Episode 470 - The 10,000,000 Names Project / DNA Doesn’t Lie, but it can Leave You Astray

podcast episode Aug 28, 2023

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The boys begin with conversation about Fisher’s recent three week European vacation and some of the history he saw. In Family Histoire News, a pair of Canadians have learned through DNA they were switched at birth. Hear more about their challenges with this. In England, TV host Nick Barratt (of Who Do You Think You Are? fame) has learned a horrifying family secret. In Romania… a metal detectorist has done it again! Hear what’s been found this time. In Colonial Williamsburgh, thanks to RATS (!) remarkable historic objects and papers have been found. Catch the details. And finally, a 94-year-old was on hand for a birthday… her mother’s! Mom is now 114! Dave will explain.

Then, also from NEHGS, VP of Research & Library Services, Lindsay Fulton, talks about a huge new initiative to identify the names of the some 10 million individuals who were enslaved before and after the Revolutionary War, up until 1865. See more at 10MillionNames.org.

Next, Brandt Gibson of sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists talks about the sneaky ways DNA can deceive you (even though it “never lies).

David then returns for another round of Ask Us Anything.

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


Host: Scott Fisher with guest host David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 470

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. Great to have you along genies! It's my first show back since my trip to Europe. I'm so excited to be back with you. And we've got a couple of great guests today. One of them is Lindsay Fulton. She's the Vice President of Research and Library Services for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. She's overlooking this thing called 10 Million Names. You're going to want to hear all about this one, because you're going to want to be a part of it. And then later in the show, we're going to talk to Brandt Gibson from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, talking about how DNA may not lie, but it can throw you in the wrong direction once in a while. We'll talk about that. Right now, it's time to head out to Boston where David Allen Lambert is standing by, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Hello, David.

David: Hey, Fish. How was your world tour?

Fisher: It was a world tour! I got to stay with my grandchildren, three of them who live in Germany, and my daughter and son in law. And we got to tour around places in Germany like where Hitler had his Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923. We went down to Vienna and sailed on the Danube, saw castles in Slovakia, went to a couple of ancestral sites, one in Heidelberg and another in a little village called Mussbach. And then in the last week, we hit the Normandy beaches. And that's something I had always wanted to do. We stayed at a chateau in Bayeux, France and took in all the beaches and the things there. It was just an incredible experience and would encourage anybody who has ever thought about it to go and do it. It is absolutely amazing. It sticks with you for a long time when you consider what our men and women did back in 1944. Incredible stuff!

David: Yeah, the next time I'm in England, I plan on taking the shuttle and going over to Normandy and spending a couple of days there.

Fisher: Got to do it. Absolutely. Well, what do you have for us today, David in Family Histoire news?

David: Well, you know, I'll tell you, those switched babies at birth keep on popping up and not in America this time, but in Canada. One person thought his whole life that he was Ukrainian. Technically, he was an Indian. In fact, could have lived on a Reservation and had a completely different life. Another person who grew up on an Indian Reservation thought of himself as Native American. Well, turns out he's Ukrainian. The two of them met earlier this summer and compared large families. And it's been awkward. And now they're trying to figure out and find out answers of why this happened. This could have happened in the 1800s, in the larger cities.

Fisher: Sure, all the time.

David: Sad, but I'm glad they finally know the answer now.

Fisher: And only through DNA do we find these things out today.

David: You know, a good friend of ours, Nick Barratt, he has made some amazing discoveries for people through his research for, “Who Do You Think You Are,” but you've on something about his own family that was quite shocking. Can you imagine finding in your own family tree that your grandmother's brother was a Soviet spy?

Fisher: Ohh, boy!

David: Yeah, during the 1920s and ‘30s. He was in charge of ensuring that British codes were kept safe. Instead, he sold them to the Russians. The real mystery of this story for Nick now is the actual cause of death of this great uncle. I'm not sure how it happened, but he was found with his head in a gas oven.

Fisher: So the question was, did he do it himself or was it a case of murder?

David: Its true. A spy mystery for Nick Barratt. I'm hoping that we hear more about this as it progresses in his research.

Fisher: Yeah, he's doing a lot on it. And he says it's really impacting him.

David: Well you know, you should have been over in Europe with a metal detector. I told you before, you know, I mean, if you had gone to Romania, you could have been with the grandkids and found in one place 4,868 coins dating over 500 years ago. I mean, the kids would have loved that.

