Episode 58 - Did Your Ancestor Ride On The Orphan Train?

podcast episode Sep 22, 2014

Fisher's "Family Histoire" news this week covers two people who have had a struggle with their family history discoveries.  The first is Barbara Haney from North Pole, Alaska (honest!).  As an American she found out her ancestors were on the wrong side of things in the War of 1812.  Find out why she struggled with this find and how she came to terms with it.  The second is a man who calls himself "George Doe."  George took a DNA test, and like many of us, expected wonderful and interesting things to happen.  The interesting things did happen... but they weren't wonderful.  Read his warning about DNA tests and find out what happened to his family as a result of his results!
In segments two and three, husband and wive team Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster tell us about the remarkable child relocation program called "The Orphan Train," which ran out of New York City all over the country for 75 years.  One in six Americans descend from a rider on these trains.  Whether or not you are one of them, you will find this story amazing.
Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com returns to talk about various disk types and what you must know to have the best chance of preserving your finds and one-of-a-kind photos for the long haul.

That's this week on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio!

Transcript of Episode 58

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 58

Fisher: Hello Genies and welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, America’s Family History Show where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out! My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth, and very excited about the show we have for you this week. If you are among the one in sixty Americans who had an orphaned ancestor who became a rider on the Orphan Train, you’re going to learn a ton about that entire chapter in American History that lasted from a few years before the Civil War to just a few months before the Great Depression. My guests this week, Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster, they traveled the country to tell the story of the Orphan Train riders in both word and song. Only a handful of riders are still living of course and are very old. We’ll talk about them, how it all started in New York City, what the experience was typically like for the kids and what finally ended the institution. Even if you didn’t have an ancestor that was part of this amazing child relocation program you will find it fascinating. We’ll begin with Alison in about 10 minutes. And of course, Tom Perry our Preservation Authority has some great advice on preserving your records, later in the show. This week in American history Benedict Arnold became, well Benedict Arnold. Back in September of 1780 Arnold met with British Major John Andre for discussion on handing over West Point to the Red Coats, what made him become the most famous traitor since Brutus or Judas; well the debts rung up by his wife’s lavish lifestyle apparently, as well as the fact that he was passed over for promotion in favor of men of lesser rank five times! Had Arnold’s plots succeeded, there might not be a DAR or SAR and we might still be singing “Hail to the Queen or King.” But he didn’t, and so we don’t. Our ExtremeGenes.com poll for the past week asked, “What is the highest number of husbands a single woman had in your history?”  Twenty five percent of the voters said four was the most husbands any woman had in their family history. Sixteen percent said two, five and three. We even had votes for seven husbands and eight husbands. That seems to have been the limit. This week we ask the question, “Are there any infamous people, much like Benedict Arnold, in your family history?” I had a great aunt that supposedly dated Butch Cassidy. Unfortunately, he always seemed to be out of town on business and the relationship never took, so he’s not in my lines. But you can cast your vote now at ExtremeGenes.com. If you have a family story you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you, and maybe even have you on the show. You can email me at [email protected], drop us a note at our Extreme Genes Facebook page, and by the way, be sure to give us a Like and join our growing Extreme Genes community, or you can call our Extreme Genes Find Line at 1-234-56-GENES, that’s 1-234-56-G-E-N-E-S.

