Episode 51 - Your Ancestors In the American Wars BEFORE the Revolution!

podcast episode Jul 21, 2014

Fisher opens the show with an explanation of his electrolysis experiment with two family daguerreotypes.  He reveals how it went and how to do it... if you dare!  He also reveals the name and age of a man from Brazil that just might make him the oldest man on the planet... perhaps ever!

David Allen Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society joins the show to talk about the "Colonial Wars," those conflicts that happened on this continent in the 150 years before the Revolution.  He also tells you what sources are out there to help you learn whether your ancestors were involved.  There were a lot of wars! Chances are, if you have early American ancestry, your people were in the thick of things.
Joy Shiver joins us from North Carolina to talk about her amazing creation... a site called JustAJoy.com.  It's the place you can go to find original family artifacts, such as family Bibles, and letters written by your ancestors.  It's crazy cheap, but has already brought many unique pieces back to their family lines.
Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, returns to talk about audio.  How to get it right when recording your grandparents, and what not to do!  If you have a question for Tom, email him at [email protected]!

Transcript of Episode 51

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 51

Fisher: Well, I kind of feel like a mad scientist. What is it that Thomas Edison said about the light bulb before he made it happen? I haven’t failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that don’t work. Hi, it is Fisher here your congenial Roots Sleuth and this is Extreme Genes Family History Radio, America’s Family History Show where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Now, a few weeks ago you may remember we talked on the show and on our Facebook page about a Hall of 1850s era Daguerreotypes on my name line in New York that I was the recipient of. Well, several have real problem with tarnish and we talked about taking a crack at electrolysis to clear it up. Yes it’s a technique that really works but it’s also quite risky. These pictures are actually made on silver plates and I’ll tell you about what happened with this in just a couple of moments. Our guest this week include, coming up in about seven minutes, David Allen Lambert of the New England Historical Genealogical Society, who will talk to us about Colonial Wars, those conflicts that took place over a century and a half that led up to the Revolution. Many of us, maybe even you, have ancestors who fought in one or more of those wars. David will go through a list of them. There were more than you think, and tell you what records can be found on your ancestor’s involvement in these very bloody conflicts. Then later in the show, I’ll introduce you to a North Carolina lady named Joy Shiver who’s going to help you find original documents relating to your ancestors, things like letters written by your great, great grandfather, family bibles, muster rolls, you can own them. It’s a great idea. She’s turned it into a little business that will cost you very little money. I know you’re going to love her idea. And then Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority returns with ideas on getting better audio and preserving it. It’s great advice on a medium that’s often very difficult to manage. 

Okay, back to the electrolysis experiment. On the Daguerreotype photos, Ron Fox who’s a regular on the show and an antique photo expert got together with me a few days ago, and we decided to give it a shot. We collected a D-battery, a strip of silver, some alligator clips, plastic bin, along with some distilled water and ammonia. The negative clip was attached to the silver plated daguerreotype with the positive attached to the strip of silver. Then the picture was put into the solution, one to three ammonia to distilled water, as was the silver strip with the alligator clip and we didn’t let the two pieces touch, it would have damaged the photo. The first picture I tried was a pretty corroded image of my great, great uncle George Cooper Fisher. He was probably about twenty five at the time. In the early 1850s as the electricity began to work you could watch as the corrosion would bubble and was drawn to the piece of silver. The edge of the silver eventually turned black and we would periodically pull it off out clean the edge off. Whichever edge of the picture was closest to the silver strip would get the most response, so we would turn it periodically, but we also noticed it would pull the tarnish across the picture from the far edge. After a short time on each edge we also noticed that while the picture was looking pretty good it was beginning to look worse. So, we stopped and washed the image with distilled water and used a blow dryer on the back of the picture to dry it off. The corrosion that had covered George’s head and nose for who knows how long was gone. You could actually see a whole lot more of him. We could see his hair for the first time. It was amazing. I couldn’t have been more pleased. Then we tried one of the four Daguerreotypes of George’s brother Robert. This went well too until I got a little greedy. We’d figured that the rest of the tarnish from the edges would just get better and better. Wanting to protect the face in particular I’d left the top part out of the solution and only worked the bottom half, but that soon developed a dark look that just kept getting worse. Finally, I gave up with that picture noticeably worse than how it started and a whole lot worse than where it had been two minutes into the process. So we were one for two. Fortunately, I made a scan of each before I started the whole thing and it’s still possible that down the line I can take another crack at poor Uncle Robert, it might still be salvageable. The before and afters can still be seen on our website ExtremeGenes.com. If you have any thoughts on trying this to clean an old Daguerreotype photo remember, it’s not easy, it’s risky and there’s more than one way to do it.

Our Extreme Genes poll for this week had to do with your deep, dark, ancestral criminal past. With the release of so many prison records from Ancestry.com this past week, we asked if you were aware of any ancestors who spent time in The Clink. Well, I have one, and apparently so did many of you. Sixty three percent (63%) who answered said, “Yes.”  Our poll for this week asks, “How old is your oldest family heirloom; less than fifty years, fifty to a hundred, a hundred and one to a hundred and fifty or more than a hundred and fifty years old?” I’m looking forward to seeing response to this one. Vote now at ExtremGenes.com. Our Family histoire news for this week comes from Brazil. That’s where Jose Santos has been getting a lot of attention for celebrating his 126th birthday. He is said to have been born on July 7th 1888, just two months after Brazil put an end to slavery. Jose never married, has no children, walks just fine, eats four meals a day and despite smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for fifty years, yes he started in his seventies, he has no health problems. His doctor says his cholesterol’s good, his blood pressure is good and he doesn’t have diabetes. He does take vitamins. He enjoys singing though no one knows the songs because they come from a time no one on the planet remembers. He hates bathing and refuses to shower. The management at the old folks home he’s living in says they’re doing all they can to further document Jose’s age, to prove once and for all that the oldest person on the planet lives in their facility. And coming up next, David Allen Lambert of the New England Historic Genealogical Society joins us to talk about Colonial Wars. Yes, there were a bunch of them before the Revolution. What were they about and how can you find records of your ancestor’s participation in them? David tells us next in three minutes on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 51

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with my guest from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, David Allen Lambert. David welcome back to the show!

David: Very nice to be here sir.

Fisher: And you know at this time of year we think a lot about the Revolutionary War and we’ve talked and done some segments on that and we were kicking around the idea you know, there were wars before the Revolution. 

David: Oh heavens.

Fisher: [Laughs] Absolutely. I think a lot of people kind of forget that Colonial period was a good 150 years before we got to the Revolution. And we had to have some ancestors who were fighting in some of those wars, and I thought you being the man when it comes to military stuff at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, we might kick around what some of those wars were, what some of the records are, and how we can find those. So where do we start?

David: Well I mean, we’re having conflicts with the Native American population with our ancestors brushing up in their territory, as early as the James Town conflicts in the 1620s, all the conflicts back then you have the Powhatan Indians going against killing about 347 settlers, but then turning around, the English retaliated and basically did a genocide for the next ten years. So this is the kickoff, right as soon as the settlement comes in. And the same thing is true with New England. We have a Pequot War down in Connecticut in the 1630s, or the attack at the stockade fort where they basically annihilated many, many Pequot Indians. Then, forty years later you’ve got the settlers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island that are on land of the Wampanoag Indians, and Metacomet or King Philip as we’d call him, there’s that whole war in the 1670s that basically pulls in a lot of the New Englanders to defend their homes and they’ve been in countless raids and then that just picks up and goes right into the 18th century wars of the French, and obviously I think it’s an ironic twist that after the wars we had with France, they come to aid when we’re fighting Britain. [Laughs] 

Fisher: Isn’t that strange how that all works you know, today’s enemy, tomorrow’s friend. 

David: Exactly.

Fisher: You know when you look back at the big one I think that most people have not heard about but don’t realize the impact of it was the King Philip War. I mean, that wiped out huge chunks of the population of both the Natives and the settlers. And how many people were involved in that. I mean I know of at least two of my ancestors who were either killed or wounded in that particular war. And there are records of these people out there. Let’s talk about how to find some of those. Let’s go back to the very beginning and say okay, the Pequot War, where would you find records of ancestors then? That was in the 1630s right? 

David: Exactly. In the Pequot War you have the listing of all of the Connecticut soldiers that were involved in the Massachusetts. These are already in print and that’s very true in the 17th century, NEHGS and any of these 17th century or early 18th century wars. We generally have a published tomb. I mean because you’re dealing with none military records, like you’re not going to get a docket of information, like a physical description of your ancestor. You’re going to get John Smith, Marched 14 days, served with Captain Tumbles Company, Colonel Lambert’s regiment, and where they may have marched to. So what you have to do with these type of records and like a I say, at NEHGS we have them both online, as well as having – especially for the French and Indian war period, we have the published sources so people can turn to them and see oh okay, this is the source where the actual record came from. And then go back into the manuscripts may it be at the State Archives in Massachusetts or Connecticut or whatever the State might be, and find the original muster roll so they can be a 100% certain the record is exact The problem is the details are not there.

Fisher: Right, right. Now, did any of these guys ever sign these things?  

David: You usually get the quarter master who will sign off. Sometimes the mustering sergeant will off and sign the muster roll proving that these people are on the roll call. If it’s a letter say, I had a regiment of men and the expended needs of coats or shoes or whatever the case might be, I might send a letter to the head of the army or in this case, to the colony that I’m from, just saying that my men are in dire need and there’s a signature of me writing this letter. That’s usually where you get the signatures where they signed up on the actual muster roll or per say on the roll call if you will. Not many of those survive. We usually have the muster rolls after the fact so we know they served for x amount of time. And it’s almost like you compare it now to say an Excel spreadsheet, where there’s a name and there’s a column tally with how many days marched or there’s some small notes if the person died. If they lost their gun, or they lost their coat or something that was supplied to them there’s often fees against them where they’ll say, well, you’re going to be paid three pounds for your service but you lost your gun so we’re minusing whatever the cost is. 

Fisher: Ouch. [Laughs] 

David: Yeah.

Fisher: And a lot of them were kind of pressed into service for this thing to begin with, weren’t they?

David: Pretty much. Well I mean, I think in the case of the Colonial Period, they didn’t fear for their lives. I mean I’m not saying what we did to the Native population, I’m a tribalist Orion. I’m not anywhere proud of what my ancestors did against the native population, but also they were trying to protect their families too. So here they are settling in a new place and all of a sudden they’re being retaliated, their houses are being burned and what not. So you do have this whole idea of it’s either fight or perish. 

Fisher: Yes.

David: And I think that where there are thousands of people that died at the time of the King Philip’s war and it was over estimated at a hundred thousand pounds of loss for property and homes and crops and animals etc. I mean that’s the numbers that they come up with. 

Fisher: Yeah, I have seen I think Nathaniel Philbrick mentioned that in his book Mayflower that the economy of the region didn’t recover from King Philip’s War for a hundred years. 

David: Oh I would truly say that, yeah.

Fisher: And when you put that forward a hundred years, now you’re talking the Revolution. And now you’ve got another problem. 

David: And we didn’t come out on top of that for a little while. 

Fisher: No.

David: I mean the whole continent, Congress and all that, the nation was pretty much in debt starting off. That’s why they were giving land away versus big cash bonuses to offer your service.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] And mortality as far as it went with the King Philip’s war was greater than that of the Civil War. 

David: Especially if you look at the native population because we’ll never truly know how many natives perished in the swamp fights etc. because they wouldn’t talk so there were no muster rolls for them.

Fisher: Right.

David: We have the oral tradition, and of course the whole family of Massasoit’s were basically hunted down. There are families that have come forward that are of some descent through a brother Alexander and there are other families that have made claim. But it’s a hard case to prove. I heard a lot of people say they’re related to King Philip. The problem with that is that what we know of his family that were sold into slavery into Barbados. I mean, he was executed and his head stuck on a pike in Plymouth Massachusetts for a number of years and just sat there as a warning to all other people that were going to infringe upon the Plymouth colony or Mass Bay Colony for that matter.

Fisher: Well, let’s talk some more about these colonial war records. 

David: Sure, of course. Well, we have a website AmericanAncestors.org which is the website for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. And on AmericanAncestors.org under our databases, what we have done is, we have digitized records that were at the Massachusetts Archive for instance, and this has French and Indian war which we covered the 1740s to the 1760s Queen Anne’s war, King William’s war, any of the 17th century battles. And in fact, these are just searchable by names so you can put in a last name and see if you have any collateral ancestors.

Fisher: What area did this cover, David? 

David: This one in particular is under Massachusetts, but I was going to add for other states if we don’t have the book resources here at NEHGS. We also have the New England Historic and Genealogical register that has the publication of countless articles, diaries, account books, letters written from people during these wars. The diaries are an amazing collection that we have where a person might give the exact detail account of where the regiment was, where they marched off to, so we added a little bit more color than just a name and a date and a regiment. And that’s what we have to actually hope for. And what I tell people to do in their research, don’t just look at your ancestors, adopt the company that he was in, find out the stories of all of those people, did they have diaries, did they keep account books, did they get land claims. That’s the sort of thing where you can kind of understand where they all were. And if you find a record of your ancestor, don’t forget to look into the people he was serving with because they may have the details and the clues that may tell more about what your ancestor’s situation was, where they were fighting etc. 

Fisher: And you know that’s great advice for pretty much anyone as far as that goes. I know the Revolution was the same thing. I was able to trace one of the people who fought alongside one of my ancestors and I was able then to transpose my guy on top of that and said, okay, well this fellow said we signed up at this date and place, and then we were signed to do this, so I knew my guy did that. 

David: And then in the later wars you get the affidavits from people especially with the Civil War and also the Revolutionary War, that, I served with so and so at this battle, or, I know that he was injured and was in the camp hospital, you know.

Fisher: Yes.

David: So, the military records really add color and dimension to a life that may just be a name and a date on a chart. But I always, if you have somebody who was male that you think was able bodied and they fit in to the context to a particular battle, maybe the 17th century right on down to World War I, World War II, Vietnam, because you’re looking at the stories of your family, a larger sense of all the families you would be doing a one name study, try to find the military records if you can because it really doesn’t reach the sketch in the story of the person. Incidentally, in the King Philip’s War, later this year we’re going to be reprinting Reverend George Emborg’s book on the King Philip’s War. It’s a very thick, tome with every soldier involved and I am honored to have written the new Preface to it. This is a very, very valuable book that will be available very shortly from NEHGS.

Fisher: Wow, that’s exciting stuff. Well, David Allen Lambert great to have you back on the show. Thank you for some great advice on Colonial War research. You know I think a lot of people first of all just have to familiarize themselves with what those wars were, and then try to figure out who was around at what point and time and might have been a part of that. And I would think the simplest thing might be to just start with county histories, yes?  

David: Exactly. I mean, you can look at county and town histories. Town histories are great they usually have a military records chapter listing the people that served. A lot of communities around the country especially in New England, you go to these towns and they usually have a memorial plaque, those people who may have served in a county or a town history. Local historical societies as well as places like NEHGS here in Boston Massachusetts, we can help you with that research and muster up the resources for you as well, no pun intended, to help you find your ancestry and their military records. 

Fisher: He’s David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Thanks so much David!

David: My pleasure. Hope to be back on again when you need me.

Fisher: And coming up next, imagine a sight that can help you find that family bible you’ve been looking for, or a letter from your great, great grandfather, it has been developed. We’ll talk to the developer coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes Family History Radio, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 51

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Joy Shiver

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth and you know one of the things I like to discover are new ideas for helping us get together with information that we need to get closer to our ancestors, to learn more about them and I found a site like that just this past week. It’s called JustAJoy.com and we have its owner and developer Joy Shiver on the phone right now from Charlotte, North Carolina. Hi Joy, welcome to the show!

Joy: Hey, great to be here.

Fisher: It is great to have you on and I was very excited about this because I think, and forgive me if I do this wrong, and you can fix it a little bit, if I describe it in a way that people might understand. It reminds me of an eBay for family history items. I know it’s not. There are major differences, but it’s something similar to this whereas people can sign up as members on you website, and then you can try to match up surnames of various items from say, antique stores or other genealogists that people can pick up for their own family collection. Is that a good representation?

Joy: Yes you did very well. We are. We would remind you of eBay because the antique dealers post the items. The way that we are specifically different is that we have a special surname field when items are posted. So, even if your surname is something like land or green or house or one of those common words, you’re still going to get the correct search results when you search on JustAJoy and the results that you get will be specific items associated with that specific surname.

Fisher: Now, you’ve been doing this for three years I understand.

Joy: We introduced JustAJoy three years ago but we’ve actually worked on it many years before that.

Fisher: Oh I’m sure you have. You thought his through. It’s really impressive and I was seeing some of the success stories there. I’m going to let you tell one or two of those. 

Joy: Well, we’ve had some exciting ones and it seems like we regularly have ones that bring tears to your eyes. We matched the Civil War letters in California. We’ve matched many things, but one of the things that I thought was most dramatic was a lady in her sixties. We recovered a yearbook from the website, and you wouldn’t think a yearbook could be a tearjerker. But the lady had been adopted and she had a great deal of trouble learning about her genetic family. So when she got her yearbook, and I was fortunate to be in her presence when this happened, she finally looked up from it with tears in her eyes and told me it was only the second time in her life that she had seen a picture of her biological father. So that was a dramatic moment. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow! And I saw one of them there where somebody mentioned they had been a member for three days or something and then found a Civil War letter written by a great, great grandfather. I may be combining some stories here but it was just enormously impressive. 

Joy: Right and you know those are the kind of matters that we hope for. There’s thousands and thousands of things on the antique market that just change hands between collectors and dealers and it just always seem so sad that there was no efficient way for the collectors and dealers to communicate with family members that the items were available.

Fisher: Now how does this work? If I wanted to join JustAJoy.com I would sign up for $20 a year? I mean, we’re talking like just a few cents a day, six cents a day.

Joy: Yes, we want to keep the price low because we want people to stay with us. This is not like information. This is quite a bit harder. And it may take us more than a year to actually discover something that will be of great value to you and your descendents. So we want to keep the price low so you would just automatically re-up when the time comes and give us another year to get out there and keep digging.

Fisher: Right, while you come up with what, at least a hundred new items a month relating to families?

Joy: That’s right, and every item is associated with at least one surname. Some items of course may be associated with many more such as a Civil War Document from a muster roll for instance. A specific regiment may list as many as a hundred soldiers that were on duty at the time in the Civil War.

Fisher: Boy, isn’t that something. Now, you mentioned to me off air earlier that sometimes you run across revolutionary war items with the signatures of the soldiers on them?

Joy: Yes, we have quite a few members. Our members can post, let me mention that, but you don’t have to be an antique dealer, you can be a genealogist. But, we have quite a few members who specialize in Revolutionary War Pay Documents or muster rolls. We even have things that are specific to the Minute Men that were Lexington and Concorde. They were posted by a very wonderful dealer who specializes in those kinds of things and he’s well-known in the Document World for having nice things. So we were really fortunate that they took an interest in our project.

Fisher: Now what about family bibles? I see you’ve had a few of them up there. Have you had much luck in matching them with people?

Joy: We were fortunate last year to have matched three, and all of them wonderful stories. One in particular, a lady in Atlanta, posted a bible. She found it in a closet in her church. And the emails that generated every night at midnight based on the items that are posted in the past 24 hours. So an email went out to a lady who was a member in Virginia Beach and within 24 hours the bible had found its rightful place, and the lady got her bible back. It was wonderful.

Fisher: Now what year was the bible from?

Joy: That particular one was from 1810.

Fisher: Wow! We’re talking very early.

Joy: Right and you can see a couple of stories about that story on our website. NPR did a story about it and also the local Virginia Beach TV Station did a story on that bible.

Fisher: If you’re an antique dealer I’m sure there are people who deal in that, or perhaps you are just somebody who’s collected a bunch of items. For instance, not long ago I was going through an old family bible, not the one I picked up a month or so ago, but one we’ve had in our family for some time, and found in its pages there was a little notice they hand out at a funeral from 1946. Somebody had been born in 1870, somebody that had nothing to do with my family or my wife’s family and it’s like, “What do you do with something like this?” I certainly don’t want to throw it out.

Joy: Right,

Fisher: And I want to make sure that I do right by people, who have done right by me, you know, pay it forward, that kind of thing. So it’s difficult though to find, you know, who these things go to. It seems like you are the perfect person if I’m a genealogist to want to get things to other collectors.

Joy: Right. Of course genealogists have the skills to do the research and maybe track somebody down, but JustAJoy gives genealogists as well opportunity to easily communicate with other genealogists. Every time a member joins the site they let us know the surnames that they are specifically interested in. They can search the database that we can use to automatically generate alerts based on the new items that are posted each day and we thought in the beginning that there would be two types of memberships. There would be memberships for people who want to sell their items and there would be memberships for people who want to find the item. But at the very first genealogy event that we went to we learned that genealogists can’t throw things away either. The antiques dealers can. 

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s right.

