Transcript of Episode 101
Segment 1 Episode 101
Fisher: And welcome Genies, to another edition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. I’ve got to tell you, our Facebook page is still on fire after last week’s visit with Steve Anderson, about what he learned about the family he grew up in. One marriage, 9 kids, and 8 fathers! If you haven’t heard it, you need to catch the podcast at ExtremeGenes.com, iTunes, or iHeartRadio’s Talk Channel, you’ll be telling your friends about this one. This week, it’s another favorite interview from our first 100 shows. A visit with Jim Tipton founder of FindAGrave.com, he’ll fill you in on how the site practically founded itself. Fascinating stuff. Then, if you enjoyed the meteor shower last week, listen up for Linda Emlee who’ll tell you about the “Night The Stars Fell” in 1833. What did our ancestors think? Linda will tell you. But right now, let’s check in with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors. Greetings David!
David: Hey, how’s your summer wrapping up?
Fisher: Don’t use that phrase “summer wrapping up” ever! I live for this time of year!
Fisher: I want to bottle it and keep it.
David: I agree with you 100%, and I think as the geographical changes of earth go on, who knows, I could have beach front property. [Laughs] Green weather all year round.
Fisher: Yeah exactly. No question. It’s the best time of the year for researching and going to places, cemeteries. What do you have for us this week?
David: Ironically, first story I want to talk to you about has to do with cemeteries. Going a little further south from New England down to Virginia there’s a volunteer effort which is working to clean up and identify and locate graves from a 19th century and into the 20th century African American cemetery. It was lost, overgrown, neglected, and I’ve seen pictures of tires being dumped in there.
David: It became almost a garbage dump versus just a grave yard, and a group of volunteers that have a blog, which I’ll post on Twitter and on Facebook, on Extreme Genes and on the DLGenealogist Twitter where you can find a link right to the story. And this will really show you what a group of people can do. They’re finding gravestones of veterans in a cemetery that has long since been forgotten, and I think it’s great. They said they went from over 50 entries on Find-A-Grave to now over 1400.
Fisher: Wow that is impressive.
David: It really is kind of scary to think that if a cemetery can be forgotten so easily, how quickly Mother Nature takes back over the property.
Fisher: Isn’t that the truth.
David: So my hat’s out to John, Chuck, and all the other volunteers that are active in Virginia. It’s really great to see preservation of a cemetery going on with a volunteer effort. And of course summer weather, perfect for it.
Fisher: That is great stuff David, what else do you have?
David: Well, we were very lucky the other day. We had two individuals from the Essex Record Office in Charnwood, England that came over and brought with them a treasure… an original 17th century parish register from their holdings which had to do with Great Migration passengers from New England.
David: And they talked about the great efforts they have done to digitize records more and more. Both private and government related officers are in the forefront now to digitize the records, and for them that includes seventy thousand original wills dating from the 1400s to 1858, searchable on their website and then they do a pay per view to download and have different levels how you can obtain the information, either by subscription or one at a time. It’s great stuff.
Fisher: Right. But, you know, think about this. And I know people don’t like to ever pay for anything. But if you had to travel there to research to find this stuff, I mean what would that cost you?
David: Exactly. It’s like the National Library in Ireland I talked about a couple of weeks back where we talked about all those rolls of microfilm that were only on microfilm, but now you can get right online.
David: It makes being a home genealogist easy.
Fisher: Yeah and you could spend your money traveling to the beach. [Laughs]
David: Exactly. And check on your smart phone or your tablet and do your genealogy with your family on a real vacation and in a cemetery.
Fisher: Yeah absolutely.
David: I don’t understand what the problem with that is about, and that’s great. And that leads me to my tech tip. I like to think of inventories on a will not just an English will or a New England will, but any that describes the items that your ancestor owns. I mean aren’t they fascinating?
Fisher: Oh they are.
