Episode 83 - Crowdsourcing Your Research / Theresa's Family Remembers

podcast episode Apr 20, 2015

Fisher opens the show with some fascinating "Family Histoire" news.  First, Spain is embracing its Sephardic Jewish heritage which was driven out by the Spanish Inquisition in 1492.  They are opening doors to all who can prove their Sephardic lineage, resulting in Jews around the world researching their Spanish heritage.  Then, it was an amazing discovery, just in time for the 150th anniversary of the conclusion of the Civil War.  A Virginia minister made the find after being asked to memorialize a slave, the only civilian killed at the last big battle of the Civil War at Appomattox Court House.  Wait until you hear what he learned about her!
Then, super-blogger Randy Seaver of Geneamusings joins the show to talk about crowdsourcing your research.  It's an idea he learned can bring free research assistance from anywhere in the world.  As usual, Randy has a great story to go along with it.  Listen in for the details.
Then, Fisher visits with Cathy Greaves Spurgeon, cousin of the late Theresa Rose Greaves.  It's Cathy's first radio interview since Fisher found Theresa's next-of-kin.  (She had been missing for 32 years before her remains were recently found in Utah.)  Cathy remembers Theresa's childhood and brings us up to date on how the family is doing through this difficult experience.
Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com answers a listener question on compatibility of your old videos, and how to get them all into the same digital format.

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

Transcript of Episode 83

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 83

Fisher: Greetings genies everywhere, and welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well you know, we have a lot of fun here on the show. We learn a lot, and we will today, but we have our serious moments too. And many of you have sent me some very kind messages concerning my involvement in locating the next of kin of Theresa Greaves, the New Jersey girl who disappeared in Utah in 1983, and who’s remains was just found in February. I appreciate the messages but I also hope to keep some attention on Theresa’s family, as they’re finding the cost of eventually bringing Theresa’s remains back to Virginia where she can be buried with her grandmother who raised her, prohibitive.  And as you may have heard in last week’s program, Debbie Veevers, Theresa’s high school classmate from Collingswood high school New Jersey class of 77 has set up a “Go Fund Me” sign for people to contribute to assist the family. Should any extra money remain after Theresa’s burial, it would be earmarked for a scholarship fund in Theresa’s name. If you’d like to contribute, the link to the page can be found through our site at ExtremeGenes.com.

And later in the program, now that she’s has a little time to process all this, I’ll be talking to Theresa’s cousin and family spokesperson Cathy Greaves Spurgeon. She’ll tell us a little about Theresa, share some memories, tell us how the family is coping and how things are progressing towards Theresa’s remains returning to the family. And by the way, People.com has done quite the write up on all this and you can see the article online now. The link is with many national articles on this story on our site ExtremeGenes.com. And before we talk to Cathy, coming up in about eight minutes we’ll talk to well known blogger Randy Seaver of Geneamusings.com. He’s got a great concept for finding others to help you with your research for nothing. And a great story to go with it of course, which is just the way we like it around here. Hey and just a reminder if you haven’t done it yet, take just a few moments and download our free Extreme Genes podcast app. It’s the best way to catch up on past shows from the past two years. It’s available for both Android and iPhone in your phone store. One quick download and you can listen to us when and where you want. And by the way, our Extreme Genes Facebook page is a great way to ask for ideas on finding your ancestors. So come join our growing Extreme Genes community and feel free to ask a lot of questions.

It is time once again for your family histoire news for this week, from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. And we start with an amazing story about Spain and how it is reconnecting with its Sephardic Jewish heritage. Back in 1992, King Juan Carlos called the Spanish inquisition which took place in the late 15th century, the worst mistake ever made by Spain. And he apologized to Jews everywhere saying the cost to Spain was the loss of talented, cultured and hard working Spaniards.  An article in the Jerusalem Post notes that Jewish presence in Spain is now beginning to regenerate. The result of a project called “The Network of Spanish Jewish Courters.” Old synagogues are falling back in to Jewish hands, being filled with Jewish artefacts. And people on the streets are hearing lectures on Jewish customs. What many Spaniards don’t realize is that many of them may be descended from a line of Jewish mothers that’s unbroken for 500 years. Late last year a law was passed granting Spanish Nationality to any citizen of any nation that can prove Sephardic heritage. The waiting period was removed and residence in Spain is not required. The common belief is that the reason for all this interest by the government and the people of Spain in restoring their Sephardic ties and population is because of their struggling economy. Spain is now a strident supporter of Israel, and if you were to visit Spain today, you’d see conferences and tours and even virtual tours of historic Jewish sites. As a result, many Sephardic Jews are now going about the task of researching their linage to prove their Sephardic background. There’s a lot more to this story, read about it now at ExtremeGenes.com.

