Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. In “Family Histoire” news Fisher and David talk about two women, working the same shift at a Florida hospital, who have made a remarkable DNA discovery. Hear what it is in the opening segment. David then shares the recent discovery of an ancient settlement found beneath the remains of the one destroyed at Pompeii in 79 AD. Listen to the podcast for the amazing details! David also talks about how your military ancestors are eligible for military tombstones from the government… both US and Canadian. Learn how to obtain one. David also has a new “Tech Tip” and another free database from NEHGS!
Fisher then visits (starts at 10:17) with Alice and Jessica, two ladies who used DNA to solve a most remarkable mystery. Were Alice’s father and Jessica’s grandfather really switched at birth? Hear how the story developed over three years and how the breakthrough finally occurred. See photos of the switched fathers and see how they resemble the other family!
Fisher then visits with famed genetic genealogist CeCe Moore about her role in Alice and Jessica’s case, and the information about key DNA markers that she shared with Alice. That information encouraged Alice to continue in the right direction, that eventually led her to Jessica, and the answer to a century-old mystery!
Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com then talks about “Build A Box,” so you can use your wowy cell phone camera to take quality digital images of your antique heirloom photos.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 109
Segment 1 Episode 109
Fisher: Hey, welcome back to another jam packed episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com! I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well I tell you what, we’ve got a story today that’s going to take up most of the show, and you’re going to want to listen to every moment of it. First we’re going to start out with a couple of ladies in about eight minutes who had a problem when their DNA results came back. And if you’ve gotten into DNA you know things can be surprising. But not typically this surprising. Wait till you hear from Jessica and Alice from North Carolina, in Washington, coming up in just a little bit. Then after that, CeCe Moore, who you’ve seen on many genealogical television shows, she’s a genetic genealogist. She’s going to give us her take on this story because she had an involvement in it. So we’re looking forward to talking to CeCe, but right now it is time to check in with our good friend at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, the Chief Genealogist, David Allen Lambert. Hello David, how are you doing?
David: I’m doing great. But not as good as two sisters that have been reunited in Florida. Did you see that story about the Korean girls that were found, that they were sisters, working together?
Fisher: Yeah working together on the same shift in a hospital in Florida, separated in South Korea as children from an orphanage, and adopted out to two different American families.
David: That’s amazing. I mean, I love DNA for what it does for our ancestors, but to pull together as we’ve heard many times on the show, putting immediate families back together again is amazing.
Fisher: It really is. And in fact, what we have coming up later in the show is going to get into this even more, it’s fascinating stuff. What else do you have this week David?
David: Well I’m going to dig a little deeper for you this time. Of course you’ve probably heard of Mount Vesuvius and the famous date of 79AD when Pompeii was laid under blankets of ash.
David: And the culture was destroyed pretty much over there. However, archaeologists you know, you think that they’ve found everything, have dug a little deeper, down to the Samnite culture which are the original occupants of Pompeii. Pompeii… the Roman army came in, destroyed the Samnite culture pretty much. But a tomb of a 35-40 year old lady, with all the pottery undisturbed, it’s 500 years older than the eruption at Vesuvius!
David: Yeah it’s amazing. So that’s big historical news. I mean I learned about a culture I didn’t even know existed.
Fisher: And you’ve got to think this Vesuvius which destroyed one culture, actually helped preserve the remnants of this previous culture.
David: It really did. And of course this whole area was also affected by World War II and it could have been destroyed by the Allied bombings there as well.
Fisher: And speaking of military…
David: Exactly. That comes to a point that I know we’ve chatted about off the air, but a lot of people realize that when a veteran dies, they’re entitled, he or she, to a military gravestone. But a lot of people during their research may come across Revolutionary War veteran, a Civil War veteran, and war major, whatever the case might be. The federal government through the Veterans Administration using form 40-1330, just Google search “Veteran’s headstone 40-1330” and you’ll find the forms online. Now I think I remember you talking about one of your ancestors that you had a stone for, am I correct?