David: A bucket of nuts and bolts, a pitchfork, a musket, a sword. But for me it’s like peering in through a window of my ancestor’s home and seeing what’s on the shelves. But I’ve got something that might be fun, and this is a great one to tie in with the kids. Transcribe your ancestor’s inventory and then have the kids go online to try and find images of it through Google images or whatever you use. And then, like a pitchfork, a colonial musket and print off the pictures, and get a poster board and look at all the things your ancestor owned.
Fisher: I love that! That is a fabulous idea!
David: And it’s a good way to bring family together into a project where one person can transcribe the probate, the other one through the internet, maybe the ones cutting them off and pasting them. For kids of all ages and genealogists of all ages, it’s a fun thing to do. And, speaking of good weather, one of the things that I like to do in the summer in Massachusetts is go down to Cape Cod which kind of leads you to the two free databases that NEHGS has for our guest members, and this one includes the vital records to 1850 for the town of Dennis, Massachusetts, and the town of Wareham. Very important for those who have Mayflower passenger connections.
Fisher: Yes. And what percentage of the country do we think now are descended from Mayflower passengers?
David: There’s millions of descendents.
David: I mean everybody from Bing Crosby right down to people that you may work with that may not even realize that they are Mayflower descendants. We get genealogists that have come in here not knowing that they had a Mayflower connection, and leave knowing it. Even a staff member the other day at a staff night for research didn’t realize she had a Mayflower connection, but now she does.
Fisher: Isn’t that an amazing thing? I found mine in 2011 and was just absolutely astonished because you grow up with that story about Thanksgiving, and the Indians and all that it took for them to survive the first winter, and then you suddenly realize, “Oh! That story is part of my story.”
David: Exactly. And that’s one thing again I think talking back to children. Tell your kids about it and talk about your Mayflower ancestor if you have one, at Thanksgiving and share that story so that they’re not ever forgotten.
Fisher: All right. Great stuff, David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors, talk to you again next week buddy!
David: Talk to you soon.
Fisher: And up next, the visit with Jim Tipton the founder of Find-A-Grave, in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 101
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jim Tipton
Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s family history show. It’s Fisher here. And one of my favorite segments from our first 100 shows was this one, with Jim Tipton, the founder of FindAGrave.com. Welcome, Jim.
Jim: Thanks, good to be here.
Fisher: Now, you know, looking at your profile here I think I like you already because I’m a huge fan of the Godfather and Godfather 2. It was on AMC the other night, and it still rocks.
Jim: It does.
Fisher: So tell us about how you started this whole “Find a Grave” thing, because you did it in 1995 with a whole different idea in mind than what it became.
Jim: Yes, exactly. I’ll give you kind of a nutshell history. First of all, ‘95 is, you know, the infancy of the web. So that was a long time ago.
Fisher: Right. You were very early on this.
Jim: Yeah, very early, and I was kind of a nerdy insomniac, and looking for outlets for my nerdy insomniac ways. And I put up a web page like some people were doing in those early days of the internet, and I was into visiting famous graves. So, speaking of the Godfather, I went up and visited Al Capone’s grave… was one of the first famous ones I visited, and I just had, you know, maybe 100 listings that I had kind of gotten from reading biographies and things, and it was just something interesting to put up. Again, it was just more about learning HTML, and as soon as that went on online, there really weren’t that many websites, so people were kind of checking out any new websites online at the time, and people started sending me like “You’ve got to have Elvis on that list.” And they started sending me “Oh! You know, “Marylyn Monroe has to be on there.” And again, this was just famous names initially, and it literally kind of snowballed from there. You know, our famous database expanded very quickly.
Fisher: So this was a hobby then?
Jim: Yeah, it was a total hobby. I didn’t set out to start it as a business or anything like that, and I ran with it as a hobby for years and it just grew and grew, and, you know, maybe 15 years ago I removed the fame criteria and just said, you know, some of these people are kind of marginally famous, let’s just get rid of that whole fame barrier, and that really opened the flood gates for these massive amounts of submissions to flow in. And so I just started creating interfaces where people could add their relatives, add their friends and so on. And like I said, it just snowballed from there to the point where we’re now at a hundred and six million names, and almost ninety million photos. Of course, the advent of the digital camera massively increased the hobby. I used to, you know, shoot film and then I’d have to scan it and it was kind of a painful process.
