Episode 36 - Why Family History Researchers Need To Know "The Law!"

podcast episode Apr 07, 2014

Fisher talks about how some listeners got “got” on April Fools’ Day and innocently tried to share the news with Extreme Genes listeners.  Hear what one story said and where it came from!   Fisher also has a source of common baby names and what they really mean.  If you’re naming a child anytime soon, you may want to listen!  Would you ever rely on information three-quarters of a century old to solve your 21st Century problems?  One British woman did.  Listen to how she solved her obesity and financial problems with a pamphlet from World War II!

Guest Judy Russell, “The Legal Genealogist,” joins the show.  In her first segment, she explains how it is that our family stories are typically lost forever in just three generations.  She’ll also tell you what you can do about it.  She lays out her case brilliantly… just like the attorney she is.  In her second segment, Judy explains what legal traps we need to avoid as family history researchers and writers.  The danger is real, and you won’t want to miss what she has to say.

Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our “Preservation Authority,” is back to talk about dos and don’ts concerning of digital storage.  Think of it as your “Family History Insurance Policy.”  It's real good advice you need to know!

Transcript of Episode 36

Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 36

Fisher: Welcome back genies to Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth on America’s first and only national radio show on family history, now heard on a growing list of radio stations. And what a week it has been! I’m not going to out anybody here because I appreciate anybody who likes to fills us in new discoveries and family history news stories. You are all friends of the show. But this past week was of course April Fools Day and that meant stuff was out there, and a few people bit and then sent it on to me to share with you. Now they didn’t know these stories weren’t true, so I just feel like hey, unless I’ve never been fooled by a prank on April Fools or any other day, who am I to call them out on it? This was the best of them though. [Laughs] It came from a listener who spotted it on FindMyPast.com. It reads: Landmark breakthrough. Death records for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde discovered on FindMyPast. A horror mystery breakthrough! FindMyPast is thrilled to announce an incredible breakthrough in one of the most famous, popular mysteries of the last century. Our stellar London team has recovered the death records of both Dr Henry Jekyll and his sometime associate Mr Edward Hyde. This data in concurrence with some recently unearthed articles from our newspaper archives marks the most significant breakthrough in this case since the Victorian era, so nice job to the FindMyPast folks. I’m sure you got more than a few people with that one and nice graphics too. I am very excited about our guest this week. She was a keynote speaker at Roots Tech and as a lawyer makes her case for all kinds of things very succinctly. Her name is Judy Russell and she’s known as the Legal Genealogist. And we will put her to the test starting in about eight minutes on a couple of different topics. First is her proposition that our family stories are lost typically forever if not preserved in just three generations. Yikes! I mean there is a call to action. We’ll get into that and what to do about it, plus when it comes to the law what do we need to know as it applies to family history? I think what Judy has to say on that will be a wakeup call to many of us amateur researchers. I think I’d be putty in her hands if I was in a Jury box and she was arguing a case. I guarantee many of the things she says will stick with you. 

You know, recently I read a book by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger called George Washington’s Secret Six. I was on a short vacation and ploughed through it twice in just a few days. It is about America’s first spy ring based in New York during the Revolution. It is no less gripping a story than if it happened in the 21st century. What’s more amazing is the lengthy research covering over a century of various researchers who put together the identities of all the spies except one female who remains nameless and likely will forever more. So you could imagine how excited I was to turn on the tube the other night and learned that AMC has begun a new series called TURN about this the so called Culper Spy Ring. If you want to know what life was like for your ancestors, especially during British occupation you’re going to want to watch this series. TURN is on ABC on Sunday nights. And by the way, after reading the book I took a quick peek at the lineage of the five known spies and found that one of them, Caleb Brewster is descendent from some of my ancestors in Connecticut, making him a distant cousin of some sort. He’s the one who rowed the Whaleboat across Long Island Sound to Connecticut to deliver the Ring’s secret messages, interesting how knowing little things like that increase your involvement in the story. I cannot wait to see this. From the pages of ExtremeGenes.com here is your Family Histoire News for this week. We start with a fascinating name list from Nameberry.com. They call them good names with bad, bad meanings. If someone you love is looking to name a baby anytime soon this is fair warning. Here are a few from that list. It’s a Scottish name, Camryn meaning crooked nose. This one’s a Latin name. It’s Portia, meaning pig. From Germany came the name Lorelei which means lurking rock. Kennedy is a Gaelic name meaning misshapen head. This one’s kind of common Calvin. It’s Latin, it means bald. Mallory is a French name meaning unfortunate. Avery came from the Anglo-Saxons meaning ruler of the elves. Olivia is an English name. Elf army is the meaning of that. And Mara is a Hebrew word meaning bitter. You can see a longer list at ExtremeGenes.com. [Laughs] And if your name was just mentioned, I apologize. 

