Episode 33 - "12 Years a Slave" and Abolitionist John Brown's DescendantMar 17, 2014
On this weeks show, Fisher talks about the pending release of a new, free Extreme Genes app, to help you keep up with newly released podcasts. He also shares a story about a wedding ring, with first names, middle initials and a date found in Brooklyn, New York, and his (successful?) efforts to identify the happy (not-so-happy?) couple!
“12 Years A Slave” was a story that wasn’t on anyone’s radar, and would never have been, if not for the lifelong efforts of an unknown researcher in Louisiana. Fisher will tell you all about it. Plus, a huge release of records is coming from… Ireland! Fisher calls Dublin to get the good news for Irish Americans!
Imagine an ancestor who lived five generations ago having a major affect on the course of your life. It’s happened to Alice Keesey MeCoy, 3rd great granddaughter of abolitionist John Brown. Hear Fisher’s visit with her. Plus, Preservation Authority Tom Perry is back with his unique formulas of saving your family treasures… despite being mocked by a listener. For all of your preservation needs, you can find Tom at TMCPlace.com. You can also ask his advice or suggest future topics for his segment by sending him an email at [email protected]
Transcript for Episode 33
Host: Scott Fisher
Segment 1 Episode 33
Fisher: Hello genies, welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, America’s only talk show on family history where we shake the trees and watch the nuts fall. How are you? I am Fisher your head scratching Radio Roots Sleuth. I will explain that in a minute. Coming up on the show, two great guests, the first will be online from Dublin, Ireland because it’s St. Paddy’s day this week. And since so many of us descend from Ireland and Ireland has for so long been such a tough place to research, it seemed like a great time to bring you some good news. All kinds of Irish records are coming online and for free, or at a very small cost. Brian Donovan of FindMyPast joins us in about eight minutes. I only know of like one Irishman in my line. He was the only Catholic [Laughs] in 17th century Puritan New England, a guy named William Dirkie. It was not an easy life for him. Also later in the show, you’ll meet a woman who’s a direct descendant of abolitionist John Brown. The guy, some say, lit the fuse to the Civil War. Alice Keesey Mecoy will tell us how being his descendant still affect extra family to this day. I think you’ll find her story interesting. Okay, here’s the head scratching part, earlier this week I received an interesting Facebook message on our Extreme Genes Facebook page from listener Kathy Clark Craig and thank you Kathy for doing that. She forwarded me a Facebook post by a woman presumably in New York who had posted a photo of a wedding ring that she or someone she knew had found in a sanitation sink in Brooklyn. I’m not quite sure what that is, but it doesn’t sound like the most exciting place to pull a ring out of. And the ring was engraved with a date, September 2nd1913 and the names Albert H and Sara E. Sara spelled her name with the short version, no H at the end, just Sara and no last names.
The person who posted the picture was hoping that it could be determined who the couple was so the descendants could be found and the ring presented back to the family. You know, I love that kind of challenge, so off I went and dove into some New York City marriage records from 1913. Since the index is done by last name then first name it meant I would have to search the first name of every groom for the entire year. The result was not a single Albert was married in Brooklyn on September 2nd 1913, yet alone to a Sara. Another index from Ancestry showed that not a single Albert married in any borough of New York on September 2nd 1913. In fact, the couple didn’t show up in any census either. Then FamilySearch popped out something interesting, an Albert H. Cohen and a Sara E. Marcus married on September 2nd 1913 in Providence, Road Island. A perfect match, except that this Sara had the H at the end of her first name. Well, you figure something could have been misspelled on the record or the ring, so I looked further into it. Turns out this couple divorced around 1918, she left with the baby. And for decades after listed herself in the Providence, Road Island directories as the widow of a man who was still very much alive and had happily remarried in the late 1920s. So, I sent all this on to the lady who posted the picture of the ring, with an invitation to come on the show so we could hear more about it. Well, I never heard back from her. Then she removed the photo and everything she wrote. So, maybe I frightened her, I have that effect on people. I was really looking forward to the big happy ending. The descendent reunion with the ring, a nice headline in the New York Daily News and we got nothing. Well, except the story about a couple that divorced and an ex wife that stayed single and angry for at least 40 years. And may have sold her ring which eventually found its way to Brooklyn, New York and its date with destiny in a sanitation sink, sometimes there is no happy ending. So, we move on.
