A Night for FamilySearch Indexing

This evening, I’ve had the grandest time participating in FamilySearch’s Worldwide Indexing Event! Their goal was to have 50,000 indexers submit at least one batch of indexing during the 24-hour time period from 6pm MDT Sunday, July 20th – 6pm MDT Monday, July 21st.  As this event begins on a Sunday, my own time for participating is quite limited since I do have to go to work Monday morning.  Sunday night, I cleared my calendar to get all set to join in.

This is not my first time indexing for FamilySearch. I’ve been doing it for several years, and coordinated a group for TNGenWeb when the 1940 census was released, but I love these indexing events. They make the time go by so much more pleasantly:-)

Even more exciting is that DearMyrtle is hosting a GeneaSleepOver throughout the entire indexing event. The GeneaSleepOver – a 24 hours of non-stop Google Hangout full of genealogy news, information, interviews and demos. The lineup is excellent.

At 7pm my time, I settled on the computer to get started, only to be dismayed that the indexing system was moving so slowly. It’s hard to get too upset though because what it meant is that people were participating! So, I patiently waited and by around 10pm, the indexing system was working quite smoothly for me. 

So how was my indexing experience overall? Wonderful! I set a personal goal of 500 names and I was able to meet it by indexing 11 or 12 batches of obituaries from Tennessee and North Carolina. The obits ranged from the late 1980s – 2012. My NC batches have even already been arbitrated and I’m pleased to have a 94% agreement rate. I do know of some of my mishaps earlier on in the indexing process since I was not fully familiar with all the directions; I got better as I moved along.

By the time I stopped, FamilySearch announced that they had more than 17,000 indexers! Still short of the 50,000 goal, but this is only 6 hours into it. I can’t wait to see how many they report when I wake up in the morning.

And, as for DearMyrtle – that was an absolutely BRILLIANT idea! As stated during the hangout:

It was so nice to be able to hear/view the conversations and discussions while indexing. Spectacular Myrt and kudos to you and everyone joining you! It was wonderful and I’ll try to catch you all for a few minutes in the morning. Goodnight everyone!

 

 

I Just Spit for AncestryDNA

About a week ago, I finally took the plunge and ordered an autosomal DNA kit from Ancestry.com. This won’t be my first DNA test; approximately three years ago I tested myself and many family members with 23andMe. I have learned a lot about genetic genealogy since then and have my various posts about it grouped on my Genetic Genealogy page here on the site.

However, I’ve hesitated to test with Ancestry because they do not provide testers with a chromosomal browser for our DNA results. This means, that while you are shown genetic matches, you are not able to look specifically at the areas on each of your chromosomes to see where the matches are.  This is a limitation for me personally because I rely on the ability to look at specific chromosomal segment matches as I triangulate my results.

Yet, I am curious to learn more about genetic testing with Ancestry so with a recent sale of testing kits for $49 (plus a coupon for an additional 25% off), I decided to go ahead and do it. The kit came today, I’ve just spit into the tube, and all is packaged and ready to be mailed back to them on Monday. Let the adventure begin!

 

My Grandmother’s Clinic Cards

My grandmother Alice kept a lot of stuff. But, this is by far one of the most interesting collection of hers that we have and I’ve learned so much by going through them – a set of medical clinic appointment cards for herself and her four kids!

Most of the cards are not dated, but many have a field for the “age” of the patient so I can tell that they span about 20 years, from approximately 1950-1970. This time range corresponds to the birth of her first child, my uncle Stanley – up to when her youngest, my uncle Calvin, was about 12 years old. The next two card images show a visit from when she was 25, and another visit when she was 46.

There was one card for my uncle Leonard when he was a baby

And, on the back, Alice wrote a brief summary of her pre-natal visits. While pregnant with Leonard, she went to the Maternity division of the NY Bureau of Child Health and it looks like her appointments were from December 1952 – March 5, 1953. My uncle would be born just about a month after her last recorded visit.

Another card in her collection records dental visits for my mother. Mommy was attending P.S. 126 at the time and she went there for  7th, 8th, and 9th grades, so these appointments would have been somewhere during that time frame.

Grandma also had a card that showed payments she made for her medical care. From the address at Lacombe Avenue (where my grandmother moved to in 1974), I estimate these payments were made around 1974  or so. Grandma’s $685 total payments at that time is around $3300 dollars now. That was a lot of money for my grandmother I’m sure.

Grandma also had her card showing her polio vaccination series – or, as she called it, her “polio needles.”  This card shows that she had 3 already…

and on the back, she wrote that she had one more to get – two years later in 1961 – then she would be done.

And this card was interesting because it was the only red one in the batch. It’s a card for my uncle Leonard for what looks like an ear appointment given my grandmother’s note on the side. Leonard was about 6 months old.

These cards are fascinating to me. I know Alice didn’t play around when it came to her health and these cards prove it! There is probably even more to learn by carefully examining them all, so I need to take the time to do that. What a great set of cards for us to have!