Next, ever think of looking to the life of your ancestors to solve your 21st century problems? One British woman did. Her name is Caroline Eakins. She looked back to life during WWII to find a solution to her obesity and financial problems. At her peak she weighed 350 pounds. Well, not only did her weight negatively impact her quality of life, it was also costing her far more money to sustain her eating habits than she could afford. What did she do? Well, as a WWII enthusiast Caroline started reading old pamphlets and ration recipes from the early 1940s that had been issued by the Ministry of Food during the war. As an experiment, she began to follow their instructions and as a result she got off today’s junk food noting that her taste actually adjusted to the change in just two weeks. Over many months Caroline lost 80 pounds. On top of that her food bill went from $120 a week to only $25 a week, a savings of over 80%. That’s a savings rate of $5 000 a year after taxes. Now she’s lighter, happier and richer. Get more of the details at ExtremeGenes.com. If you find a story or have one of your own, we would love to hear it. That’s why we’ve set up our Extreme Genes “Find Line” toll free at 1-234-56 GENES. That’s 1-234-56 GENES, G-E-N-E-S. You can leave comments, suggestions, questions as well as your stories from the trail. And be sure to let us know how we can get back to you and maybe we’ll even have you on the show. And coming up next, she’s a genealogical expert that says your family stories will vanish in just three generations unless you do something about it now.  She’s the Legal genealogist, Judy Russell. And she’ll also tell you why you need to know the law when it comes to family history. You’ll be sharing this conversation with your friends. It’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 36

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Judy Russell

Fisher: Hey and welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here and I am so excited to have Judy Russell, she’s the Legal Genealogist from New Jersey. How are you doing Judy? 

Judy: I’m fine Scott. How about yourself?

Fisher: You know, awesome. And you know anytime we get to talk family history I love it. You were a keynote speaker at RootsTech and you really stuck something in my head that I haven’t been able to shake ever since that event and that was talking about how we lose our family history in just three generations. You want to explain that?

Judy: Well you know, back in December of 2013, Judy Ramos had written an article in the Examiner. She quoted an archivist from the National Archives in Fort Worth. Erin Holtz said that it isn’t unusual for us to have not only conflicting family stories, but just missing family stories in just three generations. That the stories have to be passed down deliberately and accurately if we’re going to have them today, not that it rang the cord with you, it really rang a cord with me because I found so many situations in my own family history where either stories have been lost completely or they just been... mishandled over the generations. You remember the old childhood game of telephone in kindergarten and somebody says grasshopper at one end and it comes out helicopter at the other end.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

Judy: And we see that a lot in family history.

Fisher: Well, you’re absolutely right and I’ve been thinking about that too because sometimes it has to do with the fact that somebody dies young, and they’re gone.

Judy: Absolutely.

Fisher: And nobody remembers who they were. My father never knew either of his grandparents on his father’s side.

Judy: I have exactly the same situation. Both of my father’s parents were dead before I was born, and we’re talking a later time period so that I can get records like social security records and their immigration records since they were German born. There’s a lot of information about them I’m never going to have because my father was very close mouthed about his family. So there wasn’t that deliberate effort to pass down information.

Fisher: So you’re saying in essence, we have to either do it by recording or by writing or some other means?

Judy: And some other means can be the oral tradition of the family as long as it’s done deliberately and accurately. 

Fisher: Okay so wait a minute, you’re going to have to help me understand because we have on the one hand the telephone problem [Laughs] from grasshopper to helicopter, but doesn’t the oral tradition kind of cause that same problem or is there a way to do it where it retains the accuracy? 

