Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors.org. David highlights another Tech Tip of the Week, and Free Database from NEHGS. Fisher and David also speak of the horrors of the new list that has come forth from an investigation from NPR, revealing countless World War II servicemen who were unknowingly exposed to mustard gas as part of a government experiment concerning chemical warfare. Is your relative on the list? We’ll tell you where to check.
Stan Lindaas of Heritage Consulting.com returns to talk with Fisher about an astounding study that will once and for all answer the question, “Why family history?” The lifelong benefits to your children and grandchildren will shock you! This is a segment you won’t want to miss.
Then(starts at 25:17), Gary Nielsen talks to Fisher about a story tied to his wife’s side… an outlaw shot and killed in 1911, whose body went on display in carnivals around the country for 66 years! No… that’s NOT a WAX figure! This true story would be a highlight in anyone’s family history.
Then, Tom Perry returns to talk more about “alphabet soup…” those various digital terms that can make your eyes glaze over. With a little knowledge from Tom, you can save a lot of time, effort, and even money, doing your own preservation at home.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript for Episode 112
Segment 1 Episode 112
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes, and ExtremeGenes.com. My name is Fisher. I am your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well coming up for you here in just a little bit, we’re going to bring Stan Lindaas back from HeritageConsulting.com. Talking about this study he discovered to give you the answers to that question that everybody always asks anybody who’s in the family history, “Why do you do this stuff?” Well there’s a real practical reason for it and wait till you hear the benefit. It’s unbelievable stuff. Stan will have that for you in about eight minutes. Then later in the show, perhaps the most outrageous family history story that I’ve ever heard, involving a man’s wife’s relative who died in the early 20th century, and whose body went on a journey all of its own. For the next 66 years! You will not believe what he has to say, so we’ll get to that a little bit later on. But first it is time to check in with Boston, and the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert, how are things in Beantown bud?!
David: I’m glad to be back home but it was lovely to be out in Salt Lake City.
Fisher: Yes you were researching. Did you have a good experience?
David: I had an amazing experience. You know what? I’ve been going out there for over 20 years, and it always amazes me that I come back from the Family History Library with something. The thing about my Ancestry, I mean I do a lot of my New England stuff, obviously, back home but I have a grandfather from England, and I know I’m English, and I’ve got Irish on my dad’s side. But I have a new ethnicity.
David: Um hmm. I don’t know what holiday I have to celebrate, maybe one of the listeners can tell me.
David: But in 1765 my fifth great grandfather Randall Wilkinson married Martha Cartwright, and they were married in Bangor, Flintshire, Wales. So I’m partly Welsh!
Fisher: And you didn’t know this?
David: I didn’t know it. My DNA didn’t tell me that I was Welsh. So sometimes the research will pan out. The nice thing about it is that next time I watch Bonanza, I’ll be able to say the Cartwright family and I have a connection. [Laughs]
David: So the other thing that I thought was great, and I think we chatted about it before but I never have gone myself. The Discovery Center that FamilySearch has, it’s amazing!
Fisher: Yes, it is. It’s almost like Disneyland for family history, if you have contributed, especially, things to FamilySearch.org.
David: Exactly. And I have put a lot of the photographs that I have in of my ancestors and I put it back about 5 or 6 generations. I was amazed to see it come up on a screen and then they show you geographically where your name is distributed and how many times your last name shows up in the United States. But the time machine was amazing.
David: I just selected my grandmother who was born in 1896 and all of a sudden the living room of the kitchen (the room in front of us) transformed digitally back to 1896, like I was traveling back in time. It was a lot of fun. I mean, I wish my kids were there to experience it. I think now that I’ve had this experience one of my kids will probably say, “Yeah Dad let’s go and travel in the time machine in Salt Lake City!: [Laughs]
Fisher: Great call!
David: The Family Histoire news, the thing that’s the headline is from “FindMyPast” now. FindMyPast has been really great with releasing a lot of English records and American records. But this week they released the 1939 register.
David: Have you heard of it before?
