Episode 44 - Talking Skeletons with Janet Horvorka of FamilyChartMasters.comJun 02, 2014
Fisher talks about learning of the auction of a silver 1776 “Continental Dollar” that sold in New York. It is believed to have been created to experiment in the creation of “American” currency, an important issue if the United States was to be recognized as an independent nation. Learn how much the coin went for and why Fisher has a special interest in this unique coin. Fisher visits with former Munsters star, Pat Priest… “Marilyn”… about her family’s special history, which, coincidentally involved ties to American currency. In Family Histoire News this week, the National Archives have digitized unique “Artistic Family Records,” from the post-Revolutionary era. Hear why they were created. (Maybe your ancestors left one behind for you to find!) And, King Richard III is back in the news! Hear what the British High Court has had to say about who can do what with his body.
Guest Janet Horvorka from FamilyChartMasters.com talks about the challenges of sharing family history with other family members when “skeletons” are present. In the first half of her visit, she addresses the challenges of dealing with the living, and their close kin, who may have an embarrassing past. In the second part, she talks about writing about the dead. If you’re preparing a history of your family, you’re going to want to hear this great advice!
Transcript of Episode 45
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Pat Priest
Segment 1 Episode 44
Fisher: Greetings genies across the USA, welcome to Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth on the show where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And if you’re new to the show, each week we bring you expert guests so you can learn how to trace your ancestors, preserve their stories and make that information available to others. It’s one of the most searched topics on the Internet and we’re here to share with you the fun and excitement of the hunt. And we love to hear your stories, so please share them with us on our Facebook page, give us a Like while you’re there, email them to me at [email protected], or call our toll-free Find Line at 1-234-56-GENES. That’s 1-234-56-GENES, G-E-N-E-S. And coming up in about 11 minutes, we’re going to talk about those skeletons in the proverbial closet of your family tree. What do you do with those, shall we say, sensitive stories about both the living and dead? What are the legal risks and moral challenges of sharing some of this information, and how do you deal with this material especially when sharing these kinds of things with kids? From murderers to bigamists, horse thieves and who knows what else, Janet Horvorka from FamilyChartMasters.com is back with some great insight on this challenge. Hey, we’ve all got them back there, and I’ll tell you some of my scoundrels as we go through this. Plus, Tom Perry the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com will be here answering another listener question or two. And you can count on Tom to tell you things other experts won’t or can’t. Our online poll for this past week was about dirty little secrets. We asked if you were aware of a dirty little secret in your family lines which of course ties into our visit with Janet later in the show. A full two-thirds said yes! I think that means that while every family has them, not all of us know exactly what they are, but thanks for voting. This week our poll question is, “Have you ever found anything related to your family history on eBay or similar sites, yes or no?” Cast your vote now at ExtremeGenes.com.
You know sometimes family history research overlaps a lot of other interests like collecting items relating to your family history or just a general interest in history. When I was a kid, I was very much into coin collecting which taught me a lot about the history of our nation. The very first American coin is generally considered to be a piece nicknamed the Continental Dollar. Created in 1776 it’s believed to have been made as a test or sample coin for the Continental Congress because they recognized that for the rest of the world to see the United States as an independent nation, we couldn’t continue to deal in British currency. Well, the man who made this coin placed this phrase on the obverse of some of the coins, E.G facet, which is Latin for EG, made or created it. Just who was this mysterious E.G? Well, back in the late 1950s an expert collector of American coins went to work to identify them. That expert was Eric P. Newman. And while his conclusion has certainly been questioned throughout the years since he published his findings, no one has come forth with a better argument for someone else. Because of Newman, most now consider the argument settled. I won’t go into all the reasons for his choice, but E.G, said Mr Newman, was Elisha Gallaudet, a New York City engraver of French Huguenot ancestry who had previously been hired to engrave New York City Waterworks notes and other currencies. Well, Mr Newman is now 102 years old. And just a couple of weeks ago, a large chunk of his lifelong collection was auctioned off in New York through Heritage Auctions, including one of only four known Silver Continental Dollars. That one coin sold for $1.4 million. Wouldn’t any coin collector have wanted to own that? I would have loved it especially since a little over a decade ago I learned that Elisha Gallaudet was my fifth great grandfather. So it goes. If only Elisha had passed a few of those down the line to his worthy descendents. Well, I shouldn’t even go there. I wrote about article for Elisha for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Journal back in 2004 with great support and information from Eric P. Newman who sounds like he may finally be ready to retire. You never know where stories of your ancestry are going to show up. For the past several weeks I’ve been sharing with you ancestral stories from some well known individuals I’ve had the chance to interview, this week we talked to Pat Priest, Marilyn from the Munsters.