Judy: Well, speaking about modern times, those of us here in the 21st century, we have such a capacity to record audio, visual, writing, digital, that there’s no excuse for reliance solely on oral history today. But for those of us who grew up in families with an oral tradition, some of those family stories were passed down with accuracy because it was a very deliberate effort made. So, we’re talking two different time periods. If there was a deliberate and accurate method of transmitting it, grandparents to parents, parents to child, then today we may have those stories. The problem is so many of our families didn’t do that. And by the time they got around to writing it down it was helicopter and not grasshopper. One of the most frankly amusing aspects of this, for me, is the story that I first encountered when I first started doing genealogy and I discovered that my fourth great grandfather was a man by the name of David Baker who served with the third Virginian regiment in the Revolutionary War. So you know, very exciting family history the third Virginia served with George Washington. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: The family story begins with Alexander Baker coming to Boston in 1635 on the ship the Elizabeth and Anne. He’s got his wife and his two little daughters, has a whole bunch more kids in Boston, one of them being this Samuel Baker. And Samuel Baker marries a Mayflower descendent and then they had this guy William who goes to Virginia and he serves in the Colonial Legislature with people like Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson and William’s son is my fifth great grandfather Thomas Baker. And Thomas is right there on the main road in Virginia.

Fisher: [Laughs] I see where this is going. 

Judy: Every time George Washington comes down the road he stays at the Baker home. It’s a wonderful family history finally written down by a cousin of mine in Texas in a book that he published in the 1970s. The problem is none of it’s true. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: Not one bit of that story until you get to Thomas who at least existed.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Judy: You know, we did DNA testing and we don’t descend from Alexander Baker which is okay because the Samuel Baker was the Mayflower descendent. That’s not Alexander’s son to begin with and that Samuel didn’t have a son named William.

Fisher: Oh boy.

Judy: There never was a William in the Colonial Legislature in Virginia, so it’s a lovely story but its fiction. 

Fisher: Right, and there’s so many of those stories like that. We had one in our line about somebody being fathered by a nobleman and it turned out to be a soldier with his servant.

Judy: You know, for an egalitarian community like the United States, founded on a notion of overthrowing the royalty the desire to find the royal ancestors is really kind of funny.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

Judy: You know, these stories get passed down and either they’re lost completely because they weren’t deliberately passed down or they’re passed down in a totally inaccurate fashion.

Fisher: Right.

Judy: And that’s really what Erin Holtz was saying. That unless it is both deliberate and accurate we end up today missing whole chunks of our family history.

Fisher: And I recall in your presentation you talked about that how it’s so essential that we document where our information comes from as we try to show the accuracy of these stories.

Judy: It is critical, and it is critical for a lot of reasons. One of the reasons that people always point to is, well you want somebody else to be able to track what you did. And that’s true. But more importantly, when you’re documenting that, you’re doing an analysis on how good is the information.

Fisher: That’s right.

Judy: Here’s a perfect example. My father’s death certificate is full of mistakes. Now that’s a documented, certified state vital record from the late 20th century. 

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

Judy: But the information was provided by his third wife. She didn’t know who his parents were. She didn’t know how to spell the city where he was born in Germany. She didn’t know so much of the information, and that’s what’s on record.

Fisher: Right, right. My mother’s birth record is the same way, spelled wrong, wrong middle name. They changed the name, spelled it wrong and the middle name as well.

Judy: Yep. So, when we look at these records we’re not just saying this is the Texas State birth record or the Virginia State death record. We’re saying, “Who provided the information and did that person know what the truth was or not?” So that’s what we’re really doing when we’re documenting this information.

Fisher: We’re talking to Judy Russell. She’s the Legal Genealogist and Judy this is fascinating stuff. Part of this whole thing though, gathering these records obviously is to basically create a collection from which then we analyze what we think is the truth or the best record we can create from all of them, yes?

Judy: Exactly, that the process in the genealogical proof standard which is the process that we’re all trying to get to starts with the reasonably exhausted search. We’ve got to look everywhere that the records of our families reasonably could be. We go on to citation because there again we’re documenting where we got it and that’s the first step in analysis and correlation. What does this document tell me that I believe and why do I believe it, and how do I integrate that with everything else that I’ve found? That leads to the inevitable step, certainly in my family, of resolving the conflict. 