Fisher: Yeah that’s right. Westchester County, New York, a Revolutionary soldier, he was not marked. The form cost me about $80 to process, but the government actually came up with a fabulous military stone and we had a ceremony there, with people dressed up in Revolutionary garb as they marked his grave. It was absolutely phenomenal.
David: Canada offers the same thing, so if you have a Canadian ancestor who fought in the war through the “lastpostfund.ca” that website is a government organization that will allow you to put in an application, just like we do in the states. To get a gravestone for your World War I or World War II, or whatever war Canadian ancestor. I’m doing that right now for my grand uncle.
Fisher: Great stuff.
David: It really is. My Tech Tip is… you’re online, and you go onto one of the commercial sites like Fold3 where you can get the War of 1812 pensions, you print those all off, and you’ve got them in the order they were in the case. And I’m sure you’ve done this before, probably at the Archives and what not, where you have all this paperwork and it’s a jumble. My suggestion is to scan each one of the documents, or if you have the digital images, number them in chronological order. It’s going to read like a diary. Each one of the things is going to tell a story from the application all the way to the veteran’s death.
David: The affidavits are going to be in order. It’s going to make more sense especially with all the medical things and civil war pensions. I think you will be happy with the results.
Of course NEHGS… their free guest user data base of the week, we are going out to Denmark again, and in conjunction with our collaboration with FamilySearch.org. There are over 3.2 million marriages from the 17th century to 1916, over 3.1 million baptisms, and over 630 thousand burials and the collaboration with FamilySearch, we couldn’t be more happy with. At AmericanAncestors.org we are celebrating Family History Month, so if you’re in the Boston area every Wednesday, come on in for free for the month of October!
Fisher: All right. Great stuff, David, as always. We’ll see you again next week. And coming up next, two ladies who had a problem with their DNA. Wait till you hear the whole story coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Segment 2 Episode 109
Host Scott Fisher with guests Jessica and Alice
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show. This is Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with two guests, Jessica in Raleigh, North Carolina and Alice in Vancouver, Washington. Ladies, nice to have you on the show!
Jessica: Thank you, nice to be here.
Fisher: You know, I’m thinking about this. Typically when we bring people on, they’re cousins or some sort, or they made some relationship discovery, and yours is a little bit different. You’re cousins, but you’re not. I want to start with you, Alice, because you began this investigation some time back and this has made a lot of noise. We’ve talked about it on the show before, but it’s great to have you guys on to talk about your journey of discovery, to find out exactly what was going on here. Let’s lay down the groundwork. Alice, how did it start for you?
Alice: I took a DNA test and the results came back just totally wrong. It said that I was half Jewish, and I knew I was supposed to be three quarters Irish. I mean there was no question in my mind. It was really perplexing. It just set me in knots trying to find out what was happening. My brothers were making fun of me, and calling me their Jewish sister, “Why did I give up my Irish heritage?”
Fisher: [Laughs] What did you make of it, Alice, at that point? You knew your heritage, you knew your parents, I assume you knew your grandparents?
Alice: No, I did not know my grandparents. None of my grandparents were alive by the time my parents married, so I was going purely on paper trail.
Alice: It looked right from my mother’s side, and so my father was a mystery. He was raised in the north from the time he was a year old, so I had doubt.
Fisher: Sure. You were thinking you were an Irish girl, and it comes back Jewish. Did your siblings test?
Alice: Well, yes. There are seven of us, and eventually all seven of us tested.
Fisher: All with the same results?
Alice: All with the same results. We all tested at 23andMe and I actually have two brothers who took Y-DNA tests. But it was real clear, and originally we sent my results off to Doug MacDonald, who essentially said it’s as clear as can be, “One of your parents is Jewish.”
Fisher: All right. Now let’s go over and talk to Jessica. Now Jessica, you’re in Raleigh, North Carolina. What did you know about your background?
Jessica: Well, I knew my mom’s side, that I was Japanese, Filipino and Mexican Indian. My Dad was more of a mystery because he died when I was very young, and his father died like two years after him.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Jessica: I didn’t know a whole lot about their background in specific. I just knew he was Jewish. So when I took the test I was hoping to see exactly what kind of Jewish we were, where we were actually from. And like Alice, the results came back wrong.