Fisher: You know, it gives me a picture in my mind standing on a piece of ground and suddenly the ground starts raising and you’re just on it and it just keeps going.
Jim: It’s essentially been that. I’m just trying to stay perched on top of that raising mountain. But that’s a very good description because I never in a million years thought it would turn into what it has, and again, it’s just been this kind of grass roots slow build, but I mean, it’s been around for 18 years. So it took us a while to get to where we are, but it’s just been kind of slow and steady growth. And this incredible community has emerged of volunteers and people who care about their local history or their own family, and it’s been terrific to see.
Fisher: Now let me ask you, Jim, were you a family history fan before all this came along?
Jim: Yeah, I was not, really. I did not come to this from the family history angle. Like I said it kind of just started as famous graves. I like doing research and kind of the thrill of the hunt, so I loved getting out into a cemetery and trying to find a certain name or whatever. Someone who, you know, before the internet existed or before FindAGrave existed, it was hard to figure out where Marylyn Monroe was buried or whatever. So yeah, I didn’t come to it from a family history angle, but I certainly recognized that’s largely what the site is used for nowadays, and that’s been terrific and that’s been great for me to kind of see that and get accustomed with that community and see the site used for all these different purposes, and you know, family research is certainly one of the biggest ones.
Fisher: So when people started doing their families and the like, you obviously had to start getting some stories that really got you excited or touched your heart. Why don’t you share a few of those with us?
Jim: Yeah, well we get a ton of great stories. In fact there’s a section on the site called Success Stories where we post a handful of them. But the best stories frankly are these family stories where maybe a long lost cousin, a living one, because they’re both contributors onto the site, and one will leave flowers on someone’s memorial and they might have the same last name or whatever, and they will get a hold of each other and they’ll write in and say “I found some long lost family member.” There’s also, of course, people who find relatives on the site, a headstone or something, and that provides some closure or fills in a gap in their family research that they’re trying to do, we hear that all the time.
Fisher: Oh yeah, it sure has for me on many occasions.
Jim: Yeah, there’s also the kind of online sources, but, you know, cemeteries are these incredible treasure troves of information. And the whole point of FindAGrave is to get those in an accessible format where you can browse the nation’s cemeteries from your armchair. There’s been cases where police have found missing headstones, and they used FindAGrave to reunite the headstone to the proper plot, you know, like where vandals have stolen them. We even, we had a diver found a class ring from like 1913 or something, you know, underwater, diving, and he used FindAGrave to find out. He found the family member who it belonged to, and he was able to reunite the ring with the descendants of the original owner. So there’s been a ton of great stories like that.
Fisher: We’re talking to FindAGrave founder, Jim Tipton. I did want to ask you about how do you manage, because I’m sure it must happen, phony biographies or phony grave sites. You know, it’s part of your growing pains. You had to have run into a few of those somewhere along the way?
Jim: Yeah, you know, the site’s open to the public, it’s free, always has been always will be. And anytime you have a site like that you will of course get some kids or vandals who get in there and try to be whatever, just add bogus names. Usually we have enough eyeballs on the site, visitors every day, millions of them that… usually that stops, gets reported really quick, and we’ve got facilities built into the site where we can just shut down their account quickly and remove all their content, so it’s not a huge problem to be honest. And I’m sure we certainly have heirs. Anytime you have a hundred and six million names, we certainly have some heirs out there.
Fisher: Well, some of the stones themselves have heirs.
Jim: Yeah, exactly. And it sounds ironic, but we are kind of a living site, and we are constantly making corrections to the data. Again, when there’s so many people visiting the site that we’ve got a pretty good set of proof readers and they’re constantly submitting corrections and the site gets better and better every day.
Fisher: Now, when you started you said it was just a hobby and so you obviously were doing some other kind of work. At what point did you go full time to this?
Jim: Yeah, I used to work for the Huntsman Cancer Institute up there in Salt Lake, and I think it was probably about 10 years ago, maybe 8 years ago, that I quit doing that. I kind of tapered my hours off of there because FindAGrave was taking more and more of my time. And like I said, I think it was about 8 years ago that I started doing it full time.
