Episode 374 - eBay Challenge Scores A Family Bible For Listener / Janet Hovorka On Becoming A Professional Genealogist

podcast episode May 03, 2021

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin Family Histoire News with our new American population count from the 2020 census! (Now, to see the details we only have to wait another 71 years!) Then, the oldest Pearl Harbor survivor has passed. Hear who he was and how old he was. Next, there has been another passing of note. Peter Warner, 90, the man who rescued six shipwrecked boys from Tonga on a tiny island in 1966 has died. The guys will give you the details. Sadly, a genie trying to clean up and digitally share some gravestones has instead damaged them. Badly. Catch the story. The guys then discuss a story about how historians who research too deeply into violent or otherwise traumatic stories can be traumatized themselves from it. And to wrap up the segment, a person digging a garden in England has come up five bodies in what appears to be a “plague pit.” Hear all about it.

Fisher then visits with Katherine Andrew, a young genealogist who took our eBay Challenge and is celebrating an incredible find!

In segment three, long time “friend of the show,” Janet Hovorka, now with the Association of Professional Genealogists, talks with Fisher about how one can become a professional genealogist.

David then returns for Ask Us Anything as the guys take on a pair of questions. One has to do with pedigree collapse, and the other with preservation of children’s papers.

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

Transcript for Episode 374

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 374

Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Well, you know, we’ve been telling you about the eBay challenge here over the last several weeks and we have another winner! Somebody whose found an amazing family tie on eBay, and it’s Catherine Andrew, a genealogist and she’ll tell you all about what she did, how she found it, and what she’s got, coming up here in about ten minutes or so. And then later in the show, we’ll talk to Janet Hovorka, our old friend who is a part of the Association of Professional Genealogists and she’ll talk about how you can become a professional genealogist. She’ll tell you all about the organization. Right now, it’s time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts. David Allen Lambert is standing by. He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello David. How’re you doing buddy?

David: Doing good. And I’m honored to be one of the 331 million people in America as of last year.

Fisher: Yeah. This is just out. The 2020 census results, at least in terms of total numbers but of course, not all the names. That will have to wait a little bit.

David: Yeah. I was kind of thinking about that. Let’s see if Ancestry.com and the federal government put it out 72 years from now, that will be in 2092 and it might be in the second generation of people doing it by then. [Laughs] I hope that my kids or grandkids might care to look me up. If not, maybe a listener out there whose listening to the time capsule version of Extreme Genes. Here’s a challenge for the new Extreme Genes listeners, find Fisher and I in the 2020 census and win a prize. Sorry to put the pressure on the people doing Extreme Genes now, but so what. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] All right. Let’s just go with this though we have 22 million more Americans now than we had in 2010. That’s about all we can tell you at this point. And as far as census news goes, next year hopefully we’ll be looking at information from 1950.

David: That is true. I’m very much looking forward to finding my folks in the 1950 census, grandparents and some great aunts and uncles as I scroll though wondering where they’re living in 1950. You know, I love stories that talk about Pearl Harbor, but sometimes they’re sad stories. We just lost 103 year old Clayton Schenkelberg who lived in San Diego, California who died on April 14th who is believed to be the oldest Pearl Harbor survivor. The organization of Pearl Harbor survivors have little groups, which doesn’t even meet anymore. Back in 1984 the San Diego chapter had over 350 members, and one of the sole surviving members now, Stuart Hedley, who’s 99 years old. Stuart has basically said that out of all the veterans from back then, he has attended over 350 funerals.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Kind of a sad chapter in American history. But we still have people like Lou Conter who will be a 100 later this year.

Fisher: Yes [Laughs] in September.

David: You know, another story that we have is not someone who is 103 but Peter Warner from Australia. You may have heard of his story back in 1966. A real life Lord of the Flies survival where he rescued six Tongan boys that were shipwrecked and this was made into a movie.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right and a book. And this guy really changed some lives and believe it or not, he was healthy enough at 90 to still be out there sailing. And apparently his ship took a wave and it threw him in the water and that was the end of him but Peter Warner, what a life.