Fisher: Came back a little bit different. Now, your Mom’s stuff came through though, right?
Jessica: Yes. That was all right. She did not lie to me! [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] But from that, you probably came to the assumption “Okay, this DNA thing is working because it’s obviously showing my mother’s side is correct. My father’s side must be too, but this is really kind of strange,” because you’re thinking that you come from a Jewish background?
Jessica: Exactly. And it came back that I was only about 2% Ashkenazi. I knew my paternal grandmother was probably Sephardic so that meant that I wasn’t Jewish. But I thought that my paternal grandfather was supposed to be Ashkenazi Jew, and it turned out he wasn’t, and instead, it said that I was about 25% British or Irish, which was strange. I didn’t expect to be the British or Irish at all.
Fisher: I bet not. Now you two got together at some point. Alice, you reached out to Jessica. How did you see her results?
Alice: I saw her results because we also tested all our first cousins, because we wanted to be sure which side was which.
Alice: And we didn’t match my father’s nephew one centimorgan.
Alice: I mean it was zero.
Fisher: No relation at all?
Alice: So that’s where we got the idea.
Fisher: Okay. But he tied into Jessica?
Alice: He tied into Jessica. And he tied into Jessica exactly where I would expect, a grandchild of our Irish grandparents just tie into him.
Alice: I reached out to her.
Fisher: Tell us about that initial communication.
Alice: Well to start out with, when I saw her, I started shaking when I saw her listings. And I intuitively knew this was going to be important. Genetically, she looked like what I would expect to find.
Alice: So I wrote to her and asked her would she help me try to solve a hundred year old mystery that this was my cousin that she had matched up to, and she responded “Yes.” And from there we started talking. I explained when and where my father was born, and her father was too young, so I suggested, “Why don’t you look at your grandfather?” And I’ll leave it up to Jessica now.
Fisher: Okay Jessica, what happened then?
Jessica: Well, it was sort of a crazy thing. She contacted me through, I guess he is my cousin, he was listed on the 23andMe. You get a list of your relatives.
Jessica: And he was my closest relative. And she wrote to me, told me she wasn’t him, but she was supposedly his cousin, but wasn’t actually related to him. Then the story unfolded and I had no idea at first what was happening. She asked me if I had any relation to her family name, that there was any way that I could be tied in, and I didn’t recognize any of it. But eventually it came out that she had a hypothesis that my grandfather was switched at birth with her father! So she asked me when my grandfather was born and where. And unfortunately, I didn’t know that much about my grandfather, so I looked up what I could, and it turned out that he was born at Fordham Hospital, around the same time I thought, as her father would have been born.
Fisher: So we’re talking in the Bronx, New York?
Jessica: Yes. I knew my father had been born in the Bronx, so it seemed plausible.
Fisher: And what year were we talking?
Fisher: 1913. That was the year my father was born, in the Bronx, by the way. I hope we’re not all related. This could be very complicated!
Fisher: He was born September 28th by the way, four days after your people.
Fisher: But he was born at home, so I don’t think there’s too much to worry about there. [Laughs] So Jessica, you get this whole thing from Alice that your grandfather and her dad may have been switched at birth in the Bronx. What did you think of that when you first heard it?
Jessica: I thought it was nuts! [Laughs] I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it. I mean, I had already gotten these very interesting results from 23andMe about my ancestry, and I just kind of resigned myself to never knowing, because so many people on that side of the family are gone.
Jessica: I thought I would never find out why I was Irish. I asked my aunt and she didn’t know. I mean it was a gift, but it was sort of a crazy gift.
Fisher: Did it upset either one of you? Alice, did it upset you to find this out?
Alice: Well, at first it was disturbing because I didn’t know exactly what was happening, you know, did my mother cheat on my father?
Alice: I mean you have all these flights of fancy.
Fisher: [Laughs] How about you Jessica?