Pat: My mother was very active in politics. She ran for the State Legislature when she was twenty five.
Pat: She didn’t make it, but then she ran for Congress when she was forty and lost by five thousand votes to a Judge, a woman Judge who had been in Office for I think sixteen years. And when Eisenhower ran for President, Utah’s Delegation at the time were all for Taft, the Delegates, except my mother, she was for Eisenhower.
Fisher: And she wound up being what now?
Pat: Treasurer of the United States, which was a Cabinet, a sub-Cabinet position under the Secretary of Treasury. She was Treasurer of the United States for the eight years for Eisenhower.
Fisher: So her name’s on all the bills, right?
Pat: It was, if you can find them anymore. After that she moved out to California, remarried and she ran for Treasurer of the State of California, which was an elected position with Governor Reagan. She won it. She was Treasurer of the State of California for eight years and was just getting ready to announce her third term when she found out that she had cancer.
Fisher: How cool is all that! There’s someone else with family ties to American Dollars. It is time again for your Family Histoire News from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. You may recall last summer hardly a week went by that we didn’t have a story about the battle for the corpse of King Richard the III and you’ll recall was the body of the hunched back king made famous by Shakespeare that was found under a parking lot in Leister, England. Well, the people of Leister of course wanted to keep the King the same place he’d been for over five hundred years, Leister, only in the more dignified and public location of Leister Cathedral. But others, descendents and other relatives in particular wanted him reburied in York, his home base. Well, it looks like the High Court of England has put an end to the heated discussion. This past week they ruled that the relatives had no standing in the case, essentially, handing victory to the Leister people and of course their Tourism board. Re-interment of the King is scheduled is currently scheduled for spring of next year in a special, very public tomb. The coffin will travel from Bosworth where Richard was killed in battle to its new so called final resting place. Stay tuned. Stories like this are hardly ever over. Read more on this amazing tale at ExtremeGenes.com. Next, the history blog of Slate.com called The Vault has put together a great story about the National Archives collection of illustrated family records from the early 1800s. Back then survivors of Revolutionary War soldiers applied for pensions based on their family member’s service. In order to do so they had to provide proof of their relationship. Well, many of the applicants included what can best be described as illustrated family records. This includes a wide range of items which shows all kinds of the visual traditions from that era. Some are hand drawn and personalized, others were lithographs published in the many copies they were filled in manually. Nonetheless, the samples are beautiful and it is certainly possible that one or more of your ancestral families have left records now digitized in the National Archives. Check out the links and see these remarkable records and also find the link where you can search to see what may be there for you at ExtremeGenes.com.
Before we take a break, just a reminder that you can catch up on all our past shows via podcast. There’s a lot of information and a lot of incredible stories to be heard on our archives. Find them at ExtremeGenes.com, iHeart Radio and iTunes among other platforms. And of course you can now download the totally free and totally awesome Extreme Genes podcast for iPhones and Android. Find it in your phone store. And on the way in three minutes, are the skeletons in your family closet rattling you? Janet Horvorka from FamilyChartMasters.com joins us to talk about how to calm them down dealing with the scoundrels in your lines, in histories and sharing with your kids. It can be a minefield, but I know you’ll like the advice Janet has to offer. That’s next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 2 Episode 44
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Janet Horvorka
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with my special guest Janet Horvorka from FamilyChartMasters.com. Welcome back Janet.
Janet: Thank you. Glad to be back.
Fisher: I’m excited because you know I was at your presentation not too long ago about dealing with in laws and out laws and those scandal ridden ancestors that we all have, Aunt Elsie who ran off with the milkman.