Fisher: No. I hadn’t realized that because I’m a little confused, because they always do it like on the first year after the change of decades. So 1901- 1911- 1921, why 1939?
David: Well this isn’t really a census. It was a register that was taken to record 41 million people. With the outbreak of World War II they sent over 65,000 enumerators to around 16 million households, recorded every person, their occupation and their exact date of birth. So that they could keep track of them in case they had to evacuate people. I mean the outbreak of World War II was right upon them and I think they were trying to figure how they can keep track of everyone. Now the tough thing for genealogists will be, currently the 1911 census is available.
David: The 1921 census won’t be released until 2022.
Fisher: Right. 101 years later.
David: This 1939 register is going to represent the only census if you will, for the 1930s because the ’31 census was destroyed from the bombings in World War II.
Fisher: Right. And they didn’t do one in ’41?
David: Correct. In 1941 they were at the height of the war so they didn’t. So they will not have another census release until 2052 when the 1951 census is a 101 years old. But we’ll talk about that one when Family Histoire news in 2052 comes up.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.
David: Our hologram edition!
Fisher: Exactly! All right, what else do you have?
David: Well the other thing that I wanted to talk about was another World War II related item. But here back in the United States, NPR has compiled a database of over 3,900 individuals that were exposed to mustard gas unbeknownst to them.
David: Veterans, there’s a free database and we’ll have the link for it available on the Extreme Genes Facebook page, and also on Twitter. The story of, “Were your relatives exposed to mustard gas?” We’ll allow you to search a free database by the name of the veteran, the last known residence, their service and when they were born, enlisted and in some cases when they died. I didn’t even know that in World War II that they would be experimenting on our serviceman like this but apparently so.
Fisher: Ooh, that’s ugly!
Fisher: So this was all part of an experiment?
David: Apparently so.
David: You know it’s sad, you hear about all the ones that were gassed in Argon forest in World War I.
David: [Sigh] Experimenting on chemical warfare but they started compiling this database back in 1993 when the official in the Department of Veterans Affairs told the agency they were trying to locate the test subjects.
Fisher: Some of them still living?
David: Some of them are probably still living so I think it’s important to our listeners by searching on your own ancestor or people in your community. I searched for one in my home town and found a fellow who died in 1981. I’m very anxious now to track down his family and say, “Are you aware that your dad was hit by mustard gas?” And maybe there’s some compensation that could be done. It’s part of history and unfortunately we learn from the shadows of the past the things that has happened, many years later.
Fisher: Sad stuff.
David: One of the things that I wanted to talk about was the Tech Tip of the week. And that would be to use color in your genealogy.
Fisher: That’s kind of fundamental but boy its important isn’t it?
David: It is. I mean if you separated out the thumb drives that you have, one thumb drive for each one of your grandparent’s families, and made a color sticker on it or to color code each one of the thumb drives that would be important. The other thing you can do is you can color code your file folders or even the separators that you use. Or digitally make colored folders on your computer. That way maybe your maternal side grandfather is blue, your paternal grandmother is pink, your paternal grandfather is green, and your maternal grandmother is orange. That way you can quickly grab the things that you need or grab the right thumb drive. It’s a real simple little tip. But I think that people will find it useful.
David: Especially when your genealogical toolkit is on the road.
Fisher: It can be high tech or low tech.
David: Exactly. And the free guest user database from AmericanAncestors.org is the United States 1910 census index. So you can use this to help search for your family in 1910 in the United States and this is one of the collaborations that we have with FamilySearch.org.
Fisher: Great stuff! All right, David, thank you for joining us!
David: Catch you next week.
Fisher: And coming up next, we’ll talk to a man whose wife’s relative went on quite a journey that lasted 66 years… after he died! [Laughs] Wait till you hear this! You’ll be telling this story to your friends I promise. It’s coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Segment 2 Episode 112
Host Scott Fisher with guest Stan Lindaas
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, with my good friend Stan Lindaas from Heritage Consulting.com. Stan, good to see you again! It’s been a bit.
Stan: Hey! I know. You just love me enough to keep bringing me back. Thanks a lot.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well one question we all get as researchers, genealogists and storytellers, is, “Why do we do this stuff?” So I’ll ask you, why do you do family history research?
