Episode 43 - Donating your family history treasures to an institution… And… child goes missing in 1850… Found in 2014!

podcast episode May 26, 2014

Fisher opens the show with word of a new scent that’s on the market to make you smell “like a Viking!”  It’s the real deal!  Fisher visits with Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos who shares his family’s remarkable path.  In “Family Histoire News,” a museum in Norwich, Connecticut is lauding “Benedict Arnold… Hero!”  It’s all about his contributions to the cause of freedom before turning traitor.  Find out what that’s all about.  And, a Seattle man recently found a box full of color slides taken on his grandparents’ 1939 honeymoon in England.  You’ll want to see the links to these gorgeous pictures taken just before the outbreak of World War II.

This week’s expert guest is Judy Lucey of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society who gives some great advice about things to consider when looking at contributing your family history treasures to an institution or archive.  It’s something many of us will have to think about at some point.

And Pat Mulso of Minnesota has solved a 164-year-old family mystery.  In 1850 a baby was left in the temporary care of a priest in New York.  When they returned, the priest and the baby were gone.  No one ever learned the fate of that baby… until now.  Hear Pat’s remarkable story!

Preservation Authority, Tom Perry, talks home movies in answer to a listener question.

Transcript of Episode 43

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Edward James Olmos

Segment 1 Episode 43

Fisher: Hello genies and welcome to America’s show on family history, Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth and we’ve got a lot of great stuff this week. But, before I tell you about the guest, I’ve to tell you about this. If you are of Scandinavian descent you need to know that a new deodorant spray is out that they say makes you “Smell like a Viking.” It’s a tourist promotion thing trying to draw folks to York, England. The stuff is called Norse Power and is said to have been created by a team of scientists. Yeah. They say it essentially smells like a combination of blood, gore, sweat, animal meat, seawater and smoke. Uh, hmm. I cannot help to think that there will be a market for this. I already know some people who carry that scent without even using Norse Power. Hey, coming up in about eight minutes; she’s an archivist, she’s a genealogist and she’s going to tell you about what you can do to preserve your family history treasures after you’ve joined your ancestors in the next life. Her name is Judy Lucey. She’s with the New England Historical and Genealogical Society and she’s got some great advice about finding the best place to leave your hard earned finds or heirlooms for future generations. Hey, we’ve got to talk about this sometime, why not this week?

Then, we’ll talk to a Minnesota woman whose family whose family had a child go missing on them 164 years ago. Who was he? How did he go missing? What became of him? And after 48 years of searching, how did Pat Mulso finally do what generations before her couldn’t? She will tell you later in the show. Concerning last week’s conversation with Kelly McFarlane about the cryptic family history sampler from 1838 that was used as an oil rag and then discovered in an old house, Bruce in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, emailed me at [email protected] and said, “I wish I can find an oil rag like that one.” Amazing find and fun to look at, thanks Bruce. I think we’re all in agreement with you. And by the way, if you missed that segment you can hear the podcast of last week’s show on iTunes and iHeart Radio and you can download the free Extreme Genes podcast app for either your Android or iPhone. And if you have a story or comment or question you’d like to share on the show, call our toll-free Find Line 1-234-56-GENES. That’s 1-234-56-GENES, G-E-N-E-S. We love hearing from you. Our Extreme Genes poll for last week asked, “Do you have a family name that has appeared in at least five straight generations?” The vote was very close on this one with the third saying yes, the fourth saying no, and over 42% saying they have a repeating name but it has skipped some generations. I guess depending on the name that might be a good thing. This week our poll question is, “Is there a dirty little secret that you are aware of in your family lines? Yes or no? Something that’s secret back there. I think I know how this one’s going to turn out. For over the past few weeks I’ve shared with you some ditties from well-known people that they shared with me about their family history. And this week Edward James Olmos the Academy Award nominee opens up on his family’s past.