Here is this week’s Family Histoire news from the pages of the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. I think the most interesting and entertaining story out there this week is the article in the New Yorker by Michael Schulman, about a Louisiana historian named Sue Eakin. Sue Eakin taught at Louisiana State University. At the age of 12, her father took her to the town of Bunkie, Louisiana, where he left her at a library on the second floor of Oak Hall Plantation, where he had business with the owner. She was a real bookworm even then. Before getting down to business with Mr. Eakin, the owner Sam Haas handed her a copy of “12 Years a Slave.” Sarah later wrote that she was immediately excited to recognize the names of family she was familiar with and towns within her county. She said, she read as quickly as she could but was unable to complete the book before it was time to return home. This began her lifelong interest in Solomon Northup, which only ended with her passing at age ninety, in 2009. It was Sue Eakin’s lifelong research into Solomon that resulted in several books on the subject. The last one being the definitive effort that eventually resulted in Steve Mcqueen’s academy award winning film “12 Years a Slave” and it was at the academy awards that Steve Mcqueen acknowledged to the world that without the efforts of Sue Eakin an unknown Louisiana researcher, the remarkable movie never would have happened. It’s a great read that you can’t put down. Find the link at ExtremeGenes.com. The National Archives is making some cost saving moves. Their facility in Anchorage, Alaska is being shut down with their holdings being shipped off to their facility in Seattle. Those holdings will then be digitized to give Alaskan’s greater access to the records through online recourses. The facility cost over five hundred thousand dollars a year to operate. And last year they had all of about 537 visits. Two of their six regular visitors are very unhappy. (Okay, I made that part up.) [Laughs] This past week saw a celebration of “Middle name pride day” I am not making this up. It was on Monday, I’m not really sure what we’re supposed to do on that day every year. But since I’m one of the many who goes by his middle name, I made sure to be proud of it, last Monday. My buttons were bursting. And that is your Family Histoire news for this week. And if you have a new story you’d like to share with us, maybe it’s even your own find. Email me at [email protected], or call our Extreme Genes Find Line at 1-234-56-GENES. That’s toll free 1-234-56-GENES, G-E-N-E-S. It’s open 24/7 and you can record your stories, comments or questions. And coming up next, he’s the real deal, an Irishman from Ireland. Irish Americans have much to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day with all kinds of new records coming online. FindMyPast Brian Donovan joins us next, in three minutes from Dublin with the latest, on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 2 Episode 33
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Brian Donovan
Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and on the line with us from Ireland it is Brian Donovan. He is the Business Development Director for FindMyPast in Ireland. How are you Brian?
Brian: Hi Scott, how are you? I’m doing well.
Fisher: Awesome. You know, first of all, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, that being this week.
Brian: Oh that’s great yes. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you!
Fisher: And that’s why we wanted to reach out to you and talk to you a little bit about. First of all, what’s going on over in Ireland on Saint Paddy’s Day?
Brian: Well, probably not a whole heap different from what’s happening over with you. We have a big parade here in the city in Dublin parades all over in every town in the country will have them. Most people are off work today so it’s a holiday so there’s a lot of a festivity. In fact, in Dublin we’re having a four day festival with lots of music and festival activities. Games and things for kids to do, lots of other stuff too, so it’s a big party atmosphere here in the city.
Fisher: Well, it sounds like a great time. A party we’re all kind of missing. It would be much more fun I think to actually do it in Ireland than here.
Brian: Well that may be true but the earliest Saint Patrick’s Day parade actually happens in New York not in Dublin.