Janet: [Laughs] Yes.
Fisher: And we’ve got bigamous, and we’ve got thieves, and we were talking about how in the world we deal with this when we write our histories, or we want to share our family history with the kids.
Janet: Right, right. How do you pass it down exactly?
Fisher: Yeah. And you had some great thoughts and concepts on this and I thought we’d start with the first part being “Dealing with the Living.”
Fisher: Because that’s a whole different thing then the deceased, we’ll deal with that in the second session later in the show.
Janet: Sounds great.
Fisher: So let’s start with this. First of all I’m going to ask, what are your scandals in your family?
Janet: What are the scandals in my family?
Janet: That’s a good question.
Janet: Well you know, I have a very dynamic great grandmother. She reminds me of Lucille Ball. She’s kind of one of those transitional figures that we all kind of look to.
Janet: My mother’s, mother’s mother. When she was about my age, the drivers licence people made a mistake and saw 1901 as 1907 and put her as six years younger on her driver’s licence. She took that and ran with it. Through all her documents for the rest of her life she’s six years younger. And she’d introduce her daughter as her sister for a good part of her life as well.
Fisher: Oh she worked it.
Janet: [Laughs] She worked it.
Fisher: Sounds like my mother.
Janet: Exactly. [Laughs]
Fisher: If that is the worst scandal in your lines Janet, come on.
Janet: It’s just funny.
Janet: I could tell you lots of stories and I could tell you lots of stories about my in laws too but I might get in trouble with that.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Janet: I had a grandfather who was an alcoholic and a great grandfather who was an alcoholic. I know I can’t gamble or anything like that because it gets out of control.
Fisher: All because of the genetics.
Janet: Yeah, probably.
Fisher: I understand.
Fisher: Well, let’s start with this thing. You’ve written a lot of history and I’ve seen some of your books and they’re great and you direct a lot of them to kids.
Fisher: And for most anybody who’s dealt with something in the background that shall we say, a little unseemly.
Fisher: That can be really challenging as to what you share and what you don’t because there’s so many benefits for kids knowing their ancestry. But there’s also danger lurking in there if they realize that maybe there’s something they feel like it passes down to them that would make them feel shall we say, unsafe as a family member.
Janet: Yes. Yes. My biggest passion about my family history is passing it down and passing it down in a healthy, emotionally healthy way. Because it gives kids identity and resilience and it teaches them that I can do this, this is my DNA. My family has gotten through trials and I can do this too. That has been a big factor in my own life. This same great grandmother went through some hard trials in her 20s and I did as well and I was given her personal history that she wrote, and it gave me this sense of “I can do this.” I knew who she was as an adult and I’m not going to let these trials define me. I’m going to grow up to be like grandma was. I think it’s so important to invest children and youth in their family history, and so some of these issues can be dangerous. A lot of times I think it depend on the age of the child. Obviously you’re not going to teach a child about really harsh abusive issues or mental illness issues or things when they’re younger. But then sometimes it’s good for a child to just know all the time growing up, my sisters are adopted, I just knew that from day one. That’s just who they were. You know that’s not something you dump on a child at thirty five either.
Janet: So, there’s kind of a balance as to when and how and it probably depends on the issues in your family. Every family has issues. Every family has a horse thief. If you haven’t found him yet, you just have to keep looking.
Fisher: Oh we’ve got our... well steers count, don’t they?
Janet: [Laughs] Yes, steers count.
Fisher: Yeah we have those.
Janet: [Laughs] Right. So every family has issues. It’s just a matter of, number one, pass it down in an emotionally healthy way. This is something we can learn from. This is something we can get over. This is something we’ve survived. There’s always a survivor in every painful story as usually, and there’s always somebody who’s a hero in that situation too. And then you also have to be careful too that, all scoundrels have a little bit of hero in them and all heroes have a little bit of scoundrel in them.
Janet: And so you have to be careful not to paint it with too wide of a brush.
Fisher: As to, this is a good person, and this is a bad person?
Janet: Right, right.
Fisher: There are typically reasons behind people’s behavior.