Edward: We came here, my great grandfather came here in about 1920s, actually a little before that trying to escape the Mexican Government during the Revolution. They forged a political movement in Mexico. They were the ones who forged them and they came here. And because of their revolutionary status they were not allowed to stay here. But, my grandmother had my mother here in the United States and she ended up staying and became who she became and I became who I became. And I’m very grateful for my great grandparents for first of all starting the Mexican Revolution. [Laughs] And second of all for having my grandmother who in turn had my mom.

Fisher: Everybody’s got a story and that’s how America got Edward James Olmos. And we’ll have another star next week. And that brings us to our Family Histoire News for this week from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. We begin with a historic hero born in Norwich, Connecticut, Benedict Arnold. Wait a minute, what the huh? Yes, that is what the Norwich, Connecticut Historical Society is saying as they hosted exhibit at the Slater Memorial Museum along with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. The exhibit consists of twenty three panels featuring the accomplishments of Benedict Arnold before he turned into a traitor. One such event was his leadership with his fleet at Valcour Island in British Columbia. Sure, Arnold and the patriots lost that one, but it delayed the Brits from getting back to New York, allowing the good guys enough time to prepare a defence of the city which of course they ultimately lost. Norwich intended to shovel Benedict under the rug for some time and they’re using this approach to kind of dust him off and bring a few tourist bucks their way. They point out; they quote, “He wasn’t the first American turncoat nor the most damaging either.” which is kind of like saying John Wilkes Booth wasn’t all that bad because there are lots of people who killed more folks than he did, and he was a heck of an actor. Let’s look at his career. I’m sorry, this seems to me to be a little bit off the mark. As a Connecticut native myself, I’d just as soon see Benedict Arnold remain beneath the carpet. By the way, Norwich’s spirit of Broadway Theatre is planning a musical on Arnold’s life for later this year. 

Next, an editor and photographer based in Seattle, Barney Britton has found a small wooden box in his late grandmother’s attic. It contains close to eighty color slides documenting his grandparents’ honeymoon in England in August 1939, just before the outbreak of WW II. Along with them on their camping trip was their cat Edgar and grandfather’s cousin Eldred. The photos have been restored to a beautiful color and you’ll see some amazing pictures, not just Barney’s grandparents but all of Northern England during some of the last peaceful days of 1939. Check out the images now at ExtremeGenes.com. And coming up; when you’re back with your ancestors, what’s going to happen to your records and heirlooms? Judy Lucey of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society has some suggestions next on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2  Episode 43

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Judy Lucey

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. I’m talking to Judy Lucy. She is an Archivist and Genealogist at the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. Good to have you on the show.

Judy: Well thanks Scott, I appreciate it. I’m happy to be here.

Fisher: I wanted to talk to you because I know recently you gave a talk about how people can contribute their own personal genealogical collections to various institutions, and I think this is a really interesting conversation to have because a lot of people hang on to stuff till they’re gone, and then the family has to decide what to do with it. Sometimes, I mean I can’t tell you how many records have come in to my hands that at one point were actually in a trash can, you know what I’m saying?

Judy: Oh I’ve seen that. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. And somebody rescues it and then they put it online and you just think, “Oh my goodness, what if this had this been thrown out.” I mean, it’s a one of a kind. Fill us in on how do we deal with people not wanting to let go or people who are wanting to let go and what they need to do to make sure it gets in a safe place that’s still accessible. 

Judy: Well sure. I think the first thing that people need to do when they have a collection like this, is to determine what exactly do I have that I feel is a value? Have I inherited papers from someone who may have been doing genealogy for many years? And, am I the care taker of the family treasures? And what’s going to happen to those treasures when I’m gone? That’s sort of the place where people might want to start.

Fisher: Right. 

Judy: And what I’m hearing now from people, I get phone calls and emails, is that my children or my grandchildren aren’t interested in this, or last week I had someone say to me, “The pipes burst in my house.” 

Fisher: Oh!

Judy: And it reminded me that I can’t keep my grandfather’s diaries here anymore. 