It is time once again for our family histoire news from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. We begin with a story of an American Woman who has had to come to terms with having British ancestors who fought on behalf of Canada against Americans in the war of 1812. The Welland Tribune newspaper of Canada has a wonderful article about Barbara Haney of Alaska, from the town of North Pole (honest!) [Laughs] Barbara learned that her third great grandfather and his two brothers participated in a British victory over the United States in a battle that helped give shape to Canada. Barbara said it was a difficult thing for her to embrace theses family members as they fought against her native land. But as she came to understand they were just farmers stuck in the middle of the conflict, she empathized with their point of view. Barbara’s father was Canadian, having been raised on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls in Ontario, and as a school boy he’d been told that his family had played a role in the war of 1812. That information was shared with Barbara who picked up the family history bug in the nineties. Her research took her to the family of Isaac Haney who had six sons including her ancestor Leonard, her third great grandfather. Leonard was one of the three oldest boys who all enlisted to fight for Canada. Leonard was just sixteen and served with brother James as a Private. The oldest brother Matthew was a Sergeant. As Barbara understands it, they really had no choice but to fight because they lived right in the middle of the war zone, and likely would have perished. For the Haneys it was a matter of defense. Barbara’s come to believe that all three participated in the war’s most intense battles. All three also survived the conflict and lived out full lives. Leonard Haney was the first Postmaster of Fenwick and assisted in establishing the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada. A younger brother was apparently inspired by the three who went on to have a notable military career of his own. Canada’s Graveside Recognition Project was established to honor their 1812 Veterans over the bicentennial period. Barbara applied on behalf of the Haney brothers and received approval for all three, meaning plaques had been scheduled to be unveiled at the graves of the brothers in the area of Fenwick, Ontario this weekend. Vox.com has an interesting take on family history DNA testing written by George Doe, an anonymous name for an American biologist who decided to give the gift of a family DNA test to his family. As part of the class he was teaching on the genome, Dr Doe did what many of us have done; spit into a cup and sent it off to a DNA company for analysis of ethnic background and potential matches with other contributors. He sent his parents a kit as well as a gift. Aside from learning he did not have a predisposition to cancer Dr Doe also learned he had a half brother named Thomas, tied to his father’s side. His father was apparently unaware that he had another son out there. Thomas had been seeking his birth family for years. Dr Doe’s initial reaction was, “How cool is this!” but, as it turned out, not so cool at all. As a result of the discovery all kinds of negative emotions were magnified. Dr Doe’s parents divorced. The other children haven’t spoken to their father since. His gift had destroyed the family. His point is that family history DNA test can actually be viewed as advanced paternity test. His conclusion is that opting in for finding close relatives should be filled with warnings because after all who can anticipate all the possible consequences of the results, including people finding that their parents aren’t their parents, that they have previously unknown siblings or children out there, and that not everyone might react to such news the way you think they might. Definitely food for thought. Read both of these stories now linked at ExtremeGenes.com. And coming up next, we begin our conversation with Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster who toured the country speaking and singing about the Riders on the Orphan Train. Whether you’re among the one in sixty Americans who descend from these orphan children or have never heard of the institution, you’ll find the story incredible. We’ll start with Alison in about five minutes on Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 58

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Alison Moore

Fisher: Hey you have found us, Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, very excited to have on the show Humanity Speakers Phil Lancaster and Alison Moore. They are going around the country and spreading the word about the riders on the Orphan Train, and Alison great to have you on the show.

Alison: It’s great to be here.

Fisher: This is a fascinating thing. We ran into each other of course at the FGS conference in San Antonio and I learned a little about what you talk about, and you travel the country yourself. You’re almost like train riders yourselves.

Alison: We’re on a Whistle Stop tour in Minnesota as we speak.

Fisher: Is that right? Well, tell us about the Orphan Train. What the era was, what it did, I think it’s a fascinating story.

Alison: It is still not in history books and that’s one of the reasons why we do what we do. It’s not taught in schools. In the mid 1800s there was an enormous problem of overcrowding in New York partly due to all of the immigration coming in and you can trace that back to the Irish potato famine.

Fisher: Right.

Alison: But there were other factors, and just overcrowding and disease and terrible living conditions and the lack of extended families in America from these people coming over so that when one parent died, either women in childbirth died all the time, men died on the job, there was no extended families to take these children in. So there was an estimated thirty thousand children fending for themselves on the streets of New York in the mid 1800s. And the public institutions at the time, juvenile asylums and so forth were just bursting at the seams.

Fisher: And so they made a decision to put these kids on trains and off they would go. And how would this work?

Alison: Well, the decision actually came about from a minister Charles Loring Brace who was a Methodist minister just come to New York from seminary, saw these conditions and knew that this was going to be his life’s work. He formed the Children’s Aid Society, which is basically you could say, a non profit, non denominational organization.

Fisher: What year are we talking about here Alison?

Alison: 1853.

Fisher: Okay.

