Episode 410 - Ancestry’s Handwriting Recognition Technology To Index 1950 Census / Let’s Get The National Archives Open Again

podcast episode Feb 21, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David begins by talking about a 1954 letterman’s jacket that is now back with the family of the original owner. He has also joined a new lineage society. Fisher has made a new discovery about his ancestors’ schooling in New York City in the 1840s. In Family Histoire News, David talks about how we got the “72 year rule” on census releases. The answer might surprise you. Then, something as old as Stonehenge has been dug up in England. Hear all about it! Then, it was quite the day when Amelia Earhart lost her leather headgear in the 1920s. And it’s going to be quite a day for the family that got it as it is now up for auction. Catch the latest price on it!

Next, Fisher visits with sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists  CEO and founder, Jessica Dailey Taylor. They are joined by Geoff Gentilini, President of the Archival Researchers Association. They talk about Jessica’s efforts to make some noise about reopening the National Archives Research Rooms that have now been closed for two years, and how you can help! Veterans seeking military records for benefits, families seeking information to identify birth parents, genealogists, film makers, and historians are all struggling to do what they need to do without access. Hear what you can do to help!

In Segment 3, Crista Cowan from sponsor Ancestry.com talks with Fisher about their new handwriting recognition technology that will be indexing the 1950 US Census when it is released on April 1. Volunteers working with partner FamilySearch.org will then review the results and make corrections. Crista will add more to how this remarkable project will work. She then fills us in on newly released databases on Ancestry, and an exciting new source out of England that will provide images of people and places dating back to 1547.

David then returns for another round of Ask Us Anything answering your questions, including one on a tattered scrapbook and an unexpected DNA test result.

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


Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 410

Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Hey, Jessica Taylor is joining us today. She is the president and CEO of Legacy Tree Genealogists. She’s bringing with her a friend Geoff Gentilini, he is the president of the archival researchers association. They’re really upset about stuff involving the National Archives. You know, you can’t actually research there right now at all. It’s been two years, everybody else is opened up and they want our help in getting things moving so we can get back to work because it’s affecting lives and livelihoods, and our ability to research. We’ll have them coming up in just a little bit. Later in the show, Crista Cowan back from Ancestry.com. They’re getting ready over there for the 1950s census with computerized handwriting analysis that will automatically index it. We’ll find out how long it’s going to take, how we’re going to double check the accuracy. Yeah, we’ve got a lot to talk about on today’s show. Right now, off to Boston, David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Dave, what have you been up to, my friend?

David: Well, I got a weird phone call at work. See, I was wearing a jacket at the last Thanksgiving game and somebody and said, “Your name isn’t Bob and you didn’t go to Stoughton High School in 1954.” Well, I knew the story behind this jacket that I bought at an Army/Navy store, somebody had sold it and I figured out who the family was and contacted them, never heard back from them. So, I figured, well, maybe there’s a reason they sold it.

Fisher: Right.

David: Well, they didn’t know the father had sold it. He’s now passed on, but the person contacted me, I brought the jacket down and gave it to him. So, now he has his dad’s letterman jacket.

Fisher: How cool.

David: So, you could say, this story is about Dave’s letterman jacket that’s now Bob’s letterman jacket.

Fisher: [Laughs] Exactly.

David: But it was Bob’s to begin with.

Fisher: Yes!

David: But now it’s Bob juniors. So, that was my warm and fuzzy event for the week. Oh, and the other thing, I am now a member of another older hereditary society.

Fisher: Oh, my goodness. Do they have like smoking rooms with the big chairs where you all sit around and talk about the past, how does that work?

David: Well, I haven’t gone to any of the meetings yet, but I can tell you, I’m an associate member of The Order of Founders and Patriots of America. And that means that one of my ancestors who was in the Revolutionary War had a direct male ancestor who was actually a founder, who came over to America between 1607 and 1657 and this group has been around since 1896.

Fisher: Wow! You are old school American. [Laughs]

David: I try to be. [Laughs] So, what’s new with you? What have you been up to?