 

Tarboro Newspaper Ceasing Publication

My thanks go to one of my blog readers, Janette, for sharing this news with me – that the Tarboro, NC newspaper, The Daily Southerner, is going to cease publication.  The blog of the National Genealogical Society has a post about it written by Diane Richard. If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you may have seen that I was recently in Tarboro as my maternal grandmother was born there and I have many relatives from the area.

In fact, while I was going through Tarboro, I passed the office of the paper and turned around so I could take a picture of it – I’m such a fan of newspapers, exactly for the many points that Diane Richard makes in her blog post about the paper’s demise – they capture so many life moments that can be goldmines for genealogical research!  This news make my picture even more poignant.

Daily Southerner office in Tarboro, NC

Fortunately, due to ongoing digitizing efforts, the full-text of more than 2,000 older issues are available online at the Library of Congress and DigitalNC.org, so I have the opportunity to search and browse them for tidbits on my family members.

But, Diane also makes a good point with regard to how will the type of news often reported in newspapers get captured and archived in our current digital & social media environment? I wonder if the State Library in North Carolina is pondering this issue? They’ve been so great at capturing our print news, I only hope they are working to capture the state’s electronic news as well. I will need to make it a point to look into this. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to comb through the older issues looking for material that will help me learn more about the community and my ancestors & relatives.

 

 

Trekking through Tarboro

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.


In first two posts of the series l described how I stopped in Rocky Mount while on the way to Plymouth. Next on the agenda was to see Tarboro. The reason I wanted to visit Tarboro is because my grandmother Alice was born there in 1924. Unfortunately I do not have a location for where her family lived, but I thought I would at least see what Tarboro looks like.

my grandmother’s birth certificate

Finding Main Street was easy enough and it looks so quaint :-) Much like I imagined a small town Main Street to be. Perhaps my great – grandparents walked these streets? 

view of Main street in Tarboro, NC

While there, I also took a few pictures to help with my NC genealogy projects. One picture I took was the historical marker for George H. White, a contemporary of my family member, Dred Wimberly,  as he also served in the North Carolina Senate. 

historical marker for George H. White

My visit to Tarboro didn’t last too long – it really was a brief drive-through. I wanted to quickly get going so that I could have plenty of time for the reunion. But, this did inspire a few more avenues for me to continue my research so I will start working on those leads. 

Unity Cemetery

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.


In my last post I wrote about visiting the home of my 3rd – great grand uncle Dred Wimberly. Well, I also wanted to stop at nearby Unity Cemetery since this is where Dred is buried.

entrance to Unity Cemetery

Unity was easy to find but my heart breaks at the condition of the cemetery. There are stones grown over, hidden by trees, cracked and broken, and even more disparaging states.  Unity Cemetery is the oldest black cemetery in Rocky Mount and definitely needs to be preserved.

a few stones in the cemetery

The only reason I know Dred is buried there is because of another genealogist who lives in the area. A few years back we’d correspondence about Dred and she was able to send pictures of his grave(waving thanks to Carole!) With my limited time, I couldn’t search for Dred’s marker as I’d ideally like, but I am eternally grateful for the pictures for he and his wife.

Dred Wimberly grave marker – photo by Stephen Hart

Grave marker for Ella Bertha Wimberly – photo by Stephen Hart

Also buried in the cemetery is one of the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Anna Easter Brown. Anna moved to Rocky Mount in 1925 and was quite active in the community.  I wonder if she knew Dred?

It was so quiet in the cemetery; very peaceful. I only wish the conditions were better. But, I am glad for the chance to see it and family research wFor the family research I would like to follow-up and find out, with the help of local genealogists, exactly where he and others in his family are buried in the cemetery. 

Visiting Dred Wimberly

This blog post is part of a series about my trip to Plymouth, NC for the 44th Annual McNair Family Reunion.


It was Saturday, May 24th and I was on my way to Plymouth for the family reunion. I was not only looking forward to being there, but also to the drive. The highway I took bypasses through several towns I wanted to see. My first stop was to go to Rocky Mount. Why Rocky Mount you ask?

My 3rd – great grandmother Mariah Wimberly McNair, had a brother named Dred and there is a NC historical marker for him. Dred served on the NC Senate in the late 19th century. Quite an accomplishment for a black person at that time!  It is my understanding that he had some prominence in the community so the marker was erected as a tribute. But not only is there a marker, but his house also stands. So, after all the research and reading I’ve done about him, I wanted to find it so that I could see it in person.

And find it I did. The house is located on Raleigh Blvd and Wake St, directly across the street from Pineview Cemetery.

There is no one living in the house but I saw signs that it is likely being renovated. I walked around back to see the backyard and nearly had a heart attack when two dogs got up from their resting spot and started barking at me! But they didn’t move from their location and they weren’t chained so I figured they just didn’t appreciate me traipsing through their territory.