Fisher: And how many people do you have working for you?
Jim: We have a pretty skeletal staff. We have mostly this terrific set of volunteers that has been with us for years, and then we have some people who help out answering this crush of email, basically doing support that comes in every day.
Fisher: Isn’t that great? You know, I have a friend in my neighborhood who is a volunteer who goes out and takes pictures in the cemetery nearby, and I guess you’ve got it set up where if somebody requests something because of maybe those stones are not posted yet, these volunteers will go out and do that. How many people do you have like that around the world and around the country?
Jim: Yeah, we’ve got over a million registered contributors. I think it’s about 1.5 million. Not all of them are active in that photo request program, but just to explain what that is briefly: Basically what you said, you might find your long lost aunt in upstate New York, and you’re not planning to travel there anytime soon, but you push a button that says I’d like to see a photo of that headstone, if it’s not already there. An email goes out to all our contributors that live near that cemetery and usually within, like, a day, maybe a week, you’ll get an email back saying that photo’s been taken and posted on FindAGrave, and it’s one of the most successful parts of FindAGrave, and it’s really one of the ones I’m most proud of because it helps people make personal connections. And it works tremendously well, it’s got like an 82% overall success rate, which is pretty phenomenal, I think.
Fisher: Wow. It is. You’re right.
Jim: It’s only due to the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of these volunteers who’ve said “I’ll go do this.” And they do, and it’s now worldwide, so we’re starting to see people all over the world sign up to be a volunteer.
Fisher: Any problems with the cemeteries when this thing first started, when the volunteers started showing up and taking pictures? Because I know some places, they supposedly don’t even allow you to take photographs of stones.
Jim: Yeah, I’ve never understood that policy.
Fisher: Me either.
Jim: In a cemetery, like… I don’t know who would damage things… But some cemeteries have that. The biggest thing we’ve heard from cemeteries is that it’s happening so much, which we just kind of see it as it means FindAGrave is successful. But it’s happening so much that their office is having to handle too many requests for plot numbers, and some of them have grumbled at that. But by and large most cemeteries are… They know either people are there to help other people or fill in a family tree spot, or whatever. So mostly what we here are positive things from cemeteries saying, you know, we’re happy to help.
Fisher: I would think at this point most all of them know what you do, know who you are, know who they are, the volunteers, and what you’re trying to accomplish. So that’s pretty fun, though. You must have seen an education process over the years ‘til it reached that point.
Jim: We did, yeah. In several cemeteries I’ve signed up kind of the cemetery’s account with FindAGrave, and they will kind of manage their own names within their cemetery. And we’ve seen them be cooperative with the volunteers too where they’ll print out maybe their list of names so that you don’t have to go to the office. You can just reference it yourself and go find the photo. It’s been a good relationship with cemeteries for the most part.
Fisher: Sounds like it. And have you seen some of them actually change their policy as a result of FindAGrave?
Jim: No, I’ve never heard of them reversing their policy. That’s again, I find it such an odd policy, a really minority of cemeteries that have that.
Fisher: And how are they going to enforce it, really.
Jim: Exactly. And I mean, you know, we encourage people to obviously respect the rules of the cemetery.
Fisher: But if it’s your family member, which is the greater… I mean, that’s the issue in my mind, I guess.
Jim: Yeah, I agree. I would certainly hate for a cemetery to tell someone that they couldn’t go photograph my grandmother’s headstone, because I kind of feel like I have the right to say that.
Fisher: I think that’s the case, absolutely.
Jim: And, you know, conversely I also understand that some people find it jarring to get online and see a family member’s headstone, and we hear that side of it too, sometimes. And they’ll be maybe outraged initially, and if they write to us and politely say, you know, “please take this down.” or whatever, we generally respect that request too.
Jim: But a lot of people see it, they find it a little bit jarring, then they’ll look around and they’ll say “I just spent three hours surfing through FindAGrave, and at first I thought it was this odd, quirky site that came up in Google search results, or something. But after poking around I’ve signed up, and now I’m also a volunteer!”