Jessica: I thought it was exciting. I mean part of it is I’m not quite as close to the actual switch as Alice was, so I think it’s probably more traumatic for her. But I thought it was just sort of a really interesting story, and really interesting to me because I felt a lot of kinship with Ireland for a reason I never really understood. And to find out that I’m a quarter Irish was very exciting to me.
Fisher: Very exciting! So what did you do to confirm this? Was there anything more you could do?
Alice: We tested Jessica’s first cousin once removed, who would be the daughter of my grandparents if in fact they were switched.
Alice: And when we tested her, the results came back that she was our first cousin.
Jessica: And before that, I remember this was a big thing, so I contacted my aunt and asked if she had any pictures of my great grandparents. I know we were all waiting with baited breath, to see you know, if there was going to be any resemblance between Alice’s father and who I thought were my great grandparents. And when we got the pictures, I think Alice wrote me, by the way, and she said she just knew that these were her grandparents!
Fisher: Well you can’t look at those pictures and come to any other conclusion. Frankly, I’ve seen them, and I mean one of your relative’s supposed fathers was really tall and the son was really short with a completely different look, and then vice versa, the really short father and the really tall son that looked nothing like him.
Jessica: Yeah, I have a picture of my grandfather with his Dad, Sam, and my grandfather’s a very tall man and Sam was very tiny. It’s comical now that I think about it, but it must have been very confusing for them.
Fisher: Well, and you thinking about it, and we’re talking about a mistake that was made in a hospital room 102 years ago, and some nurse obviously switched your futures, and those of your parents and grandparents, and your descendants as well. I mean it’s really fascinating isn’t it?
Jessica: Yes, its crazy isn’t it? And that might be the part for me, but it’s the strangest for me just thinking how different things would have been had the switch not happened. They ended up living different lives.
Fisher: And by the way, we should mention that we got the pictures of these fathers and their alleged sons. You ought to see the sons by the way. They look like the opposite fathers. It’s absolutely incredible, and I don’t think there’s anybody left on the planet that could come to any other conclusion than these dads were switched at birth which is absolutely unbelievable. So how has this affected your life now you’ve found this? Obviously you’ve both gotten a lot of attention on it. Are you enjoying the journey?
Alice: Well for me, I’m really excited because we’ve been looking for so long, and the seven siblings have tested, and we’ve met over it, and we celebrated my father’s 100th birthday together thinking, “We’re never gonna find out.” And we really wanted to know, so now we’re seeing pictures of people who look like us. We never looked like anybody we knew.
Alice: So it’s just thrilling for us. For the next generation, they tend to think, “It’s very interesting, do we have to change our tattoos?” Things like that!
Fisher: [Laughs] Well the question is, I guess though with this, which tree do you follow now, or do you have two of them? How about you Alice?
Alice: I follow the Benson tree. I actually have Phillip Benson in the tree as the son of my grandparents, but I also have my father there. Since my Dad was never raised by the people who brought him home from hospital. His mother died when he was nine months old, and he was made a ward of an orphanage. So I really don’t have a lot of closeness to that side of the family.
Fisher: Right, how about for you Jessica?
Jessica: You know I follow both of them. It’s such a confusing situation, but I feel they are both sort of my families. I’m so grateful that my grandfather was raised by loving parents, and I’m just really just shattered that Alice’s Dad couldn’t have the same experience. But I love being able to tell my kids, I have two very young children, to be able to tell them where their ancestors are from and this whole story, because I think it all goes into making us who we are.
Fisher: Oh, no question, and the discovery itself becomes part of your family history.
Jessica: Oh yeah, it’s going to be one that’s passed down for a while.
Fisher: Now how did CeCe Moore get involved in this?
Alice: CeCe Moore got involved almost three years ago when I got my results back and I started doing the genetics of it, and I needed to test it against somebody who knew what they were talking about, my theories. And so I initially sent my data to her, and she confirmed I was on the right path. And then she has always been there when I had questions about something. She’s great about answering those questions.
