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.

A True Homecoming

As if my Memorial Day Weekend didn’t already get off to a good start, Day 2 was also incredible. 

Today the family and I spent time accompanied by 4 visitors from Spain.  One in particular, Carol, is on the search for her family here in Nashville.  

Carol is the daughter of an English woman and an African American man from Nashville.  While in the Army, Carol’s father, who I’ll call Mr. C, went overseas and had a relationship with Carol’s mom. Mr. C later returned to the states.  While he knew of Carol, as did his own mother, Mr. C.’s family contact with Carol was extremely limited and Carol never had the opportunity to know her father.  Mr. C. died in the 1970′s 

In February, I was contacted by Carol’s friend Barbara, who’d been working on Carol’s US family tree.  It so happened that Mr. C is from North Nashville, where I live, and grew up just a couple of blocks from Meharry.   Carol was planning to come to the states and wanted to see the area where her US family was from, so I agreed to help do some research before she arrived (e.g. pulling obits, cemetery photos, etc.) and then take her around when she visited.  Our visit was today. 

Herman Street is where Mr C. grew up

Since Mr. C.’s family had been in this community since the early 1900s, I wanted to give them a sense of the history of this area. I showed Carol and her friends the original Pearl High School, we walked some of the campus of Fisk University, drove through Meharry’s campus, went up and down Jefferson Street, and a few other things – all the while talking about what this area was like back “in the day.” After driving the neighborhood, we went back to Herman Street to see if it would be possible to find someone who may have known Carol’s family.  This is when the fun really began!

view down Herman Street

Our plan was to start knocking on doors and just asking if anyone knew of Mr. C’s family.  We did, but unfortunately, no one was home as most of the houses we checked.  Interestingly enough though, we did see a hub of activity further down the street.  This was probably why no one was home. 

Galilee Missionary Baptist Church

It was the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, established in 1922. We were here at 12pm on a Sunday afternoon, so of course church services were in session! Being brave, we all decided to just go to the church and see if any of the members knew anything to help us.  When we arrived inside, services had pretty much just started so we attended the whole service.  

church in session

And, as soon as services were over, started asking some of the church elders. Lo and behold we were in the right place!

Several members of the church knew Mr. C and was able to share some details of the family with Carol.  Mr. C. had a brother named Mr. R.C. and we met R.C.’s stepdaughter-in-law and step-grandchildren.  They had all grown up right on this street and shared some of their memories of Mr. C’s family.  Then, amazingly enough,  the stepgrandson of Mr. R.C. went out to his car and got this picture for Carol. 

We don’t know who everyone is in this picture, but two of the girls are sisters of Mr. C – thus, are Carol’s aunts!  The picture was given to us by the grandchildren of the woman labelled as “sister-in-law.”  That family got the picture from the son of the woman labelled “family friend.”  Amazing! Carol noted some family resemblance, especially in her aunt that is standing. The guess was that this was a social club picture, but they were not sure.  

The dinner served at the church after services were over is primarily what allowed us to stay so long and meet and talk to Carol’s extended family members.  This weekend, just happened to be the church’s Homecoming weekend.  And, what a Homecoming indeed – for this is Carol’s family’s “home” church and she was able to be there today.

More time is needed to continue to look for additional family members, but the fact that we were able to experience this was incredible.  We will keep the research going, will try to stay in touch with the family Carol met today, and perhaps it will lead her to even more living family members.  Carol will be returning home back to Spain soon so may not have time to connect with them while here, but we hope this is only the beginning. 

It was a pleasure meeting Carol, her husband, and their friends and I’m glad we had this time together today!  

Taneya & Carol in middle, joined by Carol's husband (on the other side of me) and their friends

Meanwhile, if anyone happens across this post and is familiar with this neighborhood and church, please email me!

Additions to my Genealogy Collection

If I never felt like a genealogist, boy, I sure do now! It all started simply enough.  An email from my friend Kay Lynn, who volunteers with me in the NCGenWeb project:

…while cleaning out and going thru all my genealogy books I came upon a few Washington County cemeteries that were surveyed in 1936.. would you be interested in these? 

I maintain the Washington County, NCGenWeb page and I of course had to take her up on the offer! Then, as we exchanged emails, it turned out she had some other Washington County items as well.  Since Kay Lynn only lives about 20 minutes away from me, I decided to just go up and visit yesterday. 

And what a pleasant visit we had.  Her land has a few buildings on it, so she has a vehicle to get around. Here are Jihad and Kaleya with her “mule” as she calls it :-). 

Kay Lynn was cleaning out her research room of material that she doesn’t use often for the sites she maintains. It was my lucky day that she had things relevant for counties that I work on or contribute to for both NC and the  TNGenWeb Project. Thus, I came home with waaaaay more than I knew I was going to get! :-)

And, I had to clear out space on my bookshelves for it – see the one that’s just about empty 2nd from the right? This is to be their new home.