Fisher: Isn’t that great?
Jim: It is great, yeah.
Fisher: Jim Tipton, founder of FindAGrave.com. And up next, if you like the recent meteor shower, you’ll love what Linda Emlee has to say about what happened in 1833, “The Night The Stars Fell!”
Segment 3 Episode 101
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Linda Emlee
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. You know one of the ways to write a family history involves writing down your family’s dates and names and then noting historical events that were happening at the same time. Well many of these things are pretty well known, and many others are not. Like the event my next guest has written about that I’d never heard about. On the line with me right now from the Ray County Museum in Richmond, Missouri, its Linda Emlee. She is the museum manager. Hi Linda, how are you?
Linda: I’m good.
Fisher: I’ve got to tell you, I was excited about the article I found that you wrote for the Richmond, Missouri Daily News about “The Night The Stars Fell.” And you hear about these things once in a while. We think about Mark Twain and the comet in 1910, and the one that came the year he was born. But this one seemed to affect a lot of people and you did a great story on it. First of all, what got you interested in it?
Linda: Well, we have a genealogy library here at the museum, and a lady came in and we were working on her family history and she said, “I don’t know when it was but my great, great grandmother was born The Night The Stars Fell. So a lady that was volunteering for me in the library, she goes, “Well that was 1833.” And we all kind of laughed.
Fisher: Huh? [Laughs]
Linda: So yeah, that’s one of those stories that are in all the old history books. So from there we started piecing it all together and found out what a magnificent event this was. Because it affected so many people. Everybody thought that the end of the world was here.
Fisher: Well, you know, you hear that a lot now. Remember the comet that went through Russia a couple of years ago? That was pretty frightening.
Linda: Yeah. But this one happens every 33 years.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Linda: But it was a prime. In 1833, it was perfect because the weather was calm, the moon was low and it was a perfect example that you could see so many more than you could the rest of the time. So it was one of those once in a lifetime or probably once forever, the most perfect one that ever happened.
Fisher: Could very well be. So how much area was covered by this? I mean, I would assume that where you were you’ve got some quotes in your story from people who lived in the Missouri area at the time obviously they got a great look. But what about the rest of the country, what do you know about that?
Linda: Well one of the stories in my mind was a guy that was in Virginia, so it was all the way across the country. Elder Samuel Rogers, he was in Virginia. He was a circuit rider preacher and he saw it there. So after research, all the newspapers everywhere were talking about it. So, it was definitely seen around the world but in those days you didn’t hear so much about it. But you go back to old accounts and everybody, every family has a legend about it.
Fisher: That’s unbelievable. Now it started November 13th 1833. It went a few days. They called it part of the Leonid Meteor Shower. And so this comes every 33 years. Which means the next time we see it will be around 2031 or something like that, right? Always in November?
Linda: Yeah. I don’t have the actual turn on it, but there was a place that gave you how often it came through. So it’s actually 32.5
Fisher: 32.5… Oh, that changes everything now!
Fisher: So we’re probably looking at 2029 or something like that. So tell us some of the stories of some of the people. You mentioned the circuit preacher in Virginia, who else did you run across?
Linda: Well, locally here in Ray County we had two families that were coming up the Missouri River. Well they were coming up from Kentucky, and Lexington, Missouri is on the other side of the river from us. And they had to camp on the river that night. So we had the Jabez Shotwell family and his seven children, and then Edward Wall and his eleven children. So they were all camping and waiting to cross the river in the morning to come over to Ray County, from their family traditions as they passed it down. Bruna McGuire, she was a little old lady that was a local historian. She said, “As they could not cross the Missouri River on a boat that day, they camped on the Flusher farm ‘The Night The Stars Fell.’” One of the families, seeing the sparks called out to the squire, “Stop stirring up the fire, you might set the tents on fire!”
