My Dream Citation Tool – EasyBib + Genealogy

Some may know that I use EasyBib to format some of the citations I use in my genealogy work.  I posted about EasyBib last year (see post) and last night I had a thought — why not ask EasyBib to put their templates to use for genealogy work?

So, I sent them a tweet asking offering the suggestion and I’ve followed up with a more detailed email.  Wouldn’t you like to be able to use a web-based form to format your genealogy citations in the formats suggested by Elizabeth Shown Mills? Everything from Birth/Death Certificates to FHL Microfilm?  Mark posted on his ThinkGenealogy blog that Legacy 7 does this, but not everyone uses Legacy 7.   I myself am more of a cloud computer and the advantages inherent with that (see Eastman’s blog post) so I think this would be cool.    I think Thomas would agree with me too.

Latest Addition to my Genealogy Bookshelf

Last weekend, I picked up the new book from Henry Louis Gates, In Search of Our Roots. This is the companion book to the African-American Lives 2 special from last year.

I just started reading the book yesterday and I am enjoying it  There are profiles in the book for the highlights of the research Gates and his collaborators did to learn more about each person’s family tree.  Some of the people featured are Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, Quincy Jones and Maya Angelou.

As I began to read the book, I wondered how much of their tree information was available online?  Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a supplemental online tree to go along with the book where a reader could interactively navigate?  Also, it would be useful to have the information online to faciliate discovery by other researchers (perhaps distant cousins) to connect to the research conducted.

On the African-American Lives site, there is an interactive timeline that includes major milestones in black history as well as major milestones in each of the participants history, but it is an image based representation, thus not indexable or searcheable.

I’ve been thinking about this concept lately as I read another book, The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White. This book details the family history of white and black Hairstons of Virginia & North Carolina and is full of genealogical details.  One thing that was quite noticeable for me is that the author has a tree structure for the white Hairstons, but so far, I’ve not seen a tree structure for the black Hairston’s he discusses.  I have searched online for tree information for some of those families and not been able to find anything online in a consistent manner.

Here is my wish and desire — for both these books, and any others that chroncile family history having an companion online tree (perhaps at Ancestry Family Trees, WeRelate, or FamilyHistoryLink would be an interesting way to share some of the work online in a way that is more easily discovered by others.  Alternatively, at the site they could use my favorite genealogy software, TNG: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding to provide an online view to the trees.  At the minimum, the Gates book could have been made searcheable at Google Books (update 8/15/09 – it is now searcheable);  the Hairstons book is searcheable.  In the age of web 2.0/ Genealogy 2.0, this would be a wonderful means for establishing more connections!

USGenWeb 2.0

With great help from the NC GenWeb state coordinators, I was able to convert the Martin County, NC site into a WordPress site today.  I became county coordinator in October and while I started with a blog, I knew I wanted to do more with the site. I love the power and flexibility of WordPress and using it will make it easier to administer the site.  I needed to do this because though I know HTML and well, working with it was becoming too much of a time consumer for me.  This way, I don’t have to worry about the HTML nearly as much and I can add content to the site more rapidly.

martinco

You can check out the site at http://www.ncgenweb.us/martin.  Please let me know what you think!  Personally, I woud love to see more USGenWeb sites use content management systems (CMS).  The common vertical display of links that I usually see is becoming more and more difficult for me to navigate.   This is my second USGenWeb site that I am coordinator for now and these sites are great resources and I would love to see them further enhanced.

Some other USGenWeb sites that are good examples of more “modern” formats include:

These are just some I’ve come across, do you have others?  In addition, there are a few counties that have corresponding blogs as I’ve done for my two counties.  Genealogue.com recently added a category for UsGenWeb blogs and I would love to see this category grow.  Currently, there are only three others listed in addition to my two.

I get a fair amount of communication from researchers through my blogs and try to help as much as I can. Partnerships between county coordinators and local genealogical socities would undoubtedlby even further increase user engagement.