Fisher: Isn’t that interesting how that works. Well we have so many Irish Americans here and of course a lot of Irish American researchers, and I’ve noticed lately that there are a lot of new records coming out from Ireland online. And this is a big deal because historically it’s been a very, very difficult thing for Americans to hop the pond and find their people back overseas. So, fill us in, what is happening with Irish records?
Brian: Well, we’ve literally had a digital revolution in the last ten years to be honest with you. It’s been an absolute transformation of what it is to do Irish genealogy. I mean if you go back as you said in the past, it was literally the most difficult country in Europe to do research for. And the reason for that is very simple. In 1922 in the Irish Civil War we blew up our public record office.
Fisher: What did you do that for?
Brian: Well, it’s not a good idea to fight a war in the middle of a public record office or any archives for that matter.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs]
Brian: They had that happen. These things do sometimes. And fortunately the greatest casualty weren’t anything other than the building and all the records that were in it. So they’re gone.
Fisher: Now, how many records were lost?
Brian: And they were blown to pieces, plus, we tend to over emphasise how serious that was. The biggest loss actually was for very early Irish history from medieval Irish history which whilst it’s tragic for the study of Irish historical scholarship, but it isn’t so tragic for those tracing 19th century genealogy or 18th century genealogy. A great deal of our records for that period did survive. So the biggest loss was our 19th century census records, not all of them were lost but a lot of them were, and we lost about half of the church records for the major, the largest protestant church, the church of Ireland. So those are the single biggest casualties from that disaster. But many, many, any more records do survive, but the big change in the last number of years has been this process of digitalization in the face of records, not unlike you’ve seen everywhere else in the world.
Brian: But it has officially transformed our Irish research. It is now doable. It is now possible. And I am delighted to be able to work for a company like FindMyPast which has been at the forefront of the real push there. We’ve managed to get seventy million records online, unique Irish records online, within the last three years, quite an extraordinary achievement.
Fisher: Yeah, that really is. And we’re hearing that now the Irish record officers are releasing many more, correct?
Brian: That’s true. Correct. We’re being launched very soon now, we’re launching another three million records with the National Archives of Ireland and these are the surviving 19th century census records with other record sets as well. This is quite exciting because not only are we releasing them, we’re releasing them for free! They won’t even cost any money if you come to our website. So that’s a really exciting development to have being able to do that. And we have so many more records coming out. We’ve released exclusive record sets online including all of our court records that we have operative, thirty million court records from the 19th century we should put online. Now these are unique records about disputes of the local level between neighbors or minor criminal offenses. The sorts of things that most families would have had some experience of. We’ve also released online all of our prison records. Now these are incredibly detailed. Ireland was a bit of a security state in the 19th century because you know, Britain was always convinced Ireland was about to rebel for good reason. So we had a much higher number of police and courts and we had a much higher prison population so a lot of people went through the prison system and they’re incredibly detailed about the people who went there, what they looked like, their next of kin, where they were born, where they lived, where they’d worked. And we’ve also been releasing many other records, specifically land records. Land records are terribly important for Irish research among other record sets.
Fisher: Oh yes. That is very valuable.
Brian: True. True. I mean we’ve got exclusively the state court records. Often when people think of the biggest calamity of the 19th century in Ireland they’ll turn around and say, “Of course it was the famine”
Brian: Huge numbers, millions of people died and millions of people immigrated, mostly to North America, but as far as the government was concerned that wasn’t the biggest calamity. The biggest calamity was that the landlords went bankrupt because the tenants couldn’t pay their rent anymore. So they invested millions of pounds into trying to bail out their landlords. And they did this through a process, they set up a court to deal with this called the land of the state court. And what the great thing from our perspective is that these courts kept rentals of all the estates so we know all the tenant’s names and the tenure by which they held their land. So it’s really exciting because we can actually push back family history right back into the 1700s.