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: So sometimes a natural disaster such as that may be the incidence to donate or just realizing, “I’m getting older, I see all this stuff that I have in my house, so what’s going to happen to it when I’m gone?” I want to be able to share what I’ve done for the last fifty years, with other people. So placing it in a historical or a genealogical society allows people to say oh okay, now I can sit back and say, “My things are in good hands. It will be preserved and cared for and other people will be able to use everything that I’ve spent my life working on.”

Fisher: Now, I’m not at that point in my life right now, but even just thinking about what we have in our home right now. We have an 1870s family bible, we have a handwritten autobiography from about 1900 of a great, great grandfather written fully in Swedish. So it’s something very difficult.

Judy: Very lucky to have.

Fisher: Very lucky to have but it’s also difficult.

Judy: If you can read Swedish. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah if you can read Swedish, and it’s difficult to scan because of the odd size. We also have some very rare photographs, some including some very large groups like a choir in Norway from another branch of the family. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and you know, it’s like there’s some things I’m not ready to put somewhere. The other concern is that, what about the accessibility when it gets there because just because you place it in an institution, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easily accessible, wouldn’t you agree with that?

Judy: Oh I would agree. Particularly if, say for example you decide to send it to us here in Boston, I mean, you’d either have to physically come to the library to access it. We are a society that is members only, so that’s one of the things people have to think about is what are the policies for access that you have at your institution.

Fisher: Yes. 

Judy: But a lot of times we’ll work with donors. Because we have people that will say, “Well gee you know, I’d like to have my children have access to it without benefit of membership.” And those are all the types of things that you want to talk to archivists like myself about before you donate your papers, because those are things we can work on together and agree to a set of terms and say sure. And we’ll put that in what we call “The deed of gift” which is the legal document that transfers the rights, your rights over to us, to those papers, and then we will go from there. So we’re willing to work with whomever. It is hard to let go, and I often, like you have that wonderful family bible, and people just say “I’m not ready to let go of that” But I want to share the information.

Fisher: Yes.

Judy: And so I will accept scanned copies or photographs or a typed script of that information.  It’s the vital records that people are after. We know who our users are, and they’re still looking for those births, marriage and death dates to put on the family charts. So we want to have that information available. Nobody is going to know about it if it’s sitting in your living room.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: But it’s still a way for people to share the information without letting go of the actual treasure. 

Fisher: Now let’s just pretend for a moment I said, “Okay, I am going to contribute this bible, this family bible to the New England Historical and Genealogical Society.” What do you do with that once it’s in your hands? Do you do something to help preserve it? Is it kept in a place where the temperature and humidity is controlled? What do you do with it?

Judy: Well, first thing, with bible records in particular, we do have temperature controls, controls humidity and temperature. It’s always at a steady, a little bit on the chilly side. And with bible records in particular, I’m afraid that all we’re really interested in is the family details. So those family records that may be somewhere in the middle of the bible that are recorded, we would actually remove that, and we would remove the title page to the bible. So I always tell donors ahead of time, “I want you to know that I’m probably going to take apart this bible. I’m going to remove those pages because those are the things that researchers are interested in.” 

Fisher: So in essence, the bible itself becomes kind of useless after that, other than as a bible.

Judy: Exactly. I will make exceptions. For example, and this just happen to happen to me last week, I got a beautifully bound bible with the name of the couple on the bible spine, it was engraved, well that to me is too precious to de-accession. 

Fisher: Sure.

Judy: So I’m keeping it and I’m keeping the whole thing intact. 

Fisher: Once you’ve done this, is there any value left to them? Or do you throw them away? How does that work?

Judy: A lot of times these bibles are just in such poor condition that they’re falling apart.

Fisher: Yes, mine is.

Judy: Upon arrival.

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: And 19th century bibles, other than perhaps sentimental value, really don’t have any monitory value per say. The ones that we will keep are usually published and they’re very rare, 17th or 18th century bibles. We will keep those because those are rare. Or if we know of someone that is interested in that type of bible we’ll try to sell it. But often in times it’s the earlier bible records, the 17th, 18th century that we will keep here intact. Anything else I’m afraid we have to de-accession and remove from the collection. 