David: He changed six of them forever and hopefully there are many descendants that can pay respects to his efforts to save those six boys so long ago. I really love what people do when they put gravestones online. However, sometimes the efforts are not good when they’re preparing to photograph them. This is the case in Davidsonville, Maryland where a lady was trying to preserve history but damaged it. She was at the Episcopal cemetery in that town where she scraped some of the gravestones causing about ten thousand dollars estimated damage to these gravestones before she photographed them.

Fisher: Ugh.

David: And I don’t know if she used steel wool but it’s caused more damage to the stone than you would probably expect could happen.

Fisher: And then there’s the damage of course to the reputation of people who do this on a regular basis and do it properly. That could shutdown some operations.

David: Right. I mean, a lot of the conferences have this great chemical that you can use but even then you want to learn how to use it properly because you don’t want to damage the stone beyond what’s already been done to a worn down gravestone as it is. You know, history is an amazing thing to study but sometimes you can get so deeply involved in a story, especially when it’s a traumatic subject matter. And this is something that is a great story on ExtremeGenes.com where you can find out how traumatized these historians become on their subject matter.

Fisher: Yeah. It’s really true. I just recently finished a book on my mother’s side of the family in World War II. And I would work late into the night and researching some of the naval battles that my uncles were in, in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. And I go to bed and I just lay there because of the impact of that. Now, it hasn’t had any long affects or anything but you can understand where some people are so deep in the weeds in researching or writing a book that they can be traumatized long term according to this story. So, the advice would be if you’re researching something and you’re finding it’s affecting you in that great a manner, you’re feeling too much empathy for the circumstances you might want to back off.

David: You know, I had to stop reading so many books on the Salem witchcraft trials years ago for kind of that same reason. It was getting into my dreams even though it’s 300 years ago, if it affects your family you may have a more personal connection to the reason you’re feeling this trauma.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: You know, I think people are always digging deep to find new things to tell us about but this person dug a little deeper than they probably planned and found well, five human skeletons in their garden. Builder Robbie Kearney was digging a hole for patio drainage in Heytesbury, Wiltshire England and found the bones that turned out to be three adults, one juvenile, and a younger child from a plague pit. When the plague had hit Europe often times burials were hastily done by a dug pit and the bodies simply tossed in.

Fisher: Yeah. They’re talking about maybe the sixth century for this. I mean, you’ve got to read the story it’s amazing.

David: Well, that’s about all I have from Beantown today, but remember, if you’re not a member of AmericanAncestors.org, you can save $20 on membership by using the coupon code EXTREME. Talk to you real soon.  

Fisher: All right David thanks so much. Yes, we’ve got Ask Us Anything at the back end of the show. And coming up next, it’s another eBay challenge, eBay find, with genealogist Catherine Andrew. She’ll tell us all about her latest discovery when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 374

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Catherine Andrew

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and you know, over recent weeks we’ve really been harping on the eBay Challenge to encourage people to go on to eBay or other similar sites and see if they can find things relating to their ancestors. And over the last few weeks we’ve had a few trickle in and we have another fascinating one right now on the line from Chicago, its Catherine Andrew. Catherine, you are a third generation genealogist, is that right?

Catherine: Yes. That’s correct.

Fisher: Now, how far back, we’re talking your grandmother or you grandfather, how’s this work?

Catherine: So, my mom and then her mother, and if you count my great grandfather’s brother then that would be the fourth generation.

Fisher: You’re the fourth generation. I understand you’re actually working to become a professional genealogist. That’s great!

Catherine: Thank you.

Fisher: So, you took the eBay Challenge from Extreme Genes, and what did you come across?

Catherine: I came across a family Bible, and at first glance I thought that it was really neat. Then when I looked further into the listing, I found that the earliest date was from 1765.

Fisher: Wow!

Catherine: And the name sounded very family to me on the inside cover that they had written down. So, I looked in GEDCOM file, that includes my mom’s research, and I found almost all of the people written in the Bible in the GEDCOM file.

Fisher: Oh wow! So, these are all your family. It’s not necessarily direct line family, but a related family.

Catherine: Yes. So, if you went up my direct line, you went to great, great, great aunts, then it would be her son, so it’s a first cousin a lot of times removed.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s fun. Where was this Bible from?