Fisher: Wow! Yeah, I would have loved that. And where was this found, Romania?

David: In Romania. The coins date from the year 1500 to 1550 under the Kingdom of Hungary, under a king by the name of Vladislas II who is the King of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia,

Fisher: Do they have a value on this?

David: There's not a dollar value, because I mean, they’re bronze coins, not gold, but there were ten pounds of them, which was found in a pot. It's quite a find. I'm sure that each one of them has a great value, because any coins that are found in a hoard like that, they number them and they encapsulate them so they become like heavily in demand by collectors if the government doesn't step in to take them.

Fisher: Yes, right and there's always that.

David: Well, you know, in Colonial Williamsburg, I go there every year and I've never thought of this before, but some of the best archaeologists back in the day were rats.

Fisher: [Laughs] What?

David: This great story talks about rats in Colonial Williamsburg that were basically gathering up things like pieces of paper, buttons. How about a whole dinner fork?

Fisher: What?

David: From the 1860s, yeah that they moved into the nest. Here you have a half pound rodent dragging a fork into the walls. And they found it. They found crockery and bones, miscellaneous debris. Williamsburg was Virginia's capitol in 1699. And they found thousands of things recently while removing the floorboards in what was a former free school for African American children.

Fisher: Really? That's incredible. So the rats have been hoarding this stuff. And now they're getting it to display.

David: Yeah, exactly. There's a lot of things that you can store away but memories are the best. And happy birthday to a 114-year-old lady who lives out in Houston, Texas, Elizabeth Francis. And by the way, her 94-year-old daughter described her achievement as, quote, “Hard to believe, but a blessing.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Her granddaughter is 68, by the way.

Fisher: Yeah, but I mean, can you imagine being 94 years old and having one of your parents still living?

David: It's pretty amazing. Yeah, this lady was born when William Howard Taft was President back in 1909.

Fisher: That’s crazy! Wow!

David: May she have many more happy years ahead of her. American Ancestors is involved in 10 Million Names are very much interested in having your involvement. So go to AmericanAncestors.org and check out 10 Million Names. And if you're not a member, you can use a coupon code, “Extreme” and save $20 on a regular membership.

Fisher: All right, David, thanks so much. We will talk to you at the back end of the show for Ask Us Anything. And coming up next, we're going to talk to one of your cohorts, Lindsay Fulton, Vice President of Research and Library Services at NEHGS, talking about 10 Million Names and some of the flagship projects involved with it. It's a fascinating project you're going to want to be a part of. We'll tell you more about it, coming up next when we return in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 470

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Lindsay Fulton

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, Your Radio Roots Sleuth, and delighted to have on the show once again, Lindsay Fulton. She is the vice president of Research and Library Services for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. And Lindsay, you are in the thick of things with a brand new project everybody needs to know about.

Lindsay: Yes, I am. Thank you for having me back again. I'm excited today to talk about 10 Million Names, which is a project that we just launched, which is dedicated to finding the names of the estimated 10 million men, women, and children of African descent who were enslaved in pre-colonial and post-colonial America, so, up to 1865.

Fisher: Wow.

Lindsay: We have a chief historian her name is Dr. Kendra Field, who is kind of leading the charge.

Fisher: Okay.

Lindsay: And we're excited to bring this project to the world.

Fisher: So, tell me where the number 10 million came from, for people who might be wondering about that?

Lindsay: Yes, so 10 million is an estimate. The way that we got to that number was, we know there was approximately 400,000 people who were enslaved and then brought to what is now the United States. Then there were several generations of people who are living in the United States, we estimate that to be about 5.6 million people.

Fisher: Okay.

Lindsay: And then we know at emancipation, so in 1865 4-million people were emancipated. So those numbers when we add them up, gets us to 10 million, so it's going to be approximately 10 million people who we need to find their names.

Fisher: Wow! And this sounds like a real effort that's going to involve a lot of people, not just NEHGS. First of all, you have a board on this and some pretty powerful names are on it.

Lindsay: We do. We do. So, our advisory board is headed by Gwill York. You may have heard her name before. She's involved currently with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Richard Cellini is also a member. He is the founder of the Georgetown Memory Project. This is actually his brainchild. He is the founder of 10 Million Names as well. We have Henry Louis Gates, he has the show Finding Your Roots on PBS, as well as Paula Madison, well known for the work that she's done in communications. She was a head at NBC Universal. And then finally, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Justice Jackson is also advising us in this really important project.