Fisher: You know, I’ve been off to an amazing start for the year and I found an article that helped me identify where my great grandfather family attended elementary school when they were kids and a little beyond, it was amazing. There was this article in a paper from the 1860s that I found digitized. It talked about my great, great uncle attending a reunion of what they called the 9th class association. And that was as far as you could get. They graduated 14 years old. This was in New York City. And they were celebrating their principal who was still the principal at public school number 14. I started investigating the school, found descriptions of it, the location, found out it was directly across from where my great, great grandparents lived in the 1840s. And there is currently on that same location on Houston Street, in New York a public school directly across the street from where my ancestors lived. So, it was really interesting to find out whippings and canning that went on at this school as they did in a lot of places back in those days. It was quite an education to learn about their education.

David: Well, one story that we’re going to probably really enjoy is when Ancestry and Family Search jointly release the 1950 census, but you know 72 years has been a long time for people to wait. But you know how that actually all started?

Fisher: It’s kind of a weird story.

David: um hmm.

Fisher: And it really does explain why it goes back to 1942 when they decided that the 1870 census wouldn’t really be a threat to anybody to release. They followed suit with this and released it 72 years ever since then with one exception.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: The 1900 census. Because of some red tape it didn’t get released until 73 years in 1973.

Fisher: Isn’t that strange? I mean, it just became kind of fixed even though the average lifespan now is 77 years old. There doesn’t seem to be any appetite to extend the release dates of censuses. And of course, I can’t imagine why they would care. I would they’d want to shorten it because right now with everything that’s available publically, what does it matter if a census comes out at 60 years or 50 years?

David: Yeah, I would think, you know, 40 years is probably sufficient.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Why not. Well, in England, a few years ago, they unearthed something that they consider now probably one of the most significant pieces of prehistoric art England found in 100 years. It is actually a chalk drum. Now, this isn’t a drum where you could play it, because it’s made out of chalk stone. It was buried with three children and it is over 5000 years old.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And it’s quite an amazing piece of art. You can probably find it if you go onto CNN and other websites. The British museum is putting it on display very shortly.

Fisher: Yeah, it dates back to Stonehenge.

David: Um hmm, and while this doesn't date back to Stonehenge, it does have a bit of a history to it and of course a mystery of Amelia Earhart. She was on a woman's air show in 1929 that terminated in Cleveland, Ohio and in the thrall of being swarmed by fans she lost her signature leather flight helmet. Well, apparently a young man found it, gave it to a girl that he had a crush on and she carried it around for a long time. And after Ellie Brookhart died, her family decided it probably shouldn't be in a closet, but maybe in a museum. Well, the museums thought it was not authentic, but guess what, Fish, it probably is. And currently it is now up for auction with Heritage Auctions as high as $33,000.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Well, that's all I have from Beantown this week. And if you want to spring into Boston some time, you might also want to become a member of NEHGS and save $20 on a membership if you use the coupon code, "EXTREME." Talk to you in a couple of minutes!

Fisher: Thank you, Dave. And coming up next, we're going to talk to Jessica Taylor, president and CEO of Legacy Tree Genealogists, our great sponsors, about what's going on with the National Archives and what can we all do to help get them to open up! That's coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 410

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jessica Taylor

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and it’s always a pleasure to be talking to my good friend Jessica Taylor. She is the president and CEO of Legacy Tree Genealogists and she’s brought along a friend. Jess, you want to introduce Geoff?

Jessica: I would love to. So, I’ve brought Geoff Gentilini. He is the president of the Archival Researchers Association. He and I have been working on an important project and we’re happy to be here to talk about it.

Geoff: Thank you so much for having me.

Fisher: Yeah, this is an important issue and it’s important we give this some serious time because anybody who’s interested in genealogy especially, is going to have to be faced with the issue in some point in the not too distant future of how you’re going to get the information from the National Archives that you need for your records. It’s been two years now and Jessica is starting to call attention to this along with Geoff to try to get the government to open things up for researchers. First of all guys, what are we losing, what are we missing, and what have we missed during the pandemic?

Jessica: Well, in mid March 2020 as we all know, lots of things shut down and that included the National Archives. There are 14 National Archives research rooms spread throughout the country. We have one in Washington DC, we have one down in Fort Worth, Texas. We have some on the west coast. We have others in Missouri, spread all throughout the country. And each of these research rooms has different records that are unique to that building and are not digitized. So, the only way that genealogists, historians, and authors, anyone who needs those records about our nation’s history, has to go through that building and access those records in. In mid March 2020 they shut down and for the most part all 14 of those have been closed this entire nearly two years.