Fisher: You know, I’m looking at this one photograph that we have like I mentioned, we have a choir from back in Norway, and I had a couple of ancestors in there, it was kind of beat, and I was able to scan it and Photoshop it and correct it, so now the picture I have, the image, is beautiful. And I don’t really have much personal interest in keeping the original although I would imagine there’s some people out there who might find some value in that because it is an original photograph from the 1870s. 

Judy: Yes.

Fisher: What do you do with things like that?

Judy: With photographs?

Fisher: Yeah.

Judy: Well, we love photographs because they’re a really wonderful way for people to research and to have that visual image of a great grandparent or an ancestor. Photographs that are identifiable, in other words, the names, everyone knows who is in them, are really valuable. But I will also take unidentified photographs. With those, we store them properly in protective enclosures and they’re catalogued, in other words, they’re made available through our library catalogues so that if people are searching maybe for choir groups in Norway, or say something like that, they’ll find that oh, it’s at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Fisher: Right. So you do a lot of cataloguing that’s online so that does help become more available to those interested. 

Judy: Oh absolutely. It really helps for people and especially now, it really helps people to say, “Well, where can I find materials?” Well I can just go online and search to see if I can find it. Our library catalogue contains nearly all of our manuscript items that are catalogued and processed. It provides users with sort of a snapshot of saying, okay, this tells me a little bit about what the contents are, and, do I want to use this record in my research? 

Fisher: Well, and it may have seemed like a silly question to a lot of people that asked if you had that information online, but I’m aware of many institutions where they have so much stuff and I think of New York City and the New York Historical Society, the New York public library, they have just rooms full of things. They don’t even know what they have in there.     

Judy: Well that is true for a lot of archives including us. For example, we’ve come across things as we’ve processed collections that have been with us for many, many years. Recently I processed a collection that has been with us since the 1930s, and it was done but it needed a little updating. And I found an original letter written by Booker T. Washington.

Fisher: Oh boy.

Judy: From the Tuskegee Institute.

Fisher: Whoa!

Judy: We didn’t even know we had it. A few years ago someone donated their family photograph albums to us. In that album was a photograph of Helen Keller as a child with Anne Sullivan.

Fisher: Wow! 

Judy: And it seems like that family that donated it, summered down at the Cape Cod where Anne Sullivan used to take Helen Keller as a child.

Fisher: That is an astonishing find. 

Judy: That was an astonishing find. And so sometimes we just don’t know and people don’t tell us what’s in them. So sometimes we can make these wonderful discoveries, and as you said, a lot of places don’t know what they have. It’s been there many years. I haven’t been here as long as our manuscripts have been. We’ve been collecting since 1845. So sometimes it’s always a discovery to uncover a diary or an original document that we didn’t know that we had. 

Fisher: Well, I guess I bring this up because there was a contribution I made to an institution at one point, I’d gone to look for it online and it’s not there. And I think that’s got to be certainly an important part of a contribution to know that, that access is going to be made available.  

Judy: Yes. You know, it’s tough for us as archivists because we do have such a backlog. Here at NEHGS we average about 200 donations a year and there are three archivists. 

Fisher: Wow.

Judy: So it’s a juggling act to be able to make sure that we provide access in a timely manner, and yes, we do have people who will call us and say, “You know, I donated that item about a year ago and I don’t see it online. I don’t see it in the catalogues.”

Fisher: So it sounds to me like if you’re going to donate something, you might want to do a little shopping around to see what might best suit your needs from one institution to the next. 

Judy: Absolutely. And as I mentioned, I was in a phone call recently where we were just one of the institutions that our potential donors were shopping around. They asked very important questions, considering the backlog, you know, when will my collection be available? How will it be cared for? Who is going to organize it? How will it be organized? Do I have to donate money to have the care for the collection? All those things potential donors should really talk about with the institution that they’re considering donating their papers to.

Fisher: Boy and I think that is a great way to sum the whole thing up Judy. Perfect. Thank you so much for your time Judy Lucey from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. She’s an archivist, she is a genealogist. Judy that’s great, I’m sure that’s going to help a lot of people.