Fisher: So, you've got 10 million names you want to find of those who had been enslaved and we start with 4 million right? Are those in the database yet? You're creating a database through NEHGS and American Ancestors, right?

Lindsay: Yes. So, we're creating databases just as we would create databases for really any record set.

Fisher: Sure.

Lindsay: So just like the 1870 census is created, we're creating datasets using that same kind of stuff. Sure. So, one of the first databases that we created for this project is looking at loyalists who were brought to Nova Scotia during the American Revolution. These are African Americans who pledged their loyalty to the British during the American Revolution in exchange for their freedom. So that is something that we recently created. So you can search our website, the database, looking specifically for those loyalists who arrived in Nova Scotia. So we're going to do things like that we're going to continue on making databases, specifically of people who are African American who were likely either enslaved or the descendents of people who were likely enslaved.

Fisher: Sure. Right. But you've got the 1870 census too that's loaded with formerly enslaved people, are you going to be able to extract those from the overall list pretty quickly?

Lindsay: So that's the plan. So we know that there's 4 million people who were emancipated in 1865. So as long as they're living up until 1870, they should be enumerated on that federal census.

Fisher: Right.

Lindsay: The only issue is, there's not an exact science with that, because there is no question on the 1870 census that asks, were you formerly enslaved?

Fisher: Right.

Lindsay: So really, you're only kind of guessing based on where the person was born, and then what they're indicating for their race. But we do know that there's a pretty significant population of free people of color who were living in the South and in the mid-Atlantic where slavery was still legal up until 1865. So we have to be careful with the assumptions that we make. But there's a good list that we can start with using that 1870 census.

Fisher: Sure, yeah. And that would get you a long ways down the road with this. And I would imagine, once those numbers are in, you're going to have a lot more people finding the names of their ancestors, right there.

Lindsay: Right, right.

Fisher: So you've got flagship projects here. You mentioned the loyalists who went up to Nova Scotia after the revolution, these individuals who receive their freedom, talk about some of these other flagship projects to try to pull some of these names out and add to the list.

Lindsay: Sure. So, American Ancestors is well known for our study projects. We did a whole bunch of them in the 20th century. Most notably in their most recent past is the great migration study project. So that's looking at people who came to this country between 1620 and 1640 and settled in New England, and those people were mainly coming from England. The way that that project was conceived and ultimately finished, or almost finished, is because we were looking at a specific set of people, we were putting up some parameters on the dates of when it was starting and when it was ending. And there were certain record sets that we wanted to look at.

Fisher: Sure.

Lindsay: So we were trying to replicate that with the 10 Million Names structure. So we came up with five different flagship projects, which are designed to kind of help us to look at certain record sets and make sure that we're looking at the entire United States and then thinking about all of the entire time period that we're trying to cover as well.

Fisher: Wow.

Lindsay: So the first one… it's a large task.

Fisher: It’s massive, yes.

Lindsay: Yeah, you know, we're the oldest genealogical society in the country. So we've got to live up to that name. So the first one is called Making America, that's looking at records of enslaved laborers within and beyond the plantation.

Fisher: Okay.

Lindsay: The record sets that are included in that are things like census records, plantation records, Monticello, Montpelier, and then even some state papers. We're also including Bible records in that as well.

Fisher: Sure.

Lindsay: Colleges and universities, they have records of enslaved people that were helping to build the colleges and universities. And then we have probate and land. So that's everyday people that are recording the people that were enslaved on their property.

Fisher: Okay.

Lindsay: The second flagship project is looking at military records. We're calling it On The Battlefield. It’s records of soldiers, veterans, and refugees. We're looking at black soldiers who fought in the Colonial Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and then we know that there's a large population of formerly enslaved people and their descendants who fought in the Spanish American War and the Philippine insurrection.

Fisher: Right

Lindsay: So these are records we would normally look for when we're doing military history, muster rolls, draft cards, enlistment records, pensions, bounty land, headstone inscriptions, things like that. We're also including, because we've talked about refugees, we're also including Freedmen's Bureau records in this particular flagship project as well.

Fisher: And that's huge.

