Episode 77 - NEHGS Genealogist Lindsay Fulton on the Ins and Outs of Joining Lineage Societies… And A Canadian-American Listener Gets Research Help From a Scottish Monk!Mar 01, 2015
Fisher opens the show with information about the Preserve the Pensions program which is seeking private funding to digitize and make available for free all War of 1812 pension files. In Family Histoire news, Fisher tells of a woman who just turned 106, and you won’t believe her diet staples! Also, blood from Winston Churchill is up for auction. Catch the whole story of where it came from. And, the Danish government and MyHeritage.com are releasing all kinds of “new” old records from Denmark.
In segment two, Lindsay Fulton, Genealogist from the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston talks about the challenges of navigating the application process of major genealogical societies like the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution and the Mayflower Society. Want to celebrate your ancestors in this way, or simply have your research validated by independent eyes? Lindsay has some great tips.
Fisher then visits with Isabella Prete, who only started her research journey in the last couple years. And she’s already begun having those experiences that only family historians have. You won’t believe how a Scottish monk stepped in to connect her with living family back in the old country!
And Tom Perry is back with more on preservation. That’s this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 77
Host: Scott Fisher
Segment 1 Episode 77
Fisher: Okay, I’m getting a little paranoid now every time I crack a mic, ever since somebody I met at the RootsTech Family History Convention in Salt Lake City told me she thought I would be much older and much heavier because I have a so called “radio voice” whatever that means. Hey Genies, good to have you back to Extreme Genes family history radio, America’s Family History Show. My name is Fisher without the C, your Radio Root Sleuth, where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. I hope you’ve had a productive week on the trail. There is a new effort underway to fund the digitizing of gazillions of war of 1812 pension records. You know it’s their 200th anniversary going on right now. The originals at the Digital Archives are being worn out from use, and deteriorating, so the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Archives , Fold3 Ancestry, they’re all raising and matching donations to make them digital and then free for all of us to use. Well, some of those records are already starting to make their way out and I learned about a third great grandfather this past week who was in that war so now I’m just waiting for the full record to find out just what his story was. It’s always exciting and interesting, and by the way you can learn about this project at “Preservethepensions.org.”
Hey, we have a couple of great guests today, as always. First up, in about seven minutes, will be Lindsay Fulton. She is a genealogist for the New England Historic and Genealogical Society in Boston. Lindsay has put together an awesome summery on 2 two-sided plastic covered pages about applying to lineage or genealogical societies, and if you’ve been with the show for a while, you know there are a bunch of them out there. I mean hundreds! But Lindsay pretty much covers the big ones, the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution, the Society of Mayflower descendents and several more. We’ll talk to her about many of the common reasons for joining and some pretty interesting rules to follow during the application process that just may save you a lot of time and pain. I wish I had seen this before I joined the two organizations that I’m now in. Then, later in the show it’s another ordinary person finding extraordinary things. We’ll talk to a woman who only started her family history journey a short time ago, and has already logged some incredible experiences you’ll want to hear about, and here’s a hint. She got help in part of her research from a Scottish monk, a living one... honest! [Laughs] And of course Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, will be back with more tips on making sure your family records are still around for your grandchildren and great grandchildren to enjoy. By the way, at RootsTech and on our Facebook page it has been so pleasing to get so many great reviews on our free podcast app.