Alison: That is when he started the Children’s Aid Society. And because he was a friend of Charles Darwin and Emerson, he had this very radical thinking at the time that environment might play a big part in the formation of character of a child, and so he believed strongly that if these children were removed from this terrible situation in New York and from public institutions and placed out, that’s what he called it, into rural areas and the farm lands, that they might have a chance to better themselves.

Fisher: And so you had these tens of thousands of kids, at what point did they decide we’re going to put them on trains and with really no destination initially. Am I interpreting that right?

Alison: They didn’t have specific places. They were getting reduced passage from the railroad companies who were only too happy to comply. They were trying to develop new towns out in the mid west certainly, and 1854 was in October was the very first train that went out to Dowagiac Michigan with forty four children on board.

Fisher: When they got to Michigan, what happened?

Alison: They took them in that case to a church and lined them up and people came and chose which ones they wanted. Now they would have been hand bills posted in that town probably two weeks prior and there might have been a notice in the newspaper, you know, “Friendless children will arrive. Please come and see them.”

Fisher: Wow. And so what happens though to the kids who were not picked?    

Alison: They were put back on the train and went down to the next stop, and the next, and the next until they were all taken. If there were some left at the end of that particular train line, they would go back to New York and be placed in an orphanage, and possibly go out again at a different time.

Fisher: Now what were some of the reasons that people would reject a child all the way down the line?

Alison: Some people were only coming to get the children to work on the farms or help in the household. So certainly they were looking at boys to be strong, to look like they could handle plough perhaps, and so I would say that the children who looked in any way weak or sick certainly would not be chosen. So they were really trying to put children on the train that they felt would have the best chance.

Fisher: What an unbelievable thing. Now what about the girls? What were they looking for in the girls?

Alison: Well they didn’t take girls over twelve years old for two reasons. They thought maybe they would already be streetwise if they were older, but they also certainly were aware of the potential for abuse, and so they tried to limit the girls to a younger age. The boys they would take up to about age sixteen or seventeen.

Fisher: And so this started, then the first train was in October of 1854 and how long did these orphan trains run?

Alison: The Children’s Aid Society sent out trains for seventy six years.

Fisher: Whoa!

Alison: And their last went to Sulphur Springs, Texas in 1929.

Fisher: What brought the end to this whole thing?

Alison: The demise of what we call the placing out system which now we call the orphans trains, had to deal with legislation that was being passed in Washington for the first time, aid to families with dependent children act that gave federal funds to help keep families and their children together. But there were also laws being passed forbidding the transportation of minors across stateliness. But I also need to make sure I mention here that there was another organization that was very involved in this, but they started a little bit late than the Children’s Aid Society. In 1869, the sisters of charity from the New York family hospital that were taking in large numbers of babies and wanting to send them to Catholic families specifically, started their system that they called “The Mercy Trains” or “The Baby Trains” and these children were sent to specific places to specific people through the agents of priests and towns across the country who would find people in their congregations, their parishes, who would apply for a child and this was known as an indenture system.

Fisher: Okay.

Alison: Meaning that the children were bound to them and they to them although, in both organizations adoption was not the norm.

Fisher: Hmm. We’re talking to Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster. They’re the Humanity Scholars on riders on the Orphan Train, which is an amazing story as you’ve been hearing. Started in 1854 went to 1929. How many kids over all those years Alison did you say?

Alison: A conservative estimate is two hundred and fifty thousand.

Fisher: Whoa! So there are potentially millions of descendents of these kids who rode on the Orphan Trains.

Alison: They estimate five million descendents.

Fisher: Five million. So that would be one out of every sixty Americans? 

Alison: Well, you’re a better mathematician than I am. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] That would be about right. That’s amazing. Now the question always comes up because this show is about family history, how do people find their Orphan Train riders?

Alison: There are people who have come forward with Orphan Train stories realizing that that’s the way they came. Remember that these children, if they were old enough to remember anything, knew that they were on a train with a few other kinds and that they found a home. Many were too young to remember. Many were never told. But that’s the way that they were taken into a family. So it’s organizations that are holding reunions still although there are very few Orphan Train riders left today, that are creating the awareness among these people that they were part of the largest child migration in history.

Fisher: That’s right. You got to look at it that way. How many Orphan Train riders are still living do you think?