Stan: I could say I do it to upset other people, but the reality is I do it because I’m frankly addicted to it.
Fisher: Addicted. Yeah, that makes sense. I myself have come to my census [Laughs] It’s a genealogy joke. It’s really bad! But here is a good explanation to give back to the people of the true life benefits of doing family history research.
Stan: Yeah. I mean, in all things, there are practical reasons for doing stuff. And most of us can’t come up with a practical reason for doing family history and genealogy. I have brothers that look at me and go, “I know you like this, but don’t ever talk to me about it.”
Stan: And I can’t quite comprehend it, you know. I’ve come back from the battlefield in Andersonville and stuff like that and he doesn’t want to talk about it. But there are some real practical reasons for doing it. We talk about leaving heritage for our family and our children, but it’s even more than that. Back in 2000, there was a young lady who had gone to her family reunion, the obligatory attendance thing.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Stan: In the course of the day…
Fisher: “Do I HAVE to go, Mom?!”
Stan: Pretty much. And once you get there, well, her niece was being somewhat of a pain, considerably lower than the neck.
Fisher: Uh oh.
Stan: And, she corrected the child, which brought the ire of her sister upon her.
Fisher: Uh oh.
Stan: And so it became the Hollywood version of the family reunion.
Fisher: [Laughs] “The mess.”
Stan: Yeah, the mess. Well, that evening, her father called her into his bedroom and she sat down on the side of the bed, lamenting, “My family is just crumbling. It’s all going away.”
And she was thinking about it, and she got to talking to a friend of hers, a Dr. Duke, at Emory University. Well Dr. Duke’s wife works with handicap children and she had noticed in her observation of working with these kids, that those children, who could tell stories about their family, were able to handle their handicap situation far better than the others.
Stan: Yeah. And Dr. Duke thought, that’s interesting, and so he and a colleague set up a study where they had looked at adolescence and they had two groups. One group knew nothing about their ancestors, none of the stories, good, bad or indifferent. And the other had a fairly complete knowledge of stories about their parents’ grandparents and great grandparents. They created a battery of tests, and in the process of asking these questions, they realized that the children who had knowledge of their ancestral stories, had a seventy plus percent better chance and ability to deal with the problems that beset them every day of their lives.
Stan: Yeah. Social problems that come to them, family problems, and part of the understanding that came out of this was, the kids that were equipped with stories about family, had a better sense of self, but not a self in isolation.
Stan: But a self in the context of a family and a support group.
Fisher: Living and dead?
Stan: Yes, both.
Stan: Both, yeah. And Dr. Duke basically said that there were three types of stories. And you know you and I, we push stories all the time.
Stan: You more than me.
Stan: But the three types of stories he looked at in this were ascending stories, stories about ancestors who ascended to greatness or to levels of success.
Stan: And then there were the descending stories. About those who fell from grace, you know.
Fisher: Ah, great grandfather. Yeah.
Stan: Then the third group are the oscillating stories, the stories of ascending and declining, and ascending and declining. In other words, a complete story, as opposed to the obituaries that you read and everybody’s a saint, that kind of a thing. So the children that had the stories of the oscillating nature were far, far more superior in being able to figure out that, yes, I made a mistake, but it’s not the end of the world and I don’t have to face this by myself. And, Fish, I’m telling you, if you can leave one thing to your children…
Fisher: Why not that.
Stan: Give them the ability to deal with today’s problems better than if you didn’t give them the gift.
Fisher: Sure. Yeah.
Stan: Fill their quiver with stories.
Stan: Fabulous stories.
Fisher: And oscillating stories.
Stan: Oscillating stories. And you can do it in ways you can set the kids down and say, “Okay, tonight we’re going to tell stories.” And they’re going to roll their eyes, but you can do it in so many different ways. With my family I tell them stories, and then you can have a contest between my daughter’s children and my son’s children. Sounds like I’m starting a feud. And you say here’s a name of an ancestor, Herman Schumtzlfutz. The first one, who can tell me what Herman was notorious for, wins tickets to the baseball game or whatever, and so it becomes a competition and they don’t even realize that they are engaged in this improvement of their social skills.