Catherine: So, it’s from the Dutch New York area.

Fisher: Okay.

Catherine: It’s actually published in Dutch, and the families who are listed in it are Westervelt, Durie, and Zabriskie.

Fisher: Oh, that’s all Northern New Jersey names. Yeah, I’m familiar with those. That’s great! And so you relate to all those lines. How big is this Bible?

Catherine: It’s a pocket size Bible.

Fisher: Okay. And you say the names are written in there. Now, is it inside on the middle pages or is it on the outside, where did they list it?

Catherine: They’re on the first few blank pages at the very front, and then on the last couple of blank pages at the very end.

Fisher: How fun is that. So, this includes the births, and the marriages, and the deaths. And are these any dates or places or names that you had not come upon before?

Catherine: There were a couple. There’s Hopper who I didn’t have in my tree, and then there’s a few Westervelt children who I wasn’t aware of but now I am. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] That’s fun. And Hopper is another New Jersey name. I have a half sister whose mom came from that area and all these names are in her family tree. So, have you done any research into the individuals? Do you know any of their stories yet?

Catherine: So, my mom, she actually did a lot of the Dutch research in our family when I was a kid. And one of the reasons why I got into genealogy was watching my mom sit at the dining room table, and looking over her shoulder and asking her what she was doing, she would say, “Oh, I’m just figuring out who this person is” or, “I’m researching the dead people.” [Laughs] And though I learned some of the stories when I was kid about the Polisan family, which is how I’m related to the Westervelt, Zabriskies and Duries. When I found the Bible, I looked back at the old GEDCOM file that she had made and found how we’re related, and the family who served in the Revolution though that was a generation before the first name in this Bible.

Fisher: And the Revolution in New Jersey was a real hot bed of action so this is a really awesome discovery. So, in the past we’ve talked about generally we can find some incredibly well priced deals on eBay, how much did you wind up paying for this if I can ask?

Catherine: It was originally priced over $600.

Fisher: Whoo!

Catherine: But I have some experience with buying genealogy materials or historical documents on eBay so I decided to try to message the seller and ask if I could get a discount. And I explained to the seller in the message that I’m a first cousin a lot of times removed from the person who had the Bible first. And I can’t deal over $600 but I can do about $450. And they were more than willing to give me the discount because the seller’s mother she was also a descendant of that line, and they wanted to keep the Bible within the family or with a relative.

Fisher: Nice. And I understand that you also had some other things that were thrown in with the Bible.

Catherine: Yeah. So, they sent me a very annotated 200 page photo copy of the iconography or geography of Manhattan Island. So, they had already made a whole bunch of notes related to all of the families. And they also sent me a couple of amazing maps which are pre-productions. There’s a map that they sent me for a plan of the city of New York from an actual survey that includes a whole bunch of areas where a bunch of these families lived, and some are circled in pencil and the genealogist’s story who previously had it circled things really lightly in pencil and wrote down the name where these families lived.

Fisher: So, you got research notes basically on these families that are in your Bible?    

Catherine: Yeah, basically.

Fisher: Wow! So, your mom and grandmother they're both still around and they're both genealogists, what do they think of this find?

Catherine: They were very concerned at the price. [Laugh] But they're amazed that I was able to find something on eBay that is related to our family history and that's so old. My mom was specifically very excited, because she spent quite a few years in the early to mid 2000s researching our Dutch family line. And so, she was the person who had found these people without the Bible originally, and when she saw it, she was amazed.

Fisher: Yeah, what fun. So what are you going to do to preserve it, to display it or whatever else you're going to do with it?

Catherine: I'm currently a graduate student pursuing a masters in Library Information Sciences and have taken quite a few archive classes, and so I've invested in a couple of archival boxes and that's where I've stored a couple of my other family Bibles that have been passed down to me. So for now, it’s going to be safely stored in an archival box and taken out and handled very carefully.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Catherine: When I want to look at it or take notes on some of the names. But eventually, I would love to be able to display it safely in my apartment or in my family's house, but I'll have to be able to figure out a way to do that without interference of the dog.