Brian: And discover information about people who wouldn’t show up in any other record set because these are the subsistence farmers to pay their rent once a year and they were told at that time whether they’re going to have the land for another year or not. Or you find the names of the inheritors, the sons usually, which means the land actually was passed father to son. You’ll find that his is including tenants which you’ll have the same. But you also have a lot of information about the community living around them which of course will include relatives. And if you use this information in conjunction with other sources it’s extremely valuable. But even when the other sources don’t survive, you can infer that in fact that the settlement of a family in an area might have back over whatever period of time you’re looking at.
Fisher: You’ve taken my breath away. I mean, [Laughs] this is a long list of amazing records for one of the most difficult areas to research ever.
Brian: And I’ve only just started Scott. There’s loads more as well.
Brian: I can go on along for hours. We have released so many new exciting record sets. Everything from – I mean we even released record sets relating to the war of Independence in the 1910s which is great fun particularly for Irish people because everybody wants to have some association with that. But there’s so many exciting records sets there that you can actually really start to put flesh on the bones of your family history.
Fisher: Well, that is very exciting stuff because there are more Irish people here in America now than there are in Ireland from what I understand.
Brian: Oh far more, far more. We have eighty million people worldwide who claim to be of Irish ancestry. It’s probably more than that figure as well. We only have six million people in the island of Ireland. That’s north and south who are here today. So if you think of it, six million here, eighty million worldwide.
Fisher: [Laughs] Wow!
Brian: It’s the single largest figure, I think of any population group there is. It is a huge disparity between those who are in Ireland and those who live abroad.
Fisher: What is the feeling of the native Irish towards their kindred brethren and sisters in North America?
Brian: Oh I think that’s changed. It’s gone back and forth every time but it’s generally very positive. I mean we’re very welcoming of people coming here. We very much want people to come visit our country.
Fisher: You had President Obama out there looking over his Irish ancestry not long ago.
Brian: Right. That’s right. In fact actually it’s a company we work very closely with over here who actually did a huge amount of research on his family history using precisely the unique records we have on FindMyPast. Like the lands of the state court records, we were able to unlock so much more detail. We were able to bring his family back into the 1600s. It’s a fantastic story. I mean there’s more information about his Irish family history then there is about JFK’s Irish family history if you can believe that.
Fisher: [Laughs] No.
Brian: It’s just that people tend to assume so much about what you can say about people’s Irish ancestry. But I mean, his ancestors were wig makers and they were involved in politics, we even found pamphlets about sort of various accusations made against them or for them during elections, very interesting fun stuff for him that we were able to find.
Fisher: I bet it was. What was the most interesting story out of the whole thing that you found?
Brian: The most interesting story. I’d say it’s probably those pamphlets. I mean there was big razz going on in Dublin politics between you know, one group of people and another. And of course, his family represented something that is not unusual in history but it is unusual for people when they look at Irish history. His family would have been Irish speaking from their origin, they were protestant rather than catholic, they were middle class so they weren’t you know, poor peasants, so you know socially they’re different than what we tend to imagine our past to be, but of course Ireland is as complex a country as any other and we’re not all of the same background. His involvement or his family’s involvement in all of this activity is extraordinary. We also discovered that a branch of his family who were religious refugees probably from Denmark who were living in Ireland, the bands from Limerick. We found other branches of his family who also had who were equally interesting minority groups within Ireland who were actually just struggling to get by. So it’s a really interesting multifarious story his family and managers to capture many of the different types of groups and communities who lived on the island. That makes it so interesting. So I think he got a real kick out of it. We’ve done many, many other great stories for sort of well known personalities as well in the US because so many of them are of Irish origin and the records are just becoming such easier, much easier to use. So we can actually say much, much more about these people.
Fisher: So, once again you’re saying we can get a free records dealing with the census that are out now, or they’re coming?
Brian: Well, those 19th century ones are coming. They should be out within the next month or so. I was hoping they’d be out by now but they’ve been delayed for one reason or another, but that’s no bad thing, I’m sure they’ll be better in the end when they do. We’re working in partnership with a lot of cultural organizations and they have their own time scales. But other records on our site are available. You can subscribe to our website FindMyPast.com for as little as $9.95 a month. In fact, you can register and use our resources on our site for free. It costs nothing. So I mean, I’d really strongly recommend that people go in and have a look and see what the site is like. Play with the family tree builder software, play with the records, see what you can actually pull out from it. Because before they even put any details to actually any payment at all.
