Transcript of Episode 92
Segment 1 Episode 92
Fisher: All right, so get this! There’s a British lady, who’s looking for a travel companion. She’s put an ad on the site “Gumtree” and wants someone male or female to test drive her home made time machine with her. Hey, its Fisher here, yes, she says she made two mice disappear with it, doesn’t know if they went forward or backward in time, but she’s ready for the first human transport. You know, anybody who does family history, time travels all the time, right? Well, welcome to Extreme Genes, its America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Hope you’ve had a great week on the trail! You may recall last week David Allen Lambert and I were talking about the new interactive New York map where you click on a particular block and you can see all kinds of old photos of what that block looked like back in the day. Well, he’s apparently done one of these things for San Francisco too, and there are others done, by other people as well.
So, I got a hold of the creator, Dan Vanderkam, and he’s going to join us later in the show to talk about his masterpieces the “How’s and Why’s,” and I know you’re going to enjoy it. Plus, coming up in about nine minutes, the well known blogger, who calls herself “Dear Myrtle”– will come on with advice on what to do with all that precious family stuff you’ve collected, documents, ancestral trinkets, you name it. So it doesn’t simply get trashed when you’re no longer around. You may not have ever thought about this, but now is the time. Of course, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority will be here to answer another listener question about salvaging family audio off of a cassette. But first, direct from Boston Massachusetts, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors, its David Allen Lambert!
David: Hey, Fish, how are you?
Fisher: Good, David. How are you?
David: Great, and by the way, Happy Father’s Day!
Fisher: Yes. That is correct. Well, it’s this weekend.
David: You know the thing about it, is that Father’s day is one of those things where you know descendents can be more fun than ancestors.
Fisher: Yes. I think you’re absolutely right. By the way, I’ve gotten great reviews on your debut last week. So you did a great job.
David: Oh yeah, I’ve been getting a lot of feedback on Face book and on Twitter and I think it’s great. Well, I’ve got some exciting news to tell you of the past and the present and some technology stuff.
Fisher: All right. Let’s get on with it, our family histoire news for this week.
David: Well, on June 15th marked the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta at Runnymede, signed by King John of England. Where, I am honored to say, was my 22nd great grandfather, and no doubt one of your ancestors too.
Fisher: I think he’s probably one of the ancestors of most of the people listening to us, David.
David: That’s true. You know, it’s funny, when I was a kid I asked my grandmother “Do we have any royalty in our family tree?” and she said, “David, when you skinned your knee when you were 5 falling off your bike, you lost any royal blood you had. So don’t try to get the throne.”
David: Well, I mean the Magna Carta is amazing document, obviously it gave lost power for our ancestor, as a king, but in a greater sense it gave formation of power to the English parliament, established rights to all English citizens, eventually and effected influence here in America, and it was a significant part of the American Constitution.
Fisher: Isn’t that amazing? To think about 800 years, now, and it’s still influencing the world everywhere.
David: Exactly. One of the things that I’m going to be doing is I’m going to be giving web links to any of the news items, that I have, which you can get on my Twitter @DLGenealogist or we’ll post them on the Extreme Genes Facebook page. Happening here locally in Boston, we just celebrated the 240th year of Bunker Hill. “Remember don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes.”
David: A lot of people don’t realize, Fish, that the battle of Bunker Hill didn’t take place on Bunker Hill.
Fisher: Isn’t that strange? It was Breed’s Hill, right?
David: Correct, and that’s where the monument is today. So a lot of people were celebrating it this week, and you know, it used to be a bigger holiday when my dad was a kid. But it’s still remembered and they have reinactments here, so it’s really a great piece of history.
Fisher: Now, did you have anybody in the battle of Bunker Hill, you being a Bostonian that you are?
David: Actually, one of my New Hampshire ancestors, John Pitman, who lived to the ripe old age of 102. Not at the time was he at Bunker Hill or Breed’s Hill, but he, as family tradition said, fought with a pitchfork so that would have been quite out of a horror movie.