Judy: Well thanks so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, it was a baby that disappeared over a160 years ago, but it took this woman only 48 years to find him. We’ll tell you all about it, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.       

Segment 3 Episode 43

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Pat Mulso

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, talking to my guest Pat Mulso from Albert Lea, Minnesota. I’m thrilled to be talking to you Pat because I ran into a story that you had written on a blog about one of your recent breakthroughs, and this was like 48 years in the making!

Pat: Right.

Fisher: And we’re always you know trying to look for great stories like this and this is another one of them. Give us a little background on your Hartings family side. 

Pat: Well, it’s my mother’s father’s side. They’re a very, very close family. And actually when I started doing genealogy 48 years ago, I started on my dad’s side because he was recovering from open heart surgery and we walked through the cemetery and that sort of what got my interest into family history. But he passed away three years later. Everybody on his side had died so young, so I started on my mom’s side, just because it made me feel good to be working on family history and getting somewhere.

Fisher: Sure, with living people. 

Pat: Right. And so she took me to see a couple of her aunts and uncles that were still living, and they told me this story about Gerhard Hartings. And the family came from Germany in 1850, the mother, father and eight of their ten children. They had one baby that died at birth. They had a second child that died as a teenager just eight days before they left Germany. So when they arrived in America, they had eight children ranging in age from two and a half years to twenty one, but their youngest child was very ill on the way over. And when they arrived in New York, all of their acquaintances, the people they came over with had gone on to their destination, but they were detained at the port of entry.

Fisher: Sure.

Pat: And what I remember in my mind as a youngster hearing this story was, my great uncle said, "They found it is very irksome."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Pat: And that was the word that I was hearing. And I thought, you know, "What's that mean?"

Fisher: Irksome! Yes.

Pat: And he said that, you know, that everybody else had gone on and they were detained. They had trouble with the language, because they only spoke German. And you know, here they were, stuck, not being able to get to their destination by their landing, get to Atlanta. So finally, after ten days, the authorities allowed them or gave them permission to leave his child in the care of a priest and the rest of the family could travel on. So they did. And when they reached Cincinnati, they came across some of their acquaintances and friends, and they were told that there was good farmland in Ohio and that they could take the Canal, it would be easy traveling. So rather than going to Isle, which was their original destination, they went to Ohio, bought land, got a prop in, and got settled. And we think, I'm not positive on this, but we think about two months elapsed. They arrived on June 8th. They bought their farm on June 28th. And we think that is was some time in August when the father travelled back to New York to get his youngest son.

Fisher: Now this is in 1850?

Pat: 1850. So when he arrived back in New York, I'm assuming like at a rectory they were Catholic and that's where the priest would have been. He knocked on the door. He was told that his child was no longer there and that the priest had gotten called away and didn't know how to reach him, and so had taken the child with.

Fisher: Oh no!

Pat: And I just can't even imagine the devastation and how he would have made that long trip then back from New York to Ohio, and had to tell his wife and family that the baby was gone. I mean, you know, how would you do that? [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh! Unbelievable! Unbearable! And you mentioned in here that as a result of this, no one has ever used the word Gerhard again as a name in the family as a tribute to this missing child.

Pat: That's right. And this story never died. When you think about it, they could have turned away from the church, they could have not continued to be a close family, but they didn't. It actually brought them closer together. And their family is one of the closest families I have ever seen. My mom and all of her siblings, anything happens, they were always there, you know. Growing up, I just, you know, there was never a question if there was a sickness or a death or whatever, her family was there.

Fisher: So we moved to modern times. And you become a genealogist. And of course like any good one, you want to find Gerhard.

Pat: That's right. And so, everywhere I look, every time I do research, you know, and I'm in a position where I work at a historical society, so we're constantly working with old documents and records and helping people do research. And I'm always in search of him. And back about five years ago, I found a Gerhard Harting. In our line, sometimes it has an S and sometimes it doesn't. So I thought, "Well, that's all right."

Fisher: Sure. Names change all the time, spellings vary. I always tell people, "There is no correct spelling when it comes to records."

