Some RootsTech Inspiration

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, is a keynote speaker at the upcoming RootsTech 2011 conference.   I’m planning a couple of posts within the next 14 days or so around the Internet Archive, so this seemed especially appropriate to post about him.  As he, I too am a librarian, and I am absolutely in love with the Internet Archive.   I only wish I would have a chance to see him speak at RootsTech, but here is a speech he made for a TED talk back in 2008 explaining the establishment and processes behind the Internet Archive.  A must-watch for all those attending RootsTech.

My RootsTech Request

The first annual RootsTech conference is scheduled to take place February 10-12, 2011 in Salt Lake City.   The conference is sponsored by multiple partners, including Brigham Young University, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch,  Federation of Genealogical Societies and more.   As described on the website, the conference

will be a gathering of both family history enthusiasts and technologists from around the world. Genealogy hobbyists and professionals alike will discover new and emerging technologies that will improve and simplify their activities. At the same time, technology providers will enjoy a rare, face‐to‐face opportunity to interact with family history enthusiasts to better understand their needs.

I am quite excited by this conference.   I took a look at the planned sessions for the three days and practically drooled.  However,  there is just one problem — I can’t go!

I’ve blogged before about my desire to see more online conference attendance opportunities for genealogy gatherings and in my mind, this particular conference would be a perfect testbed.  For those of us that can’t attend, why not offer videos of some of the presentations (or all of them!).  The conference registration fee is $99 – which is great, but I’d gladly pay almost this much to be able to view the content online – even if a few days after the fact.

This model has been successfully in other domains.  For example, WordPress regularly films their presentations from WordCamp gatherings and posts them online at WordPress.tv — sometimes, presentations are really short – 5 minutes or so… sometimes they are longer.

This is a gathering of technology minded individuals.  I’m sure they can pull off an experiment of this concept!  If television shows like House can be filmed with a $2500 Digital SLR camera, then I’m sure this group of sponsors can afford a few of them for video recordings.  If 100 people signed up for $100 each to *virtually attend* the conference, then the money for the equipment would be easily recouped. Furthermore, special subscriptions could be sold to genealogy societies for group showings.

Your thoughts?

She’s My Aunt Too!

I can’t believe I’m only getting around to posting this, but last week I had a great connection on my Koonce ancestry.  I was contacted by a distant cousin after she saw my great-grandfather, Barfield Koonce, on my tree on Ancestry.com.  She sent me a message and we were able to speak the same night (I’ll refer to her as KM).  We were both so excited to find each other!

It turns out that she and I share ancestry from Isariah/Mariah Koonce (b. 1839  - 1919?) of Craven County, North Carolina.   I am descended from Isariah’s daughter Caroline, who was Barfield’s mom.  MK is descended from a sister of Caroline’s whom I never knew about — her name was Fannie.   MK had been home over the Thanksgiving holidays visiting her great-aunt Mary Koonce and Mary shared with her handwritten notes she’d done about the family tree.

Mary’s list is not quite in family tree format, but the names of my family members are on it. When I started telling MK how I’d come to verify that Caroline was Barfield’s mom – namely by working on information shared with me by a cousin that Barfield had a sister named Agnes, MK replied that yes, Agnes was on her great-aunt’s list!

Here’s a snapshot of Mary’s notes:

my Barfield is there, his mom Caroline, along with his sister Agnes  - and then Isariah is there too as the mother of Fannie.  It was so much to take in!

From MK, via her aunt, I learned that Isariah’s father was white and that the slave master had taught daughter Fannie to read and write.  There are other family stories as well that she shared, including some suspicion that even though Isariah married James Koonce, James may not have been Fannie & Caroline’s birth father.  What?? You mean I’m not a Koonce after all?  I can’t wait to further explore these areas of potential research with MK… utterly amazing!

MK also shared that Mary was married to Harvey Koonce, who was related to Barfield Koonce but she wasn’t sure how.  As  I looked back over my notes, I realized that Mary’s husband Harvey “Lamb” Koonce (1920-1982), is the brother of my grandfather, William Koonce Sr. – MK’s great-Aunt Mary is my great-aunt too!   Wow.  :-)

Headstone of my great-uncle, Harvey Koonce. Buried in Mitchell Cemetery, Craven County, North Carolina

I am very much looking forward to continual correspondence and research with MK – my newly found cousin.

RIP Jassmine McNair

On November 26, 2010, my 5th cousin, Jassmine McNair (b. 1990), was killed in an automobile accident.    I have never met her, but soon after learning the news from a family member,  I could not help but feel sadness and loss.  We share 3rd great-grandparents – Rufus McNair & Mariah Wimberly of Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina.

Jassmine and daughter Kamerin

Jassmine will be missed sorely by her family and friends and my thoughts are with the family in this challenging time.   It is a tragedy that you were taken so young in life, but your memory will not be forgotten.  RIP with our ancestors.

McClellan Connections

Researching my husband’s potential McClellan slaveholding family has been an ongoing research process for me.   This week,  I have an exciting potential lead for our wish to do DNA comparisons.