David: Yeah, the battle was hand to hand combat towards the end. The other thing in Revolutionary war news is kind of exciting. The Daughters of the American Revolution Library, known as the DAR Library, has recently, online released a database of over forty thousand bible records you can search on. So you can put in a surname and you can search for Fishers all weekend if you’d like.
David: It’s great. So I’ll give the link to that as well.
Fisher: That’s a great one.
David: And because military is the topic of the moment, I did a free webinar, NEHGS’s free webinars, for our members, as well as our guests, so you can check that out. However, you can also look for it free on YouTube, and it’s on early military records at NEHGS. I covered the Piqua War, which is from your home state, Fish.
David: Right through the war of 1812. So we have the Revolutionary War snuggled right in the middle of there, and it’s an hour long webinar with PowerPoint, so you can enjoy that.
Fisher: Sounds great.
David: Yeah! The other thing is that NEHGS always puts up free databases every week, and the one that we’re highlighting till July 8th is called, “Early Vermont Settlers” (to 1784) which you can get to from AmericanAncestors.org. Sign up as a guest user and check it out, it has over 34 sketches currently, and over 5700 names. Lastly, something that technology is changing by the moment, and you can now do something called “Periscope.”
Fisher: What is that?
David: I’ve downloaded the app.” Periscope is great! You can download the app, and it simply allows you to live broadcast from wherever you are. So, if I wanted to walk into a museum in Boston, and show an art exhibit, or if I wanted to walk into a virtual tour of a cemetery, or just sit and talk about genealogy, or the Boston Red Socks, I can do that. And I’ve tried it out and done four broadcasts. So if you want to try out Periscope, download it for free from the app store for your smart phone, and follow David Allen Lambert, you can essentially become a broadcaster yourself.
David: Showing your hometown. But think of it, a virtual family reunion, that you can broadcast free of charge that your cousins ca tune into. It’s a free app, just go into the app store under Periscope. All this will be on the Extreme Genes Facebook page so you can get all the hyperlinks that you need.
Fisher: He’s David Allen Lambert. He is the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.com. Thanks, David! Good to see you, and good luck to the Socks. Oh it’s been a rough year.
David: Oh it has.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right. And coming up next, thousands know her as “Dear Myrtle” or just “Myrt.” She’s a long time genealogy blogger, and she has some great ideas on something you may not have thought much about. What’s going to happen to those piles of old papers and photographs that will go where, when you’re gone? You’ll get more than just one thought out of this. She’s next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 2 Episode 92
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dear Myrtle
Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and I am very excited, to have on the show for the first time, my good friend, Myrtle. She is, of course, an author and is the expert on DearMyrtle.com, one of the great blogs around the country. You’ve been doing this forever. Hi, Myrtle. How are you? Welcome to the show!
Myrtle: Well, fine. I want to talk with you about, what the heck do we do with all this stuff we’re gathering?
Fisher: [Laughs] That is the question? And you know– anybody who’s ever had a close family member pass away has to deal with all the papers left behind, all the photographs, and all the documents. If somebody is a real collector, of that stuff, like my mother was who passed away five years ago, boy, that can be a real chore to go about, can’t it?
Myrtle: Well, you get these Bankers Boxes and put the stuff in it from their drawers and from their file cabinet, and that doesn’t even mention all the stuff we’re collecting. It’s overwhelming. If you could see the stack here on my desk, you’d just cringe. That’s how it is.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, that is really true, and I know you’ve got some great ideas on that. And I know of course you’ve got your hangouts with other genealogical experts you do on YouTube and you talk about things like this. Let’s delve in just a little bit, because I’ve just gone through this whole thing, and I’ll start it out by saying it was an emotional process to begin with, because these were all of my mom’s things. And to start going through and start trying to throw anything out seemed really difficult to do.
Myrtle: It’s like you were letting go of them too quickly.
Myrtle: Yes, you’re right. It’s an emotional thing, but what if you scanned them all? Dick Eastman says we should scan everything, keep even our books in digital format. But what if you did? Would that help?