Pat: [Laughs]

Fisher: Forget that.

Pat: However the person spells it.

Fisher: Yeah!

Pat: So when I found this in the census, I looked for a word and found someone descended of this person that I found who was doing genealogy. And I contacted them and I told her my story. It was actually her husband's family, but she was doing the research. And I told her my story. I sent her one of my books on the family history. And she says to me, she says, "You know, sounds like it could be a possibility." but she says, "We don't know anything about him. We don't know who his parents were. We don't know if he had any siblings. We just don't know anything about him." I thought, "How can you not know anything about him?!"

Fisher: Right.

Pat: He's your great grandfather, you know. [Laughs]

Fisher: Exactly!

Pat: But they just didn't. So I'm like, "Gosh, you know, there's got to be some records somewhere." Well, I did a little more digging from here in Minnesota of the St. Louis records and I found his burial record. And he was buried in a catholic cemetery. So that was another plus, you know.

Fisher: That's a plus, because that was where the family had been.

Pat: Yes. So I sort of let it drop at that point, because I just couldn't find anything. And I thought, "Well, when I retire, I'll go down there and just spend some time and see what I can dig up.

Fisher: Sure.

Pat: But then, after the first of the year, meaning this year, I did a DNA test for genealogy, because I'm trying to find some things on my dad's side. And they all died so young. And after I took it, I'm like, "Duh." [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Pat: Why don't I call them and see if anybody in their line, since she's doing genealogy, I thought maybe she had.

Fisher: Sure. Do the Autosomal.

Pat: So I called her and I said, "Do you know, has anybody in your husband's line taken a DNA test?" And she said, "No, but we're having a reunion this summer." And she said, "I'll ask." And I said okay. So I hung back, distance a little bit and hung up. And a couple of days went by and I thought, "You know, something could happen. This guy could have a heart attack." [Laughs] You know?

Fisher: Yeah. No, you have those thoughts. You do. [Laughs]

Pat: And I thought, you know, our family's been waiting for 164 years to find this little boy, I can't take the chance of something happening to this contact I have. So I called her back and I said, "Would your husband take the test if I paid for it?" And she said, "I'll call you back." So she called me back and she said yes, he would do it. And so I had one sent out to them and I'm waiting on the results. When I opened them and I get through the first page and I'm not on there, and I get through the second page and I'm not on there, and I'm thinking, "Oh come on!" You know. Of course there's seventy seven pages. [Laughs]

Fisher: Oh boy!

Pat: And there's like fifty names per page. I found him on the third page, down was my name.

Fisher: As a match.

Pat: We're a match. And it’s like, "I can't believe it, after all this time!"

Fisher: Isn't that something!

Pat: It’s just amazing!

Fisher: What a great find!

Pat: It is, you know. And in the year 2000, we had our 150th anniversary in America reunion. And I planned it and we had 1040 people there, descendants of all the other children were there.

Fisher: Except Gerhard.

Pat: Except Gerhard. And I said, "Now we will really have a celebration."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Pat: We can bring the missing link. And this is going to be fun!

Fisher: Oh boy! When are you going to do it?

Pat: Not 2015, but the summer of 2016.

Fisher: 2016

Pat: So it will be quite a deal!

Fisher: Forty eight years in the making, to solve this mystery and many, many generations. Pat Mulso, thank you so much for your time and sharing the story.

Pat: Thank you!

Fisher: I am happy for you. That's great stuff.

Pat: It is. It’s great! I feel like I should wear a headband that says, "I found Gerhard." [Laughs]

Fisher: You can wear it at the reunion.

Pat: I will!

Fisher: And on the way next, we've got a listener who's all ready to go to preserve some of her old home movies, but she's got a question for Tom Perry. Our Preservation Authority is next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 Episode 43

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry. He's our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. Hi Tom, good to see you again!

Tom: Good to see you too. Glad to be vertical.