Fisher: Oh yeah, she is. She’s just terrific. All right, we’re gonna take a break. Thank you ladies for coming on and telling us this story, it’s incredible. Jessica, your blog on this was number one, hysterical, as well as informative. We shared it before, we’re gonna bring it back. Of course it’s on our website ExtremeGenes.com. People can check out the pictures of the swapped ancestors here from 1913, and we’re going to talk to CeCe Moore about the genetic side of this whole thing, coming up next on Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show!
Segment 3 Episode 109
Host Scott Fisher with guest CeCe Moore
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And as you just heard a few minutes ago, we’ve been talking with Jessica and Alice. And they’re, I guess you’d call the most interesting non cousins you would ever find. And they wound up swapped in their family lines because their ancestors were swapped at birth back in 1913 in The Bronx.
It all started with Alice in Vancouver, Washington working on trying to solve the mystery of why she wasn’t matching with cousins. It went back three years ago. And part of her solution was to talk to my friend, CeCe Moore. Hi CeCe, how are you? Welcome to the show.
CeCe: Great! Thanks so much for having me.
Fisher: This is so overdue to have you on. Of course CeCe is on “Finding Your Roots.” You see her on TV all the time as a Professional Genetic Genealogist. And she really is one of the best friends of the entire industry, helping people to figure out incredible mysteries. And this has to be one of the most incredible ones I’ve ever run across.
CeCe: Yeah, it was really something. I mean people will sometimes say to me, “Oh, could my ancestor have been swapped at birth?” Then I’d laugh and say “No, you know the chances of that are practically nil.” It’s very rarely going to be the explanation for these unexpected surprises. But in Alice’s case, it turns out to be exactly that.
Fisher: No question. You think about that. I mean some nurse in some scatter brain moment, maybe distracted by something, changed the entire futures of two entire families.
CeCe: Yeah. And it’s just unbelievable when you think about the repercussions of this one event, setting one baby down in one place and another down in another place. And these men lived lives that were meant for each other. And their descendants ended up also living totally different lives than they would have, really incredible when you think about the twists of fate.
Fisher: Well let’s talk about this. Alice contacted you back three years ago. And this only got resolved earlier this year. So that’s why we’re talking about it so much now. When she got in touch with you, what is the process for you as a Genetic Genealogist?
CeCe: At the time, I was very involved with on my mailing lists. I am still the administrator for the ISOGG, International Society of Genetic Genealogy, DNA “newbie mailing list.” And I think that’s probably how Alice knew me. I was answering a lot of questions publicly. And she came to me privately and said that she had gotten these very unexpected admixture or ancestral origin results and what did I think about this. So I just started looking at her results. So I was advising her on further testing that might help to resolve this. And also she needed a second pair of eyes to tell her that she was really seeing what she thought she was seeing. Sometimes when you see your results and there’s one of these major surprises, you just need somebody else to take a look at it.
Fisher: Well there’re not a lot of Irish people who get back a large percentage of Jewish ancestry. And I’m sure that had to shock you as well.
CeCe: It did, because although it’s difficult for these companies to tell you exactly what you are down to the country level, like Irish versus English versus Scandinavian and German.
CeCe: And we do urge caution on that. They’re very good at predicting Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. So when you see that, you know there’s something there especially when you’re seeing it in such large percentages like Alice did. So there was no question in my mind that the test was correct on that. And that she was just about exactly half Ashkenazi Jewish. And we don’t see that very often you know. People might get a surprise of a few points here and there, two, three percent. Myself, I was surprised that I was about one percent Jewish. But half Jewish, now that is really something!
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
CeCe: For Irish Alice.
Fisher: Yes, for Irish Alice. And then of course ultimately in February of this year, she found Jessica in Raleigh, North Carolina. And they figured out that this whole swap had taken place. The most unusual story maybe you’ve ever encountered in this situation?
CeCe: Well you know I do come across some unbelievable stories. A lot of my work has to stay private, so I can’t discuss publicly some of the things that we’ve seen. But even my public stories, I’ve had of really big surprises. So I don’t know if this is the most surprising, it’s certainly among the most surprising. Interesting thing is, is that we had discussed this possibility of a baby switch and really it was our main theory. After some time looking at all of the other possible explanations, we had come to the conclusion that it’s most likely what happened. And interestingly, we were looking for other people that were born in that hospital around the same time within that, you know, a couple of days. And we started looking for people who had very similar last names and testing their family members. I don’t know if Alice went into that.