Fisher: Yeah, I would think so. Because then, you can maybe take some of the things that really aren’t that necessary and get rid of them at that point. And then later at some point I think it’s probably easier to delete papers you really don’t need. Wouldn’t you?
Myrtle: Yeah. So it’s sort of like a gradual process. I’m really in to this when I’m at a real sticky wicket in my research, and I’m collecting documents from everybody named Jones in 1842 in a certain area, and then I finally figure out, “okay, these aren’t my Jones people, so I don’t need those papers. But these are my Jones people, and I want them.” So, having them in paper format takes up a lot of space, and digital is much easier for me.
Fisher: Well, they’re much easier to get to when you want to use it for something. You know, I like writing books and putting things together to document what I’m talking about, and sharing some of those things. And when I already have that whole thing digitized, it’s very easy to get to and include in something I might be putting together.
Myrtle: Yeah, and that sharing thing is much easier when it’s digital. I can’t tell you. I have this 21-page letter, front and back, that somebody wrote to my mother-
Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]
Myrtle: In 1951. We descended from the second wife, he descended from the first wife of the civil war union veteran, and he didn’t have kids, but he told everything he knew about all the family members. Well, I put them in page protectors like we were supposed to do in the 80s, and then I realized, if I just digitized them, I could zap it through the mail — just like that. Of course, since I figured that out, no one’s asked me for that letter.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs] It is funny how that works, isn’t it? Why don’t you just post it somewhere. I mean, you could post it on a Facebook page for your family, or perhaps for your Dear Myrtle column,
Myrtle: I could do it in my blog. They may be in Timbuktu and decide that they’re related to this William Gist Froman, and they can access this doc. You’re absolutely right. Thanks for giving me another job to do.
Fisher: [Laughs] Get to work, Myrtle! Here’s the thing I’m thinking about: When you get through all this, and obviously, digitization is a big job, but it’s getting better because of these high speed machines that are coming out right now, and our own Tom Perry, our preservation authority, talks about that all the time. It very gingerly takes care of these things without ever damaging them, and you can get it all done. But once it’s done, you have the question of, “I still have all this and you have to start prioritizing, what stays and what goes, because you don’t want your kids and grandkids to make those decisions sometime down the line.
Myrtle: Well, I’m kind of shifting gears and thinking about sharing more, as opposed to doing actual research, because, I mean, if something happens to me today, my poor kids are going to have to deal with this stack of stuff.
Myrtle: So it needs to be digitized. I want to tell you my digitization setup.
Myrtle: I used to use a scanner, but I have a lot of 3D objects too, so I have a good camera, and I have some cheapie digital cameras too. But when you go to the national archives, they have a copy stand that you attach your camera to, and they have lights, and then you can put the paper on the surface of it and snap a picture with your digital camera a lot faster. You go click, click, click, and just have somebody else moving the pages for you.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Myrtle: Then it is to feed it through a scanner. But it helps me as the curator of all these museum pieces. [Laughs] I’m sure my dad would crack up. I’ve got things that he did in high school. He did wood carving with little tools, you know?
Myrtle: Real intricately carved frames for pictures and things. Well, nobody’s going to know about that. I can’t put it in a scanner. But I can take a picture of it with my digital camera, and then document that that is something he did. I know the story.
Myrtle: And now I have the image.
Fisher: Boy, you know. And that is absolutely so true. There are so many stories with so many things. How many things have we thrown out that we just didn’t even know where they came from, generations ago?
Myrtle: I know. My daughter’s recently said to me, “Mom, you’ve got to start putting stickers on everything.”
Fisher: Ooh no! No! [Laughs]
Myrtle: [Laughs] Yes, unfortunately we don’t have little blinking arrows that point to the teacups in the china cabinet which says, “These are great Grandma Francis.”
Fisher: Right. Yes, exactly. And that’s the issue, isn’t it? I do the same thing you do. I take photographs and I write up what they’re about and associated with them, and maybe keep an envelope near that object, someplace out of sight.