Lindsay: Yes, a large collection, incredibly helpful, incredibly beneficial for us looking for the names of formerly enslaved people. The third is looking at Journeys to Liberation, which is records of mariners, migrants, and freedom seekers. These will include records from abolitionist groups such as the American Colonization Society. We're looking at court records on the federal, state, and local level. True lists, seamen registers, passenger lists, runaway ads in newspapers, also some firsthand accounts from the Underground Railroad. That's all going to be included in that.

Fisher: Wow! This is just massive.

Lindsay: All of these are very large They’re massive.

Fisher: Yes. Yes.

Lindsay: Yes, they are. The fourth is looking at community building. So that's records of black institutions. So we kind of split up Freedmen, so Freedmen's is also going to live in this particular flagship project as well.

Fisher: Okay.

Lindsay: As well as church records, historically black colleges and universities, as well as fraternities and sororities.

Fisher: Wow.

Lindsay: And then finally,

Fisher: Yes, there's more?

Lindsay: …the fifth one, there’s the fifth, is Remembering Slavery. And that is looking at narrative done by Fisk University or Virginia's Writers Project. The WPA did one as well. We also wanted to look at oral histories that are collected by just regular families. If you had a grandmother who was recalling information about her ancestors, maybe some of them were formerly enslaved. We would like to hear about that. And we'd love to have that recording, if possible.

Fisher: Well, and that kind of brings us to the big question, how do genealogists and members of the public contribute to this project because it's going to be going on, this is going to go on for a long time, I'm thinking.

Lindsay: It is, it's probably going to go on for decades. I think we're going to get to the first four to five million names fairly quickly. And then it will be a bit of a slog to get additional names going forward. But what we would like for folks to do, you know, this is work that's been going on for a very long time. We understand that we're not the first to think about this project. So what we would like for family historians to do for genealogical groups, historical societies, if information already exists, if people have already started to gather this together, we would love for you to share that information on our website. And we have a website specific for 10 Million Names. It's the number 10millionnames.org. And when you go to that website, one of the first panels that you'll see is to share your family history or to share documents. And you can go there and you can upload gedcoms, you can provide us with scans from a Bible record that we can put into our Digital Library and Archives. We're asking people, if they don't have something already created, they can fill out a form of their own family, we ask about their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, and so on. If you have genealogical notes that you'd like to upload, we would love to see those as well. And that's true. If you have African American ancestry, or if you have ancestors who may have enslaved people, we would love to see documents from both of those categories. So anything that you're willing to share, we're very excited to receive that.

Fisher: And that's a free site, right? 10millionnames.org

Lindsay: Oh, yes, all of this is free. All the databases are free, the website is free, it's all free.

Fisher: Awesome. She is Lindsay Fulton. She is the Vice President of Research and Library Services for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org excited about the project Lindsay, thanks for telling us about it.

Lindsay: Thank you so much.

Fisher: And coming up next, from sponsor Legacy Tree Genealogists, Brandt Gibson on the times that DNA can actually lie to you, or at least deceive you a little bit coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes.

Segment 3 Episode 470

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Brandt Gibson

Fisher: All right, welcome back. It's America's Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And my next guest is a DNA specialist over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, our great sponsors. It's Brant Gibson. And Brandt, it's great to have you on the show again.

Brandt: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be back.

Fisher: You know, I thought today we would talk about some of the challenges that come up when people find DNA matches, and they see the varying possible relationships that come up through DNA. And some of these things can really throw people for a loop, if they don't understand the fact that certain DNA levels can actually reflect many different types of relationships.

Brandt: Oh, exactly. And they say DNA doesn't lie. But that doesn't mean DNA tells you exactly when you know right away.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] And I'm sure you've come across this, in many instances with some of the cases you've handled where people get a little bit freaked out when they see something doesn't match what they think it should.

Brandt: Yes, yes, exactly. I had a client not too long ago, actually, who had exactly that situation where she had been told by her father growing up that he suspected that she wasn't his biological child, unfortunately. His reasoning was her siblings had all been relatively easy births. But hers was a particularly difficult labor. So his conclusion was, well, you're obviously not my kid.

Fisher: That is the strangest logic I think I've ever heard.

Brandt: Yeah, I don't think you can call it logic at that point.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Brandt: Yeah, that obviously bothered her for many years. So eventually, she decided I'm just going to take a DNA test and figure this out one way or the other.

Fisher: Okay.

Brandt: She took the DNA test. She actually got a sister of her presumed biological father, who had passed away by that point, but she got her dad's sister to test. And when she got her test results back, the aunt was in her match list, but their projected relationship was half sister.