Fisher: Well, there's that, you're absolutely right. You know, what I wound up doing with my family Bible that I obtained some years ago is just made photocopies of the hand written pages.

Catherine: Yes.

Fisher: And then just matted those acid free, so you can look at those pages anytime you want without opening the book and closing it and opening it and closing it eventually wearing it out.

Catherine: Yes, that's very true.

Fisher: And take a picture of the book itself. So you've got the picture of the book and then you've got these pages framed and then stick the original away and I think you'll be in great shape.

Catherine: Yes, that's very true. I at least want to send copies of the pages to researchers who I know would be interested in it and potentially put copies of the hand written notes up on my website so that the public can access those notes.

Fisher: Yeah, put it on FamilySearch, put it on Ancestry, wherever you can do that. So, you made mention here just moment ago all your other family Bibles you have. Just how many family Bibles do you have, Catherine?

Catherine: Well, between my mother and I, we probably have maybe 10.

Fisher: Whoa!

Catherine: Yeah. So, currently, I think I have four.

Fisher: Okay.

Catherine: Two of them are from the same family and I have an additional small little pocket New Testament that's in German that my second great grandfather would carry around. So I've got a growing collection of family Bibles.

Fisher: Well then you had to take this eBay Challenge and buy that Bible, didn't you?

Catherine: Yeah, basically. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] That's incredible. And what dates do these Bibles cover?

Catherine: So, the Sheer family Bible is from the mid 1800s and then the two Davies family Bibles are from maybe 1880s. The one that my second great grandfather carried around might be 1890s.

Fisher: Got it. Wow! Well, you know, I know there are a lot of people listening right now and they're thinking, "Who is this girl? She's got all these Bibles! All my life I've researched it." Just try to find one like that would be incredible. But at 23 years old, I understand, right?

Catherine: Yes.

Fisher: I mean, you've got one of the biggest collections I've ever heard of. That's fantastic!

Catherine: Oh, thank you. I'm lucky to have been born into a family that preserves our family history and has researched our genealogy for, now I guess four generations.

Fisher: That's amazing, yeah. And so, what would you say to people about the eBay Challenge? Were you surprised you were able to get something like that?

Catherine: I'm very surprised that this Bible that was, because you see these things in state archives or community archives. I've never thought that I was going to be able to own something with a first date inside of it was before the Revolutionary war. I highly recommend taking the eBay Challenge and I have continued searching all the surnames that I'm researching in my family tree on eBay and hoping something else like this will pop up some day.

Fisher: Well, don't be surprised. [Laughs]

Catherine: [Laughs]

Fisher: Well Catherine, thank you so much and good luck on your genie journey and of course your path to becoming a professional genealogist. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your story.

Catherine: Thank you for having me.

Fisher: And speaking of becoming a professional genealogist, if you're thinking about it, you'll want to hear our next segment with Janet Hovorka from the Association of Professional Genealogists, when we return on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 374

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Janet Hovorka

Fisher: Well, it has been a long time since I’ve spoken to my good friend Janet Hovorka, she of Family Chart Master’s fame. She makes the most beautiful family history charts that you’d ever want to see anywhere. And Janet, you’ve taken a little vacation time. I understand you’re up in the mountains trying to get away from people like me.

Janet: [Laughs] No, never people like you my dear.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Janet: Just taking some time off and relaxing.

Fisher: Well, you’re on the board of the Association of Professional Genealogists and I thought we’d talk about that a little bit today because I do run into people periodically who say, boy, I’d really love to do this as a career. And I know that this organizations, and I’m not a part of it, let’s talk a little about that. How would people use this organization to help get a career started as a family historian or genealogist? 

Janet: Well, that’s what APG does. APG is the trade organization. It works to help people who want to be in the business of genealogy. It helps them collaborate and network together and then fosters education. And of course high ethical standards for those who are being professional genealogists. One of the things we’ve done recently too is we’ve just hired a marketing position that is going to be marketing APG members to other people, hobbyist and people who are looking for professional genealogists. And we’re really hoping to make it a funnel of business leads for people who are practicing genealogists. But one of the things they’re doing right now that’s really exciting is they’ve got the professional management conference, which normally is once a year, usually fall, where we come together and network and things like that. This year it’s completely virtual, like so many other things and you can sign up for that anywhere around the world. And it’s all about how to build a better business and how to become a professional genealogist. So, it’s actually two days in August, two days in September, and two days in October, because you know how hard it is to sit all day at a computer for a week and that kind of stuff. [Laughs]

Fisher: Ugh, yes. [Laughs]

Janet: We decided to break it up so that you can have the time to really digest these great presentations that we’ve got planned and also some good networking activities and other things to be able to connect you to the business of being a good genealogist.