Fisher: Is the similar name being the idea that perhaps the nurse mistook this from one family for this child from another family?
CeCe: Exactly, so one of the things that I suggested to the family was that they have a Y DNA test on the males. Because normally if we’re trying to answer a question on the direct paternal lines of the father’s, father’s line which was the case in this.
CeCe: …we want to do an YSPR test to see if we can identify a surname. So when you’re working with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, you often won’t see that surname continuity that we might see from somebody who has deep English roots. That’s because Ashkenazi Jews didn’t adopt surnames until much later in time. But we still want to try you and see if maybe we will get a real close match of somebody who shared a direct paternal ancestor very recently. So when Alice’s brother did the Y DNA test, we did get a man with a last name Cohen who was a close match. Now normally I don’t take a lot from that because there’s lots of Cohens, and as I said, the surnames were not adopted till later, but it was one of the only clues that we had. So I traced that Cohen gentleman’s family tree back to his Cohen ancestors and started trying to work forward in time. Seeing if we could find a Cohen who was living in New York in 1913 and had a child, and there was. So we asked that family if they were willing to take an autosomal DNA test.
CeCe: See if they might be closely related to Alice and her siblings. So that was one of the first things we tried, because we were thinking, “Cohen, Collins, so close alphabetically.”
Fisher: Right. And if it’s spelled with bad hand writing, you could see it that way.
CeCe: Yeah. If both babies are crying, too, you know, you’re taking care of them back and forth, back and forth. And they’re right next to each other there in the nursery. So that was our first working theory and that didn’t pan out. We didn’t get an autosomal DNA match to that Cohen family. But that was one of the first steps after getting her brothers tested.
Fisher: So when you saw the photographs of the sons and how they matched the parents or didn’t match the parents, what was your first impression?
CeCe: Wow! Alice wrote to me. She said I was one of the very first ones that she told because I had been working with the family for so long on it. And I was just, I mean literally dumbfounded.
CeCe: When you see those pictures, it’s just incredible on both sides!
Fisher: Yes, both sides.
CeCe: Both men look so much like their families, their biological families. And for those men to grow up in those families, they must have felt so out of place. I really wish we were able to tell them, that they had still been around to find out the resolution of this mystery. I do see this a lot where someone gets an unexpected surprise, like for instance, their father is not their biological father. They didn’t know that and they find out after DNA testing. And in pretty much every case I’ve ever worked or been a part of, they tell me that it answers a lot of questions for them.
CeCe: It is a surprise but deep down they felt different, that maybe they didn’t quite fit in. And I’m positive that these two men were feeling that way.
Fisher: She’s CeCe Moore, she’s the professional Genetic Genealogist you see on “Finding Your Roots” and other great TV shows involving family history. CeCe, thank you so much for coming on and talking about this, and I hope you’ll come back and talk to us again, because I know you’ve got a lot in your head that lots of people would benefit from.
CeCe: Oh I’d love to! This went so fast. There’s much more to talk about.
Fisher: There is indeed. Thanks for joining us!
CeCe: [Laughs] Thank you!
Fisher: And coming up next, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he’s our Preservation Authority, answering another listener question about preserving your priceless heirlooms, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com!
Segment 4 Episode 109
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 with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he’s our Preservation Authority. And every week at this time, we talk about stuff you can do to preserve your family heirlooms. Those precious things that you want to make sure get passed down for generations. And today Tom, I’m kind of excited about this “build a box”. You want to explain what this is about?
Tom: Yeah. It’s kind of like a photo booth for your ancestors.
Fisher: Okay, so this is about creating a little something that your camera can be mounted in.
Fisher: And you can put photographs at the bottom and set the lighting and take pictures and get a really nice duplicate.
