Genealogy Societies

Our Very Own MTGS Genealogy Roadshow

This weekend, I was pleased to have the opportunity to present as part of a special programming event of the Middle Tennessee Genealogy Society. We had a session yesterday afternoon loosely based on the concept of a roadshow/roundtable. Our session featured 4 major concepts; presenters were at 4 tables covering the following subjects:

  • Computers in Genealogy
  • Beginning Genealogy
  • Reliable Research Records
  • DNA

Attendees then moved from station to station (30 minutes each) during our meeting time. I was asked to co-present on the Reliable Research Records topic. However, the evening before the event I was asked if I could do the Computers in Genealogy session due to the planned presenters’ illnesses. As I love technology, I was happy to do i!t Given the short notice, I pondered on what I’d present – I decided I would just share some of the ways I use not just computers, but technology in general, to further my genealogy workflows and research. I came up with a list of 10 examples to share. 

  1. Genealogy Software – talked about the use of programs like RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, and Family Tree Maker for electronic management of your family tree. I personally use RootsMagic as part of my genealogy workflow, but there are many, many other options out there! I am especially a fan of RootsMagic’s integration with both FamilySearch Family Tree and Ancestry Member Trees. 
  2. Genealogy File Organization – this year, I became serious about organizing my digital files. I set up what I like to refer to as my own “personal genealogy archive” and organize my material by format within three main divisions – my own family, my husband’s family, and our combined family. Again, there are multiple options. Anyone looking for tips and additional suggestions should check out The Organized Genealogist Facebook group. 
  3. Writing on Digital Photos – As part of my organization plan, I now regularly add descriptions/captions to each of my digital photos by editing the IPTC metadata. This allows my captions to stay with the digital photo even when shared with others. Alison Taylor has great information on her website about what this process can entail. I also personally use XnViewMP software to do my metadata editing (hat tip to Tony Hanson of the Dallas Genealogical Society for the software suggestion – see YouTube video). 
  4. Using the Cloud – I use Google Drive to store all of my files. The benefit of using cloud storage is that I’m not dependent upon any one particular device – I can access my files from any device with an internet connection. This flexibility has been important to me for many years now so I’m grateful for the software platforms that allow me to do it. I even save my RootsMagic database in Google Drive. There are other services of course, like Dropbox, but I’m a Google fangirl 🙂
  5. Push Notifications – you know those buttons you see on websites that say “sign up for email updates”? – I use those liberally! I love the idea of information coming directly to my inbox, rather than me having to remember to go to the site to see what’s new. I personally have a LOT of sites I monitor, so Feedly, with its aggregation service, is great for collecting this new info for me so that it is ready for me when I want it. 
  6. Genealogy Blogging – I’ve been blogging since 2008 and thoroughly enjoy it. It is a great way to document my research progress and to share my findings. With the way blog posts are readily picked up by search engines, posts also serve as great cousin bait. I’ve had many instances of relatives finding me via the information I’ve shared online here in my blog – from pictures to family stories, and more. I personally prefer WordPress as my platform of choice, but there are others, like Google’s Blogger
  7. Digital Notebooks – I’ve always been a copious note-taker and I love that I’m able to do so digitally through EverNote. Through EverNote, I can capture notes, pictures, and all kinds of other info electronically with 24/7 access to it across multiple devices. The hierarchy options are helpful for organizing information. The Evernote Genealogists Facebook group is a helpful resource for tips/suggestions. 
  8. Cemetery ResearchFind-A-Grave and BillionGraves are both sites I use often. I have their mobile apps installed on my phone so that I can take advantage of options such as adding pictures to memorials while in the cemetery (Find-A-Grave) or uploading all the pictures I take in a cemetery for automatic geomapping (BillionGraves). Love them both!
  9. Scanning Photos – from wand scanners, flatbed scanners, and mobile scanners such as the Flip-Pal, there are many ways to scan a photo to create a digital file. My favorite scanner? My cell phone. And with the availability of apps like Google’s PhotoScan, I maximize the quality of the images I take. 
  10. StoryTelling/Oral Histories – StoryCorps has established quite the legacy for the many stories they help people capture around the country. On my wishlist to try at my next family reunion is their mobile app which makes it easy to record stories of your family members. I’ll certainly share my experiences with it in a future blog post. 

Overall, the session went well and we had a great turnout! Many questions were asked by participants and I enjoyed speaking and learning from others also. Check out the Technology for Genealogy Facebook group for more discussion and information. 

My next speaking event is a local family reunion in October, so until then!


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New On My Bookshelf: Williamson County, TN Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts

This past weekend I attended the monthly meeting of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society. The guest speaker was Williamson County Historian, Rick Wallace.  Mr. Wallace is a walking trove of history and it was immediately clear why he is indeed the county historian!  His presentation covered a series of books & publications that document the history of Williamson County, and even with as many as he described, he noted the need for more extensive historical work. I was personally quite excited to learn about a publication he authored of 1866 Freedmen Bureau contracts that pertain to Williamson County, titled “Freedom and Work in the Reconstruction Era: The Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts of Williamson County, Tennessee.

