art.
Fisher: You know, here’s the thing too, and I say this a lot. I don’t know why it’s stuck in my head, but the idea is, we are living in somebody else’s past, right?
Fisher: I mean we have people who are not born yet. We are in their past and so it’s really up to us to document it as if they are here now and present so they can understand what this whole experience has been like. And how lucky are we to have the technology we have today. Because I mean, could you imagine having a video or with audio of one of our ancestors, a great grandparent, a grandparent, talking about their experience as it happened in 1918?
Maureen: Or the play.
Maureen: Or a medieval play.
Fisher: Sure. What it’s like.
Maureen: Yes, exactly.
Fisher: We’re really the first generation that can do that.
Maureen: Well, in fact, it has a name. It’s called “Lived Experience Archiving” or “Rapid Response Archiving”.
Fisher: Really? Who comes up with these names? And who certifies them? [Laughs]
Maureen: There are archive archivists who do this.
Maureen: And so there’s a model for this state wide project, the Rhode Island RICOVIDArchive.org where any of us that live here in the state can add to it. And I promised I’d do my part on my next walk around the neighborhood. Take some pictures and put them.
Maureen: But there’s a model for this kind of family archive, state archive, city archive. And it’s important because we communicate in a digital format now.
Fisher: Completely different.
Maureen: We don’t necessarily have handwritten letters. And if we did, we’d have to sanitize them before we brought them into our house anyway.
Maureen: So, this is where we’re living. Take a snapshot of your life, you know. Keep a journal of what’s happening.
Maureen: I however, am using Facebook for that purpose. And on my personal Facebook page every day I sort of go on and sort of post a few things that I’m doing. And then ask other people what they’re doing. And people from all over the place are telling me about their day and what they’re doing. And I started it because like everyone else, I was having a very difficult time at the beginning.
Maureen: You know I have family members who are on lockdown and I can’t see them and this is the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing them.
Maureen: So, I thought I’m going to reach out and just say this is what I’m doing today. This is what I’m worried about. This is what I think is funny. Just as a way of saying hello, I’m here. I miss all of you. And then people have been responding in remarkable ways with remarkable stories.
Fisher: Well, and it is fun also to hear what our fellow genies are doing right now because they’ve got all this free time and they’re making great breakthroughs.
Maureen: Yes. [Laughs]
Fisher: And they’re helping one another. I mean, there’s like years of research being done here in this compact period of time. And you know there’s going to be a lot more too. I’m seeing more DNA matches show up now too. And I would have never thought that. But obviously, these would be ones of tests that were taken what, late February?
Maureen: Yes. Right. RootsTech.
Fisher: Yeah. Right. Yes, right around RootsTech.
Maureen: And I personally as the Photo Detective, I’m going to say that there’s an awful lot of people going through their photo archives right now.
Fisher: Yep. My wife is. She’s going crazy with it. And you know, we’ve got MemoryWeb now, which is an incredible tool for the metadata for that to organize it in ways we’ve never seen before. In fact, we’re going to be talking to Chris Desmond, one of the creators here coming up in just a little bit. I’m excited about that.
Maureen: Yeah. I love MemoryWeb. I use it.
Fisher: Oh yes. Absolutely use it. So, I love the idea, Maureen, of creating this COVID, whatever you want to call it, journal with lots of photographs because they’re so easy to take. You know think about it the old days right, we’d go out well, we’ll take the film over to Payless and we’ll have it in a week, and we’ll pick the ones we want. And you know, we don’t have to deal with that stuff anymore. Man, we can create it so quick. And we can even publish books online and have them show up at our door if you want a physical book of this, which I think would be a great thing to have that can get passed down. I think it’s a lot easier to keep those from getting lost often than the digital versions, right?
Maureen: Right, Well, here’s the thing. They can create the photo archive of their life as it stands right now, or you know, you can’t actually put your video into MemoryWeb yet, but you can actually create an album that says here’s your pandemic album.