Tom: The neat thing about this is, something if you’re a do it yourself at all, you can build these yourself. They’re going to be available commercially from some people I’ve heard about later in the year. But it’s really easy to build. So what you’re going to do is, you’re going to build something for your camera phone. Because everybody has like Nikons, Canons, high end cameras usually have a tripod. They can mount it upside down. They know the way to shoot these things. But a lot of us know, we have a great camera phone, like the new iPhone 6S that they just released I think last month. So one of the biggest problems we’ve talked about it in the past is, you have these old frames that you don’t want to take the frame apart. They are really, really delicate and you’re going to damage them. So what you’re going to do is you’re actually going to build a box which will have three sides. If you’re looking at the box, you have the back side and you have the two sides and then you have a top. So there’s no front and there doesn’t have to be a bottom either so you can slide your photos in. And the best way to build this is with stuff called plastic core. It looks just like cardboard. It’s fluted, except it’s made out of plastic. And you can purchase it at about any science shop and it’s not very expensive at all. So what you want to do is, get some good quality gaffers tape and you just tape the seams so the box will stand on its own. In the middle of it, drill a hole of whatever size your camera is, like if you have the little hole saws, use about like a one inch hole.
Fisher: Now in the middle of what? We’re talking on the top?
Tom: Yes, on the top.
Tom: So you’re looking at the box and it’s basically a “U” with a back. And it’s an upside down “U”, okay?
Tom: You’ll set your camera phone on it to shoot. And then you say, “Well, what about my flash?” You don’t want to use the flash on your camera for something like this, because it’s going to reflect all over, it’ll be really strange. So go to Home Depot or some lighting company and get about some twelve inch LED lights. They’re really inexpensive. You really want to get the ones that say 5600k. You don’t want to get the warm colors that’s going to kind of make a yellowish tint.
Tom: A lot of daylights are blue. And if you don’t have the opportunity to get a true 5600k, blue is better than the yellowish light, because the blue is more of a natural light. So then what you want to do is get these lights. And they’ll be in the top corners facing down towards your photo, okay? And you can usually adjust the brightness of them. And if they don’t come with their own slider on them, you can go to Home Depot and buy really inexpensive dimmers and just hook a dimmer to both of them and then you’ll be able to adjust your light. Because the neat thing about the camera phones, they have the big, huge screen. And so what you see is what you’re going to get.
Tom: So you have your little LED lights. Just use some double sided tape to stick them in the corners. You don’t want them shining right down on the photo, you want them kind of on an angle, like a 45° angle. So they’re kind of in the corners and that will shine down on your photos. Now if there’s something on that’s going to cause a glare, you can buy a really simple polarizing filter. And you don’t need very big ones, because most camera phones, the camera itself is pretty small.
Tom: Most of them are going to be under one inch. So call B&H Photo or go to your local photo shop and just get a little polarizing filter. Now you’re going to want to get the polarizing filters that are called a “two stage”, so there’s actually two rings on the polarizing filter and you can spin one. So what you’re doing is, you’ll set that under your lens and you’ll be looking through your camera and you’ll just kind of spin one of the filters until you see the glare go away. And it’ll blow your mind! And you can adjust it. And it’ll take up a little bit of the light out of it too and make it a lot smoother. That’s right after the break, we’ll go into a little bit more detail about how to get super rich pictures with this system.
Fisher: This sounds like a lot of fun.
Tom: Oh it’s awesome!
Fisher: All right. Looking forward to hearing about it, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 109
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show! Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com he’s our Preservation Authority. And we’re talking about “build a box”. This box that you can use to place your camera on top and face your ancient photographs and digitize them with good lighting and all that’s involved in that. Now Tom, you were saying that somebody’s actually going to introduce this to the market in the not too distant future. What do you think these are going to sell for?
Tom: From what I understand, the preliminary estimates are about 100 bucks a piece.
Fisher: Ooh! And what would be the cost of building it yourself like you’ve been describing in the previous segment?
Tom: If you spend fifty bucks, you’d be having, you know, the Rancho Deluxe one!
Fisher: [Laughs] Really?