The collection of material includes:

  • Onslow County, North Carolina marriage records 1764-1867 by Frances T. Ingmire (1983)
  • Onslow County, North Carolina 1860 Census – compiled by Michael Whaley & Bob Jenkins in 1989
  • Onslow County, North Carolina Voter Registration Records: 1902, 1904, 1906, 1908 – by Delmas D. Haskett, Jo Ann Galloway & Helen Moore Sammons (1995)
  • Abstracts of Land Entries, Onslow County, NC 1778-1796 and Jones County, NC 1795-1797 – by Dr. A. B. Pruitt (1990)
  • Onslow County, North Carolina Cemetery Records – an 11 volume set compiled and indexed by Michael Whaley in 1996
  • Washington County Genealogical Society Newsletters & Quarterlies from their very first issue in March 1990 – November 1994 
  • Transcripts of Washington County North Carolina Marriages from “Index to  Marriages, Vol. 1″ 1851-1872 published in 1993
  • Washington County 1850 US Census
  • the above-stated 1936 Survey of a few Washington County cemeteries
  • “Family Findings” – monthly newsletter of the Mid-West TN Genealogical Society from their very first issue in April 1969-1992!
  • quarterly publication of the Middle TN Genealogical Society from 1988-1997
  • “Ansearchin” News – publication of the TN Genealogical Society, 1989-1991
  • 2 big binders of records from a funeral home in Lauderdale County, TN that cover 1923-1986 and 1989-1991

Of this list, some items are already available online, some are not.  Some have copyright, some do not.  Thus, the extent of what I can put online will vary for each of them. Some are very hard to come by – for example, the Washington County Genealogical Society doesn’t even have in their own library their issues going back to the beginning. And, they’ve given me permission to put old issues online already so you can guess what’s going to happen with these!

However, in each case, no matter what I can or cannot do with them online, there is a distinct benefit to actually owning a physical copy and I am quite delirious! Look at them in their new location.

What exactly am I going to do with all my new-found bounty?

  • figure out the best way to make sure researchers in the counties these are most relevant to know that I have them so I can offer lookups
  • get at least the indexes posted online when possible
  • in a few cases, the whole document can be put online so work on that
  • digitize it all (for my own personal use if it is still under copyright)
  • catalog it all – as well as the rest of my book (physical & electronic) collection 

Thank you so much Kay Lynn! You truly made me a very happy gal.  And, of course, I still left room for anything else you may wish to pass along as you finish your cleaning. :-)  What a great start to my Memorial Day Weekend this has been.  Today is going to be equally exciting.  I’ll post about that later so stay tuned….

40th Annual McNair Family Reunion

This Memorial Day Weekend, as it’s traditionally held, my McNair branch of the family is having their 40th Annual Reunion.  Started in 1972, I am amazed and proud of its longevity!  I’ve not yet been to one, but my maternal grandmother, Alice McNair Robinson, used to go often and has shared with me details about her family that helped inspire my love of genealogy.

In preparation for the reunion this year, at the request of a cousin, I compiled a booklet of the family tree information I currently have for the McNair family. The reunion is for the descendants of Rufus & Mariah McNair, so the booklet lists each of the branches of their children (10 who are known to have offspring).

This is the front cover I made.

For now, the booklet is purely a list of names. Next year, I hope to be able to include pictures of at least the generation of the grandkids of Rufus & Mariah. I am honored to have met at least one – my 2nd great-aunt Martha. Aunt Martha is doing well and is attending the reunion herself this year! 

I am looking forward to the feedback from this weekend and the chance to further update and make our family tree even better.  To my McNair Family – enjoy and if you aren’t going, please consider sharing what you know so that we can preserve these memories for our own descendants. 

My First Ancestry 1940 Census Hint

Last week, soon after the release of the index for Delaware on the Ancestry.com website, I received my first green shaky leaf hint from the 1940 census!

The hint was for a person in my McNair family tree, Ms. Carrie Lucille McNair Griffin (1919-2004).  Carrie was a granddaughter of our family patriarch, Rufus Tannahill McNair, and  from Plymouth, NC – the homebase of the McNair family.  Before I received this hint, I did know Carrie lived in Delaware as this is where she was living when she passed. 

As I reviewed my notes, I saw that I had Carrie in the 1920 census, but I don’t have her in 1930.  Well, now, I have her in 1940 so I’ll have to go back and look for her. 

In 1940, she is living in Wilmington, Delaware, with her mom Annie Registers McNair and siblings Ellen, Gertie May, Vance, Leon, Anna Mae, & Charles.  The 1935 residence columns indicate they’d lived in the area in 1935.  Ellen worked as a nursemaid and Carrie as a bookkeeper in an accounting office. 

Annie McNair and family. 1940 Census. Wilmington, Delaware.

Now it’s off to try and fill in more of Carrie’s branch!