Myrtle: Yes, it needs to be. And there’s another classification. I have my great…you know, well, I always have to refer to them as great, great Grandma Francis’, but she’s my grandmother. But for my grandkids she’s great, great. We have our silverware. It’s not expensive silverware; it’s not particularly ornate. But that’s her silverware. And then I have, since then, in my adult life, I didn’t inherit her dishes that I remember her using, that I’d gradually, thanks to eBay been buying pieces so that I now have a pretty complete set of china that matches. And it helps me remember Grandma Francis. Well, my kids and grandkids are going to get mixed up and say, “Those are her dishes too.” Because they are period dishes.
Myrtle: They only made them through 1953, starting in the 1930s. So, yeah, they’re going to this, “This is all china. This is hers too,” and it’s not. It’s the look of hers.
Myrtle: The silverware. So, I have to make that distinction with that kind of stuff that I’ve inherited or that I’ve purchased, so it’ll go with what I’ve inherited. Does that make any sense at all?
Fisher: Yeah, it makes a little sense, Myrtle. I think so. It may be a little too detailed for some people who might say they don’t care about that issue, you know?
Fisher: This is her stuff, and we’re just replacing broken pieces. But I understand it’s really up to the individual what it is that they want to share and what they want to save, and how they want it remembered.
Myrtle: Exactly. So I guess the bottom line is, we are lucky that we live in the 21st century and have digitization tools that make it easier to archive this stuff. Hard drive space is practically…I mean it doesn’t cost anything at all for a new hard drive, or an additional hard drive, or in the Cloud stuff.
Fisher: Yeah. And it’s important of course to save things in the Cloud, in fact, if not on two Clouds, we talk about all the time, because we’re just not sure sometimes about the security of one. [Laughs]
Myrtle: Oh, I get that totally. And I will tell you that I did have a hard drive die this week on my laptop. Am I glad I always have everything in the Cloud in two places.
Fisher: Two places, that’s it. And that makes a huge difference. Do you talk about this a lot on your hangouts show, this type of thing?
Myrtle: Well, yes. We talk about hard subjects like methodology and how to organize our thinking, but also about different software programs, websites. And this morning we talked about how to order microfilm if they haven’t gone in yet and digitized the records for your ancestor Wentworth. We run the gambit.
Fisher: That is the old way, isn’t it? To think that we still can order microfilm. In fact, I did it a few months ago at a library for a newspaper that hadn’t been digitized yet, and it was very helpful. But some people don’t ever think that anything that’s not online is out there. And that’s just not true.
Myrtle: It’s just not true. What we have online and its growing everyday by millions of images across multiple websites. What we have online is not even the very tip, top part of an iceberg-
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Myrtle: Compared to what’s available, that has survived. And a lot is on microfilm, but the majority of the records that we might need are not even on microfilm. They’re still in their original format.
Fisher: And that’s where it comes back to, what we just talked about. How many people have things from grandma and grandpa, notes on the back of photographs, one of a kind type pictures that we inherit, and how are we going to preserve them and make sure that they get out and get shared?
Myrtle: Sounds good. So we’re saying, digitized blog, keep it in the Cloud in two places, and that ought to do the trick.
Fisher: I think that ought to cover it [laughs]. Good advice and sound advice. You know, that’s the thing, it’s all very logical and practical, but it is also very time consuming. And, it’s the greatest hobby in the world, isn’t it, Myrtle?
Myrtle: Um hmm. Thanks so much for having me on your show. I’ve enjoyed visiting as usual.
Fisher: You too, Myrtle, as always. And I look forward to hanging out with you sometime soon. For people who haven’t seen it, it’s great, it’s a panel of experts, all on video screens, in different parts of the country perhaps, and talking about your questions and various topics. It’s a great show and it’s a lot of fun, and we can see it on YouTube, but you can also find it at DearMyrtle.com. She’ll give you all the information as to where to check in and be a part of it, either via recording and video, or live.
Myrtle: Oh, you bet. We get people from Australia and Wales, Scotland, all over the world. So it’s a lot of fun.
Fisher: Looking forward to seeing you on the hangouts coming up pretty soon, Myrtle. Thanks.
Myrtle: Okay, catch you later. Bye, Scott.
Fisher: Well, last week we introduced you to a site where you could click on a city block and see photographs of old New York. Well, the man who created that also created another one for San Francisco. What is his motivation? We’ll talk to Dan Vanderkam, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 92
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Dan Vanderkam
Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. You may remember, last week we were talking about a website, we’d come upon, called OldNYC.org,( OldNewYorkCity.org). This is a website that has thousands of photographs from the New York Public Library and it’s all arranged by block, and it was very impressive. In fact, one of the comments, that was on the site that really caught my attention, was somebody who was checking this out at work and found out he wasn’t getting any work done anymore. It was so intriguing, to look at the places he was familiar with, and that maybe his ancestors had lived in. I have the designer of this entire site on the phone with us right now, Dan Vanderkam in New York. How are you, Dan?
Dan: I’m doing well. How are you?
Fisher: I’m doing great! I love your site! I am very excited about it and I know a lot of people are from around the country. We should mention, part of the entire point of discussing this is, it isn’t only the city that you’ve done, but this is an exciting new concept. Let’s talk about how you got involved in it as an engineer.
Dan: Yeah, so it all started, a few years ago, when I was living in San Francisco. I wanted to find photographs of my apartment and I went to the San Francisco library’s website and they had a feature where you could search for particular cross streets. So, I did that, and lo and behold, the photograph came up, which after looking at it for a little while, I realized that it had actually been taken from my apartment’s roof in the 1940s.
Fisher: Oh wow! [Laughs]
Dan: That was a pretty amazing thing to find. Something that bothered me about it was, that the only reason that my cross street was mentioned in the photograph, was that it had been incorrectly labeled. It was off by a block and so, if the photograph had been correctly labeled, I never would have found it. My take away, from that, was doing keyword searches of a photograph like this that was really not the right way to present them. But showing these photographs on a map, where you could see all the photographs within a block or two of your apartment, would really be a much better way to present the information. So that was the thought, that led to building all that stuff, which is my San Francisco site and I did with the San Francisco Public Library.
Fisher: And how long ago did you do that?
Dan: That was in 2011.
Dan: About four years ago.
Fisher: Several years ago, when you were in your mid twenties, and obviously young, passionate and excited to do something that will really shake people up and boy, does it! Because it’s so fun to see these old pictures and think, “Oh, this is where my grandparents lived.” or even like you did– where I lived back in the day.
Dan: Um hmm, absolutely. Yes, it was a lot of fun looking through those photos. One particularly fun thing about the San Francisco site, is that San Francisco’s history almost perfectly overlaps with the history of photography. This city first started to really grow in the 1850’s right around when photography was becoming a prominent medium.
Dan: So, the entire history of San Francisco is recorded through photographs.
Fisher: Now are you from there originally?
Dan: No, I’m not. I grew up in the mid west and I moved there to work when I graduated from college.
Fisher: And of course your site is still up and in use. What kind of comments do you get on it that have intrigued you the most or surprised you the most?
Dan: The comments that I think are the most fun, are when people have some sort of personal connection, the buildings and the photographs that they can say, “You know, I went to this school in the 1940s.” or “This is where my grandparents lived in the 1920s.” That really makes the images come to life.
Fisher: Now which was harder, the San Francisco one or the New York one and which has more pictures?
Dan: So, what happened was that by the time I launched OldSanFrancisco, I had actually already moved to New York. The project took a bit longer than I expected.
Dan: It seemed like a logical next step to do a New York project. So a few years, maybe two years ago, I got in touch with the New York Public Library, and they sent me a collection of photographs that they had and thought would be suitable for similar treatment. Because I had already created OldSanFrancisco, I really thought that OldNewYork was going to be a really simple project to do.
Dan: I thought it would be, you know, a two week project, but here we are two and a half years later.
Fisher: How many blocks are in New York? You must know your number now.
Dan: [Laughs] There’re a lot of blocks in New York. There are tens of thousands of locations that have photos and they’re on the order of 40,000 photographs on the map. That’s maybe three to four times the number of photographs that are in San Francisco.
Fisher: And did you do Queens and Brooklyn as well or is it just Manhattan?
Dan: Absolutely! That’s one of my favorite thing about the project, is that it covers all five boroughs. There are photographs of Staten Island, there are photographs of Queen, and there are photographs of the Bronx. So those are actually some of the areas that have changed the most over the last 100 years. If you go over to eastern Queen and look at where JFK is now, for example, that really was the country back then. You can see people living on farmhouses with country roads. It’s pretty amazing to think about how much those areas have changed.
Fisher: And that was right in the heart of the Revolution back in the day as well.
Dan: That’s right.
Fisher: And it probably looked, a little more, like it did in your pictures than it does today. How is the city itself embracing the site?
Dan: Yeah, the response has been pretty overwhelming. I worked with the New York Public Library and the New York Public Library lab team on this, and they really helped to publicize it. So the day I launched the site, I tweeted about it and they re-tweeted it and a couple of news outlets started picking up the story through articles and The Guardian and Slate and a couple of city blogs. The anecdote that you mentioned in the beginning about somebody not being able to get any work done that day, there are many people who said that. It was really great to see the response. I could see that there were many standing twenty, thirty minutes on the site just browsing all of the locations that they interacted with in their day to day, looking at how they used to look.
Fisher: And once again, the website address is OldNYC.org if you want to see it. Let me ask you about the pictures themselves.You listed is like: 1870 to the 1930’s or ’37, but most of them, around that collection, are from 1937, right?
Dan: Yeah, the photographs go from around late the 1800’s to sometime in the ’50’s or ’60’s, but most of the photographs are from the ’30s to the ’50s. In fact, most of the photographs are taken by one particular photographer, Percy Sperr, who is commissioned by the New York Public Library, to record New York City, as it changed. So whenever there was an old building that was being torn down and a new one being built in its place, he would go over there and photograph the destruction, and then the construction of the new building, or for example, when the elevated rails in Manhattan were being torn down, he would go there and photograph what they looked like before, photograph the demolition and then what the block looked like after. So he really did record the way that the city was changing during that time, from the thirties to the fifties.
Fisher: You know, I think it’s important for people to realize to, that even the pictures that were taken in the thirties and forties can have many buildings that were still around back in the 19th century.
Fisher: Now, do you have any New York connections yourself, Dan?
Dan: My family did come through Ellis Island, but they only made a short stop here. They moved onto the mid west pretty directly. My background is Dutch and they had some relatives who lived in south west Michigan, which is the real Dutch banner, so they went directly to there.
Fisher: Well this is exciting, because I think it inspires other cities to do the same thing and there are so many places that could benefit from this. Now, you’ve done San Francisco, are you aware of any other places that have done something similar to your project?
Dan: I think there are a few sites out there. I believe there’s one from Pittsburgh. There are also sites available that let you upload photos of your own. So, for example, if you have small family photos that you scanned, HistoryPin is a site that will let you upload those and pin them yourself.
Fisher: Hmm, HistoryPin, okay. I have an old New York photo myself, but you can’t take that in, because it’s really a project that you did in coordination with the New York Public Library, right?
Dan: That’s right. I’m after specific collections from the New York Public Library. You know, the thought there was that, this collection has a huge number of images, has tens of thousands of images that really cover almost every square block of Manhattan. So, I didn’t need to get, I just upload their own photos.
Fisher: [Laughs] Right. You had enough.
Dan: I had enough.
Fisher: [Laughs] Now was something that was funded or was this something you did as a service project, just something that you were passionate about?
Dan: This was a passion project, absolutely! I really wanted to see this collection on a map. I really enjoy history. I really enjoy maps. This project has been a lot of fun to work on.
Fisher: Well I’m sure a lot of people are going to really enjoy seeing it. It’s OldNYC.org. And of course if you want to see San Francisco, you have some ties there, it’s OldSanFransisco.org? Is that correct?
Dan: It’s OldSF.org.
Fisher: OldSF.org. All right, so thank you so much, Dan Vanderkam. He’s an engineer now in New York, used to be in San Francisco. And he is changing the way we look at old photographs with his creative maps. Check it out! We’ve got links on our website ExtremeGenes.com. Thanks so much, Dan.
Dan: Thank you.
Fisher: And coming up next, Tom Perry the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com with another listener question about family history audio. It’s on the way in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 92
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: I love when people have questions. Welcome back, it’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth. Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com. He is the Preservation Authority. Hi, Tommy!
Fisher: We have received a whole bunch of questions at AskTom@TMCPlace.com, and let’s get started with this first one from David Cook, he says: “Hi, Fisher and Tom. I found a cassette tape recording of my deceased great uncle reading a short autobiography, and my deceased great aunt playing some music. And this was at a special collections’ section at a Library.” He said: “They didn’t have any grandchildren. We were close to them when they were alive. And the Library was kind enough to digitize the cassette tape for me for a fee. I now have it on CD and MP3. The recording has the repetitive sound in the background of the tape turning every few seconds, is there a way to edit this repetitive sound out of the audio? I did a few Google searches and came across a program called Audacity that looks somewhat promising but haven’t tried… suggestions?”
Tom: You bet. Audacity’s a good program. It’s not a program I would use for high end stuff. Audacity’s really good for what it does. Like Ford F-150 is really good for what it does. If you’re going on a long trip, it’s probably not so good to be taking that. You want to take a nice Toyota or a nice Lexus. David, what I would suggest is to go into Adobe, they have stuff on the Cloud now and they’ll let you use their Cloud free for 30 days to try out some different programs, and go and get Adobe Audition.
Tom: It’s a great program. In fact, if you want to go back and listen to some of our previous Podcasts, we went really into depths on one of these programs.
Fisher: And I should mention that Extreme Genes is produced on Adobe Audition.
Tom: Awesome! And you know how wonderful we sound.
Fisher: Yes. We sound fabulous!
Tom: Yeah, Adobe Audition’s great, I’m a very visual person, and most people that are creative are. And what’s neat about Adobe Audition, you can actually see in color the audio. So it’s a visual thing. That’s so much easier to look at something, and say okay, the red part here is the machine in the background that’s causing the problem, the yellow part here is really, really good, so what I want to do, I want to go in and edit out the red part. So you’re physically going in and, like, drawing a little diagram around that and either pulling it down, cutting it out, doing whatever, and the neat thing is you can go over and over and over again, if you don’t like it, you undo it, you go and play around with this. So it’s time consuming. We’re happy to do it for you if you want to send it to us.
But this is something that a lot of people, if you have the time and you want to be creative. This is something you can really do on your own. So go ahead and go onto Adobe’s Cloud and sign up for Audition, Adobe Audition, and I think right now they’re running a special where you can get like 30 days or something for free. So try it out, see if you like it, and if it is, it’s a good investment to buy the program by itself, or if you see other things on there that perk your interest that can help you in your genealogy and your family history. You can buy packages, for basically what two or three little programs would cost. And once you pay this monthly rate which isn’t very high, you store your stuff on the Cloud. You can go from computer to computer and your stuff’s always there, it makes it really, really convenient. But the thing I really like about Audition is like I was mentioning, you can actually see in color the different audio. We can talk more about how to go in and really see if it really is your CD or your cassette that the problem is and not the machine. We’ll do some more talking about that in the second segment.
Fisher: When we return on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 92
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are back, America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. We’ve been talking about this email from David Cook, about how he obtained a digitized version of a cassette tape from a Library, and he has a problem with the sound of the tape going through around and around, and he wants to remove that. And you’re talking, Tom, about how you might want to actually go through and have that tape perhaps digitized again.
Tom: Exactly. So, David, if you have access to the cassette tape, what you might want to do if you have a good cassette machine that you know is a good machine, take it with you to the Library and say: “Hey, would you mind letting me listen to this tape being played on my cassette player?” And then what you can do is you play it, and if you have the same sounds it’s inherent to the tape and then you are going to have to get into some program like Adobe Audition to fix it. But there may be a chance that, “Hey, I don’t hear that now.” And we’ve had that with countless customers. Somebody comes in and thinks there’s this noise, it could be tape hiss, it could be the motors in the cassette machine, there’s so many things that can actually bleed into the tape. Another thing it could be that you think is noise, or you think is somebody else talking in the background, could actually be print through.
Tom: So let’s over all of these. If it’s tape hiss, you’ve got to go in and edit, there’s nothing you can do. If it’s the machine that it’s playing on that’s causing the noise, it might not have been on the machine that they were recording on, it might be on your machine that you’re listening to. That’s why you don’t want to go into somebody, whether it’s our place or someplace else that says: “Hey, this is what the problem is. Just go ahead and fix it.” I always want to take it step by step, I want to take your tape, transfer it to a CD, then let you listen to the CD, because now it may be acceptable to you, if not, then we can go in and do the editing. You can tell us exactly what you want and we can do what’s called sweetening, and sweeten it up and take care of it. If you have what’s called Print Through, what that is, is the tape is so tightly wound against itself that magnetic particles interfere on the piece of tape behind it.
Tom: That’s why we recommend, and I want to say it again for those that haven’t heard this before, you always want to leave a cassette tape, a video tape, any kind of tape, you want to leave at what we call Tails Out. You want it left in the play mode. When you just played it, leave it, don’t be kind and rewind, that’s really, really bad. People in the old days did that so the next tape was ready for the next person running it to play. But what it does when you rewind the tape, it’s doing it fast and it’s pulling your tape and it’s stretching it and it’s going really hard against the piece right behind it. What if you leave it with the way you played it which is slow, which is called Tails Out, the tape isn’t wound so tight that it’s going to cause print through where magnetic particles from one piece of tape is going to go to the one behind it which causes what we call a Pre-Echo.
Fisher: That echo thing, yeah, where you hear the thing before it’s actually stated.
Tom: Exactly. So in a normal world, if you scream in a room with four walls you’re going to hear echoes. But if you go to scream and hear your echo before you scream, your head’s going to go, “Wait, hey, something’s wrong here.”
Fisher: [Laughs] And there’s really nothing that can be done to fix that.
Tom: Well, you know what, Fish, there actually is something. You can go into Adobe Audition, and you can go in and same thing with the color things, you can see that little bit of an echo, and then what you can do, you can cut it out. It’s really, really hard though, because if the echo is so delayed that you’re talking while the echo’s going on, it’s going to be hard. You can do it, but it’d be very expensive to hire somebody to it, or it would take a lot of hours for you to do it, but it can be done. So you want to find out what’s causing the problem with your audio, whether it’s the inherent in the tape machine that was recorded on, the tape machine you’re playing it on, when the people transferred it they did a poor job, if you have print through. Figure out what it is. If you have more questions, write to AskTom@TMCPlace.com and we’ll do all we can to help you.
Fisher: All right. Another great letter! Thanks so much, David, for yours, and we’ll do another one next week, Tom, thanks for dropping by!
Tom: You bet. Thank you.
Fisher: Well, what a week it has been. We’ve covered a lot of ground today. Thanks once again to David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and American Ancestors for joining us earlier, also to Dear Myrtle, the famous Blogger for her insight on how we can preserve all those papers and documents we’ve been collecting throughout a life time and not lose them once we’re gone, and to Dan Vanderkam, the guy who came up with the interactive maps of New York and San Francisco and his insight on other cities that have the same type of site. These maps are great innovations for us searching for our family ancestral homes. Take care. We’ll see you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice normal family!