Fisher: Sure. Now this organization, the Association of Professional Genealogists has been around a long time, like 1979, so they’re over 40 years old, very well established.

Janet: Yes.

Fisher: Let’s talk about the ethic standards a little bit for professional genealogists. What are some of those things that they like to preach?

Janet: Good, good question. So, anybody who joins APG has to sign a code of ethics. One of the good reasons to hire a member of APG is because if you ever have a problem with them there is a mode of recourse through APG. You can complain to APG and they have a process that they go through. It’s just like any other trade organization where you have to stay in good standing. Some of those things that the APG member agrees to, is to present the research results in a clear well organized manner, to make sure that they’re giving all of the information without misquoting or misrepresenting anything.

They agree to maintain confidentiality of client records and to treat information concerning living people with the appropriate discretion. They are very staunch about providing written agreements and contracts that lay out the fees and charges, and payment structures and things like that. They have to maintain a certain confidence. There’s an education requirement to being a member of APG. So, you have to have certain education competencies to be able to be a member of APG. You also agree to take good care of the records and not plagiarize of course or anything like that, and they agree to just maintain a high professional standard in order to be able to make sure that they’re providing the best genealogy research that a member can have.

Fisher: It’s all great stuff and it’s all very helpful. And you know, the nice thing is I do believe that the standards within the industry right now are probably the best that they have ever been.

Janet: Yes. It’s getting better and better with the help of APG of course.

Fisher: Yes. Well, there’s that, but just also the fact that there’s just so much more openness now for people to actually go check somebody’s work for instance.

Janet: Sure.

Fisher: Or to talk about somebody’s reputation as a result of some things they did. I mean, I remember back in the 1950s I think it was, I had a great aunt on my mother’s side who hired a researcher over in Norway to research our family over there. She had the results and I had that big thick binder, you remember they were like 25 inches long and about 6 inches tall or whatever?

Janet: Yeah. [Laughs]

Fisher: And they had these family group sheets and pedigree charts and I started going through these as the internet became stronger and stronger and I’m looking and going, no! It was fraudulent a lot of it.

Janet: Hmm that’s right.

Fisher: But it was a different time, a different place, at a different circumstance. And you just don’t hear of those types of things happening anymore these days. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard of anything like that.

Janet: Right. And like I said, even if you do have an instance like that, if they’re a member of APG, if you’ve hired a member of APG, file a complaint and there’s a code of ethics that they have to live up to.

Fisher: Sure. Well, absolutely.

Janet: And you can search on the APG website. There’s international members all over the place, 40 countries I believe. Now you have to be careful. Not everybody is a specialist in every area, right?

Fisher: Sure, right.

Janet: Even the best genealogist may not know how to do research in India or something like that, right?

Fisher: Absolutely. Yeah.

Janet: So, you have to be careful of who you hire and APG can help you with that, but besides that, once you do hire them, you can go to the APG website and pick out a person that’s a specialist in your area. And then a lot of times professional genealogists of course, have been trained in methodology, like a lot of times they can get more out of a document than what you may have been able to see. Sometimes the methodology of a hobbyist isn’t capable of seeing and processing records the way a professional will. So, a professional can really give you a good solid analysis. Sometimes even the stuff you already have and maybe some pieces that you’ve missed or a brick wall that you’ve build for yourself.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Janet: You’ve probably never done that, right? I’ve done that. [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh no, I think a lot of brick walls are of our own building.

Janet: Yes, sometimes they are.

Fisher: And people who aren’t familiar, a brick wall means you can’t get past a certain ancestor.

Janet: Right.