The book is an incredible work. Rick transcribed close to 500 contracts, peppering the book with photos and research notes along the way. The book contains a complete name index and as Rick notes in the introduction, these records “…provide valuable insight into the nature of freedom and work in post-Civil War in Middle Tennessee.” The contracts were overseen by a third party, the Freedmen’s Bureau (or, as officially named “The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands”).
 
Not only is this publication likely to be of great value for anyone who has African-American roots in Williamson County area, but it also serves as an example of the type of work that could be replicated in other areas. Books such as these make great complements to the growing number of Freedmen’s Bureau records being added online, digitized, and indexed (such as on discoverfreedmen.org).
 
I am thankful to have an example of an 1866 labor contract in my own family. In 1866, my 3rd great-grandfather, Rufus Tannahill McNair was contracted by Ed Macnair (whom I am fairly sure was his former slaveowner), to farm land, for which Rufus was to receive one-third of the produce made on the farm except in the garden, and $150. My McNair Family is having their 47th annual reunion this weekend and though I am not able to attend, I can’t wait to share this labor contract with my family on Facebook.

1866 labor contract excerpt for my 3rd great-grandfather Rufus Tannahill (later Rufus McNair)

Meanwhile, as I prepare to deliver a workshop in August to our local Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society on using Freedmen’s Bureau records, Rick’s book is definitely getting mentioned!  Thanks, Mr. Warwick. Your catalog of work is outstanding and I look forward to seeing what comes next!

Caring for Photographs in Family History

Today I attended a meeting of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society and what a wonderful presentation we had! Our guest speaker was Carol Roberts of the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA). Carol heads up the Conservation Lab at TSLA and has many years of experience in preservation of many different material types.

Carol begins her presentation

Today, Carol led us through a history of photography, including descriptions of several different types of photos, when they were predominantly used, and how to tell the differences between them.  We learned about daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, carte de vistas, cabinet cards, crayon print portraits and more.  She even shared examples from the TSLA collection such as this tin type picture shown below in a frame (as we learned today – daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes are called “case images” because they often come encased)

an example of an ambrotype (these were made on glass)

Carol also took the time to outline best practices for storing your family photos – from what kind of materials to look out for (e.g. not falling for the “acid-free” designation that is all too commonplace – for example, even duct tape says acid-free!). There are several criteria for understanding what is archival quality and what is not so it was helpful to have that understanding. I especially appreciated the information Carol shared on what supplies to purchase for printing pictures at home (such as Permalife Archival Bond printer paper and archival printer ink).

Throughout her presentation, Carol also shared some great stories about photos in her own family history. and how clues in the photos led to discoveries. We had a great turnout and her talk was so interesting we ended up going over by an hour!

Here are some resources Carol shared:

Additionally, several books were mentioned:

After the talk, some attendees brought their materials up to Carol for her input. For example, one of the gentlemen who attended the January “Show and Tell” meeting with a photo of his ancestors learned that the picture he has was a crayon print and it was a charcoal reproduction from an original photo. Additionally, one pair of guests brought family documents they have from one of the oldest family lines in Brentwood for tips on how to best care for them.

Carol looks over some Sneed family documents from meeting attendees

This was such a great meeting! Even as I continue to work on my photo project I’ve learned some tips I can put into practice. It is so nice to be able to attend in-perosn meetings such as this. Thanks Carol for the great information you shared today!

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!

 

AAHGS 2013 National Conference – Day 2

Had another great day at the Annual Conference of the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society today! This morning I did my 2nd presentation – one that discusses the potential of using WordPress for genealogy.  If you know me, you know I love WordPress, so I was more than pleased to spend the time sharing it with attendees and answering many questions.  I have uploaded my slides and my handout for your reference if interested.

After my presentation the family and I attended the lunch session and had the opportunity to hear Ms. Ashley Bouknight speak. She is the Assistant Curator at the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, and gave a presentation about the former enslaved persons of the estate and what is known about them.  Some very interesting information. I visited the Hermitage in January with the kids and learned a lot then. I still have some follow-up I want to do about one of the former enslaved in particular, so I’ll need to reach out to Ashley!

Ashely discusses the Hermitage

Lunch was a serving of crusted salmon, chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Quite tasty.

yummy lunch

meeting Marsha – she too has family connections to Craven County NC!

The conference planning was done in large part by our Nashville AAHGS Chapter officers Chajuan and Pamela. They did a wonderful job and were acknowledged for their efforts by AAHGS President Tamela Tenpenny-Lewis.  They definitely deserved it!

Chajuan and Pamela receive much deserved acknowledgement

And, look who had her picture taken with Mrs. Carrie Gentry!  Mrs. Gentry is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and Kaleya’s is Wednesday.  Everyone sang happy birthday to Mrs. Gentry and Tamela asked everyone to also wish Kaleya a happy birthday – how kind!