Alison: Five in Minnesota, two in Texas, One in Arizona, one in Louisiana, and there certainly could be others. But I want to go back to your question about how people find out. They could start with the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center in Concordia Kansas. We are their official outreach program and people can start with them. But anybody who knows they are within two generations of an Orphan Train rider can write to either the Children’s Aid Society or the New York Family and Hospital, prove that they are who they are, that this is the story that they have heard in their family and that organization in New York will either approve or disapprove and lead you further down a line to get records. But the New York Historical Society now has those records and it’s gotten easier to get a hold of them. But you have to be within direct descendent line to get access to them.

Fisher: Now, does that include kinds who were born way back in the 1800s as well? Their records are still sealed too?

Alison: Yes.

Fisher: Wow! That is a strange law isn’t it?

Alison: Yep, yep, New York is very, very strange.

Fisher: Are they working on changing that as well?

Alison: Well, there were people at the FGS conference who were all worked up about it. We taught a class with descendents about doing the searching and there was quite a strong feeling among them that this needs to be lobbied.

Fisher: All right. Well we’re talking to Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster the Riders on the Orphan Train humanity scholars. And Alison, we’ll talk to Phil I guess coming up next and find out some specific stories about some of these individuals and what happened to them and maybe some of the ones that you’ve met who are still living and obviously quite old.

Alison: Yes.

Fisher: When we return in 5 minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 58

Host: Scott Fisher with guests Phil Lancaster

Fisher: We’re are back, Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, and on the line with me right now is Phil Lancaster. We've been talking to Phil and his wife Alison about riders on the Orphan Train. And, good to meet you Phil. Good to have you along!

Phil: Thank you very much for having us be a part of your show!

Fisher: Boy, we've been hearing all about this amazing thing that so many Americans have been affected by, and maybe in many cases, don't even realize it. I thought it'd be kind of fun to hear about some of the specific stories of individuals who rode this train, and some of them who are still living today, but quite aged. Fill us in on what you know.

Phil: First off, we have probably in Texas, in Conroe, Texas, the oldest living Orphan Train rider that we know of, her name is Mary Marris. And she came out Mary Dolan. And she was eighteen months old when she came to Rosenberg, Texas. She still has the little dress and the coat and the knitted mittens that she wore. And she's 105.

Fisher: Wow!

Phil: And in this past spring, we met. Alison had a conference to do in a little town in Worthing, Texas, and a ninety three year old woman showed up who is Beatrice Flanagan Fojtik. And so, she showed up and so we now know that we have two in Texas. We're very well acquainted with Alice Bernard, in Louisiana, ninety eight years old, living in Lafayette. And then we know of Vicky Moe, who was in Minnesota, and is now out in Sun City, Arizona, she's 102. So those are the folks that we know mostly of that we've had contact with, and I know that there are others out there. Alison and I used to say seventeen years ago when we started our program that this is an eleventh hour situation for these folks, and now we have to say it’s more like five minutes till midnight.

Fisher: Yes, yes. Now I would assume you're out and gathering oral histories of their situation. Describe for us what they say to you the trip was like of those who can even remember it.

Phil: Well, that's the problem. Most of the folks that we know now were too young to remember those stories coming out, that's why Alison and I, seventeen years ago, were lucky enough to meet a lot of Orphan Train riders so that we were able to get their stories. We've had several different situations where we had for example, two cousins they called themselves orphan train riders. They came to Wellington, Texas. They came to our program when we did our riders on the Orphan Train there. And what they told us, what one of the Swedish stories we think we heard, which was their uncle had come into town just simply to get provisions as usual in Wellington, and saw all of this commotion over at the train station and went over there and found out what was going on over here with these children that had just come from New York and they were looking for homes, so he thought to himself, "Well, we're doing very well right now. I could take a little boy home." So he goes and he gets a little boy by the hand and starts to walk away with him, when he turns around and sees that that little boy is holding onto another little boy, his brother.

Fisher: Oh!

Phil: And he was not about to let go of him. So he ends up taking both boys, and on his way home, he's thinking, "Well, what am I going to tell my wife?"

Fisher: [Laughs] Wait a minute! Wait a minute! This just occurs to him as he's on his way home?

Phil: Yes, apparently that's the story we were told.

Fisher: [Laughs] We guys are always that way, you notice that? A little slow on the uptake.