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: When one record says A and the other record says not A, I have to do the analysis to decide what’s right and then the last step, and boy does this answer Erin Holtz’s issue, is to write it down in a solidly reasoned conclusion. And that way it’s not going to be lost for the future. 

Fisher: You know, what you just said here I think helps a lot of people who are probably listening to this and going, “Ah, you know it’s hard enough for me just to do the research and fill out the charts on my program, and now you want me to go and do all this.” But I think you’re making the case why this is so important.

Judy: But it’s more than just that it’s important for the pedigree sheet. The real situation here is that we’re losing the story.

Fisher: Right.

Judy: Everything’s beyond the names and birthdays and begets.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: That’s what I want. One of the stories that I told Roots Tech, I want the story of not my fourth great grandfather but his brother who died at the Battle of Trenton in 1776 with George Washington’s troops. And if I don’t do all of those steps I’m never going to find the one piece of paper that exists on the face of this earth that talks about Richard Baker and his loss in that battle.

Fisher: And I assume he has no descendents. He probably died young and unmarried. 

Judy: He died young. He died unmarried and even his name wasn’t passed down. One brother named a son Richard and there were no next generation Richard. So, even the name was gone after three generations. 

Fisher: So in essence, he belongs to you because he has no one else. Obviously, you want to know those things because he made a great sacrifice.

Judy: We all do. Everybody descended from that family wants to know about Richard Baker. It’s part of who we are. Its part of the sacrifices that David, my fourth great grandfather, and there are a lot of us descended from David, its part of what made him who he was. And that’s what he passed down to his children and their children and their children.

Fisher: Right, it’s that we’re all interconnected. It’s the story of everybody together and what they went through. When a baby dies, how does that affect everybody?

Judy: You bet you. And that’s where we need those documents. We need to go through those steps, because I may have found out somehow that there was a Richard Baker but how do I know what his story was and how he’s connected to me? 

Fisher: All right. We lose the stories in three generations says Judy Russell. She’s the Legal Genealogist. Judy, can you hang on? We’ll do another segment here. We’re going to talk about why it’s important to know the Law when it comes to doing genealogy. [Laughs]

Judy: Sounds great.

Fisher: All right, it’s coming up next on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 36

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Judy Russell

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth with Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist. We just had a fascinating conversation about how we’re losing our stories over just three generations. And now Judy I want to get on with this whole thing about legalities in genealogy because there are certainly many complications out there concerning copyright laws and photographs and who owns an image, and who owns the original and what we do and what do we need to worry about? And you being a legal eagle, maybe you can fill us in on some of that.

Judy: Well, part of the issue that we have is that we’re always relying on something that was created by somebody else.

Fisher: That’s right.

Judy: Whether it’s a book or a record or a document or a photograph or a website, every bit of that was created by somebody else. And what that means is that somebody somewhere may own the copyright to that document or that record or that photograph. And if we use it without getting permission we can be in very serious trouble. So, there’s a whole process that we need to stop and think about every time we think about, “Oh, maybe I’ll just share that or borrow that. We don’t want to end up getting sued and that’s the big concern and copyright. The statutory damages for a single copyright violation can run into tens of thousands of dollars.

Fisher: So somebody owns, say a book. And maybe it’s out of print. And the person who wrote it is no longer living, how do you determine who do you talk to about those things? Even the publisher’s out of business. What do you do with things like that? And does that matter?

Judy: It does. And part of what we need to do is understand the different elements of copyright protection that come in at different time frames. And this is a very complicated structure. We’re not going to go into all the detail. [Laughs] There is a wonderful website. It is from Cornell University. It is a copyright duration chart. The author is Peter Hirtle. If you’re going to do an online search, his last name is spelled H-I-R-T-L-E and you’d search for that document and being a Googler or whatever your search engine is, you’re going to come up with a chart that’s going to take you through every possibility for every document and photograph, anything you come across.

Fisher: That’s exciting stuff. 

Judy: It is.

Fisher: So it just depends on the medium and they all have different durations I assume.

Judy: It’s not so much the medium. What it is is the time frame.

Fisher: Okay. 

Judy: Anything published in the United States before 1923, so all of those digitized Google books from the 1800s and the early 1900s are totally out of copyright. That means they’re in the public domain. If they’re in the public domain you can use any portion of them anyway you want. No restrictions whatsoever.