Fisher: [Laughs] And we have a question here from the Dallas, Texas area, from Laurie Judd, who writes, "Tom, I just listened to a podcast of Extreme Genes, and you were explaining that you're able to digitize old 8mm movies and flexibly work with the customer, helping them do what they can. I have over a hundred precious old movies that I'd love to have digitized. I also want to add music and vocal narratives from my dad and siblings if I can get them. What would this involve? I think I could possibly do the editing once the movies are digitized."

Tom: Yeah, that is no problem at all. If you have the correct equipment, like if you have a Mac, you're going to want to use like Final Cuts Pro or Adobe Premiere or iMovie to do your editing. If you have a PC, you want to use something like Vegas or Power Director or also Premiere, you can use any of those programs and they're great options. So if you want to do editing, you need to pick the option of an HDD, which is a hard disk drive, so then when you take that, you can plug it directly into your computer. Its super high resolution, so the only other option that you have to think about is if you want jpegs. And jpegs are awesome, because since we're digitizing your film, you're going to be able to get a photo of every frame of film, like we did for you, Fish.

Fisher: Yes. It is the best thing. If you haven't heard me, we've talked about before, but there was a photograph among my old movies from the '50s. And I'm a little kid at a picnic table with my late dad, my late brother and my grandfather who died when I was less than two years old. It is the only photograph I have with all four of us in one photo, and it’s clear and it’s clean and it’s great.

Tom: The neat thing about that too is, you said they were looking around, and in only one frame, so one 24th of a second, everybody's looking at the camera at the same time.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right. It was a ten second clip, and heads are moving in different directions in the movie, but we found the one where I'm looking up, my grandfather's looking up, dad's looking up and my brother's looking up, and that was the one and it worked perfectly.

Tom: It’s priceless.

Fisher: Yeah.

Tom: So that's a neat thing you can do about that. In fact, we actually had somebody call us the other day and said, "Hey, well, why do I need jpegs if I can just go and shoot the screen like you taught us how to do a few weeks ago?" I said, "Well, you know, that's great. That's a good way to do it. However, when we actually take the film that we're scanning and provide you with a jpeg, it’s just incredibly better definition." So if there's any unique pictures in there you want, you want to make sure you grab that. Same thing happened with my grandparents. I spent most of my kindergarten and first grade years at their house, no photos. And then I was transferring dad's old film, and bingo, hit the mother lode! So I really recommend getting jpegs of your frames, too. And the neat thing too, you want to go in and do narration. So when you're doing narration, there might be one clip that's only maybe fifteen, twenty seconds long, but you may need to talk for thirty seconds about it. So you can freeze the frame and let it sit there, or you can take these jpegs you've created and have them kind of go through as you're narrating the film. So a good thing I always suggest people do is, get a good recorder, whether you wanted something like an old audio cassette or get a video camera and hook up the audio and film the screen while you're talking, or get one of those hard disk recorders and talk into it. And the first time you watch it, have a legal pad with you and write down notes, because that's going to help you get better organized, so when you go back the next time, you can do it better. If you can get your whole family there at the same time, that's awesome. If not, send copies to them, send them MP4s, and then they can do their own audio, and then you can take all these different audio tracks and meld them together of grandma talking about what's important to grandma, aunt Ethyl talking about what's important to aunt Ethyl, and you basically become a multi recorder. And it sounds hard, but it’s not that really hard to do. You can do it. And you sound like you know what you're doing, so I'd suggest you go ahead and do that. If it becomes over whelming, we're more than happy to do it for you or as we mentioned a few weeks ago about this campus we put together, you have the options. You can come into us and sit down there. We can record you in our audio studios. We can teach you how to do all the audio editing or do it for you. So it makes a neat opportunity to put all these things together.

Fisher: All right, Laurie. Thanks so much for the email. And of course if you have a question, you can [email protected], and we just might answer your question on the air. And coming up next when we return, we're going to talk to Tom about copyright issues concerning videos and photographs. Its interesting stuff and you're going to want to know it. It’s coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 43

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, glad you found us, its Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And, Tom, we run into this quite often. We get a lot of questions about people who are concerned when they're duplicating old videos, maybe even old disks like records.