Fisher: Right, this internalization.
Stan: Yes. Exactly! My daughter when she was in sixth grade, they created books. She picked an ancestor, my great grandmother from Norway, the emigrant, and she drew pictures of her great-great grandmother and the ship she came over on, the house in Norway, the house over here, and then they bound the book. She cherishes that book to this today.
Stan: And not just her, but her nieces and nephews. They love that book. You can teach these kids and I can’t think of a better reason for me doing genealogy. You know?
Fisher: You’re absolutely right. And talk about a practical solution.
Stan: Yeah. I would wish that I could have known this earlier on when somebody said, “What are you doing? Why do you even care?” You know? I could have given them an answer better than, “Oh, I just like this.”
Fisher: Yeah [laughs]
Stan: It’s fun.
Fisher: Absolutely. I mean a little bit later in the show here we are going to talk about a guy whose wife’s relative died back at the early part of the twentieth century and the body was later mistaken to be a wax figure. It was never buried. And you’re going to hear this incredible journey. And I’m thinking “Boy, that might actually mess some kids up” [Laughs] Want to hear about this one?
Fisher: But that’s coming up in about six or seven minutes.
Stan: Yeah, it’s a great story.
Fisher: Yes, it is.
Stan: I’ve heard that story. I would exhort everybody, tell the stories. Tell the stories. Have fun telling the stories.
Fisher: Okay so question for you, have you found some new stories lately? Something that interests you?
Stan: Yeah. It’s not a typical case. I got a call from a representative from one of the major tobacco companies. I know that’s an evil word in today’s society, but this is a tobacco company that has been around since the very early 1700s. And they have some pictures of emblems or insignias and I’m supposed to try to find out if they are in fact trademarks.
Stan: And so I have researchers up at a university who specialize in trademarks who are digging and scrounging and in the process, they’re learning the practical reasons why they had a snuff mill back in Delaware.
Fisher: And of course, this was the money crop for North America.
Stan: That was the money crop.
Fisher: For many of our ancestors.
Stan: Yes. Snuff was discovered when Columbus came to America, and they saw the Indians taking tobacco through wooden tubes and sucking it up into their noses. As a result, the manufacturing of snuff was done in Portugal and Spain, and then eventually got to England and they touted it for all kinds of health reasons. That it would help with headaches and the plague, and anything you can imagine. Then the tobacco that was being grown in the colonies, it was being sent back to England and being processed, and then it would be sent back to the US and the colonist got to pay extra for the tobacco that they grew, plus the tax on top of it.
Fisher: And the shipping.
Stan: And the shipping, yeah.
Fisher: [Laughs] What’s the interest in the trademark though? I mean, if they don’t even know it exists, why would anybody else care to try and find a way to violate it?
Stan: Because they are celebrating 200 years of being in business.
Fisher: Ah! Okay.
Stan: So that’s why we are doing the research on snuff.
Fisher: Fascinating stuff.
Stan: Mills. When people acquired land and property, if they got a homestead they were to improve on the property. And one of the things that the government wanted them to do was to build mills on the streams. A mill for doing lumber, taking care of grain, the wheat and the corn, and the tobacco. It was required that every twenty miles there should be a mill so that it would be accessible to those who were farming. And that it was improving the area. And by having a mill, it would bring in more settlers, and by having more settlers, there were less of a need for the government to provide troops to protect from the Indians, the British and the French on the frontier.
Fisher: Because they could create their own militias?
Stan: Exactly. So basically the government had a free standing army without having to pay for it.
Fisher: You can’t take the history out of family history, can you Stan?
Stan: No, no, no.
Fisher: Stan Lindaas from Heritage Consulting, always good to have you on the show!
Stan: Thank you.