On Wednesday I was contacted by a white McClellan descendant – turns out that she is a 2nd great-granddaughter of General William Blount McClellan (see previous posts here).   We exchanged several emails, on which she engaged her sisters as well, and I’ve added more on her branch to the overall family tree I’ve been working on.  What was particularly exciting is that she has male cousins that may be willing to take a DNA test for us!  I’ve been looking for male descendants of the general to compare DNA against Kalonji’s male McClellan DNA to check for matches.  I’m so glad that she found us and I do hope this works out in the end.

Then, prompted by this exchange, I decided to do some additional searching for the white Champ McClellan (grandson of the General) that I had some information about.  Given that Kalonji’s great-grandfather was also named Champ McClellan, I’ve been particularly interested in knowing more about the white Champ.   I found a new Ancestry Member Tree that included him, as well as information about his descendants, so I contacted them to learn more.  As another measure of checking, it would be great if we could get a DNA sample from a male descendant down this line too.

In summary – here’s the family lineage trail

a) General William Blount McClellan — father to Walter Groce McClellan — father to Malcolm Allen McClellan — the lady who emailed me is Malcolm’s granddaughter.

b) General William Blount McClellan — father to Augustus Roby McClellan – father to Champness McClellan — father to Harry Augustus McClellan — father to Mildred McClellan Colonna — the person I emailed is descended from Mildred.  I hope they can help me find a male to test.

So — that would be down the lineage of two of the Generals’ sons.

I remain hopeful that this works out.  Whether we can support the hypothesis that someone in the General’s family was the father of Kalonji’s great-grandfahter or not, I still would love to know!

Keep your fingers crossed for us! It will probably not happen for a few more months but I remain hopeful.

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving for tomorrow to those in the United States!  For Wordless Wednesday this week, I’ll share a photo of Bristol (Sullivan County), TN.

Bristol is has a sister city just across the state line, in Virginia.  For Thanksgiving one year in college, I went home with my friend SJE who has family roots there.  We visited her grandmother, who had lots of land around the house.  After lunch,  SJE and I went for a walk and came across big cows.  They were just resting and on the ground, but still intimidated me! I’m a city girl – had never been so close to a cow in my life.  So, to avoid walking past them, we decided to climb over the fence to head back to the house.  I was worried about the fence supporting my weight and SJE said to me, “Taneya – those fences are designed to keep those animals in.  I’m pretty sure they will support your weight!”  That was all I needed to hear.  Back to the house we headed.

I’m prompted to do this post because via Ancestry Recent Member Connect Activity, I made a connection with a 2nd cousin of SJE’s who’d been working on the family tree.  This then prompted several email exchanges between SJE’s family members talking about their ancestors along with a few pictures thrown in from yours truly.  I love spreading genealogical love!

Catching Up

Seems I have been remiss in posting here on my genealogy blog.   In the past month we have moved so I am busy with that, plus I took a little time away from genealogy to get some cross-stitching time in.

As for genealogy specifically, I did have another distant cousin find me on Facebook! I have also been making refinements and additions for a couple of projects I have for the NCGenWeb site.

Let me also mention something that I am particularly proud of – in the December 2010 issue, Family Tree Magazine includes NCGenWeb as one of their “75 Best State Websites.” I was particularly pleased to see a special mention made about our Digital Bookshelf section.   I developed this section as a way to broadly categorize digitized books by county and really hoped it would be useful to others.   I was glad to see it mentioned!

I’ll try to get back in the swing of things soon.   Meanwhile, I do continue to read other blogs which helps me stay motivated.

African Americans in Civil War Medicine

Today, while visiting the website of the National Library of Medicine for work purposes, I noticed an announcement of a new online exhibit titled, “Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine.”

The online exhibit focuses on the specific contributions of African-Americans as nurses, surgeons and hospital workers.   There are 5 main sections to the site, each presented by a banner in physical form:

  • In Uniform
  • Catalyst for Change
  • Nursing the Wounded
  • Working for Freedom
  • Within these Walls

Banner display at the National Library of Medicine

The online exhibit includes brief biographies of several individuals and includes numerous pictures.  It’s not an in-depth treatment of the topic, but gives a solid overview.  In addition, there are Lesson Plans for K-12 educators and the exhibit will be travelling around the country.  The online exhibit can be found here.

Disclosure:  In my professional career, I’ve been funded by the National Library of Medicine twice for training fellowships.

