Host Scott Fisher and David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, open the show. David shares experiences from his recent genealogical journey, including a visit to an ancestor’s early American store, and the discovery of an unknown grave marker for one of his earliest New England ancestors. David then shares a scientist’s comments on the likely cause of Mary Todd Lincoln’s well-documented mental issues. (Today, it would be such a simple fix!) Fisher then mentions the recent International Slavery Remembrance Day and its significance for modern times. The guys also talk about a recent well-attended New York funeral, packed only with people who never knew the deceased. They’ll explain why. David also talks about the release of a new book by CNBC financial journalist Bill Griffeth called “The Stranger In My Genes,” and tells you about an upcoming appearance by the author. Finally, David has a very simple Tip of the Week that you may not have thought about.
Next (starts at 11:23), Fisher visits with the Chicago-based Founder of High Definition Genealogy, Thomas MacEntee. Thomas, like many of us, has taken notice of the Pokemon Go craze, only he sees something different. Thomas believes technology from the app could, within five years, create new applications for genealogy. Listen to the segment to hear Thomas’ vision.
Genealogical speaker Jill Morelli (starts at 25:01) then takes a break from her summer genealogy research trip to talk to Fisher about our ancestors who were labeled “insane.” Jill reviews the evolution of how the insane were viewed and how they were dealt with, even down to today. And what about their records? She’ll fill you in on where to start looking and what to expect.
Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com returns to talk preservation. Tom’s concerned that we aren’t all where we should be as we consider family history holiday gifts. Continuing his topic from last week, Tom talks about how to sort your materials to make the project cheaper, faster, and more efficient.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 154
Segment 1 Episode 154 (00:30)
Fisher: I cannot believe that summer is almost over and all these genealogical road trips. How are you? Welcome to 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. And later in the show today Thomas MacEntee is here. He’s the founder of High Definition Genealogy based in Chicago, and he says that the technology from Pokémon Go is going to be affecting how we do genealogy in the coming five years. You’re going to want to hear what Thomas has to say. It’s pretty interesting stuff. That’s in about eight minutes. Then, Jill Morelli is on later in the show. She’s a genealogy lecturer and she’s going to tell us about insanity in the US, and what records we might be able to find on those of our ancestors who were deemed a little bit “off.” And most of us have those people in our lines when you get into the research. So that’s going to be very interesting. Hey, just a reminder by the way, you can sign up for our brand new newsletter from Extreme Genes, The Weekly Genie, on our Facebook page or go to ExtremeGenes.com and when you do that, you will get the Top Ten Tips for beginning genealogists from this guy, the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org Its David Allen Lambert. David, you’ve been on genealogy missions here the last little bit, what have you been doing the last week?
David: Well, I decided earlier this week to leave Beantown and go to where my ancestors came from. About twenty miles north of Boston is the coastal city of Newburyport, Massachusetts where my family lived from 1635 till about 1824 before they came to Boston.
David: I was able to go and visit the store that my third great grandfather had 220 years ago!
Fisher: You’re kidding! It’s still there?
David: It’s still there. And I only discovered this about a month ago.
David: I found an ad in the newspaper that said… his name was Henry Poor… great name to have a business.
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah.
David: Knight and Poor West India goods… they sold rum, they sold wood, they sold nails. For two years there were a couple of ads in the newspaper and it said where it was, at the new brick building at the head of Devonport wharf. Well, Devonport wharf doesn’t exist, but where the location still is and his new brick store is now the Newburyport Art Association home since 1969.
Fisher: Wow! Built like in the 1700s?
David: 1795. My family had a store there from 1796 to about 1798. I went in, they opened it up especially for me the day. They gave me a tour from the attic to the basement. I took a ton of photographs.
Fisher: Wow what fun.
David: It’s so weird to walk in a building that your family had such a close connection in. Upstairs in the second floor was a little fire place that I envisioned that maybe we lived above the store at one point in time and the family cooked meals around there. It’s quite an amazing thing. You know, as a genealogist you’ve got to make more of just one part of the trip. So I went to the cemetery and paid my respects to Henry Poor’s mother-in-law, my fourth great grandmother. And while looking for a brother- in- law of Henry Poor, I stumbled across a fragment of a broken gravestone for a grave that wasn’t even known to exist anymore. My fifth great grandfather who, when he was 67 years of age in 1738, became the father to my fourth great grandmother!