Phil: Right. Spontaneous, and that was a great idea, now what are we going to do?

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: So it was around Christmas time. And he also already had two daughters. That was the reason why I think he took the little boys. So what he did when he got home was, he covered the boys up in, I think was a Model A that he had. And so, he covered them up with a blanket and sent his little girls to go out and undo the truck. And of course, now when they lifted up the blanket, here are these two little boys and they thought that was the best Christmas present they could ever have!

Fisher: Isn't that something! And how did that work out for those boys, happy family?

Phil: To the best of our knowledge, it worked really well. One of them is still alive in Pueblo, Colorado. We have yet to be able to get in touch with him. And we're looking into that, because we do go through Colorado quite a bit. So, you know, to the best of our knowledge, that story worked out well. And I would have to say it, I'm not trying to make a prediction here, so many of the stories that we have actually come in contact with has all been very good. We had come across certain stories where things didn't work out so well, and one of them was a lady that we met in the very early years, and she just never would talk about, outside of the fact that she was abused, and she was in Oklahoma. So, these things did happen.

Fisher: Of course, the folks that when you were meeting them at the very beginning were probably in their seventies and eighties at the point.

Phil: Exactly! And some of them are already in their nineties, some of them are already, I believe Lee Nailing was already eighty one or eighty two years. Lee was one of the people in the previous documentary that saw when we first got inspired by this story, and we were lucky enough to get to go and meet Lee down in Atlanta, Texas, just outside of Texarkana, where I grew up. So we were very, very fortunate to meet some of these people, Alice Ayler, the one that I just mentioned, was also in that PBS documentary, and we got to meet her and her son. And so, we've been very fortunate to have got to speak with these people and tell their stories. Lee actually has a book that was written about him and it was for adolescents. It’s called "Orphan Train Rider, one boy's true story." So that story is much available, but yet, at the same time, we use his story in our program to kind of give a picture of what one of these situations was like.

Fisher: And of course, I would imagine it changed, of course, over many, many decades, I mean, we're talking the 1850s to the 1920s. So you're catching the very tail end of the whole thing right now. We're talking to Phil Lancaster, he and his wife, Alison Moore, are humanity scholars on riders on the Orphan Train, and they travel the country. Do you ever take a train, by the way, Phil?

Phil: We have not.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: We've always thought that’s the greatest idea we could. We are actually going to submit this idea to the Smithsonian. They used to have what's called an art train that they send out. And I think it would be wonderful to give a travelling exhibit where they're able to go and send out a train that has a permanent exhibit in it, and each town can definitely solicit that, and we would definitely love to be a part of that.

Fisher: Now is there much oral tradition that has survived from the earlier children in this or letters that they have written or diary entries that you access to?

Phil: No. Access is probably the most difficult. Now it has turned into an oral history project where we are getting the stories that were passed down to descendants. And then on top of that, we're getting the stories of descendants who have gone back and are doing the genealogy research, like the two women we had with our program, Elaine Smith and Ilene Rowland, who went back to New York to research their grandfather's story. We're getting that part of what's happening now. So many of these children were left in baskets at the foundling hospital and/or the Children's Aid Society, it’s just, the stories that we have found, Arthur Smith, is one of the gentleman we met years ago who was actually left in a basket at Gimbels Department Store, and then turned over. So these people don't have any paper trails whatsoever.

Fisher: Right.

Phil: So from what we were finding out at the convention in San Antonio, the FGS convention is, there could be an option for these people to find descendants that would be willing to do their DNA testing, and maybe jump the gap, which would mean, finding relations that preceded probably this time period, and then maybe work their way forward. So, we don't know how this is all going to come about. We're suggesting that there be an Orphan Train at DNA database now, and we'll see how that goes.

Fisher: And where can people get in touch with you or find out more about this online?

Phil: They can simply go to www.RidersOnTheOrphanTrain.org. That is our website. There is www.OrphanTrainDepot.org.

Fisher: What a great adventure you and Alison are on. And thank you so much for time, Phil, and sharing all this information with us on the riders on the Orphan Train.

Phil: Thank you very much, Scott. We really appreciate you getting in touch with us.