Well, last week of course marked the 150th anniversary of the conclusion of the Civil War. In connection with that, the Washington Post has a remarkable story about the research of Reverend Alfred Jones the third of Appomattox Virginia. Reverend Jones who’s asked to deliver the eulogy for one time slave Hannah Reynolds who is the only civilian to die at the battle of Appomattox Courthouse, the last major battle of the war. Hannah was a slave in the household of Samuel Coleman. Now she’d been left to care for the house while the Colemans fled the battle site. The date was April 9th 1865. Sometime during the battle, a cannonball ripped through the home and in to Hannah’s arm, a wound that ultimately took her life. History has always noted that the only civilian to die in the battle had been the slave Hannah Reynolds. As Reverend Jones researched Hannah for his eulogy on the anniversary, he learned that Hannah did not die as a slave. In his research he came across an 1865 death register. The record maintained on microfilm at Jones memorial library in Lynchburg was filled out by the slave owner Samuel Coleman. As it turns out, she lived for three days after the battle and three days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee April 12th.  Her life was possibly extended by the aid of a union chaplain insurgent. Hannah died as a free woman as noted in the death record where Samuel Coleman himself wrote that his relationship to her was former owner.

To quote Reverent Jones, “I thought that was so powerful. It shows the owner was able to recognize the significance of this death. Even in this evil institution, there were relationships that were forged, histories that were intertwined.” Reverent Jones continued his research and will be continuing it. But before he delivered Hannah’s eulogy last week, he was able to locate descendents of Hannah’s step children through her husband Abraham. She and Abraham didn’t have children of their own, as well as descendents of the slave owner Samuel Coleman. Descendents of both families were present at the ceremony which included artefacts from Samuels home. And one of them is believed to be a chair that had once belonged to Hannah Reynolds. And that’s your family histoire news for this week. Read more about these and other stories on our website ExtremeGenes.com.  All right coming up next, we’ll talk to blogger Randy Seaver of Geneamusings.com who has a unique idea for how you can get free help on some of your most difficult research problems. Then later, Cathy Greaves Spurgeon, cousin of Theresa Greaves, it’s all ahead on Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 83

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Randy Seaver

Fisher: We are back at Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with my good friend Randy Seaver. He is a genealogist. He is a family historian. He is a speaker and he is a blogger extraordinaire. You can see his site Geneamusings.com. Randy, welcome to the show.

Randy: Hi Fisher, how are you?

Fisher: Good. It’s about time we had you on because you have so many interesting insights in so many different areas, and you know what I like having experts like yourself because you can introduce us to new things that we haven’t considered before in our research. So what do you have this week?

Randy: I was just going to tell you that one of my lessons learned recently is that I’m not that smart.

Fisher: [Laughs] that’s why we talk to other people.

Randy: Right. Exactly right. I wanted to talk a bit about crowdsourcing.

Fisher: Crowdsourcing for family history research? I have never done this before, talk about it.

Randy: Well, this is how you find out things that you don’t know, by having other people help you. You’ve heard of “crowd funding” You know where you put something out there that you want funded, and people contribute.

Fisher: Sure.

Randy: Well crowdsourcing is, people contribute ideas or information or even sources to you. Having say, put out a genealogy problem.

Fisher: Now you noted here you said that, “I found out that I wasn’t that smart.” What did you mean by that? 

Randy: None of us have enough experience or expertise to know everything. And so when you get out of your comfort zone, which mine is kind of New England, that leaves a big world. And the story that I have to tell you today is about California, Australia, and England.