Fisher: And a lot of it is just because maybe we started early in our research career and we didn’t have the knowledge and then we kind of forgotten about it. And just figured we can’t get there. And then you go back and revisit it and you go, oh, it’s been here all along, the answer.

Janet: Yeah.

Fisher: So, yeah that does happen.

Janet: And you know, one of my experiences with a professional too is that somebody who works, I had been to England on this and worked in the archives that dealt with this line and had done a lot of research on this line but I was still a hobbyist. I wasn’t a professional at working in this area of England and when I hired a professional as a second set of eyes, she had some of the most amazing insights because she works in it every day. So, one of the things she came up with as far as finding places that I had never thought of just because I don’t deal with it every day. She said, instead of typing a place in Maps.google.com, type it in at Maps.google.co.uk. And it comes up completely with other stuff that I never would have thought, something as simple as that.

Fisher: Sure.

Janet: I didn’t know just because I don’t work in it every day. And not to mention knowing the sources that are in all those kinds of things. So, definitely a second set of eyes can really help.

Fisher: Absolutely. She’s Janet Hovorka. She is with the board of the Association of Professional Genealogists. If you want to look into genealogy for a career, this is a great way to start. And of course, if you’re looking to hire a genealogist, this is great way to make sure that you get someone of the highest standards, highest abilities, and of course knows about the particular area of specialty that you may be researching. So Janet, great to have you on the show again!

Janet: Great to talk to you.                                   

Fisher: Enjoy your retreat and we’ll catch up with you again sometime down the line.

Janet: Thank you. Good to talk to you.

Segment 4 Episode 374

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go again! It is Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David Allen Lambert is back from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, this question comes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Alexa asks, "Guys, someone told me something about ‘pedigree collapse.’ Could you explain what this means?" [Laughs]

David: Yeah, with a big bottle of Excedrin.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: So basically it means the idea that you have two parents, that's probably true. Four grandparents, eight great, great grandparents, then you start to get to the possibility that, well, maybe your great, great grandparents were first cousins, so that means you're not going to have 32 third great grandparents. And then that number changes when you get to your forth great grandparents, which should be 64, 128 fifth great grandparents. So by the time you get back to about 400 years ago, 12 generations, you should have 4094 and I bet a lot of our listeners have pedigree collapse when they essentially have the same ancestors multiple times.

Fisher: Yeah, and I think most of us who have exceptionally long family trees will find these cousin relationships, especially in small villages in Europe it’s very common. Most of the monarchs of Europe are cousins to one another, so they have that pedigree collapse. I think the best explanation though, I've heard about this, Dave, is that if you go back, say, 1000 years and you're talking maybe 35, 40 generations, the number of ancestors you should have at that point was actually greater than the population of the earth at the time. [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] Yes, yes!

Fisher: And so we know that it has to collapse at some point based on people marrying cousins. And it doesn't have to just be first cousins or second cousins, it can be third, fourth and fifth cousins. It just continues to collapse until we're all coming basically through the same individuals.

David: That's true. In fact, you know, you could be married, not being a genealogist and have cousins relationships with your own spouse, you know and never know it. So I always told my kids, because my wife and I share a couple of people from the 1600s. I said, "You're never going to be alone when you're in a room." And they said, "Why?" I said, "Because you will always be with family."

Fisher: [Laughs] That's right, because you're a cousin to yourself.

David: Yes.

Fisher: And you know, when I was growing up, I had some neighbors. They were really close to our family and one of them was almost like an uncle and he just passed away a few years ago in his late 90s. And I did some research on his lines and found out that my dad was distantly related to him back in the 1600s. And not long ago, I went back and looked at this line again of this neighbor of ours and I noticed another name on there, the name, Norton and came to realize, now wait a minute! The other neighbor that I've just been mentioning, his name was Norton. So I looked up his family name and found out that these two neighbors were also related to each other.

David: Oh no.

Fisher: So our whole street was filled with cousins! [Laughs]

David: [Laughs] So it was a family compound, not a neighborhood.

Fisher: Exactly. So if there was intermarriage among the children and grandchildren there, you would have pedigree collapse based on those particular ancestors. So it happens to absolutely everybody. There are no exceptions to it. And so, if you're a little concerned about the fact that you have cousins in your background, as they say in New York, "Forget about it!" There's absolutely nothing to that, because we all have those cousins back there.