Fisher: What?

Brandt: So, all of a sudden she's like, is my life a lie? Who am I? What's going on here?

Fisher: Right.

Brandt: So, she came to us and she said, I need you guys to sort this out for me and figure out who I am.

Fisher: Okay, but the thing is, I mean, this often comes up where they give you a list of possible relationships, particularly on Ancestry.

Brandt: Um hmm.

Fisher: And it says this is the likelihood that it's in this group of relationships or that, but I can see where if it comes up as close family or number one, or it's at the high end of the averages or something for that particular relationship, it can throw somebody off. But, you would think that since this woman, I would assume was 25-30 years older than your client she would kind of figure out that that's really not possible.

Brandt: Well, yeah, they don't really tell you exactly in super clear cut terms, hey, there's a spectrum of possible relationships. The only two relationships you can readily identify just on the shared amount of DNA alone are either parent/ child, or full siblings, everything else is open to interpretation.

Fisher: Yes, that's true, isn't it?

Brandt: And so with the DNA testing companies, I think, a little bit better way of showing it is like, here's what we think. But here's a list or a spectrum of possible relationships you can have to this person, instead of just showing the one and then you can click down to it eventually, maybe find it if you want to, if you know that's there. But if you don't know that that's there, you don't know to go looking for it. You see the list of, oh, here's your half sisters, and it’s like holy cow! What happened?

Fisher: [Laughs] I guess so. And I would imagine she was pretty relieved when she figured out Oh, 25% shared DNA is a half sister level, but it's also a full aunt level, which meant she was a full sister to her biological father. And guess what? Dad was wrong!

Brandt: Yeah, yeah. Fortunately, she had relatives on both her mom and dad's side that had also tested. And so we put them in the family tree, checked out the amount of shared DNA and everything fit for the parents that raised her to be her biological parents as well. So yeah, Dad was wrong and kind of wish that he had hung around long enough for her to say, you know, see!

Fisher: Right, well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Well, you know, it's kind of nice. We do have other things than what the companies provide us to tell us what these relationships are. And we talk about it all the time, because it's really so important. And that's Blaine Bettinger’s shared DNA project chart.

Brandt: Right when you have like third party websites, that they're not necessarily put out by the testing companies themselves, but by people who are very knowledgeable, who have a lot of experience in this field, and put together these tools to help us make sense of the data that the testing companies give us without giving us necessarily the tools themselves to interpret that stuff correctly. So yeah, absolutely, the shared cM project by Blaine Bettinger is an absolute gift in figuring these things out.

Fisher: Well and when you consider how many people he actually received the data from, you can be confident that it's really accurate. I had a couple of women who came to meet for a little help not too long ago. And they were suspicious that they were full sisters. But when I sat down with him, we figured out that one of them hadn't actually tested on the same site as the other. But when we brought up the matches to the one we did have, she said, oh, well, that's my cousin. And I said, do you know exactly who this person is and where they fit in? Oh, yes, that's the son of my uncle Bruce. And so when we looked at the compared shared centimorgans, the amount shared with the other person whose test was on the screen, it was well below the level to be a first cousin to her. So we could tell immediately that no, you're not sisters, because if you were, you're not going to be a second to third cousin to this same person.

Brandt: Yeah, just knowing that there are multiple relationships possible for just about all amounts of shared DNA can be really helpful, and taking a step back, okay so it says, you know, first cousin or something here, let's take a step back and see what else is possible before I go calling mom and dad and saying what happened with my birth or something.

Fisher: Right. Yeah, absolutely. What's another story you've had?

Brandt: Right. There's another client that came to us a while ago, where she had an unknown biological father. We started going through her results. She had some really clear matches on her mom's side, which is great, you know, helps filter that side out. Then we started looking at the matches on her paternal side, and that's where things got a little wonky. Because we put together these matches and you know, Family Tree is based on how they're related to each other. And we couldn't find a place for this client to fit. She either shared too much DNA for this relationship, or too little DNA for that relationship. Nothing really made sense. So, I’m like, okay, we're missing something here, what's going on? So, what we ended up doing was we built back the trees for these matches back to the early 1800s. And then traced them forward in time, just identifying all of the descendants that we could just to say, okay, there's got to be somewhere she fits in these guys’ trees. We found that one branch of this couple from, you know, early 1800s, southern US somewhere, one branch of his descendants married a different branch where they had like second cousins or something married each other.