If you’ve missed past shows, there is no easier way to find and listen to them. Just go to the store of your iPhone, or Android and type in Extreme Genes, hit download and you’re in business for nothing. You’re welcome. It is time once again for your family histoire news from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com and we start with the story of a Virginia grandmother. They call her granny Culler. Now she’s still as spunky as she was as a teen, which by the way was back in the 1920s. Yes, she’s 106 years old, still very energetic and loving life. She writes and sews and plays music. She’s a mother of six, and this is the part that gets me. She has never eaten eggs and hates vegetables. She keeps Reese’s peanut butter cups next to her bed and she drinks Pepsi every day. Maybe my soda habit isn’t quite so bad. I wonder if she says this is the 77th anniversary of her 29th birthday? [Laughs] Hey, if WWII is in your family’s history, you might be interested in owning some of Winston Churchill’s blood. Back in 1962 he fractured his hip and recovered at Middlesex Hospital in London. A nurse named Patricia Fitzgibbon took the sample and wanted to keep the vial with Churchill’s name on it. Her superiors for some reason said, “Sure!” So she kept it for the rest of her life. Now she has passed and the blood will soon be up for auction. You’ve got to wonder what this will go for. Carmen Nigro has written on the New York Public Library Blog twenty reasons why you should write your family history. Her emphasis by the way, as it should be, is on the stories. Carmen talks about it being therapeutic, the impact it will have on future generations, how your family will be solidified, how you’ll meet distant cousins. In fact, if I read it all for you, you won’t read it for yourself, so go through the whole thing at ExtremeGenes.com. And finally, if you’re into Danish research, Denmark has just opened up their largest digital archive yet with some material dating back to the 1600s. Just go to Arkiv.dk. And speaking of which, MyHeritage.com has just released the 1930 Danish census, fully digitized. That’s it. And coming up in three minutes, have you ever thought of joining a lineage society? Lindsay Fulton, a genealogist at the Historic and Genealogical Society has some great tips to make the challenge of applying a little easier. That’s next on Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 77
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Lindsay Fulton
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth and I’ve mentioned the last couple of weeks now, now that RootsTech is done you going to benefit from some of the people that I got to talk to there, experts in so many areas. And one of those people is on the phone with me right now from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Lindsay Fulton. She is a genealogist there. Hi Lindsay, welcome to the show.
Lindsay: Hi, thanks for having me.
Fisher: And, Lindsay put together one of those portable genealogist, I guess the best to describe it Linds, is to say a plastic piece that gives you the bullet points of certain concepts you need to understand. Would that be an accurate assessment?
Lindsay: Yes. And just as the title says, we wanted it to be portable, so we wanted it to be able to go with you as you’re doing your research and not having to go back and double check a requirement that may be needed. It’s just easier to be able to hold it right with you.
Fisher: Right. And I see ingeniously you put three holes in it. I wonder what those could be for. Never mind. So this particular piece was about how to join certain societies, genealogical societies. There are a whole bunch of them on here and I know for a fact there are hundreds of them out there. We actually did a quiz one day Lindsay on the show, where a couple of other guests said, all right, which ones of these are real? And which ones did I makeup?” And they didn’t get a single one right. So there’s some very funny names out there for these various genealogical societies. Have you belonged to any of them by the way?
Lindsay: I am in the midst of applying to Daughters of the American Revolution.
Fisher: Okay. And I have joined the SAR and the Mayflower society, and it is quite a process to go through these things and I think we all have different reasons for doing it. Some people do it for the social side of it, in my case I felt like I wanted independent eyes to verify and validate my research. Simple enough, right?
Lindsay: Yes. And those are the main two reasons why I found the patrons like to apply to these societies. Especially some of the harder societies to get in to, because they do go over it with a fine tooth comb. They’ll double check, triple check the work that you’ve done. They tend to be a little bit more difficult in what they consider to be proof of lineage. So a lot of times genealogists will use published resources, published genealogies, published history, things of that nature to prove their family trees. And societies like DAR, SAR, and Mayflower are very particular about what they consider to be proof. They like to have original source documentation for pretty much everything that’s included on your application.
Lindsay: So if they approve it, then you’re good to go.
Fisher: All right, so let’s go through a couple of these organisations here and what the differences are between them in what you need to do to apply. And that’s the point of your hand out here, which I think is just really helpful for people, “The Baronial Order of Magna Carta.” Is that here in America?
Lindsay: Yes it is.
Fisher: Okay. And you say here that you have to be invited to join?
Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah, well, the definition of “invitation” is lenient is some cases and not so in others.