My Battle With FootNote

Since I first learned about FootNote a couple of years ago, I have been excited about the possibility of the site’s Genealogy 2.0 potential. However, I have found that for me personally, it has not been as useful as it ideally could be. Perhaps this is due to my lack of understanding the structure and content of the types of records they provide? Admittedly, I’m not very familiar with the NARA resources and some of the others they’ve added and I have not yet found much in the site that have provided a beneficial return on investment of my time and my money. However, that may soon change.

A recent blog post from Eastman about FootNote’s latest collection has intrigued me. He posted their announcement of an interactive 1860 census. Knowing the capabilities FootNote offers, I had to go look right away. This may be the point that gets me subscribing to FootNote’s content! Why? Because by adding census records, this may address a feature I only wish was available in Ancestry.

Consider this – wouldn’t it be cool to know what other researchers/family members may be associated with a specific person /familyin the census? You could look at the census record and see who had established themselves in some way to be “connected” with that particular family? From my limited experience thus far, there are a couple of ways that I know this can be done:

  • Ancestry – allows you to add comments to a particular person’s index entry for the census. However, when there are comments, it seems the only way to know this is to click on the “Comments and Corrections” link and then see if there is a link to “View Comments.” Thus, you do not know before you take action, if there is indeed a comment on a particular person’s record. Then, from there you can connect to the person that made the comment, and see their profile, but I find the ways to connect to be a bit removed from the overall interface of the site. Also, comments are not displayed right away when you make them.
  • Lost Cousins — allows you to indicate that person in the census is your ancestor. From my few trial runs of the site, I am rather put off by the fact that you have to go over to use the FamilySearch site to get the person’s info and then come back to Lost Cousins. This is too cumbersome for me personally. Then, when it’s time for me to mark my connection to that person in the census, you have to specify a specific relationship. Well, what if you are not related? What if you are just researching this person, have information about them, and others could benefit from knowing that? Their new features for Upstairs/Downstairs, and Neighbors offers some expansion, but I’m still not convinced.

So, I’ve just spent some time playing around in Footnote and like what I see so far. While not all of the 1860 census is there, I was able to play around with the site some and I like what I see so far.

  • I can browse to specific locations to find the person of interest, then I can contribute to the record once I find them – add images, notes, details, etc. Can also search by name. This is much better than having to input specific microfilm information like Lost Cousins requires.
  • I can connect to the person who made the comment, and the connection process is more integrated than at Ancestry.
  • Anything added to a record is easily displayed on the right side of the screen, so you know right away whether people have touched this record and made contributions
  • When I do add contributions, I get featured briefly on the front page as a recent contributor

Unfortunately:

  • cannot do annotations at this point – it looks like FootNote does not yet have these turned on
  • cannot attach a note to a family cluster -that would be cool
  • user profiles do not have as many fields as Ancestry – but, it is easy to see the history of that person’s contributions and the images, etc. they have
  • Would be even cooler to have feeds to track favorite users so you can keep an eye on what they are doing – think Facebook!

I will continue to play around with the site and see what I find. So much more transparent for this sort of activity than other sites I’m familiar with. But, perhaps I am missing other key resources. If you think I am, please let me know! Hmm.. I’ve just found something suitable for my Black Nashville History & Genealogy Blog. Will update again later! Here’s a link to my FootNote profile.

Update: I found something very moving on FootNote. You can read it here.

Philadelphia

My blogging is light these days. I’m in Philadelphia right now on business, so I’m not having much time to do anything genealogical. I continue to kind of work on my co-worker’s tree, though I’m starting to get back to my own research.

One thing I do want to do this week is look more closely at FamilyLink.com. This is a web 2.0 for genealogy site that looks highly promising and I am excited about it’s possibilities. Several blog posts have been made lately about it, and the parent company, World Vital Records, has been announcing several partnerships of late that are tempting me to reconsider that site as one I may wish to subscribe to. We’ll see.