David: That is very true. And I hope that someday we can figure out how exactly you and I are cousins, because I know I'm related to your spouse.

Fisher: Yes! Yeah, you're tied to Julie, you're not related to me that we've found yet.

David: That's right.

Fisher: And I haven't found any relationship between me and Julie other than our vows, but I've got one possible line, but I've never been able to prove it. So, you know, you never know. I think pedigree collapse is a fascinating topic and an interesting thing for a lot of people who may not be familiar with the term. But I think it was a great question, so thank you for that, Alexa. We've got another one coming up for you here in just a few minutes when we return for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 374

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, on to question number two this week on Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. David Lambert is here with me from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And David, our question this time around is from Leah in Pittsburgh. She says, "Fish and Dave, ok guys, the time has come! I have saved too many of the kids' paintings and school work. Ideas on preservation, please." Yeah, you can do that when you're a young mom, I think.

David: Yeah. You want to just save everything, then that refrigerator tips over because of all the magnets with the artwork.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.

David: Or the pin board, and then you transfer it to a box, then it becomes more than one box. And then of course if you have more than one child, its multiple boxes or pins. What I've had my oldest daughter do, who is in her mid 20s, is to go through and sample what she thinks is the best representation of her art or writing and set it aside, and then I go do a second swoop through in case I find anything that's really even more touching to my heart. But scanning it. We live in a digital age. Keep the best. You may want to save that toilet paper statue that they created in kindergarten with the googly eyes and pipe cleaners. But there are some scribbles and pictures that maybe you can scan. Probably most of them aren't dated anyways, so you're going to have to be sort of the paleontologist of your own children's work and dig through and try to figure out where this actually came from or what school, what grade.

Fisher: Yeah, you can't save everything. Let's start from there. You know, I mean, look at most people's photo collections, right. If you have three kids, which kid has the most pictures? Child number one! Which one has the fewest pictures? Always child number three or number four or number five or whatever it is, because times change. But my mom saved a lot of my stuff. But the one that I have that still think of from first grade, I wrote, "Today, Alan Shepard, an astronaut went into space." and I have the date on it, my name on it with the lines so they could check out your handwriting, your penmanship at the time. But scanning is a great way to go, because it takes really no physical space to store it. And then if you write a history of your child's childhood, these are great things to pop in there, because you know, in and of themselves, they're going to become too numerous and not particularly special when there are too many of them.

David: My sister in law, who is actually a listener on Extreme Genes, what she's done with her daughter's artwork, and her daughter's very young, she's under 10. Every year, she has made one of those photo books, pick the best of the artwork, made it 3 inches x 3 inches and put multiple ones in a book and you can turn through the pages on photo paper and there's her art gallery every year of their life.

Fisher: It’s a great way to do it, you're absolutely right, because you can do that for trips you've taken around the world, right. You get the photographs and you type in what they are and you can actually send it off online and the book shows up in the mail. You could do the same thing with this. I think that would be fabulous, just depending on how much stuff your family generates over the course of a year.

David: [Laughs] Family archives or hoarding, whatever the terminology you use.

Fisher: [Laughs] There’s a very, very fine line between the two sometimes, David.

David: Exactly. Well, that's a great question, but like I say, I think that your children will not miss half the scribbles they did. And if you're saving some of the best as a sampling, get a Hollinger box with acid free folders and create a little mini archive box for them and say, you know, ages 5 to 10, 11 to 15, whatever. And then you get digital copies of the other ones. I always stress, don't save the papers that your kids did poorly on.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Just to shame them later on.

Fisher: There you go, very nice. Well, thanks so much for the question, Leah. And thank you of course for all your questions you send in. If you want to ask us anything, all you have to do is email us at [email protected]. David, talk to you next week.

David: All right, my friend, talk to you later.

Fisher: All right, that's our show for this week. Thanks so much for joining us. Hey if you missed any of it, catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio, Spotify, TuneIn Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It’s a long list. We're pretty much everywhere, okay. Talk to you again next time. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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