Joy: And so, we made a single form of membership so that all members can post while they are trying to retrieve their own items. That’s why we call it an exchange, and it’s fun, it’s exciting even if you’re on the angel, we call it the angel side. If you’re the one that post the item, it’s as exciting when you make a match nearly as if you’ve discovered something for yourself.

Fisher: Oh, absolutely true. We’re talking to Joy Shiver from Charlotte, North Carolina. She’s the creator of JustAJoy.com where you can match antique dealers with people who are looking for memorabilia for their own families for just $20 a year, which is insane by the way Joy. So thank you for your service because that’s what this is, more than anything. And I think we need to clarify because we talked about the eBay comparison at the beginning. There’s really no bidding that goes on with this, is there?

Joy: That’s right and there are no commissions or buyers premium. Everything is done between the person who has the item and the person who wants it. We actually are just a place for people to post and we’ve created the machinery to make it possible to find the right person. But we’re different from eBay in that aspect as well. But the main thing is with the surname field we make it possible to correct results when you search.

Fisher: Well, it’s a great idea. I’m excited for you. I’m glad you’re around and I think you’re doing great work for those of us who are trying to find out more about our ancestors Joy. So thanks so much for your service.

Joy: Thanks a lot for having me!

Fisher: And coming up next, he’s our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com with information on how to get better audio when you’re interviewing your grandma or grandpa and how to preserve it. It’s on the way in three minutes on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 Episode 51

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. Welcome back, Tom.

Tom: It’s good to be here.

Fisher: And of course you can always ask Tom questions by emailing him at [email protected]. And today, we're going to talk about audio, Tom, because that is such a difficult thing to preserve. In many ways, it’s different than photographs, it’s different than words. Let's talk about that.

Tom: Yeah, that's so true, Fish, because audio is so important. There was a test group done years ago. Each of the test groups had like about 100 people in it. They went through them, interviewed them, so they could try and get both groups as similar as possible. Then they went in and they both watched a movie. The movie was exactly the same. The only difference between the two is the audio mix, the background music was different. And when they interviewed the people afterwards, the first group, their response was that they loved it, they want to come back and see it again, it was a great movie. Then the other one where they made some audio changes to it, forty percent of the people said they enjoyed the film, while the majority, sixty percent didn’t like the film and would not recommend it to anybody else.

Fisher: And it was because of the sound.

Tom: Exactly! There was no difference otherwise. It was exactly the same. And we have talked about this before, that if you're sitting there listening to grandma and grandpa talking and you're interviewing them, and the refrigerator's humming, your brain will totally make it go away, but then when you have it on tape or on disk or however you want to record it, it’s going to drive you nuts, because that's all you can hear.

Fisher: Well, it’s funny you say that, because I was giving a talk at an event where much of the audience was sitting over by an icemaker. And there was a recording going on of the whole thing, and it was just so distracting when I look back at it afterwards.

Tom: Oh, it is. It’s really, really bad. And there's so many easy things you can do to get rid of that. The first thing I suggest people do is, get a good set of headphones. You need to make sure whenever you're interviewing grandma and grandpa, you have a good set of headphones, because then you're listening to what is exactly getting recorded. So if you're sitting there going, "Oh, wait, hey, just a sec! What's that noise?" We go find out. Maybe it was the air conditioner, maybe it was a bad plug that was humming, it could have been the refrigerator, it could have been a cat.

Fisher: And you don’t notice that in a room in general, but when you have headphones on, you can pick those up.

Tom: Oh, yeah, because it emphasizes all those things, where in a normal situation, you're not going to hear them, because your brain's going to say, "Hey, focus on this." We have more people come into our store or call us on the phone and say, "I've got some problems with grandma's interview." or "I've got this thing." And you know, we always do video editing, but it’s always the audio that's the hardest to fix. A lot of times, it’s the most expensive to fix and it’s the most irritating out of all of them.

Fisher: You're absolutely right. And we deal with that in the radio industry as well. You have a bad component in there, trying to fix audio is very difficult.

Tom: Oh, it is, it is. Because anytime you're doing stuff with photographs, like you mentioned video, you can actually see it, you can freeze frame it and clean it in Photoshop or look at it and see what the problem is. With audio, you can't pause audio.

Fisher: Right, and fix it frame by frame.

Tom: I'm going to get a little bit more into how you can take care of your camcorders and your audio things, if you want to get better audio. Just remember, get a good set of headphones. No matter what you're shooting, any interview, plug your headphones in. If you don't want big muffs like most kids have, get the little kind that go in an iPod and just put them in your ears and you'll get so much better quality audio.

Fisher: All important advice. And we will continue with our talk about making great audio and interviewing your ancestors, coming up next when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 51

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back, final segment of Extreme Genes, Family History Radio for this week. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, Tom Perry over there from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. We're talking audio today, because this is such as important thing. You know, I think, to some extent, Tom, I would almost rather have a really good audio recording of my great grandparents or my grandparents even than a movie, because the sound captures their personality, you can hear their stories much more cleanly if it’s good. I'm fortunate to have a few recordings from the 1950 that are just stellar. And it makes such a difference to my family to be able to hear my father, my grandfather telling stories, in fact grandpa from back in the 1890s.

Tom: Oh, absolutely. In fact, that's one reason if you have the old reel to reel audio tapes lying around, don't discard them, don't throw them out. Send them to us or get somebody that can transfer them to CD for you, because most of those have really good fidelity to them and they're just incredible the way they sound. And even if they're starting to flake a little bit, we can do a thing that's called "shake and bake" where we can actually bake the tapes, make them usable again.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: So keep those reel to reel tapes, because they're really important. You know, and like I said earlier, audio is the most neglected aspect of family history preservation. Everybody says, "Oh, it's just audio. We can fix it in the mix." No!

Fisher: No! [Laughs] It’s really hard to do that.

Tom: Right. You, with your background in radio for so many years, you understand this.

Fisher: Yeah, it’s really tough. And I often will bring in somebody else from within the building and say, "Hey, take a look and see if you can figure it out." And inevitably, it’s like, "Ugh." You can hear the moan.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: You can hear the buzz behind it or a hum or something's not quite right. And there's nothing more discouraging than losing something that important, especially because a lot of these old folks are not really anxious to talk to you about their stories.

Tom: Exactly. And it’s tough to get that. Sometimes it’s just somebody going on at a wedding, interviewing people, and if you've got some hum that's in your camcorder or whatever, it’s going to sound bad. So a lot of times, what we have to do is, take the bad part and reduce it as much as we can, and then take the good part and bring it up as much as we can, but if they cross, they're going to cross, there's nothing you can do about it.

Fisher: So, the best advice of course, always try to make sure it’s good while you're recording it and not trying to fix it later.

Tom: Right. And the only way you're going to know that is with a good set of headphones. That's more important even, I would say even than a microphone. Get a good set of headphones so you can hear what's really going on. And like you said about the video and audio, we have people constantly with, they set grandma and grandpa up, and the audio is really, really bad, but the video is beautiful. It’s even harder to get audio edited if it has to stay with the video because of the lip sync situation.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: So we ask them, you know, "Which do you prefer? Say, if we take just the audio off and worry about just the audio and forget about the video, we have more parameters and things that we can edit to make it better. Is that okay?" And ninety percent of the time, they say, "That's fine. All I care about is the audio." Just like you just said, so you've got to be really, really careful and again, twenty times, get a good set of headphones when you're recording!

Fisher: And another thought by the way, when you do get your reel to reel tapes digitized, or your old cassette tapes, you want to make sure you don't even throw those things away, because they actually may preserve, and probably do preserve longer than some of these disks.

Tom: Oh, absolutely! And we've talked about this probably about year ago in one of our first episodes, you know, if you go into the store and you see all these CDs and some of them are ten cents apiece and some of them are fifty cents apiece, you going to think, "Oh, I'm getting the ten cent one." Well, the ten cent ones might only last three months. We have more people coming in with CDs and DVDs that have degraded because they used a poor quality dye, that's why they cost less. That's why I only use Taiyo Yuden disks. Those are the best disks out there. I've never had one come back.

Fisher: And you've got more information on that on your website at TMCPlace.com.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And of course, if you have a question for Tom, you can email him at any time, [email protected], and you just might hear your question answered on the show. Thanks for joining us, Tom. We'll see you again next week.

Tom: Sounds good.

Fisher: Thanks once again to Joy Shiver from JustAJoy.com, and David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, where we talked about, colonial wars and how you get the military records of your ancestors. Good stuff. If you missed it or you want to hear it again, catch the podcast which is out on Mondays. You can find it at iTunes and iHeart Radio and of course at ExtremeGenes.com. Take care. We'll talk to you again next week. Have a great one. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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