Fisher: Wow! And Geoff, as the Archival Researchers Association president this has had to impact all of your people as well.

Geoff: Absolutely. We’re talking about 14 billion paper records held by the agency. There’s media, films, still pictures, these are records that have to be accessed by a wide variety of folks whether we’re talking about educators, students who are seeking to finish a dissertation, film makers, even contractors who rely on these records to do their jobs. All these records document our nation’s history. Today, only about 1% of them are available online. And I think the expectation is that roughly 3% will be online by 2024. So, as Jessica noted, we really need access to these research rooms to access so many of these records.

Fisher: So, my question is then, what is the National Archives doing with this time? I know like with Family Search they kind of made it a goal to take advantage of the opportunity to do projects they couldn’t ordinarily do. I’m just curious what they’re doing right now.

Geoff: I am not entire sure what they’re doing. I know that some folks have been working on adding metadata for records that they do have digitized and other projects that they can work on remotely. But as I know, 99% of these records are inside of the buildings and the public have not had access to those for almost two years.

Jessica: Yeah. And I just want to jump in and clarify that Family Search, their flagship library has been open for over a year now.

Fisher: Oh, yeah?

Jessica: We’ve seen many, many libraries and archives reopened throughout the country. We have not seen the same from the National Archives unfortunately.

Fisher: Yeah. County archives all over the place. You can go in there and take advantage of what they’ve got. So, when we’re not getting in there, obviously we’ve got to figure out how to get records in other ways. That’s kind of a challenge. What’s going on with your business though, with Legacy Tree Genealogists Jessica during this time? Obviously you are hired by people to be their researcher, just like many of us are individual researchers, how are you able to work around this problem or are you not able to?

Jessica: Yeah. So, you know, when we can get creative and find that piece of information to push the family tree back without it, we definitely have during this time. There has been some projects that clients have ordered that are just fully dependent on something like a Civil War pension record and there’s no other way to get it. So, some of those have sat for a long time. We were very happy that at least for a couple of weeks there were two research rooms run by the National Archives that did open back in November 2021 and so we were able to push through that list of things we had on hold as quickly as possible. Because you know, who knows how long they will be open and yes, they were only open for a couple of weeks and shut again.

Fisher: Was that because of omicron?

Jessica: You know, I believe so, but it was possible early. November hadn’t ended when they were already shut again so it was a pretty short window. 

Fisher: Well, let’s go through some of the records that we’re missing here. You know, in 2019 I started a project writing a book on my family in World War II, which included navel records on two of my uncles. And the personal records are with NARA, and I was able to obtain those from them at the time, and thank goodness I was because during the pandemic I wrote the book and those personal records played a huge role in what I was able to write and what I was able to discover about them personally and then attach their history to the history of the ships they were on, and the history of the ships and the battles they were in, and the history of the battles, that kind of thing. It just kind of spreads out like that. I cannot imagine having tried to do this without those records. My book would have been on hold till this whole thing was resolved. I mean years, and years, and years. So, what’s happening with some of these people and their research projects? Are they just pulling out on you right now?

Geoff: I actually work in St. Louis myself so I’m very familiar with the military records there. And what’s going is that there‘s a huge backlog in request from living veterans who are basically seeking these discharge records. And the way it’s being presented is as an impossible situation. Where there’s a choice between accesses to the public or fixing this backlog, which we really see as a false choice, there’s a way especially with all the money and personnel that Congress has poured into there for them to work on this backlog, and also do their job of providing access to our nation’s military history for the public. These are the records as you noted that genealogists rely on to fill the gaps for the military service of their ancestors.   

Fisher: Yeah. It was a great project. I loved it and I couldn’t imagine if I couldn’t get those materials what I would have been able to do, nothing.

Geoff: [Laughs] Right.

Jessica: Yeah.

Geoff: We know this is a false choice really because the public has been completely blocked from in-person research at this facility for two years in order to cut this backlog down, yet it continues to grow.

Fisher: Um hmm. So, Jessica, you started a petition right now on Change.org and we were talking off the air a little bit about part of your reason for this because really, it’s just like trying to move a mountain to get the federal government to do something that we may want them to do. This is basically because NARA is under the umbrella of the federal government and they’ve shut down everything as you mentioned Geoff, the IRS. Well, we don’t have to go to the IRS to get something done, but NARA is a whole different story.  

