Author Archive: Taneya Koonce

Sneak Peek of New FamilySearch Pilot Tool

I have to share this cool news! For the TNGenWeb project I’ve done a blog post about a new beta version of a tool that FamilySearch is making available. The new tool (once it is out of beta) will make it easy to index their image-only collections “on-demand,” as well as creating an opportunity for online data collections to be indexed in FamilySearch.  You have to check out the blog post! I’ve also done a short video demo (using Google Hangouts on Air) to show how it’s used.

Learn more at



Recording Family History

For some time now, I’ve given though to recording my family members talking about their memories. However, I’d not taken the time to look into how I could record phone calls. For me, phone calls are going to be the best chance I have of making it happen.  Last week, one of my geneabuddies, Brenda, posted on Facebook about tapes she rediscovered of her mom telling stories and I thought it was about time I actually do something to start my own recordings.

So, I did and found that I can record incoming cell phone calls using my Google Voice account. Sweet! Not only that, I can start and stop the recording as I wish and the file can be downloaded as an mp3 file.  With this information in-hand, I called my mother and asked her to let me record her telling a story. Just yesterday, she found out something about her mother that she hadn’t realized via a Facebook friend who grew up in the same housing community as my mother. I also recorded mommy talking briefly about where she grew up in NY. I slightly edited the mp3 files and then used Windows Movie Maker to add her voice as a track to a video slideshow of pictures to compliment the information.

Yes, it’s a rough 1st attempt, but I just think this is the coolest thing ever! I am going to definitely have to do more of these!

New Blog Design for 2015

Every now and then, I like to change up the theme I use here on my blog. Last year, I skipped my update, but it’s been bugging me for awhile now, so I finally updated it. The new theme of choice is called “Leather Diary” and I like it! The theme layout gives me more additional width for my individual posts and I like the floating menu on the right side of the screen.  It comes with several color options and I’ve chosen a nice, bright green. Very upbeat!  I also like that it comes with social media widgets across the top – this makes it easy for you to connect with me all over social networks.

new design for 2015


The mobile view is nice too! This is what it looks like from your smartphone. The tablet view is very similar, just a bit wider.

mobile view


The old design wasn’t bad at all – it was just time for a change. So, if you are reading this via an email or RSS subscription, click through to see the updated design. Thanks!

Blog design from 2013-2015

If you’re interested in some of my past updates, you can my following past posts:

If you are reading this and you blog, do you periodically update your theme? Or, is it just me?? :-)

My Genealogy Do-Over

Late last year, Thomas MacEntee announced his new genealogy journey for the year, a genealogy do-over, and I loved the idea! The Genealogy Do-Over is an opportunity to re-visit your research processes and work diligently to improve upon the foundation you’ve created. So, as I enter my 10th year of serious genealogical research, I too think it’s time for a genealogy do-over. However, I’m taking a very decided focus to my do-over. 

What is that focus you ask? Well, in my do-over, I am specifically interested in making sure that my work is preserved in FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT). I’m a huge FSFT fan. The model of having one profile for each person is one find extremely appealing given the amount of genealogy research I do for others and for people I encounter in my volunteer work with the USGenWeb project. I’ve blogged about my rationale for why I like FSFT before and my philosophy remains the same.  

Last year, I ensured a few generations of my direct ancestors were represented in FSFT, but as I want to broaden that to all of my researched individuals, I realized I needed a more efficient approach for comparing my research against FSFT. To do this, I’ll be using RootsMagic (RM) to work in tandem with FSFT and taking advantage of the fact that RM has great options for matching and syncing individuals in your genealogy database to FSFT. While I’ve used RM off-an-on since I started doing genealogy, I’ve not steadily used it, nor had I ever learned how to use it with FSFT. Now I know. :-)

Now, my primary genealogy database is a web-hosted one for which I use TNG: The Next Generation of Genealogy Site-Building and I’ll continue to have that be my primary database. My RM database will be used solely for syncing with FSFT.

Thus, my route for my genealogy do-over will consist of the following:

  • download my gedcoms from my TNG site for import into RM
  • use RM’s “groups” to tag everyone as “not reconciled” with my website
  • as I match & sync with FSFT, ensure that photos & documents I have for each person are added to FSFT, and then use RM groups to tag person as “reconciled with my website”
  • from this date forward, any research will be noted in my TNG database and additionally added to my RM database for syncing with FSFT

Undoubtedly, this new process will take awhile to complete, but I feel this is necessary step for ensuring the research I do is shared with others and preserved for long-term access. Plus, along the way, I get the added benefit of reviewing my research and making updates and corrections as needed. 

Thanks Thomas for the inspiration! 




Meeting a DNA Cousin

Taneya & Shannon

Okay – so, not a cousin of mine, but a cousin of my daughter’s. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Shannon Christmas today as he was in town speaking at an event on African American genealogy at Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage (you can read more about the event here). 

My husband, Kalonji, shares DNA with Shannon’s maternal uncle and paternal grandfather. How about that! Kalonji shares DNA with both sides of Shannon’s family.  Shannon and I still have work to do if we are going to have any hope of figuring out the shared ancestor, but 23andMe predicts Shannon’s uncle to be about a 4th cousin. This would mean the common ancestor is about the 3rd great-grandparent level. We have a possible hope at triangulation since another 23andMe tester matches both Kalonji and Shannon’s uncle in this same spot too.

green is where Kalonji matches Shannon’s uncle on Chr. 7; blue is where Kalonji matches the other 23andMe user (that user also matches Shannon’s uncle in this spot)

I’ve long followed Shannon’s work for genetic genealogy. So, no matter if we find the connection or not, Shannon’s family now and it was a pleasure to have a chance to meet him!

So, Apparently I Won An Award Today

How fun it was to receive a tweet from my genea-peep Jim today that at the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies I won an award!  I served on this year’s Program Committee so it seems they acknowledged us today. If only I were in Salt Lake City!

Thanks Jim for letting me know! Meanwhile, even though I can’t be at the conference this year I will follow along avidly via social media.  Especially since this year’s meeting is a joint conference with RootsTech.  Going to be a great next few days!


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

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…  😀

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.