Fisher: So what about these that go back to 1923, ’24? The publisher’s gone, the writer is deceased, still technically in copyright, obviously they’re not making any money of this, so there’s not a financial situation involved in it. How do we deal with that to make sure we do it right?

Judy: That’s a real problem. It’s called Orphan Works, recognized legal issue that is perplexing. The US copyright office wrote a multi page proposal to Congress back I think it was 2005 saying we need some way of making these Orphan Works available to researchers and others to use, and Congress has done absolutely nothing with it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: There does seem to be some movement here in 2014 towards another look at this problem of Orphan Works. But yeah, first of all we as genealogists probably have the least complaint because we’re supposed to be able to find the descendents of the people who wrote these things.

Fisher: Right, right.

Judy: That is what we’re supposed to be good at. 

Fisher: So are those descendents then those who would retain the copyright on behalf of their ancestor?

Judy: It’s possible, and again I know that my standard response to a lot of legal questions is, it depends. But, let’s say for example that I wrote a book and I leave a will and in the will I say I leave the copyright to by book to Rutgers University, my Alma Mater. In that case my descendents don’t own the copyright. Rutgers does. 

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: Besides, Rutgers is the school I graduated from. 

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: But now let’s say I don’t mention the copyright in my will or I don’t have a will then it’s going to pass in a different way. But yes, ultimately it’s going to be an heir, somebody in my family who has the right to the property that I didn’t mention in the will. So, those are the people who are going to need to get the will to see if there is a declaration.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Judy: And if there isn’t, you know these are all things we do as genealogists anyway. 

Fisher: Well, that is absolutely true but to some extent. Let’s ask this question then. Are we talking about when you say you can use this old out of copyright stuff anyway you want, you still don’t want to be claiming it as your own, you want to be quoting it. You know, you want to give credit where credit’s due. I think there’s a word for it. It’s called plagiarism.

Judy: It certainly is. Without attribution it absolutely is plagiarism. 

Fisher: Yeah, I had somebody I shared some material with that I had provided to him and then somebody eventually got me a copy where he wrote and it was mostly my stuff with his name on it. I was appalled. I didn’t lose any money on it and certainly didn’t lose any sleep over it but you know the idea that was just kind of outrageous.

Judy: We have in all aspects of life a concept of ethics over and above what the law require.

Fisher: Right.

Judy: Stealing somebody’s ideas, stealing somebody’s words is still theft.

Fisher: That’s right.

Judy: And maybe the law is not going to do anything about it, but boy, oh boy it’s still just plain wrong.

Fisher: It stinks, doesn’t it?

Judy: It does. Now, if you want to use a small portion of a work that’s in copyright so it’s got copyright protection on it, but you just want to use a paragraph or one little part of it. It may qualify under the law as what’s called “fair use.”

Fisher: Okay.

Judy: If you’re not going to be making any money on it and it is not going to hurt the commercial value of the book itself or the item itself, and you’re doing it for research purposes the chances are the law is going to let you do that. If it wasn’t for that none of us could have written those term papers back when we were in school. 

Fisher: [Laugh] Right, of course.

Judy: So, there are some limited abilities to use this stuff. It’s when we go in and we grab 100% of a photograph or 100% of a blog post or anything else, and that raises one point that’s probably the biggest misconception about this and the most important thing for people to understand. There’s a real issue with people thinking if it’s online I can use it. It is exactly the opposite in the Law. If it’s online it is almost guaranteed it to be copyright protected because copyright is automatic. The minute that I write a blog post every single day I hit publish in my program and I have the copyright to that blog post without doing anything more. 

Fisher: All right, real quick because we’re running out of time. Photographs, is there a difference with photographs that are out there in terms of copyright duration?

Judy: No. There’s no difference at all.

Fisher: [Laughs] Okay. 

Judy: And that again is a good reason to go to that copyright chart, get an idea of how long copyright lasts and if it’s within copyright, two simple words, Get Permission.

Fisher: Great advice. She’s Judy Russell. She’s the Legal Genealogist. We’ve learned so much today Judy. Thanks so much for joining us. 

Judy: Thank you for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, it’s Tom Perry. He is our Preservation Authority with more on how you preserve your photographs, your films, your videos, on the way on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 Episode 36

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth along with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. And of course you can always ask him questions at [email protected]. And, Tom, we've had a ton of questions lately from many different people from all over the country about data storage, and I thought maybe we'd kind of combine those and really spend a lot of time today on that topic.