Jessica: Yeah. Because we have to access those records in person, it really needs to fall under a different set of rules here, especially after a few years have gone by. We’ve got to get creative over there.

Fisher: Absolutely. And we’ve got to make some noise so people know that it matters to a lot of people, and not just genealogists but all these other people you talked about, authors, film makers, I have a son who’s a film maker. So, you’ve created this petition at Change.org where can we find it?

Jessica: Yeah. So, it’s Change.org/reopen archives. So, we have about 3500 signatures now. It’s been open for little over a week, and what we really want from this, though our big ask is to reopen the archives by sometime in March. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Jessica: That will be two years. It’s time folks. Another big reason for why I wanted to create this petition is that I did not want two years to go by without access to these records, and for the leaders in charge of the access to not hear a strong voice from the communities that need them. We often run into problems with access right. There’s always this tug-of-war between privacy and access to records. Yet so many of us depend on those records for our livelihood, to better the lives of the people that we know, I know somebody who is waiting on access to some military records at the archives so he can figure out who his father is. I mean, these are real problems that people need help with.

Fisher: Sure.

Jessica: And I wanted to make sure that during this time we took this opportunity to communicate to these leaders how valuable these records are to us, how much they matter so that years into the future, hopefully we don’t have another pandemic, but whatever happens I want it to have been communicated clearly that this was a big deal and that this non access to records hurt a lot of people, and that we really want it back.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.

Jessica: So, that’s the deal.

Geoff: Just to add to that, we talked to so many of our friends, our colleagues, our clients, I had a client who was waiting on research and her daughter passed away. The family was willing to find information, they were seeking closure, and now her daughter will never have that. So, as time passes, we lose something with this access cut off.

Fisher: Yeah.

Geoff: And we can’t say on the one hand we value human beings over records so we have to close completely. And then when we open up, we look at the people who have waited two years and we say, “We have to work on these records over here so we can only squeeze in a hand full of people every day.” Maybe the people that we speak with have lost everything because of these closures, you know, their income, their savings, their retirement. And this is not an unsolvable problem and it’s not a secret either that people are suffering. 

Fisher: And so many people who listen to Extreme Genes certainly know people like congressmen and senators, or have access to their offices to let them know that this needs to be taken care of. We not only need to sign this petition online but to get in touch with them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Jessica: Yeah. And I do want to mention that at the bottom of the petition we do have links to help you find out who your senator and who your representatives are and find out how to contact them. And yes, we would really appreciate that you sign the petition, share the petition, and then share it with your representative as well. Change.org/reopen archives

Fisher: She’s Jessica Taylor, president and CEO of our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, and Geoff Gentilini, the president of the Archival Researchers Association. Thanks you two for what you’re doing. It’s important stuff and hopefully we can move the meter.

Geoff: Thank you.

Jessica: Well, thank you Fisher.

Fisher: All right and coming up next Christa Cowen from Ancestry.com is going to be coming on talking about this computer assisted handwriting analysis. What is this all about? It’s coming up for the 1950 census you’re going to want to hear all about it next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 410

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Crista Cowan

Fisher: All right, it is my favorite time of the month, every month when we get to sit down with my good friend Crista Cowan from over at Ancestry.com, our great sponsors and talk about what’s going on at the great behemoth in the business. It’s going to be bringing us more and more records. And I guess, Crista, we’ve got to start with what’s happening with the 1950 census because you’ve got a great partnership going on with FamilySearch.org, working with their volunteers. And you are what they call handwriting recognition technology. This is proprietary, it’s great new stuff. First, let’s talk about that.

Crista: Yeah, so excited about the 1950 census. So, of course, the Federal Government will release the images on April 1st, already digitized, they’ll just be downloaded from the Cloud, available to anyone. So, Ancestry is going to download those images and get those images uploaded to our site as quickly as possible. But then of course we have to index them to make them searchable for people.

Fisher: Of course.

Crista: So, Ancestry just announced a brand new proprietary artificial intelligence handwriting recognition technology that we’re going to run against those 1950 US census images. And that will enable us to release the most comprehensive, searchable index quicker than ever before that will accelerate people’s discoveries. And then we have this great partnership with Family Search who will then take that handwritten index that’s been generated by the artificial intelligence and with their army of volunteers they’re going to go through and do some computer assisted handwriting recognition corrections on some of those indexes in the way that the computers read it.