Tom: Oh absolutely.

Fisher: 78s that we have issues with copyright. And we need to understand a little about the legality of these things, and you as a professional, if people bring things to you what you can and can't do. Where do you want to start with this?

Tom: Copyright issues is something that's really, really important. Most people that break copyright laws really do it innocently, they have no idea they're doing it. People come in to us and ask us to do stuff that we can't do, and so we explain to them why we can't do it and they're just like, "Oh, okay. Well that's fine. I won't do it then." Well, there are some people that, you know, they're going to break the law no matter what. They're going to go 90 down the freeway in a 55 zone, that's just the way life is. But kind of explaining copyrights is kind of explaining to you how the IRS works, it’s kind of crazy. I try to teach people, I say, a copyright law should read, “Are you honest in all your dealings with your fellow earthlings?"

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Tom: If you can say yes to that, you've probably never broken a copyright law. And some of us do it innocently. So basically, in a nutshell, when you purchase an album tape or disk, you are only purchasing the right to use the material in a preapproved method by the copyright owner. So in essence, basically when you purchase a tape or a CD or a DVD, you are officially agreeing to the terms in the little panel on the back of it, the little, small type, you're agreeing to that when you buy it.

Fisher: Now you're speaking in terms of perhaps a movie, a commercial movie or a commercial recording.

Tom: Exactly. Whether you're buying, you know, a Disney DVD, if you're buying a Disney audio CD, if you're even recording stuff off the television off of Comcast or Dish Network or even over the air, anything like that, they still have copyright laws. So you need to remember, just because you have it in your possession, you don't own it. You only own the right to use it. I hate to be a downer, but let me explain to you first off what you can't do. You cannot buy a music CD, load it onto your MP3 player and then give that disk away to somebody else, even if it’s a charity, you cannot give it away. Even if you say, "Hey, well, I didn't sell it. I gave it away." You don't have that right. That right is only given to you. The right to use is not given to anybody else.

Fisher: So, let's talk about this then, Tom. We're putting together then an old home movie or an old video and we want to have some music in the background with narration, like we talked about in the previous segment. We have to be careful about the copyright on that music as well, even though we're using it for personal purposes.

Tom: Oh absolutely! If you want to go 100% by the letter of the law, you absolutely cannot do that. There's all kinds of what they call "public domain" that you can use, but there's also canned stuff that you can get for free. There's some canned stuff you pay a little bit for. You can go demo it on a lot of different sites.

Fisher: A lot of musicians actually go out and put it out there on the cheap that you can just grab off the internet.

Tom: Oh absolutely!

Fisher: And that's a great solution.

Tom: Oh yeah! And that's totally legal. But if you go and take a Disney theme song and put it in your home movies, even though you're going to never sell them, that is copyright infringement.

Fisher: And so for you as a professional, you can't go there, because obviously that would put you, I mean, imagine all the opportunities you would have to break copyright law over the years. It would be a mess for you.

Tom: Oh absolutely.

Fisher: So you have to be very strict with that, as should everybody.

Tom: Oh yeah. You have to be really, really careful. It’s better to err on the side of caution than do something that can get you in trouble.

Fisher: All right. What about a publicly done photograph. Okay, maybe there's a photo that was published in Life magazine of your father during World War II, what do you do with that? As I understand it, it’s 1923 at this point, anything before that is public domain, but back to 1923, it is not.

Tom: So what I always suggest our people do and also all of our listeners is, go to Life magazine, go to whoever the copyright owner and tell them what the situation is, say, "Hey, this was my father who is on page 26. I want to make copies to put in my genealogy or my family history or a video I'm making as a tribute to him." And nine out of ten times, our customers do this and they give them rights to do it. They say, "You know, just for this, as long as nothing's going to be sold, its fine to do." You can go onto the copyright of the United States of America and read the copyright laws and see, you know, what is public domain and what isn't public domain?

Fisher: Thanks for joining us, Tom. And of course, if you have a question for Tom, send an email to [email protected], and we may answer your question on the show. We'll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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