Maureen: You can keep it so that you can always find them, but there’s a lot of things that you can do now to document this for the future. Not just for your children as they get older, but for your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Because later people are going to ask, “What was it like to live during that?”
Fisher: Yes they are. And we’ll have a lot to tell them wont we?
Maureen: That’s right. But if we’re not around, we’d have written it down.
Fisher: That’s it.
Maureen: You can even record your family meetings on Zoom.
Fisher: Yes. We’re doing that every Sunday now from all over the country.
Maureen: We’re doing it as well with our kids. But here’s the thing, we were supposed to have this big family reunion this year. It’s a handful.
Fisher: Of course.
Maureen: It’s been pushed off of course because how are we going to spend six feet apart.
Maureen: And so, I actually created a new course called Cousin Connections planning a virtual family reunion. Essentially that’s what I’ll be doing.
Fisher: Well, you know, you think about that, let’s just pretend we did have a live family reunion and said, we’re going to do it and we’re all going to social distance. How in the world would that work? How do you not hug your great aunt? How do you not hug your favorite cousin, you know? I just can’t imagine.
Maureen: How do you do the buffet?
Fisher: The buffet! Yes. We’d have to have those plastic screens. Everybody wearing masks so you couldn’t really know who anybody is, except for maybe the great big name tag. No, I don’t see that working, none of it.
Maureen: Right. No, I don’t see it working.
Maureen: So, ours have been rescheduled.
Fisher: For 2021?
Maureen: Well, hopefully 2021.
Fisher: Maybe. Yeah.
Maureen: That’s when it’s booked for. Let’s see.
Fisher: They put off October Fest this year.
Maureen: October Fest?
Fisher: Yeah, October Fest in Germany. It’s like a 178 years old that whole thing. It’s the first year they’ve ever missed so they’re coming back the following year and they’re losing out on something like 1.2 billion Euros. So, Maureen, great stuff as always. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you. And I think it’s a fabulous idea. I think a lot of us are already starting to do this, but I think if we can get the mindset, we’re going to wind up with a fabulous archive that’s going to really tell the story of our times because each of us is experiencing it differently, maybe a lost job, maybe a lost relative, maybe just the fear of the whole thing, the isolation. You know, I’m talking to relatives who are calling often just saying, “I’m alone. I’m so blue. I need to talk.”
Fisher: I mean the mental side of this is just incredible. But great idea, and thanks so much for coming on and talking about it.
Maureen: Thank you Scott.
Fisher: And of course you can follow Maureen at MaureenTaylor.com. And coming up next, Chris Desmond from MemoryWeb and Robert Friedman from Permanent. They’re part of an interim board of a brand new thing called The Family History Metadata Working Group. You’re going to want to hear what they’re up to in five minutes on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 328
Host: Scott Fisher with guests Chris Desmond
and Robert Friedman
Fisher: We are talking photography today on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. It is so good to have my good friend, Chris Desmond back on. He is the MemoryWeb guy. At RootsTech this past year, he was part of the announcement of a Metadata Working Group coming together. And Chris, so we’re going to talk to you today, kind of in your role as part of that, one of the organizers at the interim board. And what is a Metadata Working Group? What does that mean to people who might be scanning their photographs during the pandemic?
Chris: [Laughs] Great, I’ll lead in there. Yeah, lots happened since RootsTech, but there is a group of different companies, last fall they came together, Family Search, Vivid-Pix, Viso, Permanent, and MemoryWeb, with the need that we found in the industry related to metadata. Right now, the current issue is that companies will sometimes work with metadata and put in key-tags of caption, album, event, people, location, but then once those photos leave a platform, the metadata is not mapped necessarily to any field or the right field so that they can be read by other organizations.
Fisher: So, if I found a photograph then basically online and I right-click and say, save this to my computer, I lose all that stuff basically, right?
Chris: Yeah. Different organizations allow you, including even Facebook and Google allow you to take digital files outside of their platform, and the need or the drive that the industry is going for is mapping all the key information. When you go into a platform, you take like Family Search, you go in there and you have a photo of a relative, you tag the date. You say where this was, who it was, and some key information. When you take that photo out of there, you go to download. You want to make sure that all your hard work is saved.