Fisher: All right.

Randy: Now I’m not comfortable in two of those places.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Randy: And I got a lot of help and it was wonderful help. It helps to have a blog.

Fisher: Right.

Randy: And it helps to have readers. My readers help me. So let me tell you this story about discovering Jane’s roots.

Fisher: All right.

Randy: And I have a whole presentation for this. People can ask me and I’ll present to them. My wife’s great grandmother is Jane Whittle Macnew, born 1847. And all the records say that she was born in Australia and she died 1921 in San Francisco. They had eleven children. She’s married to Elijah Macnew. And the death certificate that my brother in law got for her many years ago said that her parents were Joseph Whittle and Rachael Moore, and that they were born in England, and so we probably have the case here of England to Australia to California.

Fisher: Sounds like it.

Randy: Yeah. So I found a lot of US records and I was stuck back at 1860 as the earliest record I had in the census where Jane was aged thirteen. It says born in Australia and living with a couple William and Elizabeth Ray. And Elizabeth is age twenty one born in England. So that may be her sister, I don’t know. And they’re in Calaveras County, California. And her husband was listed two lines below her. There’s also a Joseph Whittle in Calaveras County in the 1870s census born in Australia, and he is aged twenty seven so he’s born like 1843. So I don’t know if Joseph and Jane are brother and sister yet, but it’s a possibility. So I searched California records especially in San Francisco and in Gold country for Joseph and Rachael Whittle, the nominal parents from the death certificate. And there were two Josephs Whittles in San Francisco in the 1860 to 1870 time frame was one of them her father? I can’t tell. And there’s no other records I can find. I got a breakthrough in August 2010 when the 1852 California State census came online and it said Rachael Whittle aged thirty one, born in England, and children Elizabeth aged thirteen, Joseph aged seventeen born in Australia and Jane aged five born in Australia. And I think that’s them. But where is the father?

Fisher: Yeah, sounds like them.

Randy: I don’t know where the father is. It’s Wadle instead of Whittle, but its close enough.

Fisher: That’s another lesson right there, that there is no correct spelling.

Randy: Exactly true. There’s more lessons coming. So I wrote a blog post about this find since I had nothing better to write about that day, and asked my readers for suggestions. And immediately a fellow named Rod Van Couten down in Australia suggested using the new South Wales Brook record index that was online in Australia. And so I did and there was Jane, born on the same day that her death certificate said, September 12th 1847.  And there were four other Whittle children on the list including Joseph born in 1843. So I think I found Jane’s birth. The surprise was that the father’s given name was Alexander Whittle and not Joseph.

Fisher: Boy that often happens at the backend of somebody’s life, doesn’t it?

Randy: Well, yeah it does, doesn’t it? Another lesson learned. So I wrote about that the net day and Rod said, “Well, you know if you look at the Trove website in Australia on historical Australian newspapers, you might see something. And sure enough, there were articles about Alexander and Rachael and their pub on Sussex Street, in Sydney, Australia.

Fisher: Wow!

Randy: Yeah cool. And Trove is a wonderful resource. Trove is just a wonderful resource for early Australian newspapers, I think up to the present too. The Australian folks just rave about it. Another article said that Alexander left for California in late 1849 and Rachael left in 1850. So where did they come from? So I posted a question like that and another reader suggested, “Well, look at the passenger list records from England to Australia.” They just come online on Family Search.

Fisher: [Laughs] I love it.

Randy: And voila, there they were! Alexander and Rachael and their daughter Elizabeth were on the ship called “The Brothers” and arrived in Australia in 1840 after six months at sea, absolutely unbelievable. And the records gave the place of birth and their parents names. So Alexander’s parents’ names were Alexander and Margaret Whittle, and they were living in Bolton le Moore, in Lancashire, and Rachael’s parents were given as Robert Morley and Jane Haslin, and they were also in Bolton le Moore. So Rachael’s last name was Morley and not Moore as it was in the death certificate. So, the death certificate had two things wrong, Alexander’s name and Rachael’s last name. So, I worked my way back and found a number of English records and then when I went to Salt Lake a month later, I tracked down the marriage record of Alexander and Rachael and the birth record of Elizabeth, and Rachael Morley’s baptism record in 1821, with only the mother, Jane Liston. And it turned out that the purported father, Robert Morley, had died in 1815. So Rachael was illegitimate. And the English records gave me several more ancestral families in the Whittle and Haslin lines to go follow, and I did. But what happened to Alexander and Rachael in California, because they got on the boat?