Fisher: Thanks for joining us. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Gary Nielsen about his wife’s relative who passed in the early twentieth century, and then literally was passed from carnival to carnival until it was discovered exactly who he was and what the state of his being was. Fascinating stuff! It’s coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 112
Host Scott Fisher with guest Gary Nielson
Fisher: And we are back! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And we’re always looking for your outlandish stories. And I’m just amazed by the ones we find. [Laughs] Now we have Gary Nielsen on the phone right now. And Gary, you found out something about one of your wife’s relatives lately that just kind of blows my mind.
Gary: It blew my mind too when I heard about this one.
Fisher: So tell us a little about this. Did this involve some research or was there oral history that you got into? How did you find out about it?
Gary: Well, my wife’s sister married a gentleman Byron McCurdy. We had a little game that we played when he married into the family called “two truths and a lie.”
Gary: And this was one of his…we thought it was a lie. He said, “Well, I’m related to a guy that was shot in 1911. He was a bank robber and a train robber. And he was kind of a bumbling idiot, got shot. His body ended up getting embalmed. And he went to crisscross the country for sixty five years on display!
Gary: He ended up in a concert spook house at an amusement park. And we’re like, “Yeah right. Okay. That one is definitely the lie.”
Gary: And we were all wrong. It was true!
Fisher: It was true.
Gary: I got very interested in this story. “You know, I’m going to look into this on this Elmer J. McCurdy.”
Fisher: Elmer McCurdy. Okay now where was he from? What era did he live? Tell us about him.
Gary: He was in Oklahoma. He was born in 1880 and died in 1911. So just about 31 years old when he was shot in Oklahoma territory, and he was dubbed “the bandit who would never give up.” He actually had robbed a train that was supposed to have a large payroll on it. He robbed the wrong train, got a few dollars, a bunch of whiskey. He went to a barn and started drinking and got drunk. And that’s where he got tracked down, was shot and killed.
Fisher: Okay. So now what happened with the corpse?
Gary: So they took the corpse to a local mortician. He embalmed the body and was waiting for the next of kin to come and claim the body. And nobody ever came.
Gary: So he said, “Well, I’ve got to make money to pay for the embalmment.” So he put up Elmer McCurdy’s body in the mortuary, charged a nickel and people could take a look at this guy’s dead body. And he ended up making a fair amount of money on this.
Fisher: [Laughs] Oh my gosh! For how long?
Gary: It was about four years!
Fisher: Oh! [Laughs]
Gary: Four years, yeah. Then two gentlemen came that said that they were his next of kin, James and Charles Patterson. They were two brothers. He gave them the body. The Patterson brothers ended up putting him back on display in a carnival show!
Fisher: Oh no!
Gary: Travelling around the country!
Gary: They ended up taking him around, calling him the “embalmed bandit” the outlaw who would never be captured alive.
Fisher: So you’re saying that the two brothers that came were not related to him at all?
Gary: They were not. Nope.
Fisher: Oh boy.
Gary: And they realized they could make money with this guy’s body. They kept him until 1922, when Patterson, he sold this operation to a Louise Sony.
Gary: And then Louise Sony ended up keeping the corpse. And he actually traveled that corpse around in a show called, “Museum of Crime.”
Gary: And that also included wax replicas of the famous outlaws, like Bill Doolin and Jesse James. And close to 1928, the corpse was part of the official side show that accompanied the TransAmerican foot race.
Fisher: So are most of the people who are seeing this body in this carnival, are they thinking that it’s wax perhaps?
Gary: Yes. This is when they started thinking it was wax even though the sign would say “No, this is a real body.” People started not believing that it was really a real body even though it was shrinking, it was shriveled up. He was looking worse and worse.
Fisher: Hmm, that wasn’t like “Weekend At Bernie’s!”
Gary: No. [Laughs]
Fisher: So what happened then? Now you’re seventeen years out from his death, he’s still on parade. We’re approaching now the time of the Great Depression. Did he continue on?
Gary: He did. And this is now twenty-two years after the embalming. The skin continued to shrivel. And Louise Sony died in 1949. So the corpse was placed in a storage unit in a Los Angeles warehouse for fifteen years.
Fisher: Fifteen more years. So now how far out are we?
Gary: Okay, now we’re in 1964.
Fisher: [Laughs] So we’re past a half-century here!
Gary: So Sony’s son, Dan, he lended the corpse to a film maker by the name of David F. Friedman. And it made a brief appearance in Friedman’s 1967 film called “She Freak.” You people can watch that “She Freak” and sure enough there’s Elmer McCurdy!
Fisher: Wow! So this was the late sixties.
Gary: Yeah. And then in 1968, Dan Sony sold Elmer’s body along with several other wax figures for $10,000 to Spoony Singh, and he was the owner of the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Fisher: And he’s thinking wax, right?
Gary: Yes. So he’s thinking wax. He then sold those two figures to two fellow Canadian men. They had an exhibit that they took to Mount Rushmore. And so here was Elmer McCurdy along with some other wax figures at Mount Rushmore!
Gary: And again, this is 1968.
Gary: And that display was there for a couple of years. One of the things that happened is, there’s a windstorm that came up at Mount Rushmore and it actually blew Elmer McCurdy over. The wax figures stayed put, they were heavy.
Gary: When he blew over, it broke off fingers and toes and broke off one of his ears. And I think most people thought, “Well, that’s what happens to wax.”
Gary: “It breaks off when it tips over.”
Gary: What happened at that point is, they sold the body then to Ed D. Girish, and he had space leased at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, California. And these guys thought, “Well, this body will help get attention and it will be something fun for people to come and see.” And hopefully enter into their spook house.
Fisher: And it’s scary, right?
Gary: Yes. [Laughs] So they dressed Elmer in a black suit and laid him in a new casket that the built. And they displayed the corpse on the boardwalk in front of the haunted house ride.
Gary: And they operated the haunted house ride. They later topped the casket with glass because customers kept putting their things into Elmer’s nose and in his mouth.
Gary: [Laughs] And so they said,” This is a 1,000 year old man”.
Gary: And from 1972 the body was actually then confiscated because these two guys were not paying their rent for their exhibit and their ride. And so then Elmer McCurdy went back into a closet, literally a coat closet in one of the employee’s apartments that worked and was part owner of the Nu-Pike Amusement Park.
Fisher: This is amazing! I mean it just keeps going!
Gary: And as part of the display, he said, “Well, hey, I’ve got this old dead mannequin.” And he said, “Well I’m going to hang him from a noose.” So he made a noose and hung it from the rafters.
Gary: He painted Elmer McCurdy’s body in orange phosphorus paint. Then with a black light when these little cars would come around on the track into that section, here was Elmer McCurdy’s body all lit up and glowing with this orange phosphorus paint. And for several years, people just thought he was just a mannequin hanging from the rafters on a hangman’s noose.
Gary: In 1977, “Six Million Dollar Man,” the TV series, Carnival of Spies, Season Four, Episode Eighteen actually used “Laff in The Dark” fun house, and they filmed while the park was still open. Well, one of their employees, he was curious why the guy’s hands were where they were located. He went to move one of the hands and the arm broke off.
Fisher: Uh oh.
Gary: He looked at that and he said, “My gosh, there’s a bone in there! It cannot be a wax figure. The mannequin would never have this!”
Fisher: “It’s the real deal!”
Gary: “It’s the real deal.” So he called the police, he called the fire department. They came in and investigated and took him in for an autopsy.
Gary: So the autopsy was completed and the guy doing it, he realized that this mannequin had already had an autopsy. They actually found the bullet. And after a long time of research, they found this is Elmer McCurdy who was shot and killed back in Oklahoma.
Fisher: In 1911. And for sixty six years was on display.
Fisher: Wow! What a tale!
Gary: Indeed it is.
Fisher: What a saga! Gary Nielsen, thank you so much for sharing your tale!
Gary: Oh, talk about skeleton in the closet!
Fisher: [Laughs] Very nice finish there! All right, thanks so much for coming on, Gary.
Gary: Thank you!
Fisher: And coming up next, it’s Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, talking about ways to preserve your priceless heirlooms, on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 112
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: All right it is time to save you some money! It is Preservation Time on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Fisher here. That is Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority. Hi Tom.
Fisher: And last week we got started on a little alphabet soup, and found we really couldn’t get too far. So we’re going to continue that today. This is kind of explaining some of the different formats and files and what do they mean. So that even at a very basic level you can learn to do some things that’s going to save you money, time, and give you the opportunity to preserve some of the things that you treasure by yourself. All right Tom, where do we pick up from last week?
Tom: Okay, after last week’s cliff hanger…
Tom: We were talking about MP3s, MP4s, if you missed last week’s segment I really suggest you go and download it and listen so you can kind of catch up to where we are. We finished talking about HDMI how it’s such an incredible device. You plug it into your BluRay player, plug it into your TV and the audio and video is amazing. However, since it is so amazing, they built copyright issues into it so you can’t plug it into a recorder and record stuff because you’d make digital copies of Disney movies which is illegal, unethical, which is a whole another can of worms which we don’t want to get into. But for your own stuff, it’s just really sad that you can’t take a BluRay that you made of your own film and copy it onto something else. You’ve got to go in and do some editing, which we’ll get into a little bit later. So that’s the biggest problem with the HDMI if you can call it a problem. Well the restrictions I guess would be a better terminology for it. Then when we get into DVDs, people are confused too. They say, “Hey, I put this DVD in my computer and it’s not a file. I go and look at it and it shows TS audio and a TS video.” Rewind several years ago when DVDs first came out, the same thing is, it’s like “Wow, DVDs are so incredible! The video’s all digital, it’s so wonderful! We can’t let people make copies of DVDs.”
Fisher: [Laughs] And that’s why they did this.
Tom: Exactly. So that’s why it’s written into two files, because you can’t separate the two files and put them back together because they won’t be in sync. You separate them, they’re gone. People try to copy the two files to their desktop and then can’t figure out why they don’t play. They have to be in sync, there’s special encoding that’s involved with them. So when you actually make a DVD or as we call them, “TS video, TS audio files” you can’t separate them and make copies of them. You can duplicate DVDs, but you can’t take the separate TS files and do anything with them. That’s why you need to go to some kind of program which for years on the program we’ve touted “Cinematize.”
Tom: Which got bought out by somebody that is not interested in consumer stuff, they’re more into technology. And so they’ve never re-released Cinematize. If you can find an old copy on Amazon or any place, I suggest you get it. It’s a great program to go into DVDs. You can go in and edit them, you can take stuff out, move things around. It’s really nice. There’s a shareware program that’s basically free, that’s called “Handbrake,” which is about the only thing that’s really good that’s still out there. The only problem is it’s very slow. However if that’s your only option, then that’s your only option. Okay, the next thing we want to talk about is, we’ve had a lot of people write in to us and say, “Hey, I’ve just bought a new television and it doesn’t have an S connector so I can plug my existing DVD player into it.” Or “I bought a new DVD player that doesn’t have an S connector that I can plug into my current TV.”
Fisher: What has happened with that?
Tom: Well basically it was great. It was better than their old fashion cables, just the little yellow one.
Tom: However, HDMI and RGB are so much better. In fact, RGB which if you look at the back of high end televisions, you’ll see a little jack that’s red, one that’s green and one that’s blue. That’s what RGB is. And now as always, a professional format that the people on the TV stations use. But now it’s mainstream, it’s so much better than S video. So people just thought, “Hey, most people are going to upgrade their DVD players or their televisions anyway, let’s just forget about the S connector. Let’s still keep the old composite on.” which is just your teeny yellow cable. And “let’s go to RGB and HDMI, because most people are going to need that.” So they’ve thrown S video away. So you’re not going to be able to find it. Don’t worry about it. Upgrade to HDMI or RGB.
Fisher: Wow, there’s a lot to process here, Tom! It’s always changing. And we’ll get into some more of these basics of transferring digital material, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 112
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: And we are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. We’re talking about all the changes going on in the common technology around us that can affect how we go about digitizing our family heirlooms, photographs, old movies and videos. And we’re calling it “alphabet soup” so you can understand some of the formats. What are we going to talk about next, Tom?
Tom: Okay, to try and put a closing segment together on what stuff we talked about in the first segment and last week. The only things we really haven’t covered is on a computer there’s a couple other formats we haven’t talked about. We’ve talked about QuickTime. Some people are still a little bit confused about AVIs. AVIs when they first came out were pretty much PC programs to edit video. MOVs were pretty much Macs. Now there’s new software out there such as Power Director, which will allow you edit MOVs and AVIs. If you’re strictly a PC user, you don’t want to buy new equipment, you want to get an AVI. The disadvantage to AVIs is, they’re really, really big files. That’s the nice thing about MOVs is, they’re small files, but yet they’re better quality than an AVI. So if you can get your PC to edit an MOV by buying Power Director, you want to get MOVs. If you have a Mac, you always want to edit MOVs. Now people start getting into WAV files. Well what are WAV files? WAV files are different kinds of audio files. They’re kind of outdated really now because most people are going to the MP3 because it’s such an easy format. Anybody can use them. And some people say, “Well the only thing I have on my PC is Windows Movie Maker because it comes free.” It’s an okay program to do editing on. But the thing is, once you make a DVD, it’s only going to play on PCs. It’s not going to play on a DVD player, BluRay player or a Mac.
Fisher: Wow, that’s kind of limited.
Tom: Oh it is. It’s very limited. And that’s one thing I really like about Power Director, it’s only fifty bucks to buy it. It uses all different kinds of formats. So whether you’re a PC user or whatever, you can still use your MOVs and make good quality edits, but also they’re compressed enough that you can send them off. Plus if you have an MOV and its still a little bit too big, like you made like a two hour video, you can still compress it into an MP4 to put on YouTube and it’s still going to look really, really good.
Fisher: So there’s a lot of flexibility with that.
Tom: I think Power Director is probably that smartest thing that ever came out for a PC. And if you’re on a Mac, iMovie is great, because iMovie will let you export it into different kinds of things. There are different kinds of compressions. But the biggest things you want to end up with nowadays is, try to get things in MP3’s or MP4’s, because that way you’re going to be compatible with just about anybody in the world. And once somebody has an MP3 or an MP4, they’re going to be able to edit it. They’re going to do different things with it. They’re good quality, but they’re still small enough that you can email them.
Fisher: And Tom, lessons on how to use all this stuff is really pretty readily available online, right, for people who might be intimidated by all of this?
Tom: Oh absolutely! Google has gotten so amazing over the years, you can type almost anything into Google and something’s going to come up. Even if it’s just Wikipedia that’s going to kind of give you an idea of what this thing is. If you’re looking at something that says, “This will edit this, this, this and this.” and you don’t know what they’re talking about. Just go into Google and type in that word and it will bring up a Wikipedia or some kind of thing that’s going to tell you this is what that means. We have people that bring in DVDs or call us with DVDs, says, “Hey this DVD says its dot XYZ. What does that mean?” Just type that into a Google search window and it will come on and tell you exactly what it is. So you can say, “Oh, this is why it doesn’t play on my DVD player. This is only for use in a PC, using such and such a program.” So Google is absolutely wonderful. And like we’ve talked before, when you have all these files, if you want to share them with your friends. If they’re too big, get something like DropBox or go to our website. And we have a cloud that’s called “LightJar” which gives you all kinds of editing tools. It’s not just a storage device. It’ll help you do all kinds of editing. But there’re so many options out there nowadays, that you could do everything yourself. Even if you’re not this crazy computer know it all.
Fisher: All right. Great stuff Tom. Thanks for coming on. And if you have a question for Tom Perry, you can email him at AskTom@TMCPlace.com. See you next week.
Tom: We’ll be here.
Fisher: That wraps it up for this week. Thanks once again to Stan Lindaas from Heritage Consulting, for joining us and talking about this amazing new study that talks about all the benefits of kids’ involvement in family history. Catch the podcast if you missed it. Thanks also to Gary Nielsen for talking about his wife’s relative whose body was on display in carnivals for sixty six years after his life of crime ended with a gunshot! Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!