Fisher: Oh wow! [Laughs]
Linda: So he said, “Come here and look, the world’s going to come to an end.” So they were talking about some of the slaves that were there and that they all fell on the ground and they all thought the world was going to end. It wasn’t until the sun came up the next morning that they all realized that life was going on. So it rained stars all night long.
Fisher: Wow! Now, was anything actually hitting the earth? Are you aware of anything about that?
Linda: Well, they said some of them were like bigger than normal and then they would break up and two or three of them would come down and they’d go behind trees. But they all felt like they were hitting the earth, and I’ve always collected rocks and I’ve always looked for meteorites that might have come from that event.
Linda: I haven’t found any for sale but you know there had to be when that many had fallen.
Linda: There had to be meteorites that hit the ground.
Fisher: You would think so. But how would you know when they got here.
Fisher: So who else commented on this thing?
Linda: Well, there was a little slave girl. She was living in Tennessee, and there’s a great genealogy story out there about her descendant, Angela Walton. She found a quilt that Harriet Powers put together that had about The Night The Stars Fell. Had a panel on an old fleece quilt. So she had always heard the story about her Amanda. Then she finally found out how old Amanda was because they just gave a general idea that she was just a little girl. So they figured out that she was born around 1820s. It’s a wonderful story there because Amanda said that all the slave owners thought the world was ending. So they came out and started telling all the people where they came from, who their families were, and where their mothers and fathers were. So they were all making…
Linda: They were getting ready for Judgment Day, is what it said.
Fisher: Uh huh, and so they just figured it’s not much point in freeing them, but here’s who your parents are and where they went. Unbelievable!
Linda: Yeah, and so the next morning all of them were happy because they finally found out more about their family history. So that’s what it’s all about. Can you imagine somebody knowing your family story and then they start telling it to you. It would just be like a miracle if somebody came along and offered all your information. I thought that was really….I would love to have somebody come up and tell me all of my history.
Fisher: Very special.
Linda: Then we’ve got Parley Pratt. Parley Pratt actually spent time in Richmond. When we were having the Mormon Wars in Missouri, he was one of them that came to Richmond and was here with Joseph Smith. So when I found the story about him, it touched close to me because of all the Mormon history we have here in Ray County.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Linda: They were up in Jackson County and they were all being driven out of Jackson County and they were being pursued. And when all this happened, it stopped the pursuit and it was like a miracle. So everybody felt like, you know, this was a sign from God that they were going to go on and life was going to be good here.
Fisher: So it actually saved some lives that night.
Linda: Yes, and it affected the whole future. My biggest thing was to find out why this one in 1833 was the biggest one that was ever out there. So I went all the way back through history and researched one whole night. Then I found in 902 AD, Plato was talking about a similar meteorite shower, so it had to be the same one.
Linda: It kept coming back over and over and over. So then we get in and start, you know, I’ve never been an astrologist, but it was interesting because when it comes around every thirty three years, it’s always out there. It’s just amazing the way the earth revolves around everything. You think of it shooting through the sky and just keep going straight forever, but it actually is revolving around. So the whole idea of how meteorites work is pretty amazing to me. And then I love the difference of a meteoroid just shooting through the air. When it starts to burn up, it becomes a meteor when its shooting through the sky. And when it hits the earth it’s a meteorite.
Linda: So you think of one rock and the name changes and what it’s doing at the time. So being analytical as I am, I thought that was really different, the meteoroid and the meteorite. [Laughs]
Fisher: Absolutely, and to think that this goes on every thirty three years. I’m trying to remember, I mean I remember Hale Bopp, the comet that went through back, I want to say in the ‘90s, and it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen in my lifetime. But I don’t remember a Leonid Meteor Shower quite like what’s being described here.
Linda: Yeah, and this week that we’re in right now, there’s a meteorite shower going on. I’ve reposted the story on my Facebook page for the museum and everybody is like “Oh, I’ve been out watching it.” So you know there’s so many different versions of it, but this is one of them that’s the most spectacular. If that thing is like Halley’s Comet, then everybody knows about it. But this is one of those that you don’t think about it until you start reading up on it and it’s so very interesting. Think about 902 AD, and Plato. That’s the beginning of time!
