Coordinating a 1940 Census Indexing Group

When the 1940 US Community Census Project was announced, I wondered if I’d even take the time to participate.  However, I quickly realized this would be a great opportunity to become more familiar with the FamilySearch Indexing software and give back at the same time.  Soon after signing up, I decided to go ahead and coordinate an indexing group on behalf of the TNGenWeb

I wondered if people would sign up, and sure enough they did! While I would have been happy with just a handful, we had more than 50 people sign up to index and arbitrate for the TNGenWeb. Wow. 

I’ve blogged about our group’s efforts on the TNGenWeb blog and am hopeful we can keep the volunteers engaged as we move on to additional indexing projects, both with FamilySearch and internal to the TNGenWeb. I am so happy to have been part of this effort :-). 

WordPress for Your Genealogy Site

Wow! What a great couple of months it has been! I’ve recently completed my 4-part webinar series with DearMyrtle on using WordPress for your genealogy website and have been ever so pleased with the outcome.  Myrt is a wonderful hostess and everyone’s questions throughout the series really helped shape the content.  Thanks to everyone!

I have created a page on my blog in order to help capture some of my work with WordPress, so check it out if interested! I’m not sure how often I’ll post about WordPress in the future, but hopefully this won’t be the last you see of me and this wonderful publishing platform.

…and I want you to heart it too! :-)

My State Library & Archives Going Even More Digital


Don’t you just love it when you visit a library and they are on the ball when it comes to using technology?  I visited the Tennessee State Library & Archives yesterday and was happy to learn that they now have a digital book scanner.  Scanning book pages to USB is a dream come true – ooh yeah!

Of course I had to write about it! Check out my post on the TNGenWeb blog for more details.  

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 3: Features, Features & More Features

Thanks again to all that turned out for last night’s webinar with DearMyrtle on using WordPress for your genealogy site.  In this part of the series, we focused on using the self-hosted version of WordPress.  From installing it on your server , going through the initial setup checklist, to choosing from all the plugins, it was another detail-rich session. 

I unfortunately did not have time to cover some of my recommendations for finding themes, so would like to point out that with WordPress you can use themes from the theme directory that are FREE or you can purchase Premium Themes from online theme vendors and marketplaces.  Typically, premium themes comes with increased ability to let you change theme options without having to mess with the CSS style sheet. See the slides for a few additional thoughts. Whatever you do, be cautious in using themes on your site that you find in random Google searches – themes can contain code that  does your site harm. 

Below are the slides from the session – enjoy!

Additional Resources:

A Tale of 3 Brothers

With the 1940 census index just weeks away from potentially being finished, I am finally taking some time to explore more individuals in my tree.  Last night, I did some searching on Kalonji’s side of the family and found a bit of an intrigue.  Naturally, it kept me up way past my bedtime!  :-D

I was searching for the siblings of Kalonji’s great-grandfather, Morris Wisdom.  To date, this is what I know of Morris’ family: He had two brothers, Nick & Turner.  The three of them were born around the 1890s in/around Montgomery County, TN.  Morris’ father is named Dick Wisdom and his mom is Margaret Meriweather/Meriwether.  I had no additional information about Dick & Margaret, but I may have a new connection now

In the 1940 census, I found Morris right where I expected (living with wife Zebedee and kids) and Turner is married to a woman named Ruby. Nick, however, is living in the household of Sandy Meriweather and family, and is listed as his uncle. Hmm..

Since Nick is listed as “uncle,” this would imply Nick had a sibling whose last name is Meriweather.  I wasn’t sure about that, but I kept it in mind. Who knows? Maybe Margaret gave her kids different last names?  I then began to search for more information about Sandy Meriwether.  

To do that, I turned to Ancestry Member Trees – this is an absolute fundamental part of my research kit. The trees aren’t perfect, but they can yield clues.  In doing so, I found a couple of people who had Sandy in their tree and it seems his father was a James Meriwether, born about 1887 in Montgomery County, TN.  And… James’ mother is named Margaret Meriwether – same as Nick’s! If Nick and James are siblings, that would indeed make Nick Sandy’s uncle. 