Fisher: Well, this is kind of a new thing, right? So, obviously, with all these records it’s really putting this new technology to the test and I’m just thinking, as a member on Ancestry, I could go on and look up my family at that time and if there’s something wrong I can simply correct it, yes?

Crista: Absolutely, yes. Ancestry has always allowed you to correct or add augmentation to those indexes and this partnership with Family Search just kind of takes that to the next level.

Fisher: So, you’ve got the volunteers on the one hand that are just going to go through tons and tons of stuff looking for errors and problems and I would imagine interacting and sending that back over to your techie people over at Ancestry because we’re going to want to be upgrading this to make sure it’s working on all cylinders. So, how long do you think it’s going to take to actually get the index from the computer generated technology up?

Crista: So, it’s interesting because we’ve been running simulations because nobody has access to those 1950 images yet until the government releases them.

Fisher: Right.

Crista: So, we have some projections and I don’t want to speculate too much but we anticipate that it will be quicker than the 1940 census came out, for sure. And then, as those corrected indexes are returned from Family Search the current plan is to release those state by state as those completed state indexes come back at that level.

Fisher: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense too because you don’t want to go look for something in a state, you don’t find it initially and then you don’t go back.

Crista: Right.

Fisher: Not realizing that there may be more coming out, so you release them one state at a time. That makes great sense. Gee, we only like a month away and a half away from all this.

Crista: Yeah. It’s like 48 days or 49 days now. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] You guys having a countdown over at the office?

Crista: A little bit, yeah.

Fisher: All right, let’s talk about some new data basis coming out because this is what we all wait for is something that might give us a little bit of a clue on something we’re researching or looking into. What have you got?

Crista: Oh, so many good things. Let’s start internationally first.

Fisher: Okay.

Crista: So, Ancestry just released a couple million records out of the state of South Australia, and it’s several data basis. So, the archive there has worked with Ancestry. So we’ve got indexes to estate files, we’ve got tax records, we’ve got hospital records, and court records, and prison registers, and asylum ledgers, and of course one of my personal favorites which is both incoming and outgoing passenger lists going right up through the 1940s. So, we start to see, a lot of countries keep track of who’s coming in, not everybody keeps track of who’s also leaving. So, if you’ve connections to South Australia that might be a goldmine.

Fisher: You know, I think though, for people who are doing DNA and working on matches and maybe they have connections back to the UK, they’re often going to find some of their matches come from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, and other places within the old British Empire. So, it’s great that we’re starting to build up these data basis by which we can maybe do a little research on our matches and figure out how they connect to us and maybe find where this common ancestor is showing up among our DNA matches.

Crista: Absolutely. Yeah, you’ve got some random match that pops up in Australia you very well may find them in some of those more recent passenger lists that are now available.

Fisher: Exactly. All right, what else have you got coming up? I know you’ve got some things working with Newspapers.com, your baby company.

Crista: [Laughs] Not so baby now.

Fisher: No. [Laughs] All grown up.

Crista: Yeah. I think, you and I just were looking quarter of a billion pages of newspapers now there and continually growing. Continually acquiring historical papers and adding current newspaper titles. So, Ancestry released two years ago, the marriages and obituaries index to Newspapers.com. So, that allows you to have this tree on Ancestry and get hints to those newspapers that exist over on that website. And we’ve been updating those indexes on a fairly regular basis, but we also just recently released Canadian newspapers and marriages indexes and Australian. So, we’ve added to the US indexes and we’ve now got indexes on Ancestry on both Canada and Australia as well.

Fisher: Wow, just keep on going. And then there’s this little thing that you’ve got going over in Great Britain right now.

Crista: Yes. So, we have this partnership with the National Portrait Gallery that we just announced a few weeks ago. The National Portrait Gallery in England of course, is the home to some of the great paintings and sculptures, and drawings, and prints, and photographs like these acclaimed artists and photographers who took pictures of people many of whom were of prominence, but some who were just regular people trying to document life in England, dating all the way back to 1547. And they’ve allowed us to put that collection online. So, you can search that collection by the name of the portrait, the name of the subject, or the name of the artist. And often times there is going to be biographical details about both the subject as well as the artist that might give not just more information for family history but an ability to add some of those images to your family tree as well.

Fisher: Boy, imagine that. We’re talking about nobility I would assume.