Tom: Oh absolutely! In fact, some people are going to think, “Oh, can I just use a cardboard box?” Yeah, you can use a cardboard box, but make sure it’s a white box. You don’t want to use one that’s, you know, the craft color. And the neat thing about that is, with LED lights, there’s not going to be any heat put off so it’s going to cause any problem. Whereas if you tried doing this with a cardboard box and put incandescent lights in there or something, you can kind of kill your ancestors as you burn their pictures!
Fisher: Oooh! That’s a dangerous thing. And that’s a good warning right there.
Tom: Absolutely, yeah. Don’t think, “Oh hey, I’ve got some lights I can use this!” Even florescent light gives off a little bit of heat. You want to use good quality LED lights, because they’re not going to put off the heat, they’re not going to damage your pictures. If the phone rings and you walk away from it, you’re not going to come back and see Aunt Mary has now turned brown!
Tom: So she’ll be fine.
Fisher: Oh that would just…Oh that would sicken me! [Laughs]
Tom: Oh it would. It would really be bad. So like I say, you can use a white cardboard box.
But I would splurge a little bit and spend another ten bucks and go to a science shop or someplace that sells a plastic core like the craft shop.
Tom: And just get some good gaffer’s tape. Make a nice little box out of this. Now one thing that we’ve talked about, this is for camera phones. Don’t try doing this with your 35mm unless it’s a really, really small one, then go ahead and knock yourself out with one of those things too. But remember, you don’t want to put a second hole in the box for your flash. You definitely want to use the LED lights, because if you use your flash, the distance it is from your lens it’s going to cause all kind of reflections and things, so you don’t want to deal with that. But go ahead and contact BHPhoto.com and you can get the two stage polarizing filters. You really want to get the two stage polarizing filters, because it’s a lot easier when you have the one and you’re kind of just twisting it till you see the depth of field that you want, you see the reflections going away. It’s just super wonderful. The other one, it’s a little bit harder to use, a little bit more expensive but it’s worth your time to do it that way. Now one thing you want to do is, sometimes you’re going to have the old pictures that are kind of curled. You know, “what am I going to do with a curl?” Well, since you have a polarizing filter, you can put a piece of glass over it. Go to the dollar store, buy a frame for a buck and take that glass and then just set it right on top of the photo you’re shooting. If you have something that’s really, really big, you can make this box any size you want. But you have to remember, with your depth of field, if you go wide, you’re going to have to also go taller.
Tom: If you go taller, you’re going to need brighter lights.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s a good point. Because it’s got to be able to reach that within the perusal of the lens, right?
Tom: Exactly! And if you’re not a math genius, the easiest way to do that is, set down your 11 x 17 photo or however big it is, and just start lifting up your camera phone until you can see the entire image on your camera phone. Get a tape measure, see how high your camera is. “Okay, that’s fourteen inches up, so I’m going to have to have a box that’s fourteen inches up by 11 x 17,” or whatever. And that’s what’s neat about plastic core. Most sizes it comes in, is like 12 x 24 or 24 x 48. You can even get 4 x 8 sheets if you’re really crazy.
Fisher: And it is really cheap by the way.
Tom: Oh it is! Like the political signs. So when you build this, when you know your dimensions and everything, it’s going to be really easy. But it’s a wonderful thing. It’s a good way to get all your pictures scanned and ready. And so when you come on the cruise with us next year, you’ll be able to fix them in Photoshop.
Fisher: All right, “build a box.” I like the sound of it! Thanks Tom!
Tom: You bet! Thank you.
Fisher: Good to see you. Well that wraps up our show for this week. Thanks once again to Jessica from Raleigh, North Carolina and Alice from Vancouver, Washington and CeCe Moore the genetic genealogist for coming on and talking about amazing “switched at birth ancestry” that has been discovered for Jessica and Alice. What a story! If you didn’t catch it, make sure you listen to the podcast. You can find it on iTunes, iHeart Radio and of course ExtremeGenes.com. Hey remember to join our Facebook community of Extreme Genies. Give us a like on the page. We’ll see you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!