Fisher: Okay.

Brandt: And so what ended up happening to this client, once we plugged that into the equation, everything made sense the amount of shared DNA and made sense, they had descendents in the right place at the right time. So, the solution ended up being the client had multiple relationships, multiple genetic relationships, to these matches, which inflated the amounts of shared DNA with some of these folks.

Fisher: Sure. It's kind of like the Ashkenazi Jewish situation and like in Kentucky, right?

Brandt: Yeah, exactly. You know, when you have small populations that intermarry, if it's a smaller case, we usually call that pedigree collapse, where you have several units in your tree multiple times.

Fisher: Sure, endogamy.

Brandt: Like French Canadians are notorious, because you have like hundreds of years of just small isolated communities where they intermarry over and over and over again.

Fisher: Right. And so that will change everything. So it's important to know that. It's also important to know to when you get to the bottom of the list of like only 3% of the chance of this or 5%, somebody has to make up some of those places as well, when you consider possible relationships, although it doesn't come up very often, right?

Brandt: Not too often, no. But you just have to be careful in your assumptions when you go into looking in your match list and trying to figure out how am I related, you know, to cousin Joe here or whatever? Just realize that the answer may not be as straightforward as you might think.

Fisher: Yeah, he is Brandt Gibson. He is a DNA specialist for our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists. Brandt great stuff, great reminders to a lot of people, don't take at face value what some of the companies tell you as far as your relationships to your DNA matches go because it may throw you for a little bit of a loop. Thanks so much, Brandt, good to talk to you again.

Brandt: Absolutely. A pleasure to see you!

Fisher:  And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns as we go through another round of Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. 

Segment 4 Episode 470

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. It is Fisher here, back with David Allen Lambert from NEHGS. And David, our first question comes from Lawrence in Stamford, Connecticut. And he says, “Guys, I am cleaning out my late great uncle's garage and I'm finding documents and pictures. He saved everything! Suggestions, please, on how to organize this and what to do with it all.”

David: Wow, it sounds like a treasure trove and a headache all rolled up in one!

Fisher: Yeah. Depends on how you view it though. I mean, to me, this would be fantastic.

David: Oh, right, exactly. I mean, I love hoarders as a genealogist, because, especially hoarders that go back beyond your own generation.

Fisher: Sure.

David: There are probably a million ways to attack this first. The first thing I always say is, keep it in context, take lots of pictures, videos before you start moving and shuffling things around, because the order in which he had it in its own right is a time capsule.

Fisher: That’s true.

David: That he left on the shelf.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And then I would take, depending on the amount of time you have, I mean, if it has to be cleaned out in a weekend, you might need a U haul van and boxes and a lot of hands getting stuff out. But if you have time to go through it during the latter part of the summer or the fall, you can go through it slowly, definitely go box by box, because you never know what you're going to find. The thing about it is, is what do you keep that is family sentimental or his personal story or even making a shadowbox of some of the better things.

Fisher: Right.

David: To say, this is from his garage, you know. A very well used wrench or maybe a company business ID that he had for work or a pair of welder's goggles, you know. Looking for those type of ephemera items. And then if stuff is kind of new, maybe you can still use it.

Fisher: Yeah, that’s true.

David: Or sell it.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Donate it. If you have a lot of different items that are sort of old, I would contact other family members. “Hey, listen, would you like Uncle Harry's collection of screwdrivers that are from the 1920s? I mean, that are wooden.” That way, you're spreading the wealth around a little bit. And then of course, there's always the stuff that, well, you can't find the context. You can donate it to a local historical society, if it has a town connection. If it's not personally connected to your past or your family's past, and sometimes you can just have a yard sale.

Fisher: Well, I would think a lot of people who have situations like this come up, wind up with lots of old magazines and newspapers. And those can be interesting and fun to look at for a while. But then comes the question, “Okay, what do I do with that now?” That's where eBay can come in. And you can make a few bucks on it, I would imagine. Clean it up. Those are really hard to throw away. I've got a box that I've carried around with me from house to house for decades. And I got to figure out what to do with some of them. Some I actually gave to a local school here just for their education, because, you know, they're not exceptionally valuable, but they are historically valuable, you know?