Chris: Whether it’s going to be Family Search, Ancestry, My Heritage, MemoryWeb, Vivid-Pix, all of these organizations have that capability of the metadata organization. Now, it’s a matter of setting the standards so that as photos are shared between organizations or to you the user, that information is not lost.
Fisher: That’s awesome.
Chris: So, what we’re trying to do is focus in on some of the key areas that are most commonly used by family historians. So we’re focusing on people, location, caption, dates, album, events, and copyrights. Those are the different areas that we find to be most commonly used. Right now we have those organizations involved and I’m really excited to also have Robert from Permanent. Robert’s been a key piece too because what’s neat about this, Scott, is that all of these companies have different perspectives that they bring in but we all have the same drive and initiative. So Robert, maybe you can give your perspective and your role in it and some of the things you’re hoping to accomplish.
Robert: Yes. Thank you, Chris. Permanent is a non-profit organization providing a digital storage repository for families, individuals, and small organizations. So, we have a software product and our mission is digital preservation for 100 years and beyond.
Fisher: Yeah. Wow, okay.
Robert: So, treating digital files with the same care that we apply to the physical photos, memorabilia that we have at home that might contain handwritten notes or other important details that add depth to a story is of critical importance to families and historians.
Robert: So, we’re really invested in making sure that metadata which is a lot like those hand scribbled notes that add that detail.
Robert: We want to make sure that those details persist.
Robert: And the statuesque in the industry, not necessarily the kind of organizations you might find at RootsTech. They’re more invested in this area. The statuesque in the general industry amongst photo software platforms isn’t necessarily to preserve those details.
Fisher: Sure. So, what you’re doing then basically is trying to find a way not only for the big boys but maybe let that trickle down to some of these smaller organizations and platforms so that we can all have that. And for people, by the way, who aren’t particularly savvy when it comes to understanding all the technical stuff. You just have to understand that those things that are often written on the back of your photograph, we want to make sure that that information travels with the picture. This is what MemoryWeb does. This is what the struggle is basically, is to keep that information. Almost as if you’re able to copy the front and back of the picture, which by the way, MemoryWeb already does.
Fisher: But to standardize it and keep it in these basic fields and then when you copy it and you share it with somebody else it kind of travels with the picture then you’re able to maintain that information. The bottom line is the background and the story of the picture, and who’s in the picture, the dates, and all that information that Chris was talking about earlier, that is just as important as the photograph itself and its preservation.
Robert: Yeah, absolutely. And the born digital stuff are not just the physical thing of you scanning it but also the things that you’re capturing now don’t necessarily contain that information.
Robert: So, when you take a photo on your iPhone it’s not always the case that historically valuable family information is included there. So, when you import those into the platforms like Permanent or MemoryWeb and you add that information, you add value to that born digital material.
Robert: You want to make sure that, that travels with that material and it’s a surprising fact that in many cases when you upload digital materials to a social media platform for example, they will strip all of that out.
Fisher: Oh, wow! Yeah, you don’t want that. [Laughs]
Chris: And part of the challenge is the, a typical photo will have nearly 3000, what they call metadata fields.
Chris: Places that you can store this information. And let’s take on the date field by itself.
Chris: There are 99 different metadata fields just for date.
Robert: These are the kind of details that your camera might add to a photo automatically when you’ve set the date and time in your camera. Your computer might add to that photo when you upload it. The software might add to that photo when you edit it. So, these are all dates and times that are appended, added to digital material as it goes through a sequence of activities.
Fisher: Oh, wow!
Robert: And it can get pretty confusing when you’ve got 99 of them to decide which is the one that represents the moment the photo was taken in the first place.
Fisher: [Laughs] Okay. All right, I got that. Now, you’ve got to explain to me guys, what our listeners can do to be a part of this or be involved in helping create these standards and why they’d want to be part of this.