Lindsay: In some cases an invitation is just you telling the society that you would like to belong to their society and they send you an application. That is their invitation.
Lindsay: In other cases it’s a formal invitation. You need to find someone that’s already a member in that society, and then you need to be invited by that particular member. Colonial Dames is that way.
Fisher: Wow! It sounds like college doesn’t it, fraternities, and sororities? [Laughs]
Lindsay: [Laughs] Yes. I don’t believe that the Baronial Order of Magna Carta is that specific. I think you just need to show that you have interest in that society, and then they invite you based on your interest level. They usually have you fill out what most of them call like a preliminary application, where you just outline very quickly your line of defence, so from you, your parents, your grandparents all the way to that ancestor who’s eligible, whatever that service may be.
Lindsay: In this case it would be one of the twenty five certes who signed the Magna Carta, or one of the five counsellors of King John.
Fisher: Most societies actually ask for that preliminary lineage, but to go back to the 1200s, you basically have to plug in to some of the proven lines, wouldn’t you?
Lindsay: In this case, yes. Most of those older societies you’re correct. The Baronial order is one of them. There is a society called, and I’m going to probably not get the title specifically correct, but it’s the illegitimate sons and daughters of the kings of England.
Lindsay: And it’s lovingly called “The Bastards Society.”
Lindsay: And everyone wants to belong to that society and it’s very, very difficult to get in. They are very specific on what they consider to be an accurate line. A lot of the resources, they need those to be original. They’ll only take references from two books, and one of them is the complete Peerage book.
Fisher: Right, “Burke's Peerage.”
Lindsay: Yes. The other one I’m forgetting right now, but those are the only two that they’ll take that are published.
Fisher: So you have to plug in to that. Kind of like with the Mayflower Society, they have the first five generations.
Lindsay: Right, exactly. And then after that point you’re on your own. I mean, not really old, I mean that’s probably twenty, twenty two generations that you’re going back to.
Lindsay: [Laughs] That is a difficult society to get in to.
Lindsay: But most of the older ones will allow you to use the published material that is out there.
Fisher: So what is the hardest of all the societies to actually get in to, would you say Lindsay?
Lindsay: Oh boy, Mayflower is difficult. They tend to be very specific on what they want as proof, same with the Daughters of the American Revolution. They have become, over the past twenty or thirty years or so, have become very specific about what they want for documentation.
Fisher: Going back on them because they’re so big, back in the old days, I mean in the 30s and the 40s they weren’t so particular.
Lindsay: No they were not.
Fisher: And yet still today anybody can plug in through those bad lines can they not?
Lindsay: If they’re going to plug in to a bad line, they need to reprove the entire line. So if you find for example, in one of the older lineage books the DAR lineage books, if you find a line in there that you would connect to, most of the time you’re going to need to reprove that line.
Lindsay: Because they were so lax, for lack of a better word, in the 20s and 30s with what they need for documentation. So even though the patriot has already technically been proven, you need to redo all of that research.
Fisher: Interesting. I did not know that. I would imagine that it’s the same for the SAR because they work so closely together.
Lindsay: Yes. Yeah, for the most part anything that was approved before, I believe it’s 1980-ish, is when they need to start redoing your lineage.
Fisher: All right. We’re talking to Lindsay Fulton. She’s a genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. And Lindsay did a great handout that she was making available at RootsTech, on the back of it Lindsay, you have a list of “Do’s and Don’ts.” I think they’re very good. One that really caught my eye that was interesting because I had that same experience, was, you mention in here that we need to include other spouses with these people. And I’d always wondered why they were bothering me with other spouses that weren’t in the line of descent for Mayflower Society or SAR, and you kind of explained that right here. Why don’t you tell us what that’s about?
Lindsay: So, proving a second spouse or third spouse even if they’re not in the line is important mainly to prove to the genealogist that’s reading your report, that the person you’re talking about is that same person. So for example; John Brown marries Sarah Young, and Sarah Young and John Brown are your line.