I had such a great time overall. As my first genealogy conference I really enjoyed getting to meet everyone. Perhaps next year I will actually be able to go and attend sessions!  Thanks everyone. 🙂

AAHGS 2013 National Conference – Day 1

Today has been a great day – I attended my 1st genealogy conference! Well, my first physical attendance at one. I’ve been doing my family history research for about 8-9 years now and have not had the fortune of ever attending a conference in person. My family and work schedule is quite demanding so I don’t often get away. 🙂

But, the 34th National Conference of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society is being held here in Nashville this weekend and I have two presentations on the roster.

Today, I presented on using RSS Feeds for Genealogy – and it was a great turnout! There were lots of great questions – and, I know the material was new for a lot of the attendees so I tried diligently to be as explicit as I could be in defining RSS feeds, how they work, and how you can use a feed reader to cull information from multiple sources online.  My slides are available below (note – if you can’t see the embedded document, click here).  I also have a handout you can download.

RSS Feeds for Genealogy: News & Information Brought Directly To You by Taneya

I also had the opportunity to meet several people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know from online blogging and that was surreal! Renate, Shelly, Nicka, Angela, & Toni – it was so nice to meet you all!

Taneya, Shelly & Renate

Toni, Angela, Nicka & Taneya

And, on top of that, I even met a DNA cousin to BOTH Kalonj and I. Margie has DNA matches to both of us so we are double special. 🙂 Margie and I still have work to do to see if we can find our common connections, but the hunt is most of the fun now isn’t it! Notably – Nicka is also a DNA cousin to Kalonji.

Margie & Taneya

All in all, a great few hours this afternoon. I’m headed back tomorrow to present about using WordPress for Genealogy and I am very much looking forward to that session as well.

Anticipating the Next Generation PERSI

FindMyPast has recently announced their partnership with the Allen County Public Library to revolutionize the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI)a database well known to many genealogists. PERSI is a fabulous resource in that the ACPL has, over the past 30 years, been indexing publications from genealogy society newsletters and journals.

However, as great as PERSI is, two years ago I blogged suggestions for further improving it and in general, thoughts for how the genealogy publishing industry could become more aligned with models used in science and medicine for online publishing. I am so glad to see this new partnership and believe it will be a great impetus for a start in this direction!

image from http://goo.gl/bdztj9

In my blog post, I listed several features I would love to see included in PERSI – perhaps FindMyPast can incorporate some of these elements — these included RSS feeds for each title, the ability to comment at the individual article level, the ability to share publication details via social media, and offering HTML and PDF versions of articles. Ideally, I would also like to see ways to purchase access to articles (with some older ones being provided for free).

I can anticipate that many genealogy societies may have reservations about how their content will be reflected and included in the new version of PERSI, since there are plans to include full-text content, but I would also hope that many will see this as an opportunity to be open-minded and reflect on the potential for new business models.

As it stands now, I as a user, remain highly frustrated by the publishing models of many genealogy societies and hope that this may open a path for widespread consideration. Far too few offer easy-access methods for true online subscriptions to current, much less, historical content. Do you know how inconvenient it is for me to have to send a check for print volumes, or even wait for a CD to be sent? Digital delivery is greatly needed by more genealogy societies

The Federation of Genealogical Societies would be an ideal organization to help with some of the transition so the fact that D. Joshua Taylor is FGS President and lead genealogist for FindMyPast is almost too perfect! 🙂

As Curt Witcher is quoted in the FindMyPast press release

Having the ability to provide much more frequent updates and further, link index entries to serial issues, is a real game-changer…

and I eagerly anticipate seeing this come to fruition for us all to benefit even more than we have in the past!

 

 

Doing My Part: Volunteering for the Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society

A few years ago I posted my thoughts sharing frustrations I’ve had with genealogy societies, and since then, I continue to experience much of the same.  Not one to just complain though, I do try and do my part – which is why I am excited to now be a part of the Nashville Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society; I am the group’s Technology Director. 🙂

I’ve been working with the group for the past few months and my primary tasks are developing the new website for the group, managing several online project databases, and our major task this year is hosting the AAHGS 34th National Conference here in Nashville Oct 10-13th, 2013. 

As can be expected from me, the backend of the site is done with WordPress. And, though we still have several tweaks to make,  you can check it out below. Our URL is http://www.aahgsnashville.org/

I feel positively that working together as a group, we will be able to help advance the Chapter forward and offer the very things I felt back then was greatly needed by societies.  I will be sharing more as we continue to grow the site and as I get more involved with the conference.  Until then, please stop by and check us out!

Webinar Submitted to SCGS

This summer, I did my first webinar sessions  – they focused on WordPress and DearMyrtle was my lovely and gracious co-host.  I had a wonderful time doing them. 

More recently, I was given another opportunity – a chance to submit an webinar idea for the Southern California Genealogical Society.  Last year they started a webinar series that they refer to as their Jamboree Extension Series and I greatly enjoyed the few I had an opportunity to listen to.  I am hopeful that my idea gets accepted!  I may even submit a second idea.

Keep your fingers crossed for me 🙂 

Note: image courtesy of the Citrix blog.