Newly Funded Projects by the IMLS

On Monday, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced their funding to the tune of more than $17 million for their National Leadership Grants.   The funded projects represent a great diversity, but some are particularly relevant to those of us interested in genealogy & historical research.   Some of the projects funded include:

  • Denver Public Library – “Creating Your Community: Empowering Individuals and Safeguarding Communal Heritage Through Digital Community Archiving” — The Denver Public Library will collaborate with multiple partners including the Colorado Historical Society, Historic Denver, Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives, Aurora History Museum, Four Mile Historic Park, Lakewood Heritage Center, Colorado Genealogy Society, Auraria Library and Center for Colorado & the West, Douglas County Libraries, and the Inscribe/Zion Baptist Church. This pilot project will create an online community archive and preservation education project for the public. Together, these efforts will provide both training and technical infrastructure to assist local communities in digitally preserving and sharing important personal artifacts. The developed digital archive will include Web-based upload capabilities, a social networking environment for community members to exchange information, and services to help ensure that community memory is preserved.
  • Center for Research Libraries — “ICON Global Newspaper Directory to enhance collection assessment” — The Center for Research Libraries will partner with the American Antiquarian Society to jointly assemble a comprehensive directory of newspapers published globally from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. This directory will integrate information on newspapers published in the United States and abroad, supplemented with valuable details on where titles are held in print, microfilm, and digital format. The database will contain more than 200,000 bibliographic entries searchable through a single unified directory. The objective of this activity is to provide libraries and researchers with an authoritative tool that may be used for resource discovery, collection development and analysis, content verification and comparison, and preservation assessment.
  • Pennsylvania Heritage Society — “Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show: New Audiences Through Collaboration” — The Pennsylvania Heritage Society and its partners the State Library of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will produce innovative programming through a Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show. This project will use the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War as a catalyst to engage new and underserved public audiences, and to involve local communities in dialogue that links the historical context for issues of race, equality, and freedom with these issues today. A mobile traveling exhibition experience, the Road Show will reach its audiences throughout the state with a combination of exhibitions, dynamic community programming, a collaborative and interactive Web site, and a complementary project of collecting digital artifacts and brief oral history recordings from attendees. The project will also reap long-term benefits from new collaborative relationships, increased visibility, new and expanded audiences, and enhanced Web site and digital connections.
  • Clemson University – “The Open Parks Grid: the Gateway to Parks Information” — Clemson University will partner with Purdue University, the National Parks Service-Southeast Region, South Carolina State Parks, Georgia State Parks, and North Carolina State Parks to build an online research repository of park-related publications, including the National Parks Service directors’ papers, housed at Clemson University’s Special Collections and to be digitized as part of the project. The repository will be built using multiple open-source components, and will feature a collaborative workspace for park professionals, enthusiasts, and scholars. This repository and the shared workspace will virtually unite the highly distributed parks community of practitioners, academics, policy makers, and citizens with the highly distributed parks-related information created and collected by government agencies, research labs, universities, libraries, and other organizations.
  • Rhodes College — “Memphis Coalition for Cultural Heritage” — Rhodes College, the Memphis Public Library, the National Civil Rights Museum, and other community partners in Memphis will create the Memphis Coalition for Cultural Heritage (MCCH) and the Memphis Preservation Corps. MCCH will constitute an organizational framework that will address the need to build capacity for preservation and access to significant primary resources about the history of our community. While building capacity for cultural heritage organizations, the project will also engage communities in preserving and telling the stories of their neighborhoods, as part of a dialogue to address past and present social inequities and their impact on Memphis and the Mid-South. The project will also serve as a national model for cultural heritage organizations to work together to involve community members directly in preservation, access, and education activities.
  • George Mason University — “Omeka Commons: Preserving and Sharing Our Dispersed Digital Commonwealth” — Building on the success of its open source Omeka Web publishing software, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University will pilot test a new Omeka Commons. This centralized repository service will be designed to meet the needs of smaller cultural heritage and scholarship organizations that often have difficulty creating, delivering, and sustaining online digital collections. In this two-year pilot, the Commons will offer hosting and content backup services for a small test group of organizations, as well as a framework for online users to discover, use, and link to hosted digital collections and objects. CHNM will work with legal and technical advisors to evaluate metadata and licensing schema for the repository, and will produce a white paper with recommendations to guide future work.

More information about the grants can be found in the official IMLS press release.    These are all interesting projects – how great for our collective history. :-)


Kaleya In the Cemetery

Over the holiday weekend,  I made DH take me to two local cemeteries so I could take a few pictures for Find-A-Grave.  We didn’t stay long – about an hour combined, but during that time I got many pictures for uploading.  Perhaps my favorite part of the whole experience was how involved Kaleya (who will soon be 6) got in the process!  She and/or Jihad have been to the cemetery with me before, but this was the first time she declared that she was going to take pictures too.   It was by chance because I asked her to hold my phone while I got my digital camera ready and off she went with the phone while I used the camera!

She had a ball.  From getting in close to take good pictures….

to brushing leaves off the headstones so that the names could be “read” (or in her case since she’s still learning to read.. “seen”)

she was such a great helper and enjoyed it.

Now, of course she still has a thing or two to learn about taking pictures :-)  Comments heard in the cemetery,

“Mommy — my shadow got in that one!”

or – “Ha, ha! my fingers were in the way!”

But, she did quite often get pictures that were excellent.

She’s definitely going back with me next time I go :-)  I was truly amazed.