Lindsay: If Sarah dies and then John remarries a Rebecca. When he dies it may say on his death record his wife’s name is Rebecca, and then the genealogist will wonder why you’re claiming that Sarah Young is his wife.
Fisher: Right. Lindsay: So now you’re explaining that the reason there’s an additional person named on the death record, or if you were using something else, for example a land record that might name a spouse’s name, then you’d at least explained to the genealogist why that’s occurring.
Fisher: Okay. Here’s another one of your Do’s and Don’ts and I like this one, “Don’t include original records, [Laughs] or photo copies that cut off information. Now the original records thing that’s kind of obvious, you don’t want to send those off. You always want to do a photocopy. But I was a little interested when they asked me to include a photo of an entire page where my person’s entry was very tiny and they were obviously just trying to make sure that I wasn’t cheating and you know, putting in something from a different document that didn’t have to do with what we were trying to prove.
Lindsay: Right. They want to make the provenance of what you’re showing. They want to make sure that it makes sense for the entire document. So a census record for example, they want to see the whole census record. If you’re cutting out an obituary from a newspaper, they want to see the entire page of that newspaper and then you can blow up that obituary if it’s a tiny part of that so that they can see the date of the newspaper. And then it will also include the name of the newspaper and the location on the top there. So they like to have all of that information included. The same thing actually goes for tombstones. If you’re showing a picture of a tombstone which they will take as proof of death, if you’re showing that they like to see other tombstones that are in the area, because that will give them a good gage of when that tombstone was put up and also they want it to match tombstones that are in the area.
Lindsay: So then they know that all of that jives with the historical context and that most likely that was the original tombstone.
Fisher: What you’re saying is, these organisations do not allow for any cheating whatsoever.
Lindsay: No. [Laughs]
Lindsay: They frown upon that.
Fisher: Now how about DNA? Where is that coming in to play now? You’ve got a lot of organisations out there, we’ve mentioned probably the big three here, Mayflower, DAR, SAR, where are they all coming in now when it comes to DNA proof of ancestry?
Lindsay: Well, you cannot use DNA to prove ancestry on its own. There have been several cases where Mayflower and DAR have used DNA as proof included with an original source. The short answer is, you probably cannot use it. The long answer is, if you’re trying to prove a line that has been either questioned, or they’re trying to extend it a little bit further, this is more the case with Mayflower, then it’s possible that they may look at that as what would be considered I guess as secondary evidence even though it’s not really secondary evidence.
Fisher: Would this be part of a surname project then?
Lindsay: Typically, yeah. I’ve only known of one time that Mayflower has accepted DNA as proof in addition to other documents. I would rather say that they will not take it.
Fisher: Got it. [Laughs]
Lindsay: Then say that that would help you in any way. I mean it would be almost like using a published history or a published genealogy as supplemental proof of something that you’ve already proven through original source document.
Fisher: Got you. So it’s a supplemental thing, got it.
Fisher: All right. Well this portable genealogist handout is about applying to lineage societies written by Lindsay Fulton, our guest from NEHGS. She’s a genealogist there. It covers popular hereditary societies, the application process, locating vital records, your dos and don’ts. It’s only like four pages, and Lindsay, it’s very complete and you did a great job with it. Where can people get this?
Lindsay: They can get that on our website which is AmericanAncestors.org they can order it there. We have fifteen in the collection now, so you can get all of those at our website. We also sell them with a binder if you want to bind them together. That will be available again at AmericanAncestors.org.
Fisher: Okay. What are some of the titles while we’re at it?
Lindsay: “Problems in Irish Research” “The New York State Census” We also have ones that are particular to writing so genealogical numbering, editing, indexing, immigration records, and naturalization records.
Fisher: Good stuff. Great job Lindsay! Thanks so much for your time and sharing with us how to apply to lineage societies.
Lindsay: Thank you. It was great to be here.