Fisher: Right!

Randy: And did they show up? If they didn’t, how did the three children get there? So after I asked the question, I blogged two readers and one was in Sweden, and the other one was in Ontario, had resources that I didn’t have, and newspapers. And so, they found articles that noted that Alexander Whittle committed suicide in Calaveras County, in Gold Country, California in 1853, and the cause, being a drunk and having an absconding wife.

Fisher: Oh boy.

Randy: So isn’t that cool. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow, yeah. To find that information though is just outstanding.

Randy: Unbelievable. And one of the newspapers was a New York newspaper.

Fisher: Really?

Randy: Yes. A California newspaper,

Fisher: Right.

Randy: But one was a New York newspaper.

Fisher: Well, I would imagine the New York paper picked it up from somebody else, maybe that very paper that you found in California.

Randy: Yes, they did. I’m sure they did. Yeah. And then I found newspaper articles for Rachael. Also one where she married in San Francisco, the town of Spencer, in 1854, and then another one in like 1859 where she’s accused of being a madam. You know.

Fisher: Uh oh.

Randy: You know, of ill repute. So those findings were pretty depressing for my wife, but they were pretty interesting to me as a genealogist. Telling my wife and her brother, that didn’t go over very well.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Randy: I’m just the reporter. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Randy: It’s not my ancestry.

Fisher: I understand.

Randy: So, it turns out the three surviving children, Elizabeth, Joseph and Jane all married and raised large families, and seemed to be successful in life up in Gold Country and in San Francisco, even though they had these hardships in their childhood. This kind of lays to rest that the sins of the father are on the children for five generations, because, they all succeeded and their kids have succeeded.

Fisher: Isn’t that great.

Randy: My wife obviously is four generations after. But last part of this, jump ahead to Roots Tech this past February, and I met a number of Australia based bloggers, and I think you probably did too.

Fisher: Yes.

Randy: And one of them is a lady named Sharon White, and she lives near Sydney. I told her the story and she was just mesmerised by it. And, I told her that Sussex Street in Sydney, Australia was where the pub was, and she said, “You know, my husband works down in Sussex Street in Sydney, and I’ll see what I can find out about the pub and maybe we can locate where it was.” And so it was crowd finding. You know?

Fisher: Yes.

Randy: And so she went down there, took a lot of photos with her husband, they studied the pub license records and maps which still exist from the 1840s, and she thinks she knows where the pub was but the area has been really modernised. It’s in the tourism business area of Sydney, downtown. So, she’s nailed down pretty close to where it was. I need to go back and walk that street. So once we’re sure, crowdsourcing using my genealogy blog works for me because some readers have more expertise and experience than I do, or they have access to more resources than I do, and in this case, the help from my friends cracked this case in less than three weeks after 10 or 15 years of searching for answers. People like to help.

Fisher: Yes, that’s right.

Randy: And on my blog, I offer a lot to readers. You never know when it’s going to strike someone’s fancy. People like to help.

Fisher: It’s a great blog, it’s Geneamusings.com. Now Randy, if we don’t have our own blog, what do we do to get crowdsourcing? What might you suggest?

Randy: Well, I would suggest, there are message boards that you can, I mean, that was crowdsourcing 20 years ago, was a message board.

Fisher: Sure.

Randy: On Roots Web, wasn’t it?

Fisher: Yeah. And many of them are still there.

Randy: The Roots Web is still there, and the Genealogy.com boards are still there. You just can’t add a new post. Also, there are a lot of groups on Facebook now for different surnames and different places, cities, and counties, and states, and regions and countries. And, you can join one of those and ask a question, and perhaps someone can help you.

Fisher: Well that’s a great suggestion. Great ideas, I love it. That’s why we talk to you. Randy Seaver, he is the Genealogist Family Historian and Speaker, and of course the great blogger at Geneamusings.com. Distant cousin of my boyhood hero, Tom Seaver of the New York Mets, and which is really why I like you for the most part, Randy.

Randy: Well thank you. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Randy: If people want more details on this story which goes on forever, they can Google Whittle Compendium and it should be right at the top of the list.

Fisher: All right. Great stuff, thank you so much, Randy Seaver!

Randy: Okay. Be listening to you.

Fisher: And coming up next we’ll talk to Cathy Greaves Spurgeon. She is a first cousin of Theresa Rose Greaves, the murder victim we told you about last week whose remains were found back in February. We’ll find out how the family is doing and what their plans are to bring Theresa back home. That’s next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Segment 3 Episode 83

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Catherine Greaves Spurgeon

Fisher: You have found us, America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes. I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And on the line with me right now is Catherine Greaves Spurgeon. She is a first cousin of Theresa Rose Greaves who we spoke about last week. Her remains were found in February in Utah, the victim of a murder which dates back to 1983. And through some efforts with many other people, I was able to locate Cathy and her family. And Cathy, how are things going for you all?

Cathy: It's going, we're hanging in there. We're just taking thing day by day, and you know, just waiting to see what the authorities have to say, and that's it. Right now we're just hanging in there.

Fisher: Now, your dad was an uncle to Theresa and he's still with us, how is your dad doing?

Cathy: He's better than he was when I first told him what was going on. The first few days he was in denial and he took it really hard, and then once he understood that was really true, then yeah. I got worried about him, but he pulled out of it, he's doing better than he was. And I know he's worried about different things that are going to happen. He's just still a little confused on things, but he's getting there.

Fisher: I mean, it goes back 32 years. Isn't that unbelievable?

Cathy: Yes. Once she disappeared in Utah.

Fisher: Well, I've got to tell you that when I heard from your sister in law and then I heard from you after almost three weeks, it was very emotional for me just to make that connection and to be able to tell you what had taken place.

Cathy: It was a shocker hearing what we heard. And we're glad now that, even though it's been 32 years, her remains have been found and hopefully we have some real solid answers and then she can really be laid to rest where she needs to be.

Fisher: That's right. And that's going to be some time in the next few months, as I understand it, right?

Cathy: Yes. Possibly, yes. Few weeks, few months, we're not totally sure. They're investigating everything, so it's going to take a while for the investigation to really be thoroughly done.

Fisher: Now for people who aren't totally familiar with the story, Theresa was born in New Jersey in 1959, and then some time after high school she moved to Utah with a friend, a roommate, because she was interested in Donny Osmond, as I understand.

Cathy: Yes. Donny Osmond and the Mormon culture, yes, that's correct.

Fisher: Okay. And so she wanted a change in her life, and she moved to Utah and then disappeared on August 5th of 1983, and no one ever saw or heard any trace of her again?

Cathy: No.

Fisher: And so for all this time your family has been wondering. Her mom has since passed.

Cathy: Yes.

Fisher: It was the understanding of the authorities and what I was told initially and everybody that the immediate family was all deceased. So when I began the search, it was to find first cousins or the closest of kin that may be out there. You, of course, had thought that her half brother was deceased as well, and as it turned out, that wasn't the case.

Cathy: Right. Yes, my father thought that years ago because of Peter's health condition then. I guess the last time him and Peter spoke was probably maybe twelve or twenty years ago. And he just thought the Peter wasn't around either. And when you couldn't find anything, death certificates, you know, of course we had look. And like so you helped find his Facebook page and then I was able to email him. And then of course look through other areas and trying to find where he is, to locate him. And we did. So yes, he is alive, but yes, his mother did pass away. And then my grandmother did pass away too. So that would be his family that was on the missing person report. They, yeah, yes, they were deceased.

Fisher: They're all gone. But we found the half brother. We'll just give his first name, because he wants to remain anonymous through this, Peter.

Cathy: Yes, Peter.

Fisher: Have you spoken to him recently?