David: Yeah, I mean, I have a pile of old National Geographics in the garage that I probably bought at a yard sale when I was 12. They're from the ‘30s and ‘40s and ‘50s. I mean, you know, they're a little more recent.

Fisher: And it would be fun too, to go through the pages of these things, because you don't know sometimes if you won't find little notes or a letter or something stuffed in there that could be of great family interest. You know, this is the thing that's fun about it. I mean, anybody listening to this who is not a collector of family history stuff is listened to us, Dave, going, “These guys are nuts. I’d just dump the whole thing.” I just think at the end of the day, you find the things that really have some meaning you want to keep those. The things that you think are maybe of value but not have any great family connection, sell those or donate them to some historical place. And there's a lot of room in a in a dumpster for the rest, I assure you.

David: That is very true. Well, good luck! It sounds like you've got an Indiana Jones and Tylenol moment ahead of you. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, I think so too. I think so too. Great question. Thanks so much. All right, we’ve got another one coming up next when we returned for Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 470

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, here we go back at it. It's our final segment this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, David Allen Lambert over there in Boston. And this question comes from Tom in Wheeling, West Virginia. It's to moi. He says, “Fish I've been thinking about a Normandy trip for some time since you just did one. What advice would you have for people like me who would like to go? My uncle served there and was wounded in action.” Wow! Where do I start with this Dave? Because this for me was like one of those bucket list things. Had to do it, had to see it. And we spent really a week in the Normandy area, although the last couple of days were in Paris. My suggestion for preparation for this would be to start with watching some old movies. Number one, The Longest Day, which has all kinds of stars, including John Wayne, and Red Buttons. And there's a lot of great tales in there that will tie into your trip if you go to Normandy. And when you go there, by the way, you've got to go to Sainte-Mère-Église, where they actually have a dummy with a parachute hanging off the church there, just like we saw in the movie, to commemorate that. And I will tell you that these people in Normandy, they have a countdown every year to when the D Day celebration is because it is the biggest thing in their lives to this day, even if they weren't around at that time. The other movie of course, Private Ryan, a great one, even though it's fictitious. It certainly illustrates what they had to go through when they hit the beaches. Julian, I found a great book. It's from an author named Antony Beevor, B E E V O R. It’s a number one international best seller, and it's called D Day, The Battle for Normandy. And I will tell you, it's loaded with stories, amazing research. And in many ways, if you're one of those people who just wants, you know, a full research account of D Day, this covers that as well. So it's a fantastic thing. We hired a guide to take us around for an entire day. It was expensive, but entirely worth it, because he knew where things were, he drove, he picked us up at the chalet we were staying at and took us around. And it was a day I will never forget. I just got so many pictures as a result of that. And then a few days later, we had some French friends with us. They'd never been out there, they wanted to see it. So we made another trip and wound up at one of the other Omaha Beach landing sites, just up the way. And they had an amazing German bunker still there with the machine gun in place. You can go in it. There are many others that you can go in and explore. So, one thing I wish I had done before I went was to study the landing sites on Omaha Beach. Utah Beach is not quite as complicated. But of course, we had so much blood spilled at Omaha Beach. But if you can see where they came in, they had different names for the sectors. You could see how the various German defensive positions were taken out. It's really interesting to see how those bunkers played into the story before you get there. So next time I go, I've got an even better understanding of what I'm seeing, because I'm planning on going again. It was just too much to pass by. So, make sure you do those things before you go. But make sure you go. It will be with you for a long, long time, I can tell you that. I've still been thinking about it and it's been two weeks since I've been out there. It's just heavy on your mind what these guys had to go through. So, thanks for the question. And by the way, for people who have a loved one buried at the American cemetery there at Omaha Beach, they'll actually do a sand ceremony, they call it, for you if you get in touch with them ahead of time, where they use sand from the beach and rub it onto the tombstone, so that you can actually read the letters better. And it's a very touching ceremony that they will do for the family. So, look into that as well. I hope you have a great trip! David, thank you. As always, we will talk to you again next week. And it's good to be back.

David: It surely is. Good to talk to you, friend.

Fisher: All right, my friend. And thanks once again to Lindsay Fulton for talking about the 10 Million Names project over at NEHGS and Brandt Gibson from our sponsors over at Legacy Tree Genealogists, talking about those tricky curveballs that DNA can throw you now and again. If you missed any of it, catch the podcast on Apple Media, iHeart Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, we're all over the place. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice normal family!

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