Fisher: And by the way, Lindsay gives a free hour long webinar on lineage society applications that you can see on YouTube. Just go to YouTube and search “Lindsay Fulton Lineage.” Kind of like line age, and you’ll go right to it. And coming up next, she’s only been researching her roots for a year or so, but when she tells you about Scottish Monks helping her track down her family, you know we’ve got another great ordinary person making extraordinary finds, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 77
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Isabella Prete
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, family history radio, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And on the line with me right now is Isabella Prete. She is a good friend of mine with a very funny accent. Where are you from exactly, Isabella?
Isabella: Well, my parents are from Scotland, but I was born in Canada.
Fisher: Okay. So you've got kind of the Canadian Scottish thing going at the same time.
Isabella: Um hmm. That's what they say.
Fisher: [Laughs] And you've only been doing family history research for what, a year or so?
Isabella: Well, actually, now February it will be two, two years.
Fisher: Two? Okay. And you've had some amazing experiences, and I think this is always kind of fun because I love to talk to people who are just getting going at it, because when you first start you have experiences that you never ever envisioned would happen, and you're certainly no exception to that rule.
Isabella: Yeah. The funnest thing that I've found so far I would have to say is finding ancestors everywhere, finding great uncles in Scotland who I've become pen pals with.
Fisher: Oh, they're still around?
Isabella: They're still around, yeah, writing and getting pictures and stories of ancestors that he remembers, and again, he's 90. And so lots of good stories from him of people that we're both related to, photos that he's able to send in the mail.
Fisher: Did he even know you existed?
Isabella: No. And it was quite funny.
Fisher: Did you know he existed?
Isabella: Well, yes, through Family Search.
Fisher: Okay. So you found it out online. But you didn't know, it was within your family that "Oh, you've got some folks over there and here so you can get in touch with." And you didn't have addresses and phone numbers and names?
Fisher: So you had to discover a living guy first?
Isabella: Yes. Well, I had an uncle that I knew of in Scotland who was a monk. And I wanted to get a hold of him, and so I called the monastery where he was and he had passed. I was able to email to another monk there. And I was so sad that I had missed him. And then they email back and said "But he does have a brother who is living, and this is his address."
Fisher: Wow! And so you were able to get in touch with him, and what was his response to all your questions?
Isabella: Well, when I first wrote him, this is kind of funny. You know how funny people are sometimes. He has a couple younger nieces that he's very close to who are of course my age, a little bit older, and so they pulled up on Map Quest my address to make sure that I was who I said I was and where I lived was where I said. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] So she's looking at your house on Google Street level, yeah.
Isabella: Uh huh, from some place in Scotland. So I got a letter and he had to apologize for doing that, saying he was awfully sorry, he just wasn’t sure what to think of the letter out of nowhere, so. But since then we've written several times, and I actually met him and his nieces, and we had a little mini family reunion last summer when I was able to meet him for real.
Fisher: So you went to Scotland. Had you been there before in your life?
Isabella: Yes. I had gone with my mum and dad when I was 17.
Fisher: So this was the second trip?
Isabella: Yeah. But this was a whole lot different than being 17, going to meet people that you've met through searching out ancestors. It's very cool.
Fisher: Yeah. Now where did they take you when you went back to Scotland?
Isabella: Well, we went back, and we met at a very nice restaurant, just eating and, you know, drinking and getting to know them. But other families that I had come to know again through, you know, doing family research, Family Search, we had also hooked up with and had another, you know, mini family reunion, and they took us to Sterling Castle and to the William Wallace monument and to different kind of sightseeing places for a couple of days, it was very, very cool.
Fisher: Do you find you learn a lot more about just your Scottish heritage as a whole through your ancestors?
Isabella: Absolutely. And its people that knew. You know, people like my great uncle Peter knew my grandfather. My grandfather had actually moved out of the picture when he was very young. And so I didn't have any information really on him, on what he was like, on his strengths, on kind of funny stories. So it was fun to talk to somebody that knew somebody that was related, connected to me.