Chris: It’s a great question and the bottom line is the reason why we created this group and the reason why we’re trying to create these standards, it’s so all the listeners and the users, and folks like us that are family historians will have their hard work saved for future generations to come.
Fisher: There you go. Okay.
Chris: That’s our mission and now this is the how. The how is for us to help develop standards for the organizations to use so the users can benefit because everybody is using different platforms and it would be a perfect world if all of those platforms allowed the metadata to travel with the photos of their hard work, wherever the user wants to take it. That’s our goal.
Fisher: Love it.
Robert: Yeah, for most of your listeners we’re hoping that they become aware of this issue and then hold the platforms to a higher standard.
Fisher: Got it. Okay. It’s the Family History Metadata Working Group. Where can they find out more online, guys?
Chris: They can contact us with our email address at the Family History Metadata Working Group. So it’s, [email protected] and that will go to all of the interim board members. Then there is a website coming, http://www.savemetadata.org/.
Robert: We hope to have it live soon with much of the information we just shared and a list of the different partners who are supporting the work.
Fisher: That’s awesome. Guys thanks so much. Chris Desmond from MemoryWeb, Robert Friedman from Permanent. And of course they are officers on this interim board on this Metadata Working Group that’s getting together to help us with family history to make sure we have some standards to maintain all that metadata that goes with the photographs. It’s important stuff. Guys thanks so much for coming on the show, we’ll talk to you again soon.
Chris: Thank you.
Robert: Thank you.
Fisher: All right, and coming next, it’s another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 328
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: And we're back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, direct from his home in isolation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. And David, we have a question here from Tony Daniel. He says, "Love your show. I have an Ask Us Anything question that comes from a somewhat odd angle." He said, "Several times over the years, my mother mentioned that her father, my grandfather, had a child with another woman. So, I have results from her autosomal DNA and my own. I've puzzled over the matches, but I can't figure a way to determine if one of them on my grandfather's side might be a descendant of my apocryphal long lost half cousin if he or she actually exists. Do you have any suggestion on how to proceed, or is there a way to eliminate the possibility and lay this family legend to rest?" Well David, I'm thinking, first of all, we've got to correct him on that. I'm sure you picked up on it, too.
David: Oh yeah.
Fisher: You're talking about a descendant of your half uncle or half aunt.
Fisher: Yes, because it’s a half sibling of your mother. And so, your challenge then would be first of all, perhaps this person is still living. And if maybe a child of that half aunt or half uncle did a test, then you might come across a half cousin.
David: Right. And with the DNA, I mean, one of the things you should look at, I have Blaine Bettinger’s version 3.0 in front of me of the shared centimorgan project and it tells me that a half first cousin is about 457 centimorgans.
Fisher: Uh, well, I've got to correct you, David, because he's just come out with a version 4.0 in March.
David: Ah, I've got to send it. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] And so, the half cousin's 449 centimorgans now and the full cousin would be 866. The bottom line is, Tony, that there is a definite way to differentiate between a half first cousin and a full cousin. There's a major difference.
Fisher: And so, you know, depending on how many half cousins you think you have, the known ones, I would think that if you came up with any half cousin at all, they'd be a strong candidate to come through your half aunt or your half uncle.
David: It could be interesting to see how many first cousins pop up, so keep on looking at your DNA results. A grandparent was as, well, how shall I say, productive as they were to produce another half cousin.
David: He may have more.
Fisher: Yeah, and you know, there are a lot of these situations that come up and its possible that nobody has tested from that branch of the family yet, so it might be a while and it might be the kind of thing where you just have to wait it out. But, I will tell you that there are a lot of friends that I've had that needed help with DNA projects. One of them started in 2012 and we couldn't get anywhere with it in 2012, 2013, 2014, and finally somebody tested in 2018. We came back to it that year and we were able to identify his birth father and birth grandparents, which by the way was another line of "illegitimacy." So, we were able to go back and solve all that mystery, but it took many years! And this is the thing, we're so used to everything being so quick and we want answers right now and we certainly do, and we often get them right now, but genealogy still is often a matter of hurry up and wait and hopefully you'll get that match somewhere down the line.
David: I remember the days when we used to find the mailbox waiting for the letter to show up. Now, we get instant email. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for cousins to show up.
David: And just waiting for people to come to dinner.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Fisher: You're exactly right. So, thanks so much for the question, Tony. And hope that helps you out a little bit. And of course if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, once again, the email address is simple, just, [email protected]. All right, we're going to take a break! And we're going to come back in three minutes and hopefully give a little help with another one of your questions when we return on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 5 Episode 328
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: All right, we're back for our final question on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, this question comes from Oklahoma City! Irvin Waldron is asking about Spanish American War pension records. He says he sees the Civil War ones on Fold3 and on Ancestry.com, the Revolutionary ones. Where are those Spanish American pension records?
David: You know, actually its right where you think it is. It’s actually in the Civil War indexes.
David: Yeah, the general index to pension files 1861 to 1934. Because 1861 being the start of the Civil War, everybody categorizes that collection as the Civil War pension index. The truth of the matter is, it covers any military pensions through 1934.
David: That could also be for someone who was injured in some way during the Spanish American War, the Philippine Insurrection, any of the Indian wars, as well as people that were perhaps even injured in the Mexican Border War with Pancho Villa.
David: The Spanish American War? For sure. It’s right there. In fact, if you go to Fold3, you look at the T288 index, that's the index that’s alphabetical. So, this is a general pension index for those years is A - Z. The T289, which is the organizational index, that actually is more useful, because it shows you a more modern card. And in the case of a person that I've researched, I looked at T288, it says he's in Company C8, Massachusetts infantry. Well, there was a Company C8 Massachusetts infantry in the Civil War. Except for the year of his pension, a little later than the Civil War when he applied for it, there's really no indication the guy was in the Spanish American War. I look at the T289, the organizational index and I go onto Fold3 and I search Massachusetts 8 infantry, Company C and look for his name, the card is stamped "war with Spain".
David: And now I know that the guy was in the Spanish American War and not in the Civil War.
Fisher: [Laughs] That sounds like a lot of work to separate the two. You'd hope that somewhere along the line they'd be able to do that and make maybe a separate listing, but that might take far too much work. I guess it maybe was just the way it was laid out on a microfilm at some point?
David: Well, they were all index cards.
David: And so, the card index stayed the same until the VA picked up the process in 1934 and continued on the pensions. That why some pension numbers have an X or an XC. Those are often pensions that either had a widow or the soldier still alive post 1934. So they're with the VA, not actually with the National Archives.
Fisher: And what about World War I records? Are they included in that up through 1934?
David: Ah, well, here's the problem, you don't see a lot of them, because they didn't qualify for pensions like the general service. In fact, there was a Bonus march on Washington in 1922, I believe it was, and basically, they never got it. So, they never received any pension. And to all those guys who were gassed and mustard gassed in World War I, it’s a tragedy.
Fisher: Yeah, you're right. Actually, I do remember there was that big march on Washington against Herbert Hoover at the time of the Depression and they wanted their money at that time, yeah.
David: That's very true. And I'll tell you, it’s sad, because we've lost so many of the records from World War I veterans when that big fire in St. Louis, Missouri occurred in 1973, so I think that a pension file held elsewhere would be a goldmine of information that we never have.
Fisher: All right, thank you so much, David. And thank you, Irvin for the question. And if you have a question for us for Ask Us Anything, all you have to do is email us at [email protected]. Talk to you next week, David.
David: All right, my friend. Take care.
Fisher: And that's our show for this week. Thanks once again to Maureen Taylor, the photo detective, talking about how to put together your own history of your experience through the pandemic. Thanks also to Chris Desmond and Robert Friedman, they're on the interim board of a brand new thing called, The Family History Metadata Working Group. If you missed any of our visit with these people, catch the podcast on ExtremeGenes.com, iTunes, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio and Spotify. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!