Cathy: I talked to him a few days ago. He's getting better, but he is really taking this really, really hard. And being his up there and up north Jersey all by himself, there's no family for him, it’s harder on him.

Fisher: Right. And you're all in Florida right now, your whole group.

Cathy: Yes, we're in Florida. I'm going to see what I can do, hopefully in the next few weeks. I have a job coming up that lasting ten days that I have to do for a client. And after that, I'm hoping I can get up to Jersey and spend a couple of days or so with Peter and give him some support.

Fisher: You're pretty close in age to Theresa. Could you tell us a little about some of your memories of her?

Cathy: Yeah. We were four years apart. She's four years older than me. And we went on the weekends, I would over to my grandmother's, and of course Theresa lived with my grandmother. So we would always play together as young children. And you know, we had our little magazines Tiger bee and whatever else it was back in the day that I can't remember. But yeah, we used to trade posters. We listened to different, like the Oak Ridge Boys and Kenny Rodgers back then, and of course, the Donny Osmond and Liz Garrett. We always had our favorites in music. So we would play together. We had fun playing hopscotch. We stayed above like a candy store and stuff. So we used to go downstairs and have fun, we're getting candy and little fishes. We had really fun back then, till my parents moved us further away. So then, probably when I was like twelve or thirteen, I didn't really see her as often as we used to.

Fisher: She was kind of a big sister figure for you then almost, right?

Cathy: She was like the big sister I never had. And when she disappeared, it broke my heart, because it was like a part of me died.

Fisher: Yes. And I'm sure a lot of this brings a lot of that pain back, understandably.

Cathy: Yes, because I'm thinking of thing that we used to do you know, with our grandmother, you know, go up the steps and annoying her sometimes.

Fisher: Well hopefully in time here, the sheriff’s department will be able to find out who did this and bring that part of the investigation to a conclusion as well. And you know, I understand there are a lot of costs involved now in bringing the remains of Theresa back east. You’re talking about burying her now with her grandmother who she lived with in Virginia.

Cathy: Yes. She’s in Virginia in a cemetery there in Newport News, and that’s our goal, to bring her to be with her grandmother. Being that my grandmother raised her since she was a baby. And they were really, really extremely close. You would think they were actually mother and daughter. They were so close wherever my grandmother went Theresa was there. Everybody knew Theresa and my grandmother in that small little town they lived in, so she needs to be back with my grandmother. And especially since when Theresa did go missing, it was my grandmother that stepped up and did all she could to find her, between the missing person’s report and then the PI, so she needs to be with my grandmother. And that’s the goal, yes when we are able to get her released and then have her shipped out to us and then we will bring her to Virginia to have a proper memorial for her.

Fisher: Now, I understand her high school class of ’77 have been putting together a fundraiser to help with those costs, and so far have raised over $3000 but the costs have actually exceeded that which has kind of surprised me. Nonetheless, I know that there’s going to be negotiations going on to make this happen. If anybody would like to contribute to the “Gofundme.com” site that Debbie Veevers and her class of ’77 have set up for their classmate Theresa and her burial, memorial and whatever else may come from it, including possibly a scholarship fund in her name. We have put together the link you can find it at ExtremeGenes.com. I think most people would just have a hard time remembering what the link is if we just spoke it here, but you can see it on our website ExtremeGenes.com and you can go right there and add a contribution to it.

Cathy: Yes. If it wasn’t for her Debbi Veevers and her high school, I don’t know where we’d be right now. Our family owes them great gratitude, and I really can’t wait until I get to meet her.

Fisher: Yeah, she’s done a lot of special things. Certainly helped me to be able to find you and now put this fund together which it turns out has really been necessary.

Cathy: Yeah, she has gone beyond what she should do. Especially knowing her own circumstances, she put that aside. And she is doing what she can to help the family which between setting that up. She is more than my cousin’s classmate. She is family just like you. We are grateful to both of you.

Fisher: Well, we are very happy to be able to help. I think anybody who comes along in a situation like this and realizes there is a need, that there’s something that maybe I’m capable of doing to help out. It’s a joy to do that too and I feel the same way, Cathy. God bless you and your family, and we’ll be staying in touch and look forward to hearing what your plans are and how things are progressing.

Cathy: I definitely will. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Fisher: All right, and coming up next, Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, answers another listener question about preservation, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 83

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. And Tom, you going to keep it simple stupid today, right, the kiss theory?

Tom: Exactly, least stupid, hopefully simple too.

Fisher: [Laughs] Because you get us in a lot of trouble when you get too technical. And got an email from Suzanna Parsons in Stuart, Florida, she's asking about the copy of her old video that she made to her computer. And she's got an issue with matching up the audio and video. We kind of touched on this a couple of weeks ago. What does she do about this?

Tom: Okay. First off, let me kind of go back a little bit and keep somebody else from doing the same problem. What happens is, computers are not designed to transfer an analogue signal to a digital signal. They're made to read digital information.

Fisher: Now this is like the old TV stations, right? Why we needed to replace our old televisions.

Tom: Exactly! Trying to pick up an analogue signal on a digital set is not going to work. So there's some computers that are really fast. There are good multimedia machines that can do this, but most people aren't going to go and spend an extra thousand dollars just to get a real high end AV computer, so to speak. And then you can go off to different places and buy these little components that are a translator from analogue to digital. But most of them, as I've told people before, you get what you pay for. The equipment that we use and the other people out there that do transfers professionally, they have what we call "hardware." It’s a hardware device that turns your analogue VHS tape into a digital signal to burn onto a DVD, and it does it in real time, so you don't have that lag. When you do it with a computer, a computer can process audio a lot quickly than it can a video signal, because the video signal is so fat, so to speak.

Fisher: Right, much larger.

Tom: Oh yeah! Absolutely! So what happens is, the lip sync gets off. When you actually get to your final product and you're going, "Hey, what happened here?" Adobe makes some software, some Premiere software you can go into, I believe. Final Cuts Pro does it as well. You can go in and adjust. It’s very, very time consuming. Because if it hasn't done it consistently slow, like say it’s tenth of a second all the way through, then you can just shift it. But generally, as your computer is trying to read the video, trying to read the audio, trying to sync it, it’s fluctuating back and forth, so you might have to set up a whole bunch of different timestamps, and adjust your audio, adjust your video, make them go together. And for most people, unless you have a lot of time on your hands, it’s not worth it.

Fisher: Wow! That sounds really complex!

Tom: Oh it is! It is! I would, you know, it's not that expensive, for instance, people send stuff to us all the time, and it usually cost about $17.95 or up, depending on where you go to, to transfer a VHS tape to a digital format. So I recommend instead of buying some expensive equipment, unless you have, you know, tons of tapes. Find out who the local person in your area is, see if they're hardware based, and they can transfer your tape to a DVD. Because then once it’s on a digital format like we talked about a few weeks ago, with Cinematize and other programs, you can go in and edit it. So that's that best way to do it. The best way to not have that problem is to do it right in the first place.

Fisher: Okay. So now that she's got the problem, what does she do?

Tom: She's got to go into Premiere or Final Cuts Pro or one of those programs and actually adjust it. You're going to have to slide your audio and your video. You're going to have to setup little edits, so you can stretch your audio or reduce the size of your audio. And sometimes you can actually change the speed just a little bit, so the lip sync is back in, but it’s not going to be like Mickey Mouse. So you can adjust it that way. But it’s very time consuming, it’s hard. In fact, I would recommend to Suzanna to take her video tape, go to a professional place, have them transfer it for you, and then you don't have these problems to worry about.

Fisher: So start all over again.

Tom: I would. I would. If it’s a tape that you borrowed from somebody and you're not going to be able to get it out of their hands again. Then go to Premiere, go to Final Cuts Pro or a program like that and you can edit it within that.

Fisher: All right. Great advice, Tom, and thanks once again to Suzanna for the email. You can email me at [email protected] or you can send one to [email protected]. What are we going to cover next, Tom?

Tom: In the segment, I'd like to talk about storage of tapes and compatibility of tapes.

Fisher: All right. So how we transfer from one to another, how we can watch them, right?

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: All right, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 83

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. I am Fisher, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He's our Preservation Authority. And of course, when we talk preservation that means we want to keep the stuff you've already got and make sure that future generations can enjoy it. And part of the problem we have right now in terms of dealing with transferring old home movies and old videos is the compatibility, right Tom? The ability of actually playing something back on a different type of device, things in the early days back in the '80s and '90s were always changing.

Tom: Oh yeah! They were very incompatible, where nowadays companies are a lot smarter, they're making things backwards compatible. So if you buy something now, you'll be able to still play it twenty years from now, because now everything is electronics, its little chips. In the old days, there were all kinds of circuits involved with it, there were pattern problems and everybody just trying to do their own thing, set their own way. But nowadays, it’s pretty much, "This is the way it is, either get on or get out."

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Now I'm assuming, back in the old days, people were trying to become THE format that everybody uses. And so there was a lot of competition, until it narrowed down to what we have right now.

Tom: Exactly! Probably the best example of this that a lot of our listeners who remember is the old Betamax and VHS wars. VHS was in inferior format, but yet the people that owned the rights of VHS, licensed it to anybody that was willing to write them a check. And so, VHS machines, since there was so many of them, the prices came down. But Sony owned Betamax and made all their people jump through all these hoops if they wanted to make their things, so there weren't as many Betamax players out there. There was less competition so they cost more. People would go into the store and say, "Hey, well this VHS machine is only x dollars, but the Betamax is x dollars more." And most people in the stores back then didn't know the difference between quality. It was a brand new media. But Betamax is so much better. We have people constantly bringing in Betamax tapes that are twenty, thirty, forty years old and they're wonderful! The quality of Betamax was so much better. However, they're totally incompatible with each other. And so, Betamax went away. I got a call just the other day that says, "Do you have those adaptors that I can put my video 8 tape in and play in and play it in my VCR?"

Fisher: Whoa really? Are those out there?

Tom: No, there never have been, but people get confused. It’s like whispering in somebody's ear and after ten people, the story changes. What happened is, VHS came out with their machine and Betamax. Betamax died. VHS was there. Sony wanted to get back into the fray, so Sony comes out with video 8. And video 8 is the same two hour cassette, but it’s about a quarter of the size, so the camcorder's a lot smaller, they're easier to hold.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: You don't have these two great, big, huge things.

Fisher: I think I have one of all of these things.

Tom: Exactly! [Laughs] And so do I. And so, people go, "Ooh, I like this video 8, its small, compact." And so, VHS is now going, "Oh my goodness, what do we do?" So they came out with what they called VHSC, which is just VHS compact. So they made an adaptor that you put the VHSC in, and it'll play in a normal VCR. We transfer these all the time. So people who've seen those things think, "Oh, we'll let me get one for video 8." Now you need to understand between VHS, video 8, digital, that they're like different languages. They don't communicate with each other. They're a totally different format. The tapes are different sizes. It’s just the wrong language.

Fisher: So what's the solution?

Tom: We'll, the solution is to come to either us or professionals that can actually transfer your tapes to a digital format, whether it s DVD or a hard drive, and then you can go in edit it at your will. So that' the best thing to do is, get everything on a digital format so you can have it on a disk, you can have it on a hard drive and you can have it on a cloud. We always recommend those three, and possibly even two clouds, and then you're protected.

Fisher: It all seems to be the same answer, get it down to the same format, right?

Tom: Exactly! And that's where things are great, because the Green Ray that's supposed to be coming out, are compatible with BluRay, compatible with DVD, compatible with CDs. So now as the new stuff comes out, it’s compatible. The disks you're using today might not be around, but the new ones coming out will be able to play it.

Fisher: All right, great stuff, Tom. Thanks for joining us.

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: Thanks once again to Randy Seaver, blogger extraordinaire with Geneamusings.com for his insight on crowd sourcing to find sources to trace your ancestors. It was great stuff. Also to Cathy Greaves Spurgeon, for coming on and talking about her cousin Theresa Rose Greaves who we've spoken about the last couple of weeks, talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family.

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