Lessons Learned from my 1st Google Hangout On Air

I am so pleased to share that yesterday I held my very first Google Hangout on Air! I presented a webinar demonstrating how to contribute to an indexing initiative for student newspapers of historically black colleges and universities on behalf of my local chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.  If you happen to be interested in this topic, please check out our page and view the webinar. But, I wanted to focus this blog post on my overall experience using Hangout on Air as a platform.

Making the Decision: I’ve done several webinars over the past few years; all have been done with GoToWebinar. However, as I began to consider hosting more webinars myself, I knew I wanted to try and leverage Google Hangouts on Air (HOA). When DearMyrtle starting using it as her preferred platform of choice, I particularly paid attention. A long-time fan, and even participant, of her webinars, it did not go unnoticed by me when she made the switch to HOAs; I’ve observed that she’s had great success since she started using it about 18 months ago. She’s been a great inspiration for me as I decided I would finally learn how to use HOA effectively. The benefits of using HOA as a platform are exactly as Myrt describes in one of her early experimentation HOAs - there are no “attendance” limits, the session is automatically archived on YouTube for later viewing, and it is FREE to use. It really doesn’t get much better than that does it?

Learning HOA: I have to admit, even as technically savvy as I consider myself to be, I found (an am still finding) the process of learning how to run HOA’s less than straightforward. The information on how to run them seems to be fragmented across personal blog posts and websites. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time Googling for information.  To that end, there are some that have businesses around teaching HOAs, a prominent one being Ronnie Bincer, whom I learned about from DearMyrtle. I have not yet subscribed to his materials, but with the free information he has, plus others, I pieced together enough information to get a basic understanding.  I have also practiced HOAs with friends.

Day Zero: So, the big day came and all went well! I don’t have time in this post to describe everything fully, but let me highlight what I feel were my biggest successes, and what I feel were my biggest challenges.

  • Successes#1: it worked! Just the fact that I managed to carry it off was a big win. I was able to switch back and forth effectively between the PowerPoint presentation and the internet browser. It took a lot of practice and troubleshooting, but it worked. #2 – we have viewers! We had about 10 people watching live and since then we are up to more than 50 views. While I did some publicity before the event, I didn’t do as much as I wanted. I will be doing more though because the webinar was on a project that is ongoing. #3 – I am happy with the outcome. The session went so very well! And, I am especially pleased to have the archived version on YouTube.
  • Challenges#1 My checklist was incomplete. There are SO MANY STEPS to take into account to get set up effectively and while I had a partial checklist, I need to make sure I do a complete and extensive checklist as there were things I just forgot to do. And having your checklist as part of timeline countdown to going live is important too.  #2 Comments – I failed at getting the viewer comments integrated into the HOA Control Room. So, I had to keep manually checking all the places could leave comments as I was doing the session. #3 Screen Resolution – when sharing my PowerPoint file and my internet browser, the screen resolution for the viewer was definitely less than optimal. I still haven’t figured out how I will correct this. The typical information you hear about HOAs is that it is important to be on a wired internet connection instead of a wireless connection. I tested two different high quality wired connection options and neither one improved the screen resolution to what I would have preferred. I will be doing more investigation. #4 – I am still not ready for JOINers – this webinar was screen share only; I still have to work my way up to having people join in as presenters.

Overall though, it was a fantastic experience and I am looking forward to doing more. You can definitely stay tuned as I make that happen. I am eager though because I see so much potential for more use of this for genealogical organizations and societies.

Have you used HOAs yet for your genealogy gatherings? Please comment if you have – I’d love to know about your experiences too.

 

 

 

Google Hangouts on Air – Here I Come!


I have been wanting to learn how to use Google Hangouts on Air (HOA) for web presentations for awhile now. In my last post, I even shared a short test video so that I could get some initial practice on how it all works. Well, I’ve been quite busy testing the past few days and I feel I have a good handle on many elements for holding a successful broadcast. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be doing my first HOA on September 6th. 

I volunteer with my local chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society and my webinar will be for them.  The society has a one-of-a-kind newspaper history project to capture history and genealogy information from HBCU student newspapers. During the session, I’ll demonstrate the indexing process and provide details on how you can contribute towards this important effort. 

Consider yourself invited! September 6th, 2014 from 10-11am CST is when you can find us online for the broadcast.

Details are available on the society blog at http://www.aahgsnashville.org/hbcu-indexing-workshop/.

My Ancestry DNA Results Are Back!

A few weeks ago, I took advantage of a promotional offer from AncestryDNA. I have been tested with 23andMe and have blogged a lot about that, but I have held off with Ancestry because of their lack of allowing chromosome browsing. However, the promotional offer was good so I went for it.  I am amazed that my results are already back in. They just received my sample July 28th! That was a far shorter turnaround period than I expected.

I’ve only had a few moments to take a look, but you know what? As I have been learning how to do Google Hangouts On Air (HOA), I did a short test tonight. I made a broadcast to go through my results so I could share it with my mother. I can’t believe I’m posting it (and keeping it public for all to see), but here goes!  I might as well kill two birds with one stone. 

In doing this HOA, I am using my wi-fi, which is not recommended, so the video is grainy. I’ll hook up with a wire next time.  And yes, I am sitting on my bed. It’s bedtime ya know…  :-D

Many thanks to my partner in crime, Patrice for really getting me on a roll with doing Google Hangouts On Air! Not only am I looking forward to further exploring my DNA results but I am also going to be doing more with Google HOA.  Stay tuned….

Rest in Peace Mama Frances

With great sorrow I am sharing the unfortunate news that Kalonji’s grandmother passed away yesterday, August 6, 2014.  Lovingly called “Mama Frances,” she was nothing but the kindest and sweetest person you’d ever want to know. We named our daughter Kaleya after her, giving her the middle name of Frances, so whenever we’d go to Alabama there was “Mama Frances” and “Little Frances.”

This picture of Mama Frances and Kaleya is one of my favorites. It was taken in September 2005 when Mama Frances came to visit us for a week while we were living in the Memphis area. It was so great to have her staying with us! We even traveled to Indiana to visit Kalonji’s mom so they had a chance to see each other again.

Mama Frances was born December 20, 1924 to Champ McClellan and Leola (Coleman) McClellan. She and her twin brother Frank were two of Champ and Leola’s 10 children.  Mama Frances was the last surviving child. Mama Frances was born and raised in Talladega and lived there a majority of her life. She did spend some time up north in Detroit, but Talladega was definitely her home.  She married her husband Curtis Morrow in March of 1951 and he passed away in 1971.

We will miss you tremendously Mama Frances. We were on our way to visit you in just a week from now and are so sorry we were not able to spend that time together in life. But, we will spend it with you anyway as we come down to Talladega for your homegoing service.

Rest in peace, we love you very much. Kaleya carries your name, and now she will carry your spirit.

Had Fun at the TNGenWeb Meetup

This weekend has been a busy one! I volunteer with the TNGenWeb Project as the State Coordinator, and this weekend we had a meetup of some of our county coordinators (along with a new volunteer).

I wrote about it on the TNGenWeb blog so I invite you to read the post! We had a lot of fun and we are going to try to get together again in the Spring – maybe this time in Knoxville. Also, we are contemplating ways to do virtual meetups too!

 

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.