In looking at the records attached for Margaret Meriwether, I found a link to her in the 1900 census where she and her family are only enumerated by first initial.  She is 31 years old with 5 children – their initials are M., J., N., M. & T. All are under the surname Meriwether. Well now – -N.M.&T could be Nick, Morris & Turner! That is their birth order too.  This could explain why I never found the three brothers any earlier than the 1910 census – their last names in 1900 are not “Wisdom” but “Meriwether.”  The “J” in this record is born in August 1887 – same as Sandy’s father. 

And, Margaret is living two doors away from a 54 year-old widow, R. Wisdom and his kids.  R could be “Richard” which is what “Dick” is short for.  

I now want to know if “R” is indeed “Dick,” so back to the 1880 census I go. Sure enough, I find him and he is indeed enumerated as Dick. I  think I have found Nick, Morris & Turner’s parents!   Of course, I will need to research further and look for primary sources, but this is a great start. If this turns out to be true, then I’ve got a whole new branch of Kalonji’s family to research.  In fact, Dick’s death certificate gives HIS parents as Mr. Palm and Edith Wisdom, so that’s a whole new generation!  

The research is on! I’ve got so much to look for! Just a few include:

I am pleased to have had the 1940 census available to jump start the research on this branch.

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 2: Dissecting the Dashboard

Last night we had another great webinar on WordPress! We had around 75 attendees or so as I checked throughout the session.  While last week we introduced everyone to WordPress and looked at the .com hompage, this time we really spent time going through most of the features of the Dashboard.

We covered a lot, and I still didn’t’ get to go through all I wanted to! Then, Myrt continued to work on Myrt’s site, this time with an emphasis on the Appearance options. 

Here are my slides from last night.  Keep in mind that these are demo/workshop sessions, so there are not many slides here, but you can have them for reference.  See my previous blog post for slides from Session 1

Part2_Dissecting the Dashboard

Thanks everyone for joining us! Parts 3 & 4 will be July 9th and July 16th so be sure to come back for more!

 

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 1

Tonight was a great night! I completed my very first full webinar and had the opportunity to start teaching how to use WordPress!  Many thanks to DearMyrtle for offering it and extending the invitation to me to teach it.

During tonight’s webinar, I shared information on the history of WordPress, it’s overall philosphy and gave an introduction on how to get started using WordPress.com – the easiest way to get started with it.  You can view the slides below, or check back in a few days for the link to the archived version of the webinar. 

Part1_LearnTheLingo

The feedback from everyone was great so that was motivating. Not bad for my first full-length webinar huh? :-)

Next week, we will go into more detail with the Dashboard, play around with choosing Themes, and start to make the transition to the .org version of WordPress.  Check slide #43 for resources. Join us!

Death Has a Preference for Birthdays

This is a morbid post, but I have to do it!  The other night while perusing my feed reader, I saw this article from the Annals of Epidemiology.  (yeah, I have scientific journals in my feed reader – how else is a gal supposed to keep up with the medical literature for work! :-))

Ajdacic-Gross V, et al., Death has a preference for birthdaysdan analysis of death time series, Annals of Epidemiology (2012), doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.04.016

I was ecstatic to see this because it presents research around something that I and my mother have talked about for years now.  As we look at the dates of death in our family trees, we seemed to have seen a pattern of people dying around their birthdays.  I was fascinated that a research group has set out to examine this on a large-scale basis. 

Here’s the overview of the research this team from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in Zurich.  (you can look more closely at the article here)

Why did they do this research? Whether or not deaths occur more frequently around birthdays has been a controversial for 40 years. Some research on suicides has shown there is a relationship; some has shown there is not. Some research on cancer deaths has also had mixed results. The problem has been though that all of these studies have looked at small groups of people or had flaws in how the research was conducted.  This research team has access to a very large database of deaths, so wanted to study it and see if they observed a relationship. 

Who did they study? They used a Swiss database of computerized death records that spanned 1969-2008. Excluding infants less than 1  year of age and people who were born or died on February 29th, they had 2,380,997 deaths of all causes to examine.  Wow.