This stop was quick but I am very glad I did take the time. My stop does raise a few more questions for me though – the primary one being to find out who owns the home? Do any of Dred’s descendants? I need to try and find out. Looks like I have some deed research to follow-up on!

Visit to the Newberry Library

This weekend, I had a chance to visit the Newberry Library in Chicago and I am so pleased I had the opportunity to visit!  I was in town for business purposes – to deliver a presentation for work. However, I arrived early Saturday morning so that I could take advantage of the library being open from 9-1pm.

I arrived in town at 8am and made it to the library by 9:30. Fortunately, it was only about a mile away from my hotel so it was very easy to get there. The first thing I can say is that it is a beautiful building. I love big, stately, building and Newberry Library does not disappoint.

front of the Newberry Library

painting of the Newberry Library

The check-in process was very easy, and there were nice gentlemen in the lobby to help explain all the procedures for getting checked-in and getting my reader’s card. The library has good information on the website to help prepare for the visit so there were no surprises for me throughout the process.

On my way up to the genealogy room, I did pass some gorgeous artwork, but look at this incredible family tree! It is a tree from 1880 from the Richard & Abigail Lippincott family. You can see more up-close pictures of it here.

Lippincott Family Tree, 1880

It is so detailed and absolutely amazing!

detail of the Lippincott Family Tree

Can you imagine having a family tree like that? So cool!

After getting my card, going to the 2nd floor genealogy collection and getting signed in, I was assigned a table to work at – K2.

my research table – K2

I’d done some preparation before the visit since here, most of the collection is in closed stacks and staff retrieve materials for you.  You can request 3 items pulled at a time. I requested my first three and then began browsing the reference materials they do have on open shelves.

I worked through a few items in the reference collection, that even though I have access to here at home, I don’t get to the library & state archives as often as I’d like, so having some time to look was still valuable. I then also worked with many items over the course of the morning that I don’t have regular access to and that was helpful.

I wasn’t there to do any specific type of search, I was generally just looking up some information & material I can use on the genweb sites, so at least I didn’t feel pressured. It was nice just to be among the beautiful research setting and have a few hours to take in my surroundings.  The staff at the library were all helpful and I can see why the Newberry Library is so well-regarded.

looking around the research room

the Chicago-related materials

I have some leads to follow-up on now which will probably take me awhile; and that’s fine by me. :-)

If you have ever been to the Newberry Library or are planning to go, I’d love to hear from you!

Best Mother’s Day Present Ever – A Family Reunion Trip!

My husband is giving me the BEST Mother’s Day present ever this year — he is sending me to Plymouth, NC so I can attend a family reunion that I’ve been wanting to attend for many years now.

Plymouth, located in Washington County, NC – is the hometown of my late maternal grandmother, Alice McNair Robinson. Her McNair family is pretty large, and this year marks their 44th Annual Reunion. In my genealogy journey these past 9 years, I’ve very much felt my interest in family history came in large part from Alice as she ALWAYS connected with her family wherever she went. I’ve been fortunate to connect with so many of my McNair relatives over the years that I am very much looking forward to meeting more in person.

My sister has a 1990 McNair Family Reunion t-shirt; maybe now I’ll get my own. :-)

I now have to start actively planning where I want to visit while I am in town. I want to make sure I see areas around town where my grandmother would have experienced, and also visit a couple neighboring towns. The reunion is held over Memorial Day Weekend and I should have at least one extra day to visit around.  I also want to make solid plans for capturing as much family history as I can from everyone attending.

Let the planning begin!!

 

Incorporating Genealogy in College Coursework

These past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a rather interesting experiment. The hubby teaches at a local HBCU and in his course, Introduction to Africana Studies, we had the students do a family tree assignment.  It was so interesting!

Specifically, it was the first time I’ve ever put together an “official” instruction on completing your family tree and getting started in genealogy research.  My goals for the classes were to keep it simple though. My outline was as follows:

  • Each student registered for a FamilySearch account (perfect platform b/c it’s free!)
  • I asked them to complete a basic 4-generation pedigree on paper first
  • then, document their family in FamilySearch Family Tree & submit a screenshot of the portrait view of their tree
  • and an important component of the process was for them to interview family members

One slide from my PPT presentation; shows where to go to build your tree on FamilySearch

Overall, many of the students reported the assignment was a rewarding experience. I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to read their reports about the exercise and how it helped them appreciate their families more.  Many students reported how excited their parents, grandparents, etc. were that they were asking. It made me smile on the inside each time. :-)

Of course, there were students who had more difficult experiences, such as not being close enough on one side of their family to be privy to any information and that was heartbreaking at times. But, all in all, even they did what the could and chose to focus on the part of their tree where they could do more.

Now that we are at the end of this exercise, there are more families now documented in Family Tree now ready for others to find and build upon. And, most importantly, perhaps one of them will truly be inspired to continue what they started.  Just trying to do my part!