Statistics and the 1940 Census US Community Project Society Dashboard

This morning I was quite happy to see that the US Community Project has shared information from societies participating in the indexing on their Society Dashboard.

I am pleased that the group I’ve coordinated – the TNGenWeb Project, has placed 10th in the list of “large” societies! Our group currently has 36 members and they are all doing an awesome job.  However, my pleasure is seriously hampered by what appears to be methodological problems in how these numbers were calculated and posted.

1) the first list on the page reports the Top 10 Societies for the number of records indexed “per capita.”  Later in the page, there is another table showing the top societies for the highest number of records indexed on average. Per capita, is a measure of the average; it is not necessary to have both tables. This also holds true for the arbitration tables on the page.

2) FamilySearch is categorizing societies into “small” (less than 16 members) and “large” (16 or more members).  Thus, their tables showing highest numbers of records indexed on average is presented as two tables – one for the small societies, and one for the large societies.  However, the table shown for highest numbers of records indexed for small societies is the exact same table as the per capita list (the 1st one on the page).  This does not make sense since the “per capita” at the top (even if they really meant to have a per capita list) should include all societies, not just the small ones.  Essentially, that first list, the per capita list -is not needed; not only is it repetitive of a later table, but it omits the large societies.

3) Reporting the “average” number of records indexed assumes that when you plot the data in a histogram it has a normal distribution (which means it looks like a bell-shaped curve).  Without getting too technical, to tell someone what the “average” of the group is assumes that most people in the group are working at about the same level within a specific range, and that range is around the  middle of the data set values. I would be willing to bet that of all the thousands of indexers participating in this effort, we are not all working at the same productivity level.  There are probably many indexers who are transcribing very high numbers of names, and many, many more who are indexing far fewer.  This could produce a data set that is skewed (therefore NOT on a bell-shape curve).

Here is the curve for the 35 indexers from our group who have indexed records (one person has not) as of 4pm CST today:

What this graph shows is that there are many indexers who have transcribed less than about 1800 records and there are very few indexers who have transcribed more than 6,000 records.  The high point is off to the left, which means this data set is skewed.  Therefore, to better understand the “middle” of the data set (which is what an “average” is reporting) it is more accurate to report our median instead of our average.  Our group’s “average” is about 1,648 records indexed; our median is 1,016 indexed.  That is a big difference. I would love to know if the numbers of records done by all the indexers for the 1940 census are skewed or not. I would be willing to bet that it is just given the nature of the work we are doing.  If the data set is not following a bell-shaped curve, then FamilySearch should be reporting the medians.

4) FamilySearch is reporting these values as values for April 2012, but the month of April is not even over yet.  What was the cutoff date for this data set? They should have reported the dates covered by this report.

5) Do the “averages” reported also include the non-contributors in a group?  If the numbers reported do not include the non-contributors, then, I question the need to divide contests between small and large societies. Even with a median value reported, if the data set is limited only to those contributing,  then it could be entirely possible that a small society can be far more productive than a larger one – why make the division?

I would love to know more about how the data was analyzed and perhaps learn I am incorrect in some of my points, but from what I’ve seen today, I am can’t trust the data shown.  I understand that we are all in this to contribute to a worthwhile cause and I am thrilled to do so. However, if this is going to be contest, then FamilySearch should at the least report the data accurately.  Ideally, I would love to speak to whomever generated this posting so I can better understand the report was derived.

More to come as I learn it! :-)

I’ll be on FGS Radio to Discuss WordPress for Genealogy

Today I am appearing on an episode of FGS Radio to discuss how WordPress can be used for your genealogical society website (or, historical society, family society, USGenWeb site, etc.).  I am delighted to have this opportunity to share with anyone whose interested, my love of WordPress! The show starts at 2pm Eastern Time, and afterwards will be available for listening at your leisure.

I have used WordPress extensively for both genealogy and non-genealogy sites and I continue to be amazed at how much can be accomplished with it.  To date, I either run, help run, or offer support for about 70 WordPress sites; I gladly look forward to working with more.  WordPress offers many advantages and can truly help making your website maintenance a no-brainer while at the same time facilitating high engagement with your user base.

You can listen to the episode by clicking on the image below:

I hope you find it of use! In the future, I hope to offer more information on how to maximize its potential.

For now, here are some additional resources that may come in handy:

  • WordPress.org – access themes, plugins, documentation, and the WordPress forums
  • WordCamp – meetings that occur around the country by groups of people interested in WordPress
  • Lorelle on WordPress – she blogs and writes all about the software

Additionally, here are a few examples of genealogy websites that use the WordPress platform:

I welcome communication from anyone interested in using WordPress for their genealogy site.  Just send me an email to taneya@gmail.com.

You can also request access to the Facebook Group for Genealogical Society Webmasters where we share tips, suggestions, etc. – not only on WordPress, but much more.