What did they find out?  When looking at all the deaths, they saw that there was a peak in the data set for deaths that occurred the same day as the person’s birthday.  The “peak” was statistically significant (e.g. higher than you would expect to occur on average).  Deaths from all cause occurred almost 14% more often on the person’s birthday than any other time of the year.  This was pretty much the case for both men and women. Taking suicides out of the equation and looking at only natural causes (because people make conscious decisions about when to commit suicide and may or may not purposefully do it around their birthday), the effect was still significant.  Deaths on the person’s birthday occurred 18.6% more often than other times of the year in cardiovascular disease, and in women with cerebrovascular disease 21.5% more often than any other time of the year.  In cancer, death occurred 10.8% more often on birthdays than any other time of the year.  Significant excesses of death on birthdays were also found for deaths from accidents (vehicular + falls) and endocrine diseases.

What does it mean? It means be careful around your birthday! Nah, seriously, it confirms what my mother and I have suspected for several years now.  Admittedly, I don’t think I’ve seen too many cases of death ON the birthday, but usually somewhere  AROUND the birthday.  Of course, all research has its limitations, so it will remain to be seen if others reproduce these findings.  For example, there are properties of the data set that may sway the results — when  the exact date of death is not known, it is not uncommon to put the 1st or 15th of the month.  If the the exact date of birth is not known, it is not uncommon to put the same date as the date of death.  In this study, the investigators were aware of these trends and did adjust for it. I find it fascinating nevertheless.  

To quote a line from Randy Quaid in Independence Day when the television is showing the alien invasions around the world:

Good God! I’ve been sayin’ it. I’ve been sayin’ it for ten **** years. Ain’t I been sayin’ it, Miguel? Yeah, I’ve been sayin’ it.

Minus the *expletive deleted,* that was precisely my reaction reading this study!  Case in point, my ancestor Rufus Tannahill McNair.  According to his headstone he was born June 11, 1823 and died June 11, 1910.  I was always a suspicious of those two dates; a little *too* convenient and I suspect it was a case as described above – they didn’t really know his birth date.  But, I do have plenty of other family members that did die around their birthdays. Hmm.. I should run a report in my database and see if I see any observable trends or if I’m just making it up.  

I’m in total MPH geekdom right now applying this epidemiological study to genealogy research. Kewl. :-)

 

My Great-Grandparents in the 1925 NY State Census

Oh how I love genealogy!

Tonight, while doing a little Twitter reading, I saw Thomas post that Ancestry has put the NY State Census indexes online for 1892, 1915, and 1925.

Excitedly, I quickly hopped over to the Ancestry site to search 1925 for I expected to be able to find my great-grandparents – Lewis & Lucinda (Lennon) Robinson.  Sure enough, after doing a few variations in their name spellings I found them.

The handwriting is not the easiest to read, but it’s good enough.  The family as they *should* have been enumerated are Lewis, his wife Lucinda, and their kids Ethel, John, James, Frank, George, Andrew, and Isaac.  New to me is the listing of Lewis’s brother William! William is also a Longshoreman. 

I’m not sure why Ethel has an “E” for middle initial for her middle name was May.  And, I’m not sure why John has Lewis instead of Robinson for last name?  My grandfather, Herman, is not yet born here – he came along in 1926.  :-)  I knew already that Lewis was a longshoreman so it’s interesting to see his brother was also.  

Additionally, before today, I had as Lewis’ parents, a William Robinson and wife Rebecca Toon based on his death certificate. I also found Lewis as a son to William & Rebecca in the 1900 census.  Lewis’s brother William is younger than he, so is not in the 1900 family group, but now I need to go look for William & Rebecca in 1910 to see if William Jr. is listed.  But, this 1925 census record having a William listed as a brother goes along with the family structure so far.  

How cool! Now I have a few other leads to explore. 

Image citation: Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: State population census schedules, 1925. Albany, New York: New York State Archives. Election District 09, Assembly District 01, New York, New York, 1.