Fisher: Okay. So let’s talk about the living people now.
Fisher: Because this is where it gets a little tricky.
Fisher: Obviously you want to record stories and share those and sometimes these people are going to cooperate and share their story and some people are going to say, “I don’t want anything to do with this.” Because of shame or guilt or whatever that might be.
Fisher: And you have to find that balance. We’ve also got legal issues to consider if you write about the living, so get into that a little bit Janet.
Janet: Okay. So, with living people facts are not actionable and they can’t be copywritered. And anything that is a matter of public record already is something that is out there. So anything like public court documents, newspapers, anything of course that somebody now today puts out on social media themselves, I mean so many people are putting so much out on social media. Look particularly who posted it, but mostly anything that’s already a matter of public record, that’s already out there.
Fisher: So you can legally write those things when dealing with living people?
Janet: You can.
Fisher: But then there’s the other side of it and that’s the moral side, is it right to write these things?
Janet: Absolutely. If something isn’t out there, then it’s an invasion of privacy. If the person were to give publicity to a matter concerning the private life of a person, then that’s something that’s actionable in court and you want to be careful with that.
Fisher: And that’s where you might ask permission to share something or have a discussion?
Janet: Absolutely. So when you get to ethical, what is right, you need to give a lot of care to anybody who is living. That’s a huge wall there. As long as someone’s alive you need to ask permission obviously. It’s their story to tell and not yours. Keeping something confidential, keeping something that you maybe know about, private, is just crucial with living people. It’s really their story and not yours.
Fisher: I remember stepping in it once myself on this.
Janet: Did you?
Fisher: Yeah. My dad passed forty years ago. His first wife, still living, so I wrote their story and I got to the end of it and I thought it was a very innocent thing that I quoted my dad saying, “Jee, I left the court room with eight dollars in my pocket.” Well I didn’t know my half sister was going to share that with her mother and this upset her very much.
Fisher: And so when I went to do the next version of it, my sister made it very clear that, that can’t be in there.
Fisher: And you know, I felt really bad about that. But this is the danger and the risk we take as authors sometimes with this kind of writing.
Janet: Right. And writing can be anything. That could be social media, that could be a blog, that could be websites, public trees, putting out somebody’s first marriage when maybe they didn’t want it out there, or an adopted child.
Fisher: But most sites like Ancestry, FindMyPast, MyHeritage, they’ll kind of hide the living.
Janet: Right, if there isn’t a death date or if the birth date is within the hundred years Ancestry, FamilySearch places like that will hide that from anybody else to see. But its still, it’s just something you need to cognisant and careful of. And you also have to be careful of living spouses and children. Even if somebody is deceased, there may be some pain for a living spouse or child.
Janet: I mean you have to be cognisant not just of the living people of course you need to ask, but also be a little gentle with other family members that are living that may be affected by this information.
Fisher: You know, I got some letters that my grandparents wrote, and one of them, my grandmother, talked about how much smarter Scotty was then this cousin of mine.
Janet: Oh hey [Laughs] That’s fun.
Fisher: I have like sixty pages transcribed of all this. I think you know, I think for the sake of peace, for the sake of pain, I may just remove that part of the letter in the transcript before sharing that with the cousins. [Laughs]
Janet: Yeah. Yeah. I have one where I did an oral history and somebody was concerned that somebody was a little overweight and I kind of edited that out a little bit, you wouldn’t want to see that. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, that’s what you got to do. Now are you compromising the history by doing that?
Janet: And that’s another issue. We’ll talk about that too. Are you ready to get to that because you’ve got to be true to the history too?
Fisher: That’s right. But that’s... you’re talking about the dead in that circumstance?
Janet: Yeah, definitely a little more.
Fisher: So just to review, as far as the living goes we’ve got to be really careful. We’ve got to be aware of legalities when they’re living.
Fisher: Because I don’t think there’s any legality if you write about somebody who’s dead, right?
Janet: No. There’s no legalities. Once somebody is dead there is nothing actionable as far as courts are concerned.
Fisher: Right. But then there’s the moral side, the ethical side, and you know, sensitivity and pains.
Fisher: All right. When we come back, Janet Horvorka and I will talk a little more about dealing with the dead scoundrels. And they’re usually a lot more of those than the living ones, hopefully anyway.
Janet: Yeah. [Laughs]
Fisher: Well get to that next, on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 3 Episode 44
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Janet Horvorka
Fisher: Hey, welcome back! You have found us. It is Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. I am your congenial host, Fisher. With my special guest Janet Horvorka from FamilyChartMasters.com. And we’re talking about how you record histories when you have a skeleton in the closet as they say. So here was my steer story Janet.
Fisher: For many years, my wife’s stout family side from Indiana was well revered. They’d been ranchers, had lots of children and well established in the community. And her great, great grandfather Thomas died 1903. The obituary said he was a well respected man of the community. And then I later came to figure out that the reporter who wrote that obituary probably wasn’t around in 1875 when the stories were flying around the mid west, about this man that ran off with the wife of his farm hand and actually gave a small amount of money to buy a large amount of steer from this company he had done business with, and then sold a larger number of steer than he had on the take, so he wound up with twenty thousand dollars in his pocket, moved to another state, took on his mother’s maiden name and set up house with this woman.
Fisher: Well, the sheriff went out and found him and brought him back to the shame of the community, of course he had to face his wife and nine children.
Janet: Oh nine children.
Fisher: Yeah, so you know this is one of those stories now, we dealt with the living and how you record those things and the sensitivity. But we’re now dealing with somebody who’s been dead for a hundred and ten years.
Janet: For quite a while.
Fisher: So what is your advice on recording stories like that?
Janet: That’s a good question.
Janet: You know, sometimes involving youth in family history, those are the good stories that get you interested and I want to find out more.
Fisher: There is something about them.
Janet: There is.
Fisher: and there’s a lot more records on these people than the living too.
Janet: Yeah there is. Yeah, those are the interesting stories sometimes. Crista Cowan who goes by, “The Barefoot Genealogist” who does webinars for Ancestry every Tuesday and Thursday, they’re all on YouTube. She gave a talk about this, once on that and she said something that I thought to be really profound. And that was to be factual without gossiping.
Fisher: Oh I like that.
Janet: I really like that too. Because you can’t go through the family bible and erase all the illegitimate births and things like that, I mean you have to be factual. But you can do it in a dignified way. For example, with my mom’s grandfather, he was an alcoholic. He took his life. She was able to write about it and focused on the challenges that he had in his life and she focused on when prohibition came out. He was so patriotic that he went off his alcohol immediately. And went through what we now know as withdrawal symptoms, and that’s when he took his life. And so she framed it as some of the other parts of his character too, the patriotism, the things that kind of help explain the whole situation, but also in the way that we understand from our point of view now.
Fisher: That’s right.
Janet: So sometimes things are different, sometimes there are things that we don’t understand about the way things worked in history. You know, the way men ran off with other people’s wives or whatever. Or the way that mental illness was treated or things like that. Sometimes we don’t understand their situation. But sometimes we can understand it better knowing more now too.
Fisher: That’s true.
Janet: Like in the alcoholism situation.
Fisher: I don’t understand why my wife’s great, great grandfather wasn’t thrown in jail for what he did.
Fisher: He was brought back. He made restitution, apologized and went on with his life.
Janet: And maybe that was something accepted then.
Janet: You have to be careful not to inflict our values onto past situations. But you can sometimes reinterpret things with what we know now with different situations too.
Fisher: There are many people living and dead of course who have gotten into major trouble maybe throughout the course of their lifetimes. Got themselves thrown in prison, gone through the legal system, really have a habit of things like this. How have you dealt with that?
Janet: I think the key there is to keep in mind, what’s the purpose of the story you’re telling? We talked when I gave that presentation about it really is your prerogative to tell your side of the story. I tell my dad that if he doesn’t record his life story, when I get to it, I will tell my side of the story.
Fisher: I did that with my mother and she didn’t do it, and I’m doing it now. She’s going to regret that. [Laughs]
Janet: Right. So then you’re the one that gets to tell the story. I mean the family historian, like any journalism is going to have biases. You get to tell your side of the story. You’re the one that wrote it down, you get that privilege. The way I look at is what is the purpose? What do I want future generations, my children and grandchildren and later to gain from this story maybe? Maybe there’s consequences that that can see. Things that they can avoid, people you can look up to, things like that. I think when you talk about your family history you want to give them healthy coping skills as to how to deal with that.
Fisher: Well there are benefits.
Fisher: Aren’t there proven psychological benefits to people understanding their history.
Janet: Yeah. There is actually part of the psychology department at Emory University that’s done some interesting studies on this. It’s called the Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life. And the man there named Marshal Duke, has done a bunch of studies about how telling the family narrative affects young adults. And they decided from their studies that one of the most important things you can do to teach adult lessons, especially resilience and what they called internal focus of control, which is, “I’m in charge of my life. I’m not a victim. I can make a difference in the world.” One of the strongest things you can give teenagers is to tell them about their family history. And they said there’s an assenting narrative, which is, “We had nothing and we built it up and now we’re strong and we’re powerful.” There’s a descending narrative which is, “We had everything and now we lost it all.” But they said the most powerful narrative you can give your family is some oscillating narrative which is, “We have ups and downs, things go round and round, but we’re strong and we get through it.”
Fisher: And that’s more real.
Janet: That is more real and that prepares a child to be able to deal with their own challenges that every person comes up with in their own life. That they do what I did in my 20s with my great grandmother with her history, they say, “I can get through my challenges. I have this. This is in my DNA. And members of my family have gotten through things before, I can do it too.” That’s why I even like to talk about these issues because sometimes those hard narratives in our family history are the ones that give the most power to future generations when they can say, “Look at this immigrant ancestor. Look at this grandmother that sacrificed. Look at these people who were tough, and I can be like that too.” And that’s some really powerful stuff.
Fisher: Well it’s interesting to watch the patterns too.
Fisher: Now, I had a great grandfather who died in the 1890s. He was an alcoholic. My great grandmother was married to somebody else. But she lived with him as his wife for 18 years.
Fisher: And then he had another woman on the side and had a child with her. And then when he passed away, everything kind of became exposed. And then the other, other woman wound up suing the estate to try to get part of his mercantile business and the house and all that. And so my grandfather and his brother, when their mother died probably from all the stress of this, not long after that they wound up going in completely different ways. The brother became just like this dad and wound up losing the family and as I’ve traced down the descendents we see similar patterns for all least three or four more generations.
Fisher: But my grandfather was different.
Janet: Was a transitional person.
Fisher: Is that the word for it?
Janet: Yeah, yep.
Fisher: He decided, he found his true love. She died of tuberculoses in 1930 when she was only 49 years old. Never remarried, raised two boys, totally loyal to them you know. He had to have the biggest kite for his kids in the neighborhood, that kind of thing. But was a completely different person than his brother or his father.
Fisher: And so you can see the choices that each brother made as to which way they were going to go with this things.
Janet: Right. In the bible they call it the sins of the father, right?
Fisher: Yeah that’s right.
Janet: And I talk about that a lot. We can see that in the charts that we do even. Sometimes you do a big chart and you can see just in the birth, marriage, death information, you can see the illegitimate children, the divorces, things like that and it passes down through families. Those things pass into you but when you understand them, you can deal with them in a healthy way. Like I said, we see that in the birth, marriage, death information on charts. But that’s not even to begin to talk about self esteem issues. Like you said, addictive personalities or anything like that. Or even mental health issues, or abuses or whatever. When you become one of those transitional people, you can change that. And when you understand it, that’s the beauty of it too is that it’s out there whether you understand it or not. And sometimes you don’t even understand what you’re playing out in your own life, that some of that comes from your past. But when you understand it, for example, I understand a lot about my mother in law’s family history and because of that I know what she passed down into my husband and into my marriage. And I can deal with that in a much more compassionate and understanding way when I know the elements that played down into that and you can pass it healthy into the next generation.
Fisher: She’s the one who deals with the skeletons in the family. Janet Horvorka, from FamilyChartMasters.com, thanks so much for coming back Janet.
Janet: Thank you.