Tom: Oh yeah, I think that's great idea. I've got so many different people asking about, "Hey, I saw this on the internet. I saw this in the newspaper, you know, is this the best way to go?" And, let's do that. Let's talk about some different storage ideas. And you know, I've done a lot of research on the internet, and you know, can drop a couple of names to let people know, hey, this isn't just my opinion you know. I've done some research on this.

Fisher: All right, let's get started then with USB storage.

Tom: Okay, good, that's a good place to start. If you want more information, you can go to LifeHackers, DigiStors or CadzowTech, which is C A D Z O W Tech, they have a lot of information on USBs as well. Basically, the problem with USB storage is, a lot of the large enterprises typically have a number of redundancies in place to protect their data in case copies become lost or encrypted or you might lose a DVD or a CD or something.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: A hard drive could crash. So the big places have redundancy to keep that from happening, but the data storage's best practice indicate that any information stored in the cloud should have at least one copy saved onto an on premise server. Like I've told people over and over and over again, don't just put stuff on a disk, don't just put it on a hard drive, don't just put it in the cloud, you need all three, and in a lot of cases, as you've mentioned before, pick two clouds and make sure the two clouds are different, like an Apple cloud and a Dropbox cloud.

Fisher: Right. And we talk about the cost of this. It’s typically somewhere around twenty a month, and that cost is coming down.

Tom: Oh, it has.

Fisher: Because there's so much competition going on for it. How much money is reasonable to spend on storage? And I guess that's a question that's very individual.

Tom: Oh yeah. And it comes right back to, you know, what's it worth to transfer your videos or your audio cassettes or your film, what's it worth? And I tell people constantly when they call and come into one of our locations, I say, "You know, you go and spend, say $500 on a wide screen television, give it to your kids for Christmas, the life of that's, you know, three or four years, five years maybe if you're lucky. If you go and spend that same amount of money, transfer your home movies and videos, your kids are going to have it and your grandkids are even going to appreciate it more than your kids and it will be something that they have forever."

Fisher: Absolutely.

Tom: You know, it’s really smart, and you've got to be so careful that you keep this stuff in a really, really good condition.

Fisher: And you know, this is kind of like, my wife's got a back that's been troubling her lately, and so she's had to make a decision about going to the chiropractor. Do you do it after your back falls out again or do you do it ahead of time as a preventive measure to keep it from happening in the first place? And so, you know, ultimately, you're going to wind up paying the cost of losing your data.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Either ahead of it or after it. And so, this is really good advice, Tom.

Tom: Oh, it is. In fact, I remember there used to be back when we were young and television was kind of new, there used to be transmission place that said, "Pay me now or pay me later."

Fisher: That's right. [Laughs]

Tom: And that's what it is. And the thing is, the older it gets, the more challenge it is to restore it, because it gets worse and worse and worse. We had somebody bring in some photos the other day after they heard last week's segment and says, "Hey, I've had this hanging in my living room and unfortunately there's direct light that's been hitting it. And it has all these little frames. They take off the frames, and at the corners you can see the picture looks perfect and the other part is so faded. And so, we can go in and we can restore that, however, if they would have done this ten years ago or put some UV glass on top as a preventative maintenance, that wouldn't have happened.

Fisher: I do that for a lot of pictures and my collectables, too.

Tom: Oh, absolutely. You have to really be careful with stuff like that. Light is good, but UV is not. Back to the USB that we were talking about, according to Info World, right now the price of USB drives is basically about 66c per gigabyte. So it’s about, you know, $85 for one that size. Now my rule of thumb when I buy them, I usually see them in most stores about a dollar per gigabyte, and so, if it’s that or less, that's okay. But be careful that there are different qualities too. And go on the internet, research and find out which are the best ones to get. And, as I tell everybody, and please listen to this, USB is not a permanent storage solution! USB is a convenience, like having a pillbox on your keychain. Put something on there that you need to go to a friend or you're going to a convention and want to download some stuff, but then when you get home, put it on your hard drive, dump it to your hard drive ASAP!