David: So it was a family reunion sort of day.
David: It’s great to go to these old cemeteries and you stumble across something like that from 270 years ago. It’s pretty amazing.
Fisher: Absolutely incredible. All right, what do we have this week in Family Histoire News?
David: Well you know, you’re having Jill Morelli on and I’ll tell you one of the most popular people on American history that was insane, was Mary Todd Lincoln. She had been institutionalized after the death of her husband Abraham Lincoln. But now they’re saying it might have been a vitamin B12 deficiency.
David: So this is new news that’s coming out and it will be interesting to see what the Federation of Genealogical Society’s conference in Springfield Illinois, how much of a buzz this is. I plan on visiting the Lincoln tomb as well as the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois when I’m out there to see what they’re saying about it there.
Fisher: That’s amazing. And of course this past week we’ve had Slavery Remembrance Day around the world. It’s an international thing and recognizing the fact that slavery still goes on to this very day in many parts of the world.
David: Well last week on social media the hashtag Slavery Remembrance Day became quite viral. In fact I included on my Twitter feed a link to The Liberator which is online for free from fair–use.org. And basically The Liberator was the newspaper for abolitionists by William Wood Garrison from 1831 to ‘65. All the images of the newspaper are there so you might find a relative that was involved in the Abolitionist movement.
David: Remembrance is so important and earlier this week we chatted about the passing of a lady that no one on our show would probably even heard of, Francine Stein, who lived in New York City and strangers came out to her funeral.
Fisher: Well she had nobody going to her funeral. And the rabbi who was involved mentioned it to his daughter and she jumped on social media and said, “Look, here’s a lady who’s had a full life. She was a musician. She was at Juilliard School.” And so all these strangers came out to pay tribute to her and her life, because they felt she needed to be celebrated.
David: Well maybe more and more people will reach out and do this.
David: Well, the exciting news from NEHGS is our trustee and CNBC host of Closing Bell, Bill Griffeth, is actually the author of a new book. The book is called “The Stranger in my Genes.” Bill’s long time genealogical research turned into a DNA adventure. And I think the readers will get the thrill of the exciting discoveries and surprise discovery Bill had while looking in to his own DNA. And Bill will be our guest on October 22nd in Worcester, Massachusetts when we sponsor a date with him speaking. So come and join us in Worcester, Massachusetts on October 22nd for our conference DNA Day. Everything you need to know about genetic testing for genealogy. My Tip of the Week is applicable to anybody of any faith. In my family, in our old family Bibles which a lot of genealogists look for, there’s actually a page that has the births, marriages and deaths. Why not write the record of your immediate family or your parents and your siblings and take it and put it in the religious book that you have at your home. Well that’s all I have for this week. Off to Springfield Illinois to FGS. Hope to see some of our listeners there and shake some hands.
Fisher: All right. Great stuff David. Thank you as always. We’ll talk to you again next week and we look forward to hearing what went on at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Convention.
David: See you then.
Fisher: All right and coming up next, we’re going to talk to the founder of High Definition Genealogy Thomas MacEntee, about Pokémon Go technology and how’s it going affect genealogy research in the coming five years. He’s got a lot to say about it. It’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. And this segment has been brought to you by 23andMe.comDNA.
Segment 2 Episode 154 (11:10)
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Thomas MacEntee
Fisher: And we are back! It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And, it was just last week, I was out for a walk in the park with my wife and just about got run over by three people looking down at their phones, and we kind of laughed and said, “Oh, Pokémon Go?” The guy looked up and smiled and said, “Yeah, just walked eight and a half miles.” I’m thinking, “Wow! That is incredible!” But there is one vision of what’s going on with Pokémon Go that could apply to what we’re doing with family history. And the guy with that vision is the founder of High Definition Genealogy in Chicago, my good friend Thomas MacEntee. Hi, Thomas! Welcome back to Extreme Genes.
Thomas MacEntee: Thank you so much. Thank you. Yeah, I’m really psyched about Pokémon Go, and I’m a rudimentary player.
Fisher: Oh yeah?
Thomas MacEntee: Just, you know, poking around at Pokémon Go. But I’m really interested in the concept of augmented reality and how I really think it’s going to change the face of genealogy in the next few years.
Fisher: Well, let’s talk to people who aren’t really familiar with it other than the name, exactly what “augmented reality” means, how it applies to Pokémon Go, and how this could change our world.
Thomas MacEntee: First thing is, you have to have an open mind. I think a lot of genealogists, right when they saw it, they thought it was a fad, they dismissed it out of hand. And I think we need to as a community, as an industry take a closer look at it. And the first thing is, people need to understand augmented reality is very different than virtual reality. Virtual reality is a technology that is developing on its own. So, this is how I describe augmented reality to my non-techy friends: If you were to take something virtual like a cartoon and superimpose it over a real item or a location, so in a way you’re merging the virtual and the physical. Do you remember, one of my favorite movies growing up was Mary Poppins?
Thomas MacEntee: And there’s this scene in there where Dick Van Dyke is dancing, but he’s dancing with cartoon characters.
Thomas MacEntee: Like that. They’re superimposed over a reality. So, that’s the easiest way to think of augmented reality. Now, Pokémon Go is a game. It’s something you can do on a mobile device. It uses a map, and you walk around like you were saying this guy did… eight miles. And there are people that are so obsessed they’re getting their exercise doing Pokémon Go.
Fisher: Oh, absolutely! It’s great.
Thomas MacEntee: You go out with your app and you catch animated characters. Now, Pokémon is a Japanese children’s game that came out probably almost 20 years ago.
Thomas MacEntee: So what happens is, you know, you can walk around in your neighborhood, or go to buildings or whatever, and if you have the Pokémon Go app, you’ll see, “Oh, here’s a character that I can catch.” That’s the intent of the game. Usually, with most augmented reality programs, you have to perform an action to get the reward. In Pokémon Go, you throw a ball, you know, and you do it with a swipe of the hand on the cell phone, on the mobile phone. And then the more you catch, the more points you get, and then the higher you rank as a player.
Fisher: So now, let’s take that whole concept and turn it into the future of genealogy.
Thomas MacEntee: Right. When you go and see some of you…And the other thing I want to say is, if you guys have witnessed augmented reality, if you watch sports. You know, if you watch football and you see like, the line of scrimmage or the first down line is superimposed.
Thomas MacEntee: And you wonder how they do that on TV.
Fisher: The yellow line.
Thomas MacEntee: That’s augmented reality. That’s augmented reality. Think of it this way, they’re helpers. Now, when I think of Pokémon Go, someone said it’s sort of a virtual scavenger hunt. I said yeah. But you know, genealogy has always been a scavenger hunt.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Thomas MacEntee: That’s what we’re doing. That’s it, you know? So, the thing is, what I’m saying is, there’s certain ways that we’re going to see augmented reality, but first thing that’s most obvious is, libraries like the Family History Library in Salt Lake City they could become what’s called a “Poke Stop.” And that means that they have, they place a lure almost like a fishing lure but this is a virtual lure. So they place the Pokémon character, and so that someone playing the game will stop by to catch that character.
Thomas MacEntee: Now, my thinking is, if you can have that body there, why not have some inducement ticket to be there and learn about genealogy or learn about the Family History Library. So that’s what businesses, brick and mortar businesses related to genealogy should be doing.
Thomas MacEntee: They should be setting themselves as Poke Stops and they should be putting the lure out there and use it as part of their marketing.
Fisher: Yeah, I saw this actually with an ice cream shop on the east coast that was barely getting by, and that Pokémon Stop was right across the street, and they have tripled their business.
Thomas MacEntee: Exactly. And I know, when I walk up the street to the gym every day, I can tell who’s playing Pokémon just like you did.
Thomas MacEntee: Who’s playing Pokémon Go, and they’re out in front of businesses, and you have that person there and maybe they’ll say, “Hey, I want to go in and see what this is all about.” So I think that’s the most obvious thing that we can do right now.
Fisher: Sure. It’s to promote.
Thomas MacEntee: Right. But let’s talk graveyards or historical tours.
Thomas MacEntee: Now, we’re not going to offer Pokémon characters, but what about this. What if I was volunteering at a cemetery, and I scanned photos of your ancestors and turn them into virtual characters, and you had to go around and collect them as part of an app, and you’ve got to learn the bio of the person, etc. So you can create some type of cemetery scavenger hunt that’s more virtual but doesn’t involve the physical which could actually damage stones, etc. But the thing is, you know, why not have that as an inducement, or also historical tours? You go around and you collect these characters or these landmarks on the app.
Fisher: Right. Or perhaps even create a video of a character. You know, some actor then talks about themselves in character, by the grave or by the historical site, and can explain what’s going on from there.
Thomas MacEntee: Yeah. And getting back to vendors, I’m thinking that this would be really neat for genealogy conferences. You know that the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference is coming up next week in Springfield, Illinois and you know I’ll be there. And sometimes when you go to these conferences, you get like a vendor passport that you have to get stamped at all the booths.
Thomas MacEntee: Well why can’t we do it with augmented reality?
Thomas MacEntee: Where you’re using an app, and you’re standing there and saying, “Hey let me download your character and add it to my passport.” The other benefit of that is, then the vendor could be able to track who actually showed up at their booth.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s right.
Thomas MacEntee: There’s that benefit as well. I mean, demographically, you know, we’re not getting from… so much easily from a paper passport.
Fisher: Boy! That’s so forward thinking. We’re talking to Thomas MacEntee. He’s the founder of High Definition Genealogy in Chicago. And, Thomas, how long do you think it will be before we start seeing some of this augmented reality as you call it being introduced into the genealogy world?
Thomas MacEntee: I’m thinking, you know, that at Roots Tech next February that’s coming up it will be great to see that somehow in the vendor hall, in the expo hall. That’s where I think we’re going to see it first, because Roots Tech has been so forward thinking on technology. I also wouldn’t be surprised if for the innovator summit that’s coming up, that somehow there’s augmented reality in one of those apps that’s entered in the competition. I really think it’s going to take about five years for us to be comfortable with this. We’re talking about the gamification of genealogy and in a way, it’s already gamified.
Thomas MacEntee: Think about it. When you do research on Ancestry, you know, in a way they make it, it’s fun. It’s a game. You’re providing information. You’re building stuff. So this really isn’t so far of a move from the gamification concept.
Fisher: Yeah, you’re really right. It’s taking a puzzle and taking it to a different level. I’ve always looked at it as being a big jigsaw puzzle with no edges. You know? Working from the end, working out, and with this, it’s a whole different type of game, but I think certainly more appealing to especially younger people.
Thomas MacEntee: Yes, exactly. There’s one little twist on this that I’ve noticed is, more like something old is new again. My ancestors, you know, they lived at a time in upstate New York where their sense of direction was based on landmarks.
Thomas MacEntee: They didn’t have street names. They didn’t. It was all rural, right?
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, the white tree in the corner of the lot, yes.
Thomas MacEntee: Well in a way, if you look at it, look at what GPS is doing now. We no longer need names. We have a voice that tells us, “turn here, turn here, do this, do that.”
Thomas MacEntee: And so, with Pokémon Go, if you look at it closely, they don’t use street names. Their interface just uses buildings and a real-time map. So are we getting back to the point where the streets have no names? Are we getting to that point now where we’re not going to be using street names like we used to? What impact is that going to have on genealogy?
Fisher: Well that’s an interesting thought, because that’s such an important thing as to knowing where people lived and where they received their mail, that type of thing.
Thomas MacEntee: Right.
Fisher: But in terms of the gamification of genealogy, you’re right, who would need it?
Thomas MacEntee: Right, exactly. And you know, I know, look at some of the early censuses in the rural area, they don’t have road names. They don’t have street names. They just say the Post Road. And there are no house numbers. You know, it really wasn’t until you got into more urban areas that they started to have street grids and addresses, because the postal delivery was expanding and there were more people, etc. But I grew up in a small town upstate New York, and you just said, “Oh, go down the hill, turn left by, you know, so and so’s gas station” and that’s how we had a sense of direction.
Thomas MacEntee: So I’m wondering if, long term that we’ll get back to that, where we’re so dependent on devices and augmented reality that we forget, you know, “Oh yeah, that used to be called, you know, this street or that street.”
Fisher: Wow! That’s just very forward thinking, Thomas, love hearing about this and thinking about what’s still to come here in the next five years. Now, you’ve got a lot of great stuff going on right now by the way, helping people find bargains on genealogy products. Tell us about that.
Thomas MacEntee: Yeah, I have a site that’s relatively… it’s a little over a year old, it’s called Genealogy Bargains and it’s actually @genealogy.bargains. “Dot bargains” is a domain I didn’t even know about until about a year ago.
Thomas MacEntee: You know, if you check every day, Monday till Friday, I’ve kept special exclusive coupons like free shipping, or 15% discounts on ShopFamilyTree or one of those. You know, if you’re looking for DNA tests, anything like that, I have my finger on the pulse in terms of the way you see it. Lot of times vendors will come to me first, and they’ll say, “Hey, we’re about to run a sale. Could you get the word out?” So you can also sign up for the newsletter and get email alerts @genealogy.bargains. That’s where…Because you know genealogy is not cheap, everyone thinks, “Oh, it’s a hobby…”
Thomas MacEntee: But the thing is, by the time you look at it at the end of the year, you’re subscribing to this and that, you’re buying this and that, and you know, if you can save a penny…As my great-grandmother said, “Five dollars is five dollars!”
Fisher: Exactly! [Laughs] He’s Thomas MacEntee, the founder of High Definition Genealogy. Thomas, always great to talk with you! You’re making my head spin a little with all we’ve chatted about today, but let’s see what happens, right?
Thomas MacEntee: All right. Thanks a lot.
Fisher: This segment has been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Jill Morelli. She’s a genealogical lecturer, and she’s been studying “What happened to our insane ancestors and where are the records?” It’s coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes.
Segment 3 Episode 154 (24:50)
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jill Morelli
Fisher: You found us, America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And many of us in the course of researching our families have discovered that some of our ancestors have been institutionalized with what today we would call “mental illness,” what they called “insanity” back in the day. And that has left us some records and of course a lot of stories and a lot of heartbreaks. We study their lives and find out more about what brought them to that state and how they were treated when they institutionalized, “if” they were institutionalized at all. And that’s what my next guest is going to talk about, Jill Morelli. She’s a genealogical lecturer. She’s on the road doing genealogy right now in the midwest. How’s the trip going, Jill?
Jill: Well, it’s great fun. I’ve been to a lot of different repositories and found a lot of information, including another individual that was labeled and certified as insane in my family. So I’m hot on his trail right now.
Fisher: Well, I think anybody who is actually going from repository to repository to repository might be labeled that way themselves at some point! [Laughs]
Jill: I think you’re probably right. We all have a touch!
Fisher: There you go! Well, tell us a little about this background. You studied it quite a bit and you’ve done some great talks on it. I know you gave one at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah not long ago. The insane asylums of the 19th century, records are out for those these days, and we’ll get into that in just a little bit. What have you learned about them how they came into use and how they’ve improved over the years?
Jill: Well just very quickly, Scott. It was very interesting for me. I did a deep dive in this topic because my great granduncle was certified as insane in 1872, and spent the next twenty some years of his life in an insane asylum in Illinois. I found a number of things that were particularly interesting just kind of in that first historical review. Institutions in the United States of physical brick and mortar place really didn’t come into being until around the Civil War time and a little bit after. Dorothea Dix was actually quite important in the mental health field in the 1840s in getting Massachusetts to recognize that the incarceration of the insane in prisons with shackles, no food, and no heat was not the right way to treat the insane. And she got the Legislature to allocate funds for one of the first, certainly not the first, brick and mortar institutions for the insane. She then became quite a crusader across the entire United States at the time. And even in Illinois, she was invited to come to Illinois. She did the same county by county research. She came before the Legislature and they, too, started establishing brick and mortar locations starting in about 1850. The sense of the institution was similar to that of the Quakers in York, England who created the Retreat. And that was good food, good air, lack of stimulation of outside family and good work when able to do so. So in some regards, the original institutions were very bucolic.
Fisher: Yeah, I would imagine so. You know, we see portrayals of institutions even in the 20th century, such as One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, showing them as being in a really horrible situation, and obviously they are, because they’re trapped within their own minds. But the way they’re perceived and the way they’re treated by family members and other people within the officialdom that surrounds their position at that time. What have you seen over the years? Is it better now, would you think? I know it certainly attempts to be, but is it really?
Jill: I would say it’s not better now. Pretty much through the 1800s until about 1895, this bucolic approach was the only way that they had to actually treat the insane. I don’t wish to make it sound like it was great. Incarceration of any kind is subhuman in some way, but there was a basic respect that you went in and out of levels of disassociation. And so as a consequence, they accommodated those. Then we got to a point of where doctors felt it was something you could cure. So it’s just a matter of curing it.
Jill: So what they tried between 1895 and 1950 was to find a cure for it by subjecting those who were in insane asylums to horrific experimentation including sterilization, lobotomies, etc. About the time that we start seeing compliance come into effect, which is the 1950s, we start seeing a shift. But the problem then is that no one wants to pay for it. And so, basically what we have here is a shift to a lack of payment to keep those who really do need help in a 24/7 situation. We just don’t have the facilities for it anymore. And so it’s just very difficult I think to see how we treat the insane today.
Fisher: So, the question would be, I’m sure, from a lot of people, because I think all of us have run into this, anybody who’s been doing this for some time…. I know I have a great, great uncle, I know my grandfather’s first wife’s mother was in… and they’re in for like twenty five years or thirty years! I mean they’re in pretty much for most of their adult lives when they get in there. Where do we find records of these things and are many of them online at this point? What percentage would you say?
Jill: Well, of the actual records of those who are confined to institutions, it’s very difficult to find those. They aren’t online. They’re held at the state level usually if it’s a state institution, and most were. You have to go through the courts to get them, usually.
Fisher: Even if they’re really old?
Jill: My grand uncle had been dead for a 115 years and I had to go to the judge and plead my case that he should release the records.
Fisher: [Laughs] That’s incredible!
Jill: Yeah, but it is interesting what IS online. And partially because he had been incarcerated during the 1800s when there was no compliance, there were no HIPAA regulations. He’s in the newspaper as being taken away. And these are listed in the newspaper, because it was the obligation of the superintendent to report back to the county as to how their charges were doing.
Jill: I had a large number of records. The 1880 census includes a health column. If our listeners notice that there’s a checkmark in the health column, they definitely should look at the dependent, delinquent and defective non-population schedule.
Jill: Because that checkmark in the health column means that there’s another entry, and that other entry has a wealth of information in it.
Fisher: So census records and digitized newspapers is the key and maybe even some of the state resources if you can get the courts to let you have them after 115 years!? That’s insane itself!
Jill: It is. And it is state by state. And I really want the listeners to understand that there are some states that allow the release of them automatically when requested if they are X number of years old. But you really do have to do your research to find out. My records were held in two different locations… at the institutional level and at the state level. I hired a lawyer, the lawyer made a petition, the petition went to the judge, the judge requested the records and then he released them to the lawyer who released them to me.
Fisher: She’s a genealogy lecturer. She’s Jill Morelli. And she knows about the insane and how we can find them. And Jill thanks so much for your time. Have a safe trip and a successful one!
Jill: Thank you. Appreciate it very much.
Fisher: And this segment has been brought to you by Roots Magic.com. And coming up next, it is preservation time with my good friend Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Yeah, it’s that time to start getting ready for the holidays with your family history projects, because it takes a little more effort and he’s got tips on that, on the way in three minutes.
Segment 4 Episode 145 (37:10)
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Hey, it’s preservation time at Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and this segment is brought to you by our friends at Forever.com. Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Hi, Tom, how are you?
Fisher: We’ve been talking a lot the last couple of weeks about getting ready for the holidays because this is the time you really need to prepare, not only to get your things digitized, but also to take what you get digitized and maybe turn it into something else… A show or a video or something you narrate. Let’s talk a little about photos today.
Tom: That’s a good topic. Let’s talk about that. Photos are easy to scan, but yet they’re more complicated at the same time.
Tom: Okay, you have this big shoe box that has all these photos that you haven’t looked at in maybe 10-20 years, and if you just take that to your local place to scan, they’re going to take a lot of time to, you know, organize it, which is going to end up costing you more in the long run. And there’s going to be chance to maybe get something scanned that you weren’t even interested in, or maybe missing something that you did want to scan. A lot of times grandma or grandpa wrote on the back of the photos what it was, and so what you can do, go throughout your photos, put them together by size, that’s the best thing you can do.
Tom: Put the 3x3s together, the 3x5s together, etc, all the way up, and then if you have ones that are something spread on both sides, most of your good quality dealers that are going to scan your photos for you have the ability to scan both sides at the same time. So put them all together, make sure you organize them the correct way. If you have ones that are torn or soiled, put those in a separate stack. So then go through your good ones fast and then they know, “Okay, these are the ones that need tender loving care.” And they’ll give those the tender loving care they need. If they’re mixing in a big stack they might not catch it and you might get one that has a small tear in it that could be damaged in the process of scanning, so you want to be really, really careful, put all your damaged ones in one stack, and then all the other ones by size. And then let us know which ones also need to be scanned on both sides. So you’ve got several stacks here. And then when you take them in to the technician, let them know what you’re doing and they will give you a big hug because you have done so much prep work to get them better for them to scan them and do a better job for you, and get them back a whole lot quicker.
Fisher: Well, and you’re going to save a lot of money, and you’re going to get the things you want, and then they’re going to give a little extra time to the damaged ones, right?
Tom: Exactly! Because when we see ones where somebody has, you know, set them to the side, then we’re really careful about scanning those. And then when we give them what we call tech notes on the bottom of their invoice which most reputable places will do also, they’ll say, “Hey, we suggest you do this on these pictures.” And there might have been a picture in those that’s damaged that you didn’t even realize and maybe, you know, Aunt Martha is cut in half, or something. And a lot of times you can go in and have these restored. Even if part of her face is missing, if you can find another photo of her, they can take the two together and basically reconstruct Aunt Martha and make her look beautiful once again.
Fisher: Do people really do that? I mean, at the end of the day, if I have a half of a picture of somebody, as long as I have many others of that person, it doesn’t much matter. I would assume that would only be if it’s a very rare photo of an individual, right?
Tom: Exactly! And that, a good example, is ones that you got off your film of you and your uncle and your brother and your dad. Pictures like that are so unique and special that if they’ve been hanging on a wall towards a west window and they’re all faded, or if you have one that got damaged like it went through a flood or something, don’t think you can’t do anything with it. Bring it in to us or anybody in your area that does photo restoration, and you cannot believe it. We had a family that brought in some old pictures and three of their children had passed on.
Tom: And they were in the family photo and the photo wasn’t even black and white anymore, it was like totally faded. But they brought in some other pictures that they had in other situations, and we could look at them, and between all these different pictures we could make this family portrait look beautiful again. And then we even said, you know, do you remember what color dress she was wearing? Do you remember what his trousers were? And if they remembered and told us what colors or could send us some other photos, we made this just like the day it was ever done. And it’s just absolutely, you know, kind of nice to see the people come in and tears coming out of their eyes because they’re so excited. They thought something was lost forever is beautiful again.
Fisher: That’s awesome. All right, what are we going to talk about in the next segment?
Tom: We’ll talk about some more things on scanning your photos and how to do it right with the right DPI.
Fisher: All right, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 154 (44:20)
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: All right, back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. We are talking preservation and there’s a certain sense of urgency in the room, Tom Perry, because we have the holidays coming up. And we’ve been talking about photographs, and I’m sure a lot of people wonder, “Why can’t I do some of this stuff myself?” Let’s talk about the difference between what it would take to really do a big scanning job of old photographs versus taking it to a local person such as yourself to actually do the scanning work.
Tom: Right. And it’s just like your garden you can grow stuff in your back yard, but if you go to the farmer’s market you’re going to have usually a lot better stuff because these people are professionals at doing these kind of things. And like I’ve told people over and over again, if I go and buy something like a big box store scanner, I’d be saving a lot of money. Most of the good Kodak scanners and Nikon scanners we have are anywhere from two to four thousand dollars.
Tom: And so you’re definitely going to get a better job. If you buy somebody a new plasma television for Christmas or something you’re going to spend two-three-four hundred dollars. You’re going to scan all your slides. You’re going to have a lot of slides and a lot of photographs to spend that same kind of money. But that’s something that they’re going to have forever.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s right.
Tom: And you never know what everybody is going to use. And like we talked about before, Heritage Collectors makes some really good software that once you scan these photos you can turn them into calendars, Christmas cards, you know, all kinds of really cool things. So you want to make sure what you’re starting off with is good. So again, if you’re can’t afford to do it all, and I understand you know, money is tight. So just pick out the most important things and say, “Hey, I’m going to go to my local guy to have these done at a higher DPI than I can do at home.” And you have to be careful with DPI, because sometimes things are really misleading like they say, “Okay, this is you know, 3000 DPI.” Well, at 3000 DPI X 350, so when you do the math that’s not really that good of a scan. Or you bring it in to us or some major outlets out there they’re going to do a lot better scanning. And again, you’re going to want to go to a local place that does them “in house” and doesn’t ship them off. This is just some guy hourly scanning things through. Where at a local place there are people doing this work because they enjoy it.
Tom: So they’re going to do a much better job for you and they will write you the notes, “Oh, this needs to be done, you know, things need to be done here.” Sometimes we’re scanning things and say, “Hey, this needs something a little bit, tender loving care to it.” Plus, a lot of people have the old albums where you glued the stuff in, they had the little corner things, or the worst ones, were the ones were the ones that had the wax backing.
Fisher: Right. Welcome back to the 1970s.
Tom: Ugh! Those things were just absolutely ugly.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]
Tom: In fact, our scanner now… we have a new scanner that actually had a mode that takes into consideration that, “Hey, we can’t open or pull stuff off the wax or it’s going to ruin that thing. We can actually scan through the clear plastic. And it has a polarizing filter so it’s like it wasn’t even there. You’re not going to be able to do that at home. And we have neat software too that over scans every piece of photos that are on each sheet, but then it will go in and crop them the best it can. So you want to be careful when you’re scanning, always over scan and keep that which we call a “raw,” keep that separate. Then, when you go in and re-edit it don’t destruct your old one, make a new copy of it and then do your editing, in case somebody wants to go in and say, “Hey, these should have the date on them.” Because some of the old pictures have the year on them and even a month and if you crop that off, it’s gone.
Tom: But if you can go back to your “Raw” file, then you can go back and change the file name and things like that.
Fisher: So you “save as.”
Tom: Yeah, you want to do a “non-destructive save” you want to do a “save as” like you mentioned. And one thing that’s really important too, you need to look again what your end use is going to be. If you’re going to make a slideshow be careful when you’re numbering your items, too. Like if you have a hundred things that you’re scanning the first one is going to be “001” not “1” and the second one is going to be “002” and they’re going to be together instead of really 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. So make sure you lay these things out so you don’t get frustrated once you burn your final DVD.
Fisher: Some great advice as we get ready for the holidays. I can’t believe we have to think about it right now, but we do!
Tom: Yep. Snow will be falling.
Fisher: See you soon, Tom. Thanks!
Tom: Uh huh, bah bye.
Fisher: And this segment has been brought to you by MyHeritage.com and LegacyTree.com. Hey, that wraps up our show for this week, thanks for joining us. Hey, don’t forget to sign up by the way for our brand new newsletter… it’s free… it’s called “The Weekly Genie.” It comes out on Mondays. And when you do, you’ll get David Allen Lambert’s top ten tips for beginning genealogists. So get on it! Talk to you again next, thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!