Fisher: See you again.
Janet: All right.
Segment 4 Episode 44
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And Tom Perry joins us again, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. Hi Tom, how are you?
Tom: Good to be here.
Fisher: Good to see you again. And the new Consumer Reports is coming out for July 2014. And this is kind of a scary report it’s about your secrets not being safe. And this is important for us in the family history arena, because we use a lot of stuff that exposes us.
Tom: Oh absolutely! That is so true. I mean, when we're giving stuff to friends or neighbors or putting something online that we think is only going to be seen by friends and neighbors, you don't have any idea, something as simple as a Social Security number. In genealogy, you've always got your mother's maiden name. All this kind of stuff you have for hackers to get a hold of. It’s just scary. We're putting it out there and we're not encrypting it.
Fisher: Now especially when it deals with living people on your charts.
Tom: Exactly. You hear about this people that went and got somebody that's still living that's like an 8 years old, and all of a sudden he gets a thing that he hasn't met his house mortgage.
Tom: Because you've got his name, he's got his grandmother's name, he's got his mother's name, got the maiden name, all this kind of stuff, somehow people got a hold of a Social Security card and got his number. Even something as simple as going to your doctor and they want your Social Security number, do not give it to them! Tell them, if they need it, get it from your insurance company, because filling out that form, if it ends up in a dumpster, if it ends up on an unsecured site, somebody can get that Social Security number, your 8 year old son or daughter's name, and they go and get a loan.
Fisher: Well, let me tell you about my son. He went to college and applied for a loan, and found out he had bad credit! Well, the fact is, he shouldn't have had any credit. Because he'd never taken a loan before, he never had any credit cards. And found out that somebody had gotten a hold of his Social Security number years before when he was about 16 years old, and started working under his Social Security number. They eventually caught up with who that person was, of course they put an end to it, but that was a pretty scary experience for the family.
Tom: Oh absolutely. So make sure if you put stuff in the cloud or even on your home computer that has internet access, don't ever put Social Security numbers. Figure out some kind of a code that like a certain number is a certain letter that nobody else would know. You think you can trust your family and usually you can, however, these people can hack into, if not your computer, maybe your brother in law's or your grandmother's computer that doesn't have the right encryption on it. And so they've got your information that you gave your grandmother.
Fisher: What a scary era we live in. Let's talk more about the report, what's in it?
Tom: Okay. Well, for instance, when you talk about the cloud which we talk about a lot, Consumer Report tell us that sixty percent of US consumers took no measure to protect their online privacy. And this is absolutely crazy! You put all this stuff up on Dropbox, which we recommend. We love Dropbox.
Fisher: Right. Yeah, it’s great.
Tom: But it’s been hacked into before and I guarantee it’s going to be hacked into again. If you just have photos and things like that, it’s not going to be a problem. However, if you start getting detailed, putting genealogy charts up there that have people's last names and people can get into those, find mother's maiden names, somehow get Social Security numbers, then they can get a hold of your stuff. What we highly recommend is, if you have anything that you might even think is confidential, you get an encryption software such as True Crypt. It’s just T R U E C R Y P T.org and you can download their information, you can encrypt all your stuff, so if somebody gets your information, they won't be able to unencrypt it.
Tom: You will only have the key.
Fisher: And what's the name of that again?
Tom: It’s called, True Crypt, T R U E C R Y P T.org. And upload that and get the program. And it can save you a lot of heartache. So do your own encryption, keep your passwords in your wallet in an encrypted way, so only you know what those numbers and letters really mean.
Fisher: All right, great advice! And you've got to see that report from Consumer Reports, the July issue, coming out, your secrets aren't safe. It’s going to be of great help to you, for anybody who collects information, especially on living people.
Fisher: And coming up next, we have another listener question for Tom. He'll have the answer, on the way in minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 5 Episode 44
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Welcome back, final segment of Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here with Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, and Tom, we have another listener question, this from Gary at San Tan Valley, Arizona. He said, "Just started listening on my iPhone." Thank you, Gary for downloading the free app for that. "And heard the latest show about repairing disks. I have a disk where I transferred a video interview with my mother and father and it is not a very clear recording. Do you have a resource that could take that video, audio recording and clean it up and make it clear?"
Tom: Oh yeah, that's a great question. We've answered questions similar to this for other people. One thing you want to do is, you want to make sure first your disk is in good condition and whether you need to clean it, resurface it, repair it or whatever. We do that. We have tips online where you can do that. Just be careful with what you do. There's a lot of rumors going out there to clean disks with toothpaste, and it’s not a good thing, because it actually scratches the disk.
Tom: We have people that bring in disks to us to resurface that they've damaged the disk beyond what it was in the first place.
Fisher: Now, are there differences between these terms, Tom?
Tom: Oh yeah.
Fisher: You want to explain some of those?
Tom: To clean a disk, you always want to remember, you always want to go from the centre circle where the hole is in your disk straight out. Do no around in a circle like you would clean a record, because then if you get a little piece of sand or grit into what you're cleaning with, you're going to make a circular scratch, which will make it so its unreadable.
Fisher: And what do you use to clean it?
Tom: I just use soap and water.
Tom: Like use some dishwashing soap and just run it under the water really, really good. Usually you don't even have to wipe it with a cloth, you know, just wash it off really, really good under, you know, cold water, some warm water. Don't get too hot water, you don't want to damage the disk, and then let it just air dry. If you want to use something, do not use Kleenex, do not use anything that has a fabric weave to it.
Fisher: A fiber.
Tom: Exactly, because it will grab little pieces of dirt and dust and scratch your disk. You want to get something that's almost like silk, that is, it’s almost smooth as plastic.
Fisher: Or a sponge?
Tom: Well, no, I wouldn't use a sponge either, because a sponge can get little pieces of grit in it. Anything that under a microscope is not going to look smooth, you don't want to use, because it’s going to hold dirt. So that's how you clean them. And always remember, inside out, inside out. Don't buy these machines that you put the drops of liquid on, because you go too long, you run out of liquid and you'll damage them. So clean them by hand. If you want to resurface them, we do it. There's a lot of game places, like GameStop that does resurfacing. Take it to them, and they can actually, what they do is, they actually sand it down like a fine piece of furniture. It makes it a little bit thinner, but at least it cuts down past all your scratches, and even if you have gouges and stuff. Now if you have a disk that you took out of the case improperly, you didn't push the button that says "push here" and you cracked the inside of it, you want to get some clear fingernail polish and put it into that crack and let it sit in that, and that will keep it from going farther, because once it gets into the silvery part, the shiny part, pretty much your chances are, you've lost the disk. Once you do get it on a digital format there's a lot of good programs out there. Adobe Premiere has good editing software. If you want to go into real finite audio editing, I recommend a program called Pro Tools, which is amazing!
Tom: You can make somebody that sounds bad, sound good.
Fisher: Right. And everybody in the radio industry uses Pro Tools, all the time.
Tom: Oh exactly. Yeah, so for audio stuff, that's great. One thing you run into a lot of times when you're playing with audio and video is, they get out of sync. So be really careful that whatever processing you do on your video, you also do it on your audio and vice versa, so the timestamp stays in there good. So somebody that say something and then their lips move. And also, you know, if Pro Tools is too big for you, there's a lot of shareware programs out there you can go onto. If you're a PC or Mac, just go to the shareware programs. Type in "audio editing" "video editing" "software" "shareware" and there's a ton of really, really good programs. Just be real careful before you download anything, go and do a little bit of research. You want to make sure you're not downloading some program that has got a Trojan horse or something in that's going to mess up your computer.
Fisher: Ooh! All right, great answer to a great question. Thank you, Gary. And of course, if you have a question for Tom, you can email him at [email protected], and you might very well hear your question answered on the air. Thanks, Tom.
Tom: See you next week.
Fisher: And that wraps it up for this week. Thanks once again to Janet Horvorka from FamilyChartMasters.com, talking about how to deal with the skeletons in your family history closet when you're dealing with writing that history and sharing it, especially with kids. You can of course catch the podcast of this week's show later this week on ExtremeGenes.com, on iTunes and iHeart Radio. We'll catch you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!