Fisher: All right, more on storage, the right way to do it, coming up with Tom Perry when we return on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 36

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we're back at Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fish here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. And, Tom, we've been talking about storage here, we’ve talked about USB storage, which you say is a convenience, and I can't argue with you on that point. It’s nice though to have that convenience in case something horrible happens.

Tom: Absolutely.

Fisher: But boy, to count on it would be a big mistake in the long run. So what else do you have for us?

Tom: Okay. Well, on the USB drives, just to kind of remind people listening to the first segment or those that are just joining us now, you want to remember, anything that you think is really important, you want to store it in multiple places. You want it on a disk, whether you choose BluRay, DVD or CD.

Fisher: Now wait a minute! A lot people argue that these CDs, they’re going to go away.

Tom: Well, they're wrong, because next week, we're going to talk about some of the new things that are coming out on BluRay. So the disk is not dead, the disk is not even close to being dead.

Fisher: Not even on life support, huh?

Tom: Nope, not even close, and won't even be getting to the quartz, 365 terabytes. But basically, what you want to remember is, store it on a disk, a disk that you have easy access to. Make sure you have it on a hard drive, whether you choose a standard hard drive or the best are the solid state hard drives, less moveable parts, so it lasts longer. And we might talk about that some more next week also. And then have it in at least one cloud. If you can afford it, have it in two clouds, like the Apple cloud and Dropbox, and that way, you'll be covered. Thing with USB, one of the biggest problems with them, there's a reason that they're so cheap. Unfortunately if you look at electronics, they are really made out of pretty shoddy materials that USB drives are, so they can fall. And so, we tell people to avoid this. You don't want to use USBs as either a primary or a secondary source. Just use it as a portable, convenience type thing. If you're using shoddy products, something's going to happen. They're used a lot, put in and out of machines, sitting in your pocket. They wear and tear on it. And it’s already kind of not a very good quality device, so that makes it even worse. One of the biggest problems that I see with USB people is that they're impatient, too. Just like we are sometimes, they don't take the time to click on the “disengage” or “put away” or whatever button, they just grab the USB drive and pull it out.

Fisher: Rip it out, yes.

Tom: Oh, and that is so dangerous, because if it happens to be writing at that instant to a file, when you pull it out, not only will it corrupt that file, there's a really good chance it’s going to corrupt your entire USB drive.

Fisher: Ooh!

Tom: So I always tell people, use a USB as just a portable device. So for instance if you're going to like a family history conference or convention and they give you a little USB drive with all kinds of information on it, great, take that home, put it on your hard drive, burn a CD, put it in the cloud. And another thing tied to that is, okay, say, "Oh, I’ve got a solid state hard drive. Oh, I've got another hard drive. Oh, I've got my USB. I've got my cloud. I've got all these things." Now, if you don't put them in a fireproof safe and your house burns down.

Fisher: Oh boy!

Tom: What good did it do to have redundant backup.

Fisher: And that's another reason to make sure that they're sent all over the place. Send copies of your most important things to your relatives on the other coast. If you're on the east coast, send it to the west coast. If you're on the west coast, send it to the east coast.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: Look at the earthquakes we've just seen in Los Angeles here the last little while.

Tom: Oh yeah, in Washington those big mudslides.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: Look at all the stuff that was lost. And like we've talked on the show before, if you live in earthquake country, send it to tornado country. If you live in tornado country, send it to hurricane country. Send it all over. Even send it overseas, because you never know when you're going to have a disaster. And if everything's in your fireproof safe, that's really, really good, unless your fireproof safe's under a ton of mud.

Fisher: All right, so some great advice here, Tom. Thanks again, and we'll continue this next week as we just really scratched the surface on this. And of course, if you have any questions for Tom, you can always email him at [email protected]. So that wraps it up for this week. Thanks once again to the legal genealogist, Judy Russell for joining us today with some great advice about knowing the law when you're doing genealogy. If you missed it, of course catch the podcast on iTunes or iHeart Radio. And next time, if you think you'll never break through that brick wall, you'll want to be listening, we'll be talking to a man whose father began a search in the early 1950s for his birth father. Decades later his son searched world for answers, and finally over sixty years later, the case has been broken! It’s a great listener story. Don't forget, you can catch up with our podcast on iHeart Radio and iTunes. We'll see you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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