Linda: So it all comes from the beginning of written history.
Fisher: She’s Linda Emlee. She’s the museum manager at Ray County Museum in Richmond, Missouri. She’s written an article about “The Night The Stars Fell.” You can find it linked on our website, ExtremeGenes.com. Linda thanks so much for coming on!
Linda: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s always fun to share a little piece of history.
Fisher: Absolutely. And coming up next, it’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority, answering your questions on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 101
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And it’s time for preservation talk with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Hi Tom, welcome back.
Fisher: We have another email from another listener, Natalie Allen, who listens to you every week. She says, “I’m looking to purchase a new scanner.” And she said, “I have many relatives who have boxes of old pictures and documents that need to be scanned. Some of these pictures are very small, old and fragile and I want to be able to scan these tiny pictures and be able to blow them up to larger print size. And I want to buy a scanner that will not be outdated quickly, something that I can use for a while. It should be user friendly and fairly portable. It can be large, but not huge, as I will need to transport it to a few different places.” Oh, I love you Natalie, you’re taking it everywhere! She said, “I have relatives in other states and I’d like to drive to their homes and scan their items. I want to plan a scanning road trip across the country probably next year some time. It would help if it was quick and it will have to easily connect to a PC laptop where the pictures will be stored. I hope to then be able to use them with my current Adobe software. I know something like this will cost a good amount of money. I’m prepared for it. What have you got?”
Tom: Wow! [Laughs] I wish I had a relative like you!
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s a demanding woman, I like that!
Tom: Wow, that is so awesome that somebody would take their time to go and you know, go to brothers, sisters, cousins, and all this kind of stuff to preserve their memories! That is totally awesome! We need more Natalies definitely.
Fisher: Yes, we do!
Tom: This is a big email. We’re going to have to go to…we’re probably going to have to take both segments to be able to handle all this.
Fisher: Really? Okay. Bit by bit, let’s go through it.
Tom: Okay, first off, let’s start with your scanner. There’s a couple of options you can go with and what I would suggest with your “get going and do it right stuff”, I would get the Kodak scanner. And as we’ve talked to him before, in fact, they’ve actually appeared on our show is contact EZ Photoscan. Just the letter E, the letter Z, Photoscan.com. Now there’s two different ways you can do this, Natalie. They have a system that you can rent. They ship them all over the country for family reunions all kinds of things like this. It comes basically like in a briefcase. In fact, it even includes a laptop, and it includes the stand alone scanner. And I would get the flatbed also since you going to be dealing with some of the little postage size stamp-type scans as well. They’re kind of pricey though. Buy them! They’re usually into several thousand dollars, but you can’t beat them. They are by far the best. And the neat thing about the software that actually comes with it, you mentioned Adobe software which we’ll get into in a minute. The software that comes with it is really, really great. Kodak has made this. It’s just, it’s like a scanner on steroids is the best way to describe it!
Tom: Some of the things that are so neat about it is, as we’ve discussed on previous shows is, if you have some of the old pictures that are like four or five pictures glued to something and you can’t get them off. This has a real neat option when you scan it on the flatbed. If you choose this option, it will go and try to take those six pictures or however many you have and put them into separate files.
Tom: So it does two things. It scans it as a whole, so you have the whole page scanned, but then it goes and kind of says, “Okay, this is how I want to trim this picture. This is what I think is best.” And you can just push “go” and it will trim it automatically or you can go in and say, “Well, this one’s close, but I’ve got the ‘black feet’ thing that go on the corner sometimes to hold the pictures in.” And it might not get all of that. It might cut out a little bit of your picture and you can manually adjust it or, worse case scenario, if something is really off, you can go and break them into smaller photos in your Adobe software. And we’ll go into some more of that in the next segment.
Fisher: Wow, we’ve got so much ground to cover! We’ll continue with this line, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 101
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: All right, we are back, final segment of Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He’s our Preservation Authority and we’re trying to bite into this email from Natalie Allen who’s asking about a scanner because she wants to drive across the country and scan photographs and documents in the hands of her relatives who obviously will not give them to her. [Laughs]
Fisher: So we started off on this a little bit, Tom. Where do you want to go from here?