Fisher: Brian Donovan, thank you so much for your time, interesting stuff. Have a great Saint Paddy’s Day week.
Brian: Same to you.
Fisher: And coming up next, she discovered she’s a descendent of Abolitionist John Brown when she was just a girl, wait till you hear what’s happened to her life as a result of all that. We’ll talk to Alice Keesey MeCoy coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 3 Episode 33
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Alice Keesey Mecoy
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with Alice Keesey Mecoy. And, Alice is kind of unique because she is a descendant of John Brown, the abolitionist who many say kicked off the entire Civil War. Alice, how are you? Nice to meet you!
Alice: I’m great, thanks for having me.
Fisher: What is your relationship to him?
Alice: I’m his great, great, great granddaughter. That’s three great.
Fisher: Three greats. And, you’ve taken his legacy and are actually living it very much today. So let’s talk about this. When did you first know that you were descended from John Brown?
Alice: I found out when I was sixteen from a local amateur historian. My family didn’t really talk about it much.
Fisher: Really? Now, is that because they had some concern about it, or they just didn’t care?
Alice: Actually, when Annie, John Brown’s daughter, moved to California, the family kind of put it behind them so that their children could live a normal life. So it was something that they were proud of, but they kind of kept it in the background from their children to protect them from all the notoriety, and that just continued through the family. My grandmother in 1976 participated with a group of women and made a quilt that depicted parts of American history that shouldn’t be forgotten, and her quilt piece was on her posterity, and while she was quilting it, she told the women that she was descended from John Brown. The quilt ended up hanging at San Jose State University, and it was written up in the paper, a little blurb that John Brown’s granddaughter had a piece of the quilt. And this local historian, Jean Libi, found that article, tracked down my grandmother and tracked down me. And so since 1976, we’ve been in touch. To begin with I didn’t care. I was sixteen. I really didn’t care at all.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs] But there’s quite a legacy there and you had to sort a few things out because John Brown is revered on the one hand and despised by others on the other hand.
Alice: Yes, and I experienced that. I live in Texas now, and he’s not on the revered side here in Texas.
Fisher: [Laughs] Have you experienced some problems as a result of this?
Alice: I actually gave a speech a few years ago at my local library, and I had a picketer. Someone actually picketed the library because they were spending money on a John Brown event.
Fisher: Really? All these years later, well wouldn’t John be proud?
Alice: [Laughs] I hope so.
Fisher: So you were sixteen when you found out. You didn’t care at that point. When did you care, and then what happened as a result of that interest?
Alice: I grew up, moved away, got married, had children, and Jean still kept in touch with me and she would send historians to me who wanted to talk to a descendant of John Brown, and my kids were probably five or six when I realized it was kind of embarrassing that these historians knew more about my family than I did, and they were coming to me to ask questions. So, I started doing some research. My kids were little. I couldn’t do a lot. As soon as my kids were in high school, I kind of went crazy with doing the research, and when my kids moved out to college, John Brown and his entire family moved into my house.
Fisher: Oh boy.
Alice: I have an office that is completely John Brown. I have files, I have artwork. I have interesting little things that I’d pick up, trinkets and things. And as my husband says, John Brown and his whole family moved into our house.
Fisher: So, what kind of trinkets did you pick up? Things that actually had belonged to him, that went through the family?
Alice: I do have a couple of bibles that were the family’s. I have one that’s very near and dear to me that was owned by Oliver. He carried it in Kansas during the bloody years of Kansas. But the thing that makes it most special to me is, an eight year old Annie practiced signing her name all over the front page of the bible. Now you know she got in trouble for doing that, but you can still see where she just was practising and practising and practising to sign her name and that makes it very near and dear to me.
Fisher: Sure, that’s your great, great grandmother.
Alice: Yes it is.
Fisher: So as you have studied John Brown, obviously there’s a great connection for you at this point. What is the side of him that you go, “Well, I’m not really sure I like that.”
Alice: Well, there’s parts of everyone that you can like and not like.
Alice: There’s the parts that happened in Kansas, where I don’t agree exactly with what happens in Kansas. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what his motivation was, but yes I’ll say it, he is responsible for the death of some people at Pottawatomie Creek. He thought his family was in danger and there were bounties on his family’s head, and so he struck first. Am I proud of that? Not really, but it’s a part of who he is. It’s a part of the whole story of John Brown.
Fisher: Oh absolutely. We all have interesting characters in our backgrounds, and they do make it colorful, don’t they?
Alice: They do, they do. I mean, there’s just so many interesting things in studying John Brown. He has a granddaughter that sued Warner Brothers over the Santa Fe movie.
Fisher: Huh! And there’ve been a lot of movies made about him over the years.
Alice: There’s been a few, yes. And, most of them are kind of not that great. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Not that accurate, or you just don’t like the light they shed him in?
Alice: Well, many are not accurate, but again it’s Hollywood. Of course they always change things. And some of them I don’t care for the light they shed him in, but mostly because of the accuracy.
Fisher: I got you. All right, now how about your kids? How have they taken to this?
Alice: Well I have twin boys, Winfred and Jeffrey who are now 27 years old, and they are proud of it, but they’re still not at the age where they really care that much about it. They’ll listen to me and they’ll, they can spout some of the stuff back to me, but they’re really not that excited about it, and growing up in Texas, they never really learned about John Brown except from me.
Fisher: So, you have taken his legacy now and kind of adopted it, because of course he was a big time abolitionist. This was the whole point of really his behaviour that led to so much violence. You today also go and fight his battle.
Alice: I do, I’m on the board of two really amazing organizations. John Brown Lives, in Lake Titus, New York, which is actually right next door to North Elba where John Brown lived for a number of years. And it’s a human rights education organization that I’m very proud to be on the board of governors of, and that I’m also on the Frederick Douglass family institute which is founded by Kenneth Morris who is the three time great grandson of Frederick Douglass, and there’s a very interesting story there about how Frederick Douglass and John Brown met right before the Harper’s Ferry raid, and that was the last time anyone in the family ever spoke. They never spoke again until about 2009 when Kenneth and I talked on the phone and then in 2012 we actually met in person and we have pictures we had taken that this is the first time that the Douglass and the Brown families have been together in 152 years.
Fisher: Isn’t that something, when you think about that. And you’ve really taken this to a new level, and there are a lot of concerns around the world right now, like human trafficking, and sex trade, and slaves.
Alice: Yes, actually there are more slaves now than there were in the 1800s in America. Throughout the world there are more slaves.
Fisher: So let’s talk for a minute about this idea of taking a legacy as you’ve done with your ancestor, and basically magnifying it. It’s obviously John Brown is back what, six generations from you? You have really taken what he did and taken it into the 21st century. How can other people do this with their ancestors?
Alice: Gee, [Laughs] that’s an interesting question. There’s always somebody in your family tree that you just really connect with. At least I found people have said there’s someone in their family tree they connect with. But everybody has somebody in their family tree that did something miraculous, something unique, something remarkable, be it a fire fighter, be it someone who died for slavery. But they didn’t have to die for their passion. I know of one woman who is a great seamstress because all of her ancestors had been seamstresses and she’d been so excited when she found that out, she thought it was just her, and she’d gone back and seen that, you know, that’s how her family made their living. So I’m sure there’s some way you can connect with somebodyspecifically in your family.
Fisher: Is there somebody else in your line that you have a strong connection with?
Alice: I have a great affection for Annie, his daughter, my great, great grandmother. And, I have a very strong love of Martha, who was John Brown’s daughter-in-law, who to me is one of the true heroes of the 19th century, the 1800s. She married into a family that her family didn’t want her to marry into, because the Browns were very controversial. She spent time at Kennedy farm before the raid, helping take care of the men, you know, there were twenty men living in a house, and they were hiding and they had Martha and Annie there to make it look more normal and take care of hiding them and cooking for them. And then they went back home to New York, and when John Brown was hung, the family all took to that hill, and Martha, who was now pregnant, took care of everybody, took care of the farm, took care of everything, kept it running, and her husband died at the raid. When she finished taking care of everyone, she came down sick, went to bed, and basically had her daughter and died because she had nothing left to live for. So she gave her youth, her husband, her daughter who died, in her life, for the fight against slavery.
Fisher: What a story. Alice Keesey Mecoy, it’s been a delight talking to you today, and thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Alice: You’re very welcome.
Fisher: And coming up next, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Tom, we are being mocked. I will explain what that means, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 4 Episode 33
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. And, Tom, I believe we're being mocked!
Tom: Yes, we are.
Fisher: [Laughs] We got an email from Margret Lithgow in Babylon, New York. She asks, "Tom, really!? Rice in cheesecloth bags, do I add butter or margarine?" [Laughs]
Tom: No, dear. Please do not add margarine or butter or anything else. That will totally defeat the whole purpose.
Fisher: All right, let's explain first of all the purpose, from the beginning, maybe a little slower. Last week, we were talking about, you know, how you preserve stuff that is subject to humidity and moisture in your home.
Fisher: And as you explained, it happens in all parts of the country, even out where it’s dry in the west.
Tom: Oh yeah. If you live out in like Utah, Nevada, Arizona where you think its dry, it can be, but if you have basements, sometimes there can be condensation inside so you can actually get some humidity on your precious memories.
Fisher: So what happens here is, you want to preserve those things against the moisture. That includes the slides and the photographs, especially the 19th century, those cardboard ones.
Tom: Oh, absolutely.
Fisher: And then the video and the audio. And you use rice in cheesecloth.
Tom: Exactly. The biggest problem with videotapes and audiotapes, they get mould on them. So what you want to do is, you want to get a good high grade cheesecloth. You can usually pick it up at a fabric store or if you want medical grade, go to an A+ type facility that actually sells medical grade cheesecloth. You get uncooked rice.
Tom: You put it inside the cheesecloth. And it needs to be whole rice. Don't use like Uncle Ben's instant rice.
Fisher: Now we're getting down to the brand. Fantastic!
Tom: Exactly. You want to make sure its whole rice, and then you put it inside the cheesecloth, wind the cheesecloth tight and then put either string around it, a zip tie or something that's not going to break. Don't use rubber bands, because they break, and then your rice gets loose and then you can get rice in your videotapes, all kinds of stuff, and that it not good. So once you get that taken care of, put that inside the Ziploc bag, put your videos, your audio, your photos, whatever it is inside and get out as much moisture as you can and then zip it locked. Don't use one of those machines that sucks all air out and then seals it, because they can introduce heat, which is not good for those things, and sometimes there can be some moisture introduced through them as well. And one thing you always want to remember too is, try and keep you tapes on end, whether it’s on the long end or the short end, you don't want to lay them flat. And also, make sure your tapes are in the forward position, which means you play them all the way through at normal speed, then put them away. You do not want to rewind them, because when you rewind them, they wind really tight and they get what's called print through.
Tom: Where one piece of tape transfers stuff to the other.
Fisher: Right. And so you get that echo before you even say it, and there's no fixing that.
Tom: Oh, you can't. And the thing that drives you crazy, like you yell into a canyon, you hear the echo, it’s funny, but if you hear the echo before your brain, that's from another world.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Tom: Your brain won't compensate for that. And you'll know there's something wrong, you won't know what it is, but you'll know something's wrong. So you want to make sure they're stored what we call “tails out.”
Fisher: All right, great answer, and another question coming up about free software, when we return with Tom Perry, next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 5 Episode 33
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: You have found us, Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And your questions come to us through [email protected]. And we just had a great one of course about the cheesecloth bag and the rice. And now this one is from Paula Smith in Charlotte, North Carolina. Paula writes, "Tom, I caught your comments a few months ago about free software to organize my materials, and I've been meaning to ask, can you repeat where to get that?"