Fisher: And you didn't really know.
Fisher: And you said you didn't have any funny stories, what funny story did you get?
Isabella: Oh! Well, I thought, my grandfather apparently was a boxer, boxed a lot. And I asked my great uncle Peter and he's just a little fellow he was 5'6, maybe, and very, you know, slight built, but very quick on his steps, especially for a 90 year old fellow. And I asked him, I said "Uncle Peter," I said "Did you box as well?" And he said "Does my face look that bad, lass?"
Isabella: Which, of course, it didn't, and I was kind of horrified, I just assumed that they all boxed, but, nope, not all of them.
Fisher: A lot of great characters across the pond. [Laughs]
Isabella: [Laughs] It was quite fun.
Fisher: You know, those first genealogical trips, I mean, just reveal experiences that you never forget. And you went on to other countries too, as I recall, right?
Isabella: Yes. My husband is Italian, and so we went over and checked out the village where his great grandparents met. And it was a little town called... Hang on, it's going to come back to me, Scott, let me bounce back to it, but we rented a car and away we went. And of course, we don't speak Italian coming from Canada. We had our youngest son who, at the time, would have been 22 with us, and he spoke a little bit of broken Spanish... Trivigno. So we went off to Trivigno and you know, we got into the little town, the little village, and it was sitting high up on a hill, and it hadn't changed, I would say, in hundreds of years, the streets were very narrow, cobble stone, rocks, street, you could only drive a single car down, if you opened your car door while you were driving you'd hit houses, little houses.
Fisher: Oh boy!
Isabella: Cobble stone next to each other. But through that we were able to go into the only thing that was open in the morning when we arrived was at 10AM, a little pub. And so we were in there and we were trying to draw pictures that we were trying to find the cemetery to go find some of his ancestors, you know, see what we could find. And we were trying to draw pictures and of course, nobody could understand, and they were speaking Italian and were trying to speak our English, little bits of pieces of words.
Isabella: And our son Michael started to speak quite broken Spanish, but it was enough alike that they got the gist. But when we pulled out our driver's license and they saw our last name, we had then gone from strange foreigners to family.
Isabella: They recognized the last name. And they went and they got a fellow from next door, his name was Louie, big, big fella, young kid just built like a boxer comes downstairs, and he was actually came downstairs in his boxing shorts.
Fisher: Well, you've got a lot of boxers in your family.
Isabella: Yeah. Or boxer shorts, take your pick.
Isabella: But he came down, because it was morning, kind of half there, and saw our last name and said "One moment." Went back in and changed and came back out and ushered us into his car and he spent the day taking us to the cemetery, to the city hall where they were able to pull out a great big book that was probably 36 inches by 24 inches.
Isabella: Very old yellowed pages. And the woman methodically turned the pages, turned the pages, and she was able to find David's great grandparents' marriage record.
Fisher: Right there.
Isabella: And she read it to us. So that was very, very cool. We went from there to the little church that they were married in. It was a little rock church, and Louie had arranged some people to open it up, and it was just kind of tucked in the hills of Italy in this little town, this sleepy little town, and we went and sat in the church where they were married, and then we went and had dinner at a distant relative who turned out to be their great grandfathers, both of theirs, David's and Maria's were brothers. So it was such a small world, and such a unique experience to go and to walk where ancestors had been, and to brush shoulders, you know, with people that were linked to you.
Fisher: That's unbelievable. So your first two years, that's pretty good highlight, I'm thinking. Are you going to go back?
Isabella: To Scotland? Yes, we are. Italy as well, absolutely! We were hoping to get back this summer, but we’ll not be able to, but we’ll definitely plan to get back next summer, yes, for sure. And since then I've kept in very, very close contact with my first cousin who we met through doing this. I mean, I knew I had a first cousin but had never ever spoken to her, never ever written to her. And I started, you know, kind of dropping lines, dropping letters and stuff to people that I knew were there, and the outstretch of warmth has been brilliant. And it's funny with families, because they recognize each other, you know what I mean?
Fisher: That's right.
Isabella: They recognize each other. And they embrace you right out the gate.
Fisher: How's it changed your life, all this?
Isabella: It has made me really appreciate, I don't know, just the smaller things, really. What really matters you know, people matter, things not as much. Stories matter. Things you can share with your children, things that others have learnt that they share with you that can make a difference, and just I guess, experiences. People matter.
Fisher: That's for sharing, Isabella.
Isabella: You're welcome.
Fisher: Monks and boxers. [Laughs] This is why you get started. And of course, all of our guests receive a free subscription to MyHeritage.com, with the best matching technology in the industry. That's MyHeritage.com, and coming up next, Tom Perry, Captain Preservation, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 77
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, family history radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with our Preservation Authority. I call him, Captain Preservation. He is Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Tom, I've got to tell you, at RootsTech, I mean, the fans that swarmed around you, autographs, photographs, it was really, it was very Hollywood. I was very impressed.
Tom: No comment.
Fisher: [Laughs] Anyway, let us talk about this letter we got from Jim Stackhouse in Dothan, Alabama. He's asking, "Tom, I've got these disks that I've created with all kinds of family information on them. I don't want to go through the problems of copyrighting them and certainly realized that I can't protect myself from having people copy the disks. Is there some technical way to make sure that people can still get the information and yet not copy it?"
Tom: Yes and no. The yes part of it, there's been thing around for years. Back in the old days, they had VHS tapes that had cartoons, it’s called macrovision. So if you put a tape in a tape player and you try to record in it to another tape player, or today, to a DVD player, it would through the audio channels, it would mess things up and the picture would look really, really bad. That was called macrovision. Then people would come out with technology, a little box you out between the two VCRs would basically erase macrovision. There's certain things you can put onto DVDs that when another player plays it, it won't understand the information. They actually purposely put bad sectors into the disk. So a normal DVD will read through it without any problem, but when you make a copy of that, that bad sector kind of grows, so to speak, and there's so much of a disturbance that it won't play. And most of these things are very expensive. And usually, in order to do these on disks, you have to do what we call "replicating" the disk. It’s not like duplicating where you can make one at a time or a hundred. When we replicate, we actually make a glass master. It’s almost like, say, a cookie cutter.
Fisher: Like a stamp?
Tom: Exactly! That's exactly what they call them. They call them stampers. And they physically stamp out the disk, so every single one is exactly the same. There's no difference in them. And they can put this kind of things that like macrovision in there that will keep it from being copied. However, I need to put an asterisk on the end of that, because what happens every time somebody comes out with some kind of a technology to keep people from copying stuff, somebody is going to come out and do something that will make it easy for you to get in and copy it. And then people have this goal, "Oh, I want to break into the Pentagon!" They're not interested in anything in the Pentagon; they want to just see if they can do it.
Tom: So same thing with breaking copyright codes, doing things like this. So if you don't want to do at least a thousand, it’s really not worth it to do it. You can still do it, but it’s expensive, somebody's going to find a way around it. When they first came out with DVDs, they have so many different regions of DVDs and Pal and NTSC and all these kind of things to keep people from supposedly getting a tape or a DVD from Europe and playing it in the US and breaking copyright laws. However, you can go in online and you can buy DVD players that will play any region. You can buy a computer and it gives you like fifteen times to change the region. And so you can watch it anywhere.
Fisher: Boy oh boy! My head is spinning with all this, Tom! I mean, let's take a break. [Laughs] And we'll come back in three minutes and see where this goes, on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 77
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, family history radio, America's Family History Show for this week. I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry, he's our Preservation Authority. And Tom, I've taken a couple of Aspirin. I'm feeling a little bit better already, but you're not leaving us with a lot of hope about this. And we'll go through the question one more time if you're just joining us. We've been asked by a gentleman in Alabama, if he can somehow protect his data that is digitally created, so that people can't copy it. Because he feels copyright doesn't protect it, but he wants to make sure that it can't be copied. And it sounds like, really, there's not an easy way around this.
Tom: There really isn't. That's kind of a sad thing that we live in a society where people like plagiarism, like to take stuff and they think, "Oh, it’s no big deal if I make a copy." You've got to realize that this is these people's livelihood. And even if it isn't their livelihood, it’s still their right. It’s their property. It’s their stuff. You shouldn't be walking through your neighbor's yard cutting up their tulips. And there are a lot of options out there that are constantly changing. One of the best examples is Disney. Disney has millions and millions of dollars that they spend each year trying to come up with new copyright algorisms to protect their disks. And every time they come out with something new, usually within three to six months, somebody's selling something on the internet that will break the code. It’s just like in the old days when wedding videographers took your photos or took videos and then they wouldn't let you make copies.
Fisher: Right, right, right.
Tom: They had all the copies. They want to make a few extra bucks on it. And I come from that genre, but I never had that attitude, because my feeling is, I would rather have these people be really, really happy and recommend me to somebody else, than think that I'm going to make an extra twenty dollars by making their DVDs for them. So it’s kind of a give and take thing. In my opinion, when I do stuff, I don't copyright it, because if you do copyright it, you have to tell people how you made it, it’s easier for them to figure out what you did and duplicate it themselves. If they take your music, if they take your video and use it, you always have the courts if you want to go after it, but the drama and the time you spend trying to copyright a disk usually isn't worth it. If you're posing stuff on YouTube or even if you're just posting photographs, you can always put a watermark on them, like they allow you to in Photoshop.
Fisher: Hmm, yes.
Tom: But again, the problem with that is, then they're not really getting the nice, beautiful image. You've got this watermark across it. So it comes down to, you know, if that's your living, that's what you need to do, then do it. Just like you can go onto the internet and type in any genre of music or even go to iTunes and you can listen to the first, usually thirty seconds for free. And then if you want to buy it, then you can buy the whole thing. And there's nothing wrong with that. It’s just that there's so much drama in this kind of stuff. In my opinion, I wouldn't go through the hassle of trying to copyright my disk, copyright my tapes. Even at RootsTech a few weeks ago, we had people come into the booth with the same thing, "Hey, I put all this family stuff together. None of my family will help me invest in this or will help me pay for it or anything. How can I protect it so I can legitimately get some of my money back for what I've spent, from my cousins and aunts and uncles stealing what I've worked on?" And there's no real way to do it. Just kind of do your best and hope they go in with you. And if they don't, hey, you haven't lost anything. You still have what you originally created. So look at the pros and cons, what's it worth? Is the drama worth it or do I want to just do this? And if my family's going to cheat me out of some money, well, so goes the way.
Fisher: You know, it’s really the question of whether it’s going to become some kind of big business or not, right?
Tom: Oh exactly!
Fisher: And most family history stuff is pretty small stuff, because we work within a circle of people. I mean, even if you had hundreds of cousins or thousands, it’s not going to amount to a whole lot. So I can see where you're coming from.
Tom: Oh exactly! You know, you have to be smart about it. As you say, you know, talk to your family. If they won't go in on it, just do it for yourself. Be happy with what you're doing. And if other people get joy out of it, instead of taking the lemon side of it, make the lemonade and say, "Hey, you know, that's great! I made this thing it’s all over the place now."
Fisher: If you're going to get the money, maybe you need to get it upfront.
Fisher: So look what you started, Jim. Thanks for the question. And of course, if you have a question for Tom Perry, you can [email protected]. Good to see you, Tom.
Tom: Thanks. Great to be here again!
Fisher: And thanks for joining us. Thanks once again to Lindsay Fulton from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, for talking to us about, how to join those lineage societies. And to Isabella Prete, who has just gotten started on her research and has had some AMAZING stories happen to her! We'll see you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!