Segment 4 Episode 58

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And, welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry. He is our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com fresh off the train. Hi, Tom good to see you again.

Tom: Good to be here. Glad I made that last train.

Fisher: Yes! [Laughs] We might sound like we’re stuttering a little bit today because we’re talking about the discs and the dyes.  

Tom: Right, discs have dye and discs do dye.

Fisher: Yes they do, and there’s a lot of things we have to worry about when it comes to preserving video and audio and the digital data as we’ve been learning so much these last few weeks. These things have a very short shelf life generally speaking, except you talked about Taiyo Yuden discs as being significantly different and better than anything else.

Tom: Absolutely. We’ve been using those since they came out, I guess about 20 years ago. I have never even had one come back which is a miracle because no matter how good something is whether it’s a Maserati or Ferrari there’s going to be lemons! But, fortunately we’ve not had one come back because we always have a warning on all of our discs that we guarantee that if it ever fail, bring your stuff back, we’ll retransfer it for you and there’ll be no charge. That’s another reason why you still want to keep your original stuff. Just because you have an old video tape you put onto a DVD or some old film or slide you put onto a DVD or CDs, don’t throw them away especially stuff like slides and photos, because there is always going to be better technology, you’ll be able to do a better resolution that will make the things look better, plus if something happens to your disc and you didn’t back it up like we tell you to do constantly on the show, you’ve still got your master to go back to and make a new one.

Fisher: That’s right. I mean nothing kills me more than I hear somebody transferred something and threw away the original and then the disc dies.

Tom: Exactly, and we’ve had that happen even in our stores. Somebody transferred something, the disc didn’t fail on its own that took little two year old Jimmy to gnaw through the disc and damage the disc or get the disc and break in half.

Fisher: Ooh.

Tom: So, even if you have the Ten Commandments on stone, if you break those apart, they’re broken. They’re going to be a lot harder to read. So, always back stuff up. Don’t think I’ve got it here and nothing’s going to happen to it. We have people with Game Discs, with family photos they’ve transferred that you know little Jimmy chewed on the disc and actually damaged the disc, or we have people that had a disc and they wrote on with a ballpoint pen with so much pressure that they damaged the foil layer of the disc and it’s unreadable.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: So the disc didn’t fail on its own. There’s nothing wrong with the disc. It’s somebody that did some kind of brute force to the disc and ruined it. So you want to be really, really careful with that. I recommend that people who have the mini vans that have little TVs in them, and they have a lot of DVDs, you can buy these shells just like you buy for your iPhone that protects them. They call it bullet shells. They make them for discs. Put them on the label side of the disc. So, if they’re loose in your cars, or your kids are feeding on them, if they get scratched, we can repair the disc and it can still work. But if the top side, the label side get scratched, and it gets into the foil label, like writing on a hollow with a ballpoint pen...

Fisher: It would go right through it.

Tom: It would go right through. It would damage the disc, and you can hold up the disc from the back side and you could actually read backwards what the guy wrote on it and that’s why the disc wouldn’t work anymore. He did this on every single one of his copies, so he had to bring his tape back in and we had to retransfer his tape, and give him a new master because he destroyed his master and all of his duplicates by writing on it with a ballpoint pen.

Fisher: All right, so we’ve got CDs and we’ve got DVDs.

Tom: And BluRay.

Fisher: And BluRay.

Tom: And soon to come, Quartz.

Fisher: Okay. And so among them, which would you recommend?

Tom: It depends on what you’re doing. If you’re doing really small files, CDs are great ways to go because then it’s basically a data disc. And the thing with a CD, instead of smaller, there’s actually less things to go wrong with it. I see a lot less CDs fail than DVDs because they don’t as high grade of a dye in them and they work really well. When you get into video, you start getting into large size files. There’s more stuff that’s crammed into that little disc, and so there’s more chances that something can go wrong with it. So you want to be really, really careful and always back them up with lot of stuff. For instance, a CD is 700MB and a DVD is 4.5GB and then after the break we’ll get into some information about the BluRay disc and Quartz disc.