Crista: Yeah.

Fisher: People of high profile, anybody with the name “Sir” in front of their name is probably going to be among these individuals.

Crista: [Laughs]

Fisher: And It’s going to be broken out I would imagine by location?

Crista: It is. You can search by location. You can also search name, you can search it by occupations because they didn’t just create works of art from the nobility. They also created them from people in everyday walks of life, like the point of art often times is to reflect what’s happening in the culture and the world at the time. So, you might have paintings of a farmer, paintings of a housewife, or paintings of a fisherman, and they might not have identified the subject in all cases but if that painting was created in the 1750s and you have a fisherman from Devon in the 1750s you can search that data base by occupation, location, to find something representative of what was happening at the time where your ancestors lived.

Fisher: Kind of illustrate the story a little bit.

Crista: Yeah, absolutely.

Fisher: Boy that is absolutely amazing. So, as we go forward now, first of all, I love the new formatting on Ancestry.com that just came out in the last month for many of us. I know you were working on that kind of on a beta test scale over the last couple of months, but boy, it’s a lot easier to look at now and the front page has changed.

Crista: Yeah, we made a modification to the home page. So, we’ve been running different versions of our homepage for several years now and we just needed to get everybody over to the same homepage. So, we’re in the process of migrating users over. We’re not done with that rollout yet. So, some people may still be on the old two tile homepage. Some people may be on the legacy homepage from like six or eight years ago. But we’re moving everybody over to this new homepage and once we get everybody moved over to that, then we’ll be able to make some changes and implement some customer feedback a little bit quicker and easier because we’re working off one page instead of three.

Fisher: She’s Crista Cowan from Ancestry.com, our great sponsors. And thanks for bringing us up to speed and we’ll talk to you again next month, Crista.

Crista: Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert with another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 410

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert back over there. And David, our first question comes from Audrey Miles in Lake Clarke Shores, Florida, she says, "Fish and Dave, I found a really messed up scrapbook in my grandfather's attic. What should I do with this? I can't bring myself to throw it out." [Laughs] Good question, but there are options.

David: Um hmm, there really are. I mean, you can go the expensive option and have it conserved depending on what type of paper it’s on. Sometimes scrapbook paper is the worst paper known to mankind, because it’s highly acidic and probably has done damage to the stuff that's in the scrapbook. I mean, it could have been taped down, stapled down, pinned down or used old photo corners, but whatever it is, the precious items are not so much the pages as are the items in it. So, if you do something like with a digital camera and photograph the pages, then if you dissemble it, you can put the same order, and what would you think, Fish? What would you do?

Fisher: Yeah, well, you know, I kind of when through the same thing with that old family bible here recently, really tattered, old bible pages. And I saved the originals. I mean, I can't throw out something that was handwritten by my second great and first great grandparents.

David: Right.

Fisher: Nor will I consider it. So, I have it in an acid free sleeve in an album that's out of the light, so it’s not going to fade, and then as you know, I went through and I Photoshopped the thing to restore it to the way it looked originally and then made a photographic print of it that I could then frame or keep available somewhere else. But there're really a lot of things you could do. Like you say, Dave, perhaps you can remove them if they're being damaged by the acidic nature of the paper they're in and preserve them in a new album, something like that. The question is, I guess is what's in the album? Are there photographs or are they just newspaper scraps? Newspaper scraps are the worst, they fall apart. And as you mentioned, the taped items are horrible.

David: Ohh.

Fisher: But if they're in there with the little corners and things, you might be in pretty good shape for preserving them that way. I mean, part of the thing as you mentioned, Dave is to make sure that you kind of keep them in the order, because the scrapbook was put together that way to tell a story. And when you take them out of order, whether it’s a photo album or a scrapbook, then you're kind of losing the sense of the original story that the original owner was trying to convey.

David: Right. And that's true. I mean, you really have to look at it as an original artifact, but you also want to preserve the order, but also the items. And leaving it in an old scrapbook sometimes is worse than taking it apart and trying to preserve it and putting it in acid free, etc, etc.

Fisher: Absolutely. And you know, the other thing about it, too is, when you go to preserve the original, if you're going to keep it in the original way after you've digitized everything and taken photographs of it to make sure you're keeping it in the right order, make sure you keep it in a place where it’s not exposed to high humidity or a lot of heat in the summer or a lot of cold in the winter, because it just makes it worse and worse and worse. One thing Tom Perry used to always advise us on was to maybe keep it up in a shelf in a corner or in some kind of desk where it’s off the floor, in case your house ever flooded, heaven forbid, so that you wouldn't lose it that way. But the other thing about keeping it up in a closet is, you want to make sure that closet doesn't have a wall that accesses the outside, because as it gets really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter, those changes in temperature can be impacted inside the closet. And so, you want to make sure that you have it in the right place, maybe somewhere in the middle of the house where the temperature is kept pretty consistent. So that can make a huge difference as to how this thing is preserved over the long haul. But I think it’s great you want to hang onto it. I think it’s also great if you're able to take this and try to restore it. I don't find that to be cheating at all to make sure that these things are appealing to the eye. Thanks so much for the question, Audrey. And coming up next, a DNA result's question when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 410

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it on our final segment this week of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert in Boston. And David, we have a question here from St. Cloud, Minnesota, its Rodney. He says, "Hello, Genie men. I've been getting some interesting matches in my DNA results on my mother's side. I see my first cousins, but none of the second cousins I thought I'd see from the parents of my mother's father. I know this is likely a problem. How to I proceed to figure this all out?"

David: Oh boy! Yeah, those can be a little tricky sometimes with the DNA results, and you're not alone.

Fisher: No.

David: A lot of people have these same issues come up. People are human and things do happen, has to be the first thing that comes to your mind. What do you think, Fish?

Fisher: Well, the thing that comes to my mind first of all is, did you have any second cousins who have tested? And was your maternal grandfather an only child? If he was an only child, then there aren't going to be any second cousins, right, because a second cousin has to come through a sibling of your grandfather.

David: Right.

Fisher: So that would be that. I would look then for third cousins that would share second greats with you and see if that fits the family tree. The other aspect is this that, if you're grandfather had multiple siblings through which some second cousins should come, and it sounds like you were expecting some should have been there, then I would go out and actually get one of your second cousins or more tested to see how they come in, if they come in to match you. If not, if you're having second cousins show up as matches that you weren't expecting, they don't fit any other branch of your family, then I would suggest you start going through the trees of those people and see if they all come from a similar couple, whether it’s their first great grandparents and second great grandparents, depending on the generation how far down and that type of thing. If you're finding that you have multiple matches to people who come from the same couple at about that generation that you're expecting, then that may be your actual great grandparents. And then you might want to start considering what you want to do with the research down that line. There may be photographs to be found, other histories, what do you think, Dave?

David: You're right. I mean, sometimes we're stuck with the paper genealogy we've lived with. And DNA really kind of pushes that aside.

Fisher: Yeah, it really does.

David: And now looking at it with a new set of eyes, and I mean, you may find that your ancestor had a sibling that you didn't know about and maybe there was a falling out in the family and that story we don't talk about that uncle anymore.

Fisher: Um hmm.

David: And he has descendants. I mean, I guess the smartest thing really is like you said, to look at those trees of the matches and see what they know. Possibly there's somebody that was put up for adoption and maybe that's a long time ago, maybe he was a child out of wedlock, that's also a typical scenario, so you can come in there. But the most important thing is, contact them, network, get those answers, because as a team effort, you may be able to solve it versus scratching your head every night wondering why.

Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. And I'll tell you, this is a really fun thing to do, working with the DNA matches is kind of like working with jigsaw puzzle pieces. You get a little something here, a little something there, it’s got to fit together just right based on the genetic distance, right, meaning what's the relationship to you and how do these people relate to each other and where's the common ancestor coming in. So, put together your theory and test it out with what you discover and have fun with it. Good luck. Thank you so much for that one, Rodney. And if you have a question for Ask Us Anything, you can always email us at [email protected]. David, thank you so much. We'll talk to you next week.

David: Until then.

Fisher: All right, and thanks so much for joining us. Thanks once again to Jessica Taylor from Legacy Tree Genealogists and Geoff Gentilini from The Archival Researchers Association, coming on and talking about how we haven't gotten the National Archives open yet, and to Crista Cowan for filling us in on what's happening with 1950 census efforts over at Ancestry.com and their partnership with Family Search. If you missed any of it, of course catch it on the podcast on AppleMedia, iTunes, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com and Spotify. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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