Author Archive: Taneya Koonce

Wordless Wednesday: A Picture Montage

Who looks like who in these pictures? Do you see any resemblences? Let me know if you do.  I’ll post later on why I did this. 

I Missed It!

A couple of months ago, someone posted a comment to my Black Nashville blog to let me know that a new book had come out.  The book was the one above; the author, Sheryll Cashin,  was here speaking on campus today and I couldn’t go! I’m so disappointed.  But, there are plans to put her audio online so I’ll keep checking for it.

Sheryll Cashin is a descendant of Herschel V. Cashin (1854-1924) a lawyer from Alabama.   Her father,  John Cashin Jr., started the National Democratic Party of Alabama. The family has an interesting history and I came to learn of them from research I’d been doing for the Black Nashville blog on James Carroll Napier, a prominent former citizen of Nashville.  Herschel’s daughter Minnie went to Fisk University and she married JC’s nephew.  I haven’t finished reading this book, but what I have read has been inspiring and it’s really put a personal touch on people in her family whose names I’ve only seen on paper.

Maybe I’ll write to her to see if she’s interested in copies of some of the documents I’ve pulled together on her family/extended family.

I Came So Close

To being able to be the North Carolina GenWeb Site Coordinator for one of my main counties of interest, Edgecombe County, North Carolina! Turns out someone beat me to the punch to request it when a notice was sent out that the county was adoptable. I have roots there and just submitted a profile to be included in the upcoming Heritage of Edgecombe County book. That would have been perfect!

But, I was able to take on a different county instead, Martin County, and I think I can do well by it. Martin County lies between Edgecombe County & Washington County (another one where I have roots), so I will at least be familiar with some family names I think I’ll see there.  I’ve also come across several mentions of the county in the Roanoke Beacon newspaper (of Washington County), that I’m transcribing. 

I won’t be able to start any official site maintenance duties until my class this month is over, but I’m already to develop some ideas for site organization.  It’s been one year since I became site coordinator for Blount County, TN and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to help contribute to the genealogical needs of researchers interested in that county. I hope to continue helping for this new one!

I’m So Envious!

Over this weekend while catching up on some of my genealogy blog reading, I saw that a new group had been formed, the Association of Graveyard Rabbits. Oh! I’m so envious! If only I had time these days I’d have become a charter member myself; I love graveyards!

But alas, its’ not meant to be. Between my classes, work, family, and the itty little bit of genealogy time I do get these days, my time is pretty much taken. In fact, I stole a few hours this weekend when I shouldn’t have, to take on a new task – I have my 2nd USGenWeb county site to coordinate!

I am now the site coordinator for Martin County, North Carolina.  I applied for Edgecombe County, but someone beat me to the punch.  Martin County borders Edgecombe however and is actually between Edgecombe and one of my other favorites, Washington County. So, several of the family names are already familiar to me through what I’ve learned in my research and through indexing a newspaper of Washington County

My first task for the site was a redesign and a blog, both which I accomplished that pretty quickly. It’s a little rough around the edges, but next weekend I should be able to give it a some more tlc and add a few more features.  

FindAGrave Photos

Do you use FindAGrave? If not, you should!  Thanks to a wonderful volunteer, I today received notification that a picture of my uncle’s headstone had been fulfilled.  My mother has been wanting a picture of it for years now and she no longer lives in the city where he is buried.

We love you and miss you Calvin!


If you get a chance, sign up for FindAGrave and check for photo requests in cemeteries nearby you. You may just make someone’s day!

Happy Birthday Grandma

Yesterday, October 16th,  was my daughter’s birthday. She turned 4! She was born on my maternal grandmother’s birthday and she has the middle name of Kalonji’s paternal grandmother.

My mother told me she went to the nursing home yesterday to help grandma celebrate her birthday. She turned 84 yesterday.  Happy Birthday grandma!

So, as a tribute to grandma (albeit a day late), let me post a poem that she loved. My mother went to the nursing home a couple of years ago and while there recited the first line and grandma recited a few more lines after.  It freaked my mother out b/c this after Grandma’s Alzheimer’s set in.

It Couldn’t Be Done by Edward Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.

Approaching Deadline

Contributions for the Heritage of Edgecombe County book are due October 15th! I have two submissions I will be making, that I started and wrote back in July.  I have ancestors from Edgecombe County and I certainly want them represented. 

However, I have to finalize my entries – such as print out photos, list my sources, and format appropriately. My target day to do this is by Sunday so that I can mail in by Monday. 

I am very excited to have this opportunity! Pieces of my family history printed and available on library bookshelves!

Academic Genealogy

Genealogy isn’t just for biological relationships. It can also manifest itself in academic relationships as well.

This past May, I took a research ethics course.  During the last week, the professor had a brief discussion on Academic Pedigrees. Of course, this piqued my interest! In class, we discussed the historical context of academic mentorship and how there is strong filial imagery throughout the concepts of mentorship.  Consider this: 

  • the German word for dissertation supervisor is “Doktorvater” which means “doctor father.”
  • there is part of the hippocratic oath that the one taking the oath will “hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents”

An academic pedigree reflects the historical tree of those that have trained you, trained them, etc. It is like a family tree of where you come from academically.  There is even a Wikipedia entry for the term academic genealogy, which gives a little more insight.  There are specific discipline genealogies that have been created too.

As I reflected on this on my own professional life I found some interesting history.  I’m a medical librarian at a major teaching academic medical center and at the core of what we do is the provision of medical literature and how it can best be used to support patient care.  At our library, we have a non-traditional approach to how we provide literature to clinical and research teams – we do fairly extensive analyses and summarizations of the various viewpoints that appear in the literature when we respond to complex questions.  This program has come about as a result of my mentor’s experience in medicine and informatics. 

My mentor, early in her career, worked with Dr. Jack D. Myers (1913-1998) [1], Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh from 1950-1970.  One of her mentors, he was regarded as a top-notch internist with superb diagnositc skills.   He translated his strengths into computers and developed software to aid physicians in diagnosing patients.  Part of the process to create this tool involved a team of physicians not only writing the programming to support the system, but also culling information from the medical literature to create the backend infrastructure.  He viewed the medical literature as a required component to clinical practice.  As did his mentor, Dr. Soma Weiss. 

Dr. Soma Weiss (1899-1942) emigrated to the United States in 1920 from Hungary, the son of an appartently well-known architect and engineer in that country.  When he got to the states,  Soma continued to develop his career and quickly was recognized as an excellent physician and teacher.  He died young, at the age of 43, after diagnosing himself with a subarachnoid hemmorhage.  At various stages in his career, he interned at the well-known Bellevue Hospital in New York,  did research at Boston City Hospital, was a faculty member of Harvard’s Department of Medicine and in 1939, appointed Physician-in-Chief at Brigham Hospital in Boston (now part of Brigham & Women’s Hospital).  Dr. Myers was one of  Dr. Weiss’ residents at Brigham Hospital when he began that appointment.  

Dr. Weiss’ medical knowledge has been reported as “enormous” and he’d established an international reputation by the time he was 40 as “a physician, a clinical investigator, but especially a master teacher” according to Dr. William Hollingsworth. [2]  As I read about Dr. Weiss, I was particularly struck by an account of how extensively he was familiar with the medical literature.  In a eulogy about him, Eugene DuBois commented

He knew the literature so thoroughly that it was almost overwhelming.  Once a patient was encountered with a rare disorder of the circulation, and in the history it was noted that about ten years previously he had been admitted to a hospital in Edinburgh.  Soma knew that if he had been there at that particular time with that particular disease, he must have been seen by a certain clinician who had written on the subject.  Soma  hurried to the library, put his hand on the right volume, and found a detailed study of his patient. [2]


Knowing the literature can certainly go a long way. Thus, what we do as medical librarians is extremely important.

Work aside, the genealogist in me can’t end without including some genealogy tidbit.  Soma (i love the name!) arrived in the United States in September 1920 according to the Hollingsworth book.  A quick Ancestry search later and I’d located his New York Passenger List record.   The then twenty-one year old departed Trieste, Italy and arrived in New York on September 7, 1920 on the Presidente Wilson.  He listed his occupation as Medical Student and his father, Ignaz Weiss, is listed as nearest relative. 

I rapidly found more information about Soma, and started my own genealogy file for him.  I have more information to share on my academic genealogy as I look at those who influenced him, but that will have to be on another day.  In doing this reading over the weekend, I have learned so much about the social network of the people I work with, for there are so many other ties to explore.  The father of my mentor’s boss trained under Dr. Weiss as well.  🙂

All of this intrigues me  — the branches of my academic tree are just as fascinating as the branches of my biological tree. It really helps add context to my work environment to learn and understand some of this history.  

[1] Burkhart, Ford. “Dr. Jack Myers, 84, a Pioneer In Computer-Aided Diagnoses.” New York Times 22 Feb. 1998. 29 Sept. 2008 <>.

[2] Hollingsworth, William. Taking Care: The Legacy of Soma Weiss, Eugene Stead, and Paul Beeson. San Diego, Calif: Medical Education and Research Foundation, 1994.

Google Books On A Website Near You

Today Google announced on their Book Search Blog that they have developed a series of partnerships in order to more fully integrate Google Books into existing websites.  In the post, they highlight several advantages of this feature including

“For example, suppose you’ve turned to the Books-A-Millionsite to look for a book on the history of your hometown (say, Mountain View, California). When you see a book that looks promising, you can now click on “Google Preview” to browse through the book just as you might in the physical store, without ever having to leave Books-A-Million’s website. “

Whenever browsing participating websites, you just need to look for the Google Preview button and it will open up a window to preview the book online.  There are many different sites participating – bookstores, university libraries, publishers (even Arcadia Publishing – publisher of the Images of America Series), and social book sharing sites.  One of my favorite sites, is also participating. 

I’ve blogged about Worldcat before: it allows you to locate books in libraries that may be close to you.  When you are looking at a record for a book, if you see the Google Preview button you can begin to browse what is available. 

You can read more about what WorldCat did here.  Right now, it looks like you need to use APIs in order to take advantage of the book preview.  I wonder if there would be any utility in them making an embed code of some type for an individual book-by-book basis?  One could always make a static link to a book, but I like the look of the embedded book. 

I find this particularly of interest as I’ve been spending some time exploring Google Books for my various genealogy interests.  Each month I choose a database to look at more in-depth and this month, Google Books was the one of choice.   During the Genea-Blogger games, my posts from this month on Google Books included:

I have more posts coming this Friday that are not up yet. I’ve written them and set them for pre-publish. I have the Genea-Blogger Games to thank for that!