Tom: You bet, absolutely. Just go to TMCPlace.com. That's T as in Tom, M as in Michael, C as in Charley, TMCPlace.com. And on the left hand side, you'll see a whole bunch of blue tabs, you go down to the one that's says "Heritage Collectors Classes and More" it’s about six or seven down, and when you click on that link, you'll go to Heritage Collectors' website that's tied to ours. Scroll all the way down to the very bottom and you’ll see it will say "Free standard version" so as long as you click through our system to get there, you'll be able to download the free version. Now the neat thing about this software, it’s not like some cheap lite version, it’s the full standard version. There's no banners on it, there's no ads on it, there's no expiration date. It’s good for as long as you want to do it. But the nice thing is, it will also show you the other modules. So maybe down the road you might want to get into to do something, you know, even fancier, like you want to make calendars and different things like this. So the basic standard software will help you organize your photos, slides different things like that and it will teach you how you can go and add dropdown menus to them. And then as you want, if you want to upgrade to other modules, you can, but the nice thing is, it will show you what the other modules are, so you don't have to go and buy some crazy package. You just pick the modules that you want as you want. If the standard version works for you fine, then that's fine. Plus, while you're there, it will also say where our next classes are, and all the classes are free. So you just signup for the class, show up, and you know, learn all kinds of cool stuff, how to preserve your memories. You can see where our next classes are, and these classes are right on your computer. It’s kind of like a go to a meeting type thing. So what you'll do is, just signup for the class, go to the class you want, and if something on there interests you, you can upgrade to another module or just learn the basics that you can apply to what other kinds of software you already have. They're just great ideas to learn all kinds of ways to preserve your memories.
Fisher: Then those are interactive, aren't they?
Tom: Oh absolutely!
Fisher: I mean, you can actually ask questions while this online class is happening.
Tom: Oh yeah, oh absolutely! If you're live on the class, you can ask questions and they'll answer them in real time. If there's a question that's more detailed, you can like email it in and then they'll respond to it. They're really, really good at answering their emails. So if it’s a basic question, ask right there onsite and they'll be able to answer your question. And probably the question you asked, maybe a hundred other people on the site at the same time have the same question, so go ahead and ask questions.
Fisher: That's great. Once again, to get the free software and to find out where to see these free classes, where do they go?
Tom: They go to TMCPlace.com. Click down to where it says Heritage Collectors Classes and More, click on that link, scroll all the way to the bottom of the next page, you'll see Free Standard Software, click on that, and then you'll also see where you can sign up for one of the classes. And they're all free. There's no charge to the classes. You don't have to have their software in order to attend the classes.
Fisher: Wow, great stuff! Thanks so much, Tom.
Tom: You bet!
Fisher: Good to see you again.
Tom: Good to be here.
Fisher: That about wraps it up for this week. I think Tom is just scratching the surface when it comes to all of our family treasures that continue to self destruct every single day. If you have a question for Tom, remember to email him at [email protected]. And we'd love to answer it for you and everyone else you might not have even thought of your concern. Thanks to our guest, Brian Donovan from FindMyPast who shared with us some exciting news about Irish records that are now coming online. And also thanks to Alice Keesey MeCoy, 3rd great granddaughter of old John Brown the abolitionist, for sharing with us how he affects her life even all these years later. If you missed any of it, subscribe to Extreme Genes on iTunes and catch the podcast or listen through ExtremeGenes.com. And speaking of which, we've got a new Extreme Genes app that will be coming out in just a few weeks. Yes, it will be free. If you want to know when you can download it, just signup for our newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com, and you'll be among the first to know what's going on. Next week, if you're something of a beginner in digging up your dead, you're going to want to hear our conversation about GenWeb sites. If you don't know what they are, well, they just may hold the secrets you're looking for. We'll tell you all about them. Thanks for listening. Take care. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!