Fisher: All right, that’s coming up in 3 minutes when we return with Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 58

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back, final segment, Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, America's Family History Show. Fisher here with Tom Perry, he is our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. And if you have a question for Tom, email him at [email protected], and you might hear your question answered on the show. So we've been talking about the d-d-d-d-d’s today.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: The d-d-d-d-disks and the d-d-d-dyes.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: And we were covering some of the four different things. We've got CDs, DVDs, BluRays and quartz. How am I doing?

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Okay. And you've covered a couple of them. Pick it up.

Tom: Okay. As we mentioned, size matters. CDs are usually 700 megabytes, DVDs are usually 4.5 gigabytes. And a little helper to you guys that do your own DVD burning, now remember, even though its 4.5 gigabytes, you'll never get a full 4.5 gigabytes of information on it, because the disk needs information to say, "Okay, this is what I'm going to do. He's starting a new thing here. I'm at the end of the DVD, now what am I supposed to do?" So there's information that has to be written on the disk in order finalize it, to make it usable to play on other people's machines. So you're only going to have maybe, say, 4.25 gigabytes, but then also you want to be careful too is, if you're using a lot of titles, even though the titles don't play on the TV, they're more like when you put them in a computer, so you can read different addresses.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: That takes up room on the disk as well. So if you have some home movies that you did and you put each one in its own, like five or ten minutes segment, every five or ten minutes you have another title that only shows up on the DVD when its injected into the computer or your DVD player, that's taking up room, so you could end up with only three and a half gigabytes of storage on you DVD.

Fisher: So how do you decide how much you can fit on one of these?

Tom: What I usually do is, I usually say, don't go over an hour and a half if you're doing your own DVDs. If you're going to a professional studio, usually they can go to two hours, because they have a little bit more flexibility of how to make files smaller, but yet they still look good. But if you're working at home and you're going to be doing a lot of editing in Final Cut Pro or any of those kinds of programs, I say, try to limit yourself to about an hour and a half. If you see you're about an hour and forty, an hour and forty five, you're okay. But if you're right there at about an hour and a half and you think, "This is a good place to start a new DVD, do it! Go ahead and start a new DVD, than trying to cram a whole, another forty minutes in there where you're going to end up having all kinds of problems, it’s not going to fit, you're not going to be able get it finalized and it won't work. And another thing I suggest which we don't even talk about on this show is, don't use dual layer DVDs. There’s too many problems with them. We have more customers.

Fisher: What are they first of all, Tom?

Tom: What it’s called, it’s a dual layer DVD. Basically what you’re doing with a dual layer disk is treating it at a right angle so it’s starting at the center of the ring and reading out on like a right angle, then it stops, reverses the laser to go more on a left angle and reads it all the way back towards the middle. And so you have two things that are being laid down, they’re twice the size, a lot of duplicators won’t even duplicate them, a lot of computers won’t even read them. So stay away from dual layered DVDs. We had a big contract with Microsoft several years ago. We were proofing a whole bunch of new game disks that were coming out and they wanted to release these at a big party they were having but they weren’t ready to replicate them yet, which is when you physically stamp out the disks. So they asked us to do a whole bunch of duplicating. It’s a game disk so it’s huge, so we had to use dual layer disk and we had probably twenty percent failure rate in the disks. So that was a lot of disks going into the garbage, a lot of time loss, and some machines just won’t play dial layer disks. So I really recommend, stay away from dial layer disks. They cost more to duplicate, they cost more to replicate. It’s going to be cheaper to make two DVDs each one an hour and a half then making one dual layer disk that’s going to be three hours. So try and stay away from that. The inconvenience of having two disks outweighs the inconvenience of having that one disk that won’t play.

Fisher: Wow.

Tom: And then also remember too, we talked about this a few months ago, over in England they’ve developed a Quartz disk which is 365 terabytes!

Fisher: I can’t even get my brain around that. [Laughs]

Tom: And it’s a rock. It’s like we talked about a couple of weeks ago with Rick from the Preservation with the LDS Church, this is a Quartz rock. This is not dye. This will be around forever. This is as good as riding on a rock. So this Quartz is a rock. So once it’s engraved it will be there forever. It will be the best way to preserve it once it makes it to the market.

Fisher: All right, great stuff. Thanks so much Tom. We have run out of time. Thanks for joining us this week. Talk to you again next time around. Remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal, family!

Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes