Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors.org. Fisher and David talk about David’s recent trip to Washington, DC and the National Archives and how you can contribute to the digitization of national records. Then, it’s a castle for sale in Ireland! It’s been owned by a renowned family since the 1930s. Hear how much you can get it for! And, for St. Patrick’s Day, David tells you about the blog TheShamrockGenealogist.blogspot.com, which provides a great soda bread recipe, straight from Ireland. Next, you won’t believe the story the guys have to tell you about about a 14-year-old boy who, with his father, discovered the wreckage of a World War II German Messerschmitt? on their own farm! David’s Blogger Spotlight this week is on Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.
Next (starts at 10:38), Fisher visits with Boy Scouts of America volunteer, Gary Pack, who has headed up the Scout’s Genealogy merit badge program. Gary is a former IT man for FamilySearch.org, and has great insight into how you can use the Boy Scouts’ techniques to introduce family history research to your children and grandchildren, both boys and girls. He shares some amazing experiences and stories from setting up a research center in tents at a national jamboree!
Then (starts at 24:16), Jennifer Utley returns to Extreme Genes, not only to share some insight on this season of Who Do You Think You Are?, but also to talk about Long Lost Family, its sister program also airing on TLC. Who Do has quite the all-star cast this year, and Jennifer will tell you one story about an ancestor from the cast of Friends.
Then, Tom Perry of TMCPlace.com brings his unique insight into preservation. The result of another listener question about transferring digital material back TO VHS, Tom answers the question “WHY?!” He also tells you how you can do this yourself, and what kind of equipment you will need.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 183
Segment 1 Episode 183
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment is brought to you by 23andMe.com DNA. And later in the show today, our first guest is going to be Gary Pack. Gary is one of those people who is very involved with the Boy Scouts of America, the national people, in putting together their genealogy merit badge program. Now this is really important whether or not you have a boy, whether or not you have a scout, because all the principles in there are great for getting your kids, your grandkids involved in genealogy and understanding it. He’ll go through some of the experiences he’s had with the Genealogy Merit Badge and kids, and give you some tips on what you might want to use, from the requirements of the badge to get kids going on their genealogy. And then later in the show, we’re going to talk to Jennifer Utley. She is the lead researcher for “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Long Lost Family” on TLC. She’s going to tell us all about the seasons that are going on right now with those great shows about genealogy. But right now, let’s check in with my good friend, David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Have you finally unpacked your bags, sir?
David: Only to pack them again! [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Well let’s see, you started out where?
David: Stated off in Louisville, Kentucky at the SAR, Sons of the American Revolution Leadership Conference where I attended the genealogy committee meetings, which I’m part of now, walked across the bridge went to Jeffersonville, Indiana. So I’ve now been in Indiana, checked that off my bucket list.
Fisher: [Laughs] And then you were off to DC, doing stuff with the DAR?
David: DAR. So I was at SAR then went to DAR within forty eight hours.
David: Library of Congress and the National Archives. And at the National Archives, Fish, this is really a wonderful story, people who go to the National Archives and look at the original Civil War pensions or records for their ancestor. Now they have a place called, the “Innovation Hub” where you can go in, have your record pulled there. And as long as you scan it, cover to cover both sides, they will allow you to have a private scanning area. They take a copy and will put it online within two months for free on the National Archives website.
Fisher: That’s fantastic. And you get a disk of this as well or a thumb drive I assume, right?
David: Exactly. Now mind you, I had already copied my grandmother’s uncle’s Civil War pension. He was a drummer boy in the 33rd Massachusetts. But now I had a chance to do something and give back. So I kind of volunteered to help the greater good of genealogy. And I hope everybody who goes to the National Archives thinks about, instead of just making a copy for yourself, make a copy for everybody.
David: One of the things that I think is exciting as a holiday, and you know, what do you buy somebody for St. Patrick’s Day?
Fisher: That’s a good question. A green hat, maybe.
David: Well, that’s true.
David: But if you are really well heeled and you found that leprechaun gold, you might be interested in the castle that Ernest Guinness bought for his daughter back in 1937. It’s up for sale. It’s on 5,000 acres of rolling, green, grassy hills.
David: It has seven bedrooms, a dining room, large entrance hall, three main reception rooms and a four bedroom guesthouse.
Fisher: Incredible! How much?
David: Its only $29,500,000.
Fisher: Wait a minute! With that number, there’d be enough money left over in your budget probably to dig a moat around it, right?
David: I would think that that would be the first thing that I would do!
David: But then I would wonder how I’m going to cut all of that grass. But I suppose its rolling grassy hills, so you really don’t. If you have $29,500,000 to buy a house, you probably don’t have to worry about yard maintenance.
Fisher: Right, that’s true.
David: Another thing tied to St. Patty’s Day is family recipes, because you might have the boiled dinner and whatnot, but how about the people out there that are not Irish but want to be a little green this weekend. We had talked a couple of weeks back on the first blogger spotlight, about Melanie McComb, The Shamrock Genealogist. And recently she put on her ancestors Irish soda drug recipe, which is quite fascinating, very easy to do. She does step by step illustrated instructions, so you can become a little Irish in your kitchen this weekend.
Fisher: Now that’s fun.
David: And that’s on TheShamrockGenealogist.blogspot.com. You know when you’re out and you have a school project and you need to go out in the field. Well this fellow in Denmark went out with his dad. He found a downed World War II plane, a German plane that had crashed near his family’s farm over 70 years ago.
Fisher: It was actually on the family farm, and I can’t believe all the stuff they found in there. This was an assignment from his school for the boy, and the dad said, “Well you know there was a plane that supposedly crashed around here someplace. Let’s go find the plane for your assignment.” And of course he didn’t expect anything to come from it, but thought it would engage the boy in history. Well it did.
David: It really did. And I’ll tell you this little small town of North Jutland is really on the map now. I mean, they found remains of the pilot, they found his wallet with coins in it. They found a book, could be a Bible. They also found, of course, parts of the plane. But it’s amazing because now there’s some closure for a German family on the other end that never had their son return home.
Fisher: That’s crazy. What an incredible story and what an incredible find. And there’s something that boy and dad will share forevermore.
David: Exactly. Well, this week’s blogger spotlight is going to be a familiar name to most of the people in the genealogy industry, because he’s been involved in there for over 35 years. Dick Eastman, a good friend of mine and former co-worker from a long time ago at NEHGS has had Eastman’s online genealogy newsletter, which is at Blog.eogn.com. Now, Dick is always on the forefront giving all sorts of great news in genealogy, and the most recent blog which is exciting people for investment purposes. He discusses in his blog from March 14th, Ancestry’s plans to potentially go public on the stock market. So if you want a piece of Ancestry.com, go to his blog at, Blog.eogn.com to find that and more. Always a very entertaining conversation in Dick Eastman’s blog and newsletter, and don’t forget, you can go to AmericanAncestors.org and become a free guest member anytime, and we’d love to have you as a member of NEHGS. That’s all I have for this week, flying off to Houston, Texas, talk to you soon.
Fisher: [Laughs] Boy, you’re travelling a lot. Thanks so much David, talk to you next week. And of course you can find all the links to the things David is talking about in our “Show Notes” at ExtremeGenes.com, so check that out. And coming up next, if you ever wondered how you might engage your boys or your girls into family history and genealogy, you’re going to want to hear what our next guest has to say. Gary Pack with the Boys Scouts of America, he is one of the people behind the Genealogy Merit Badge. He’s coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 183
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Gary Pack
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth! And this segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. And I’m very excited today to start delving into the idea of how we get our kids going on family history. You know, I feel like we’re preaching to the choir a lot to a lot of people who are tuning in to find out how they can trace their ancestors and find out even more about their parents and their grandparents who may have already moved on. But with the kids it’s a different thing, so I brought in Gary Pack, and Gary is with the National Boys Scouts… should we call it the Council, Gary?
Gary: Oh, you know I’m a great volunteer. I’ve been with the Scouts for many, many years and I’ve volunteered my time for over thirty years as an adult volunteer to help young men and even young ladies to have opportunities to have these experiences with Scouting and the values that we teach there.
Fisher: And you’ve been involved with the national group for how long?
Gary: Yes. Oh, I’ve done that, oh, for many years, but again, as a volunteer. I volunteer at the Council level and worked with the national level on their National Jamboree, and so I’ve done that for several opportunities and it’s a wonderful thing.
Fisher: And the Genealogy Merit Badge as I understand it, a huge thing when they have the National Jamboree which happens what, every three years or something like that?
Gary: They do them once every four years. It got a little bit off kilter in 2010 because of the 100 year anniversary of Scouting.
Gary: It should have been 2009. [Laughs] But we got back on schedule in 2013.
Fisher: They waited just a little bit. Okay.
Gary: They waited a year to get the anniversary to happen.
Fisher: Absolutely. So, Scouting is always looking for ways to influence boys particularly and of course girls too, and I’m sure Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts interact on a lot of things that can help either.
Fisher: So let’s talk about this Genealogy Merit Badge because I don’t think it matters much whether a kid is a Scout or not, the things that are in this merit badge, the requirements, are really helpful in getting kids going in understanding a little more about how you trace your roots.
Gary: Yeah, the Genealogy Merit Badge is a wonderful tool to have kids learn some of the very basics of doing their family history and we start with simply teaching them even what some of the terms are that they aren’t used to hearing in school or anywhere else. So we teach them about ancestors, and descendants, and what genealogy is all about. And then we have them do things like create a timeline and a timeline for themselves like, I was born, I did this when I was five, I broke my arm when I was seven, etc. etc. right?
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah. You could put not only your numbers together for a chart but you can also start writing your own story that way.
Gary: Yes, and that’s the most important thing we found. We were so blessed in 2010. We had over three thousand boys come to our Genealogy Merit Badge area and come through our tent and look at the computers, and many of them, actually over a thousand of them earned the merit badge while they were there at the jamboree.
Fisher: Right there.
Gary: And they loved it! It became the second most popular merit badge in the entire merit badge midway.
Fisher: Behind what?
Gary: There was an engineering one that really had some really fun things that I had a lot of fun at.
Gary: That just beat us by a couple hundred visitors, but we were right there far and away some of the most popular opportunities in the entire Jamboree because the kids came and had such a marvellous experience that they just couldn’t help but gush to their friends and their friends would all come the next day. It was amazing.
Fisher: And you could actually do this in a day?
Gary: It would take several days. We sent them to do homework because there’s things that they had to do to find out more about their ancestors. And so we sent them to go back to their camps and make a phone call home and talk to Mom and Dad.
Fisher: They were allowed?
Gary: Of course.
Gary: Most of them were carrying cell phones of course.
Fisher: Okay, yeah.
Gary: It’s a different Scouting than it was when we were kids! [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah!
Gary: And they would call home and they were tasked to talk to a grandparent or an uncle or someone that they didn’t really know very well and ask them some simple questions, and the layout is right there, and they would ask them. So, tell me where you were born. Tell me some of the stories of your life. And these kids would come back jumping up and down with the things that they’d learned that they’d never heard before.
Fisher: Really? And what would they do with that information now that they had it? I mean you’re out in the middle of what, nowhere, right?
Gary: [Laughs] Yeah, we’re out in Virginia, right, and it’s hot and humid in the middle of the summer.
Gary: And these kids would come back and they had to do a timeline for this ancestor they had talked to on the phone, and they’d come back with amazing stories of things that, “I had no idea my grandmother lived in Hawaii when she was young.” Things like this, right, and just some really great stories. They found out things about relatives that they’d known their whole lives but didn’t know their stories. And kids, those stories were probably told among the family, but the kids either hadn’t paid attention.
Gary: But by paying some attention these kids got so excited just finding out about family history that they would go home excited to find out more stories and what we were trying to teach them is that everyone, including, you has a story.
Fisher: Exactly. And what stories, by the way, did you hear that still stick in your brain all these years later?
Gary: Oh, my favorite story. We had a young man come who moved to America from South America as a very young child, and he was here and now he is fourteen years old and he’d come with his troop to the Jamboree, and we told him to go find out some things about his ancestor, and he says, “Boy, I just know almost nothing.” Well, give your mom a call and let her get you in contact with someone. So he was able to actually call and talk to his grandmother in South America who had been born in Europe and then moved to South America and told him a whole bunch of stories. He came back and I’d never seen anybody so excited about what he found out about his family that he had never known before. And he was just beside himself with excitement, and thrilled, and there were tears from this young man to find out things about his family that he’d never even known or heard before.
Fisher: Interesting. So what did he do with that? I mean, once they got this information, they’re back at the camp, they’re on their cell phones, they’re getting this data, they’re coming back to you the next day, what did you have them do with it?
Gary: What we had them do with it is put together family group sheets.
Gary: And so we’d show them how to do that and put it together so that they could show how their family was all put together, their mother and father, and who their parents were, and who the other siblings were, and all these things that these kids really hadn’t paid much attention to and it started to tie them back to find out who they are because of where they come from. It’s just amazing there’s such love that happens for their family history when they come and just start this process of gathering the data and putting it together.
Fisher: How many generations would you have them take it back?
Gary: We had them go just three to four generations.
Fisher: Wow! That’s still tremendous.
Gary: And just fill out what they could, and it really helped them I think, get a toe hold into what it takes to do your family history, but most important, it really just pricked their heart to say, “This is so cool! I can do this.” And the other thing that I think was an amazing thing that often we found for these kids is that we would find records that even their parents didn’t know, for instance…
Fisher: So you’re saying you had computers set up in a tent?
Fisher: Okay, in the middle of nowhere for genealogy.
Gary: In the middle of nowhere. It took some doing.
Gary: Right. And you’re hooked. You used to work in technology at FamilySearch.org.
Fisher: So you knew exactly where to go.
Gary: Yes, we had over seventy volunteers that we worked from around the country to come help us and we supported and put together about sixteen machines that were all connected to the internet.
Gary: So the kids could come and work on their family history and tie in to places like FamilySearch and to look at various records that were available for their family and often these kids would come and we would find records that they and their parents did not know, names of grandparents that they were not aware of.
Gary: Usually great grandparents or even…
Gary: Yes, and stories. And so they not only got themselves excited, they got their parents excited.
Fisher: When they went home?
Gary: Yes. I believe the interview process was the most effectual of everything we did. So these kids had an opportunity to talk to someone and ask questions that were laid out for them to ask, that would teach them then some of the benefits but most important, teach them how they could learn about family history by talking to people.
Fisher: Okay. Now if somebody’s child or grandchild is not a scout, these techniques that you’d outlined here are really affective. Give us a few others that we might want to cover while we’ve still got a little time.
Gary: One of the things that we do is say, “Name three kinds of genealogical resources and explain how they help you find your family tree.” The concept there is, know how to go online and look for this kind of information.
Gary: For instance, we would teach them… just Google search. Google search the name with an approximate date and see what comes up.
Fisher: It’s amazing to me how many people don’t think of Google.
Fisher: As a genealogical source it’s fantastic.
Gary: I use it all the time.
Fisher: All the time! [Laughs]
Gary: Exactly. And so we would teach them three different kinds, right, and they would have to learn some of these things and obtain a genealogical document that supports what you learned. In other words, go out there online and see if you can find a census record, go out and see if you can find a birth record. And they would find things and say, “Wow! We had no idea that there was a marriage record that we could see of Grandma and Grandpa back in 1920.” And then we’d say you need to go and contact a local library or institution that does some things with genealogy. And so they were tasked to go out, of course we being representatives of the Family History Library that was us they could contact and we would teach them some of the things that we did as a library and also help them find resources in their local areas where they could go when they got home to find those kind of resources. It’s just a way to teach them what to do and how to do it.
Fisher: He’s Gary Pack. He is with the Boys Scouts of America. The national organization has helped them put together this entire Genealogy Merit Badge. You’re keeping it up to date I know, Gary, because it’s constantly changing.
Fisher: But thank you so much for all the advice because I think this is going to do a lot of good for people as they try to get their kids and grandkids going in family history.
Gary: Thank you so much for this marvellous gift that you’re giving to people to teach them about family history. It’s the greatest thing ever.
Fisher: Thanks, Gary. And coming up for you next, we’re going to talk to Jennifer Utley. She is the head researcher for “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Long Lost Family” two great genealogical based television shows. They’re airing on TLC Sunday nights right now. Who’s going to be on the shows? What are the shows going to be about? You’re going to find out coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 183
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Jennifer Utley
Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by RootsMagic.com. It’s another season of “Who Do You Think You Are?” and Sunday night is a big night of course for family history people, because not only do you get to see “Who Do You Think You Are?” on TLC right after that, it’s “Long Lost Family.” And the Director of Research for these shows is on the line with me right now, Jennifer Utley over at Ancestry.com. How are you Jennifer?
Jennifer: I’m great Fisher. How are you doing?
Fisher: Awesome. You know, in the past we’ve talked about you know you’re rubbing elbows with Kelsey Grammer and emailing with Jim Parsons and Tony Goodwin from the TV Show “Scandal.” I mean, I’m thinking you’re the one with the insight, not only with personal interaction with these folks, but also on their lineage. Who’ve we got on the series this year for people who haven’t been keeping up with it?
Jennifer: Well, I actually think this is one of our, well it might be our best line-up ever. So, we’ve got Courteney Cox, Julie Bowen, Jennifer Grey, Noah Wyle, Jessica Biel, Smokey Robinson, John Stamos and Liv Tyler.
Fisher: Wow, I think you’re absolutely dead on. That is an incredible line-up! It seems like the longer the show goes on, more and more very big names want to get involved in it. Let’s start with what you think is the best episode of the year.
Jennifer: Well, here’s the thing. There’s two I haven’t see yet.
Jennifer: And so I haven’t seen Liv Tyler’s or John Stamos’ episode like yet.
Jennifer: I think it might be Liv’s.
Fisher: She’s got an interesting story because she’s the daughter of Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. And they didn’t actually meet until later in life.
Jennifer: Yeah, she didn’t know she was his daughter until she was about eight years old. So she doesn’t know his side of the family very well at all. So as part of her journey she really wanted to just dig in and see if she could learn anything about his family. As we go through we research these things. We do reach out to other family members because different people have different parts of the story and handed down stories, so we want to make sure we know what people know already. And she’s had a very active family… so her mother and father and she’s got an aunt. They all contributed.
Fisher: Oh, that’s great. Well, it would be really interesting for Liv Tyler fans AND Steve Tyler fans, right?
Jennifer: That’s right.
Fisher: What’s your favorite one of the ones you’ve seen so far, your favorite episode?
Jennifer: I guess I’m going to go with Jessica Biel. Her episode really focuses on the legends in her tree. So all growing up she’s been told these stories time and time again. There’s one about her Native American roots. There’s one about a Revolutionary War soldier who was trying to get back to his family and was crossing a river and was shot.
Jennifer: And she’s just trying to figure out is there any truth to any of this. So, it’s this whole, “Are these legends that we hear, are they true?” Because usually when you go and you dig into it, there’s always that kernel or nugget of truth at the center of them, right?
Fisher: You know, I’ve discovered that that’s the case virtually every time there’s an oral story. There’s always a twist somehow, because it’s like playing telephone right? There’s always something that’s not quite right. But there’s always a basic nugget that causes this thing to get passed down the line.
Jennifer: You know, it’s funny you actually bring up telephone because I actually think there’s a line in her episode where she actually says, “This family history thing is like the world’s biggest game of telephone.”
Fisher: Yes! [Laughs] Absolutely true!
Jennifer: So, it’s really fun to watch her learn what part of the story is true, and she is surprised at every turn. And she is just so engaging and so charming.
Fisher: Now, so far we’ve missed a couple of episodes. What are the ones that have already aired?
Jennifer: So, we start off the season with a bang because you’ve got to think that Lisa Kudrow is one of the Executive Producers. You’ve got to think that she wants her “Friends” on the show. And so to launch the season, the first person up was Courteney Cox.
Fisher: Wow, can’t beat that! And how did that go?
Jennifer: You know, in researching her tree, it was kind of a little bit of an embarrassment of riches, because there were so many stories that we could tell. Every now and then you get a tree that’s so rich in stories. But on this on we ended up taking Courteney on a journey back to her noble roots in England. And actually Lisa Kudrow was on one of the late night shows last week and she actually talked about we discover that one of Courtney’s noble ancestors was involved in the killing of the King!
Fisher: Ohh! Wow. [Laughs]
Jennifer: So it’s pretty fabulous.
Fisher: Yeah, I would think anybody who’s going to be a producer for Courtney Cox has to watch their back now.
Jennifer: [Laughs] For sure!
Fisher: For those who are not familiar with “Long Lost Family” tell us about this. It’s only in its second season, so it’s kind of a follow up to “Who Do You Think You Are?” on TLC.
Jennifer: Right. So it started again in the UK and they’ve had many seasons there. I think they’re at six or seven, so it’s important they came over here. And you know we get a lot of comments from members out there saying, “Why do you only do celebrities?” Only a few do journeys. Well, with “Long Lost Family” we’re actually helping out regular people, but we’re helping out people who were separated from their family in some way. Like, usually that ends up being an adoption story. But there’s all kinds of ways that families get separated. So, what “Long Lost Family” is, is there’s usually two stories, there’s the person who is seeking for someone and then they give us all the information and what they’ve got about in the non- ID and their adoption stories and then they all take an Ancestry DNA test. And so we take the results of their Ancestry DNA test and we do a little genetic genealogy. We discover who their common ancestors are and do some descendancy research, and then we find people on the other side and it’s a reunion show, really. We connect these two people and at the end of each show there are these two reunions. I got to tell you, when I get these episodes I sit at my desk and I pretty much just sob.
Jennifer: So, if you get into “Long Lost Family” for the first time, make sure you’ve got a box of tissues handy.
Fisher: So, do you go from one story to the other? Or is it just two stories back to back?
Jennifer: Usually, you meet both the people who are looking, we’ll call them the seekers, so you meet each of them and they are helped along on their journey by two hosts, one is Chris Jacobs and one is Lisa Joiner and they’re both in the entertainment industry, but they were both adopted themselves. So, they show a real empathy and they are really great you know in shepherding these people through their journey. So, you meet both the seekers and then Lisa and Chris go and they do the research to discover where that missing family member is and then they go and meet the missing family member and then they facilitate the reunion at the end.
Fisher: Boy, and you know that’s such powerful stuff, these reunions. Do you work at all with foundlings? People who are, you know, left on doorsteps someplace where they don’t even have any hint of who their birth parents might be?
Jennifer: Those kinds of stories are ones where you’re not going to get your traditional non- identifying information on an adoption case like that.
Jennifer: You’re going to have to rely on something like DNA. So we have them take a DNA test, and there is a foundling baby story that is coming up this season.
Fisher: They don’t come up too often, but boy they seem to be getting solved more and more. And you talk about emotional, because you also have a situation of somebody abandoned this child. And how’s that going to go when they actually meet that foundling, at both ends, right?
Jennifer: Right. At the same time, you know we’re not trying to surprise anyone.
Jennifer: You know, we don’t film anyone who doesn’t agree to be part of this reunion. So you never know why the person was left. Like I said, there’s tragedy that surrounds the separation of families. So you never know quite what the story is and you know maybe if you were the biological father, maybe you didn’t even know there was a baby out there.
Fisher: Sure, absolutely. Boy, it sounds like you guys are hard at work doing two shows now this season. And how long do these shows go on?
Jennifer: “Who Do You Think You Are” is 8 episodes long. And “Long Lost Family” is 18.
Fisher: 18, so that’s going to be going on pretty much through the next half of the year eventually.
Fisher: Well it sounds like a great genealogical television of course. How many years is this now, Jen?
Jennifer: This is my fourth year working on these television shows. I’m so grateful to be in this position and what a great job. It’s so fulfilling. But I also think it’s changing people’s lives for the better.
Fisher: Well it inspires everybody to find their own stories and isn’t that what’s going to make the world better, right?
Jennifer: Yeah I think so.
Fisher: Jennifer Utley from Ancestry.com. Great to talk to you, sounds like a great series going on right now with “Who Do You Think You Are” and “Long Lost Family.” TLC, Sunday nights, check your local listings for times. Thanks for coming on.
Jennifer: Thanks for having me. It’s fun to be here.
Fisher: And coming up next it is preservation time with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. Answering once again the question of why convert things to VHS? He’s going to tell you not only why, but how you can do it. You’re going to want to listen, coming right up on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 183
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth and it’s time to talk preservation with our Preservation Authority Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. And this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. How are you Tom?
Tom: I’m doing super!
Fisher: And we’ve got another email, this one from Kathy Funk. She said, “Tom, I just heard your answer to the question about converting my BluRay DVD to an old fashioned VHS. Where can I bring my DVD to have you convert it?” I can’t believe people are doing this.
Fisher: You know it’s crazy but we get a lot of calls on this. You know it’s like back to the future episode where people want to go back to VHS. And people say, “Why would you want to do that?” I used to ask the same question.
Fisher: Yes, why?
Tom: And they go, “Grandma refuses to put in a DVD player or a BluRay player, or anything else.
Tom: I guess she likes the twelve o clock flashing all day long and doesn’t want to get rid of it.
Tom: But it’s just like sometimes you have old relatives that won’t even let you borrow their photos, won’t let you borrow their film
Tom: It’s like I don’t know if it’s from the Old Depression where things were scarce, or just afraid of letting anything out. They would love to see your family videos or the film we transferred for you. But they don’t want to mess with a DVD player, they don’t want a BluRay, they don’t want any more electronics in the house. They don’t have an iPhone, they don’t have a computer, they don’t have any of this kind of stuff. If they have a computer at least you can pop it in and show them how to read a disk on a computer. But they are totally electronic illiterate and they don’t want to learn.
Fisher: And so you have a huge amount of business of people converting things to VHS?
Tom: Oh yeah. Oh absolutely.
Fisher: And then where do you get the VHSs to transfer it to?
Tom: Oh we buy VHS in bulk.
Fisher: Do they still make them?
Tom: Oh yeah, yeah they do. They’re used primarily in digital audio because they have this audio equipment, you can put a VHS tape in it and it lays down the audio digitally using the whole tape. So they’re still available, and we use a lot because we repair VHS tapes. Like we’ve had kids that have put their VHS tape, when they were two, in the oven, mom not knowing it was in there, turned it on.
Fisher: The one with the wedding. [Laughs]
Tom: Yup, yup that old story. And we were able to recover it. So a lot of times we need new shells. When something goes wrong with a VHS, it’s usually something in the shell. So we’ve always got those available. Now, to save you a little bit of money and some time you can do it yourself. They still make VHS DVD players. And even though the DVD is only a player, nine out of ten times that VHS part is still a recorder. So what you can do, you can get your BluRay player or your DVD player whatever it is, as long as it has the red, the white and the yellow plugs on the back. And you can take those, plug it into the VHS part, hit record/play and rock and roll. You can make your own VHSs and there’s never a problem with those. Where you run into problems is a lot of the homemade DVD burners are where you run into incompatibility problems. Like you make it on a Panasonic so it won’t play on a JVC or Sony. As long as it plays VHS it’s totally universal anyplace in the format.
Tom: Oh, absolutely.
Fisher: All right, so if she wants to take this to someplace to have this work done, Tom. What is she looking for?
Tom: Well, anyplace that does transfers that are a legitimate place, they’re not working out of their basement. Call them and say the same thing you said to us. Say, “Hey, I’ve got some BluRay, I’ve got some DVDs. Will you convert them to VHS for me?” and I would think most of them would say, “Excuse me, I think you’ve got that backwards.”
Tom: Just say, “Hey, I’ve got grandma, she doesn’t have any new equipment. She has a VHS. She’s not interested in it. Don’t try selling me a DVD player because she doesn’t want one. And you’ll find somebody that does, even if you have to mail it that’s fine. We got this a lot at RootsTech last month. People say, “Hey, I’d love to send my stuff to some place. I live in the middle of nowhere. There’s nobody around me that does it. But I’m just scared to send it.” If you kind of think about it, shipping nowadays is so much better than it was even five or ten years ago. And one thing that’s really important you need to understand. That’s probably safer in a FedEx truck than it is in your home!
Fisher: Exactly, and one other thought on that too is if you’ve got a DVD that’s digitized already just make a copy of it before you send it. So if you lost it, it wouldn’t make any difference.
Tom: Oh exactly. With things like that, that’s so important. And remember last we talked about how to package it. Go back and listen to last week’s episode if you didn’t hear it, on the podcast and then you can do that. Just remember, it’s always going to be safer in someplace that has a barcode on it than in your house. Look how many house fires there are a year.
Fisher: All right. And coming up next, we’ve got an email from Amy in Ohio, with a question for you Tom. We’ll get to it in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 183
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Hey, we’re back. This is it, our final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. We’re doing preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. This question’s from Ohio, Tom. It’s from a woman named Amy, she said, “I have a favor to ask of you. My teenage son has autism, but is considered high functioning. He’s been actively trying to get his dad and me to agree to let him get his first job, came up with an idea of him starting his own little business of moving VHS tapes to DVDs. This would mostly be just for close friends and family that live nearby, but I thought I would get your expert opinion on what we should know, what equipment is a must have and all that. Enjoy your tips on Extreme Genes.” Tom, what do you say to Amy?
Tom: Wow, that’s great! You know, that’s a neat thing. I’ve worked with a lot of kids with autism, and they just like are so focused on things, they do such a killer job on like art and different designing type things. That’s a great thing for him to do. So what I’m going to do is send you some different programs and some different software and some hardware that I would suggest it will work really good for him, because the neat thing about this since its just family and friends that are all going to be in the neighborhood, you don’t have to so much worry about compatibility problems, where if you’re sending him off to Dothan, Alabama, you know, and you live in Ohio, you know, it’s going to be kind of a problem if you have incompatibility problems. But this way, it’s not so important that you have that. The biggest thing is, you want to get it digitized. It will give him a sense of joy, because it will be so fun for him to do these and see the people light up when they’re playing the tapes. I’ll send you some really good products that you can use. And one thing you want to really remember is, it’s always the best way to do any kind of transfers, even audio, you want to make sure you do them in real time, because they’re a lot better transfers. And it’s best to get equipment that is specialized to go from analogue to digital. Computers are not made to transfer stuff from analogue to digital.
Tom: They’re made to handle digital information. And a lot of times, you get what you pay for. You buy one of these little devices for $75 and you put a VHS on one side and a computer on the other side, I guarantee that’s not going to do the job that we paid $3500 for. But in your case, you don’t need something high end like that, so I’ll give you some recommendations. There’s some different DVD equipment that you can use. I wouldn’t recommend going to BluRay, because they’re a lot more finicky, so let’s just stick with the DVD. Give him the opportunity to do these kinds of things. If he wants to even do something, get into scanning. As you know, you rent scanners. He might say, “Hey, you know, get a whole bunch of photos and slides and everything together from the family.” He’s put enough money together that he can rent it for like $300 to $400 for the entire week and knock this stuff out. And he’ll have people just so pleased with what he’s doing. Now a lot of these kinds of stuff too, you can do on USB drives if they’re like MP3s or they’re small enough MP4s. So there’s other options there, and we’ve talked about this a lot is Wondershare.
Fisher: All right, now what does he have to study to learn about these things? I mean, I’m sure there’s got some manuals involved before people are going to trust him with their material, right?
Tom: You know, that’s a really good idea to mention something like that. You can go to most college book stores or online and Zettle, Z E T T L E, he’s a great person to go to. That can give you information about, you know, how to compose things, how to put them together. You can make them as fancy as you want. I would suggest to have him put everything on DVD first, then put it into his computer now that its digitized, get Wondershare, and once you get into Wondershare, you can convert it into MP4s, you can convert it into MP3s, you can make special things to play on your iPhone. And I would suppose the time is one of the resources he has a lot of. And some of this stuff is very complicated, but he’ll be able to go in there, spend all kinds of time with it, feel pride in what he’s doing and maybe knock out some really cool stuff.
Fisher: Well, that is a great answer. And it sounds like great a great parent at work.
Fisher: And you know what fun, too, to see the families tied together within his neighborhood, you know. That will certainly have an impression on him.
Tom: Oh exactly! This is such an awesome opportunity for him.
Fisher: All right, thanks so much, Tom. See you next week.
Tom: My pleasure.
Fisher: And of course if you have a question for Tom Perry, you can always email him at AskTom@TMCPlace.com. Well, that wraps up our show for this week. This segment has been brought to you by FamilySearch.org. Hey, if you missed any of our shows, make sure you listen to the podcast. You can find it on iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. You can download the free Extreme Genes app from your phone’s store. And don’t forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com or our Facebook page. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!