Tom: I was kind of joking in the first segment that this was going to take the whole show. This is probably two to three shows worth of information.
Fisher: It might be, let’s just do as much as we can right here.
Tom: As we talked about called E-Z PhotoScan… Chris Hart. Another thing about this scanner that’s so nice, not only will it split up your pictures, it scans it at such a high DPI you’ll be able to take your postage stamp photos and make them into big size photos. In fact, we had somebody who just came into one of our stores just the other day and she had a picture that was probably about 2 by 3. So it wasn’t as small as a stamp but it’s kind of small, and went to a local copy shop and made a copy that was 5 by 7 and it looked awful!
I mean it was like really, really bad. It looked so foggy. She showed me this and I go “Uh oh, let me see the original.” I expected the original to be bad. I looked at the original and the original was sharp and wonderful. So I don’t know what kind of a copy machine she was doing. So be careful. Don’t scan your photos on a copy machine and see something that looks like garbage and think that’s the best you can do. What you need to do, you need to get a good scanner like Natalie wants to do. Because that small photo that came in the other day, if you scan that at a high DPI like one of these Kodak scanners, you should be able to enlarge that to an 8 by 10 and it’s still going to look okay.
Fisher: Right, or even on to a billboard.
Tom: Oh exactly, exactly. If you do the right DPI on it and you scan it properly and take the time to do it right, there’s no limit to really what you can do. And even if it gets really bad, you can always go in and do retouching and you know Photoshop and different programs like that. So one thing you want to do is make sure you scan it as high as you can, and as most of these old pictures are black and white, I’m again going to say make sure you scan them in color. Do not scan them in grey scale because color will give you so much more information.
Tom: It gives you more pixels you can go in and edit. So always, always scan in color whether it’s a daguerreotype or whatever.
Fisher: And you can actually adjust the color afterwards anyway.
Tom: Exactly! And it’s easy. You press one button in Photoshop and you can turn it back into gray scale if that’s what you choose to do. But you know you can’t go the other way around so you always want to scan it at super high DPI. And so when you enlarge it, it’s still going to look good. Now one thing I really want to tell Natalie about. What she needs to make sure she does on this trip, you need to get an external solid state hard drive. Because you’re going to be driving. You’re going to be bouncing around. A solid state hard drive is an investment but it will preserve your stuff so much better. You don’t have all the moving features in it like you do in a normal hard drive. It’s solid state. It’s quick.
Fisher: Very fast.
Tom: Oh, it’s incredible! It’s amazing. I’ve got one in my iBook and it’s just incredible how fast I can scan and store stuff. And then every day as soon as you’re done scanning, you need to upload this into The Cloud every single day before you leave Aunt Martha’s house just in case a car accident happens. You never know what’s going to happen. Your car could be stolen, your brief case could be stolen. And one thing, too, I want to tell you, make sure you take good care of your hard drive and your laptop. I always put it in a brief case and fill my brief case with sheets of Styrofoam. You can go buy it at a Home Depot. And that’s one of the best insulators to keep the heat or the cold from damaging your hard drive, damaging anything you have in there. If you’re going to keep it in your trunk or wherever, get a nice size brief case, go to Goodwill, get an old cheap one and line it with Styrofoam. And that’s the best way to fight off the heat and the cold.
Fisher: Wow. That’s a good point. Well lots of stuff to go through here. Natalie. I don’t know if we got into everything you wanted to know, but hopefully that will give you a good start. And of course if you have a question for Tom, you can email us at AskTom@TMCPlace.com. Thanks Tom!
Tom: Thank you.
Fisher: Hey that wraps up our show for this week. Thanks once again to Jim Tipton founder of FindAGrave for his incredible story about how that site practically founded itself. And to Linda Emlee of Ray County, Missouri, filling us in on “The Night The Stars Fell” in 1833. How did that affect your ancestors? I know some of mine were touched. If you didn’t hear it, catch the podcast. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice normal family!