Flickr is Great

I’ve been spending some time the past few days searching images in Flickr. There are so many great pictures that people are sharing and I’ve enjoyed looking through them.  I am searching Flickr for pictures relevant to my genealogical interest and I’ve been surprised to find as much as I have. 

Back in April of 2007, I blogged about learning of Somerset Place, a plantation owned by Josiah Collins who had more than 300 slaves. While in Flickr, I discovered someone who had a set of pictures from a visit she made to the plantation. 

You can see the rest of her Flickr set here.

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 <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9b03e3da1f3ff931a15751c0a96e958260>.

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

U Can Skype Me

I finally added the Skype button to my blog.  U can now Skype me if i’m online! Whippee!

Now, I don’t suspect it will get much use.  A couple of months ago I experimented with Meebo and I would get incoming messages almost every day. Maybe this is one way that I can establish better contact with blog visitors.  I see from search queries how people land on my blogs, so maybe if they know they can just click a button to get me it would be of help? We will see.

The button is over on the right side of the screen.

Flooded Cemetery

Earlier today while reading a colleague’s blog, I came across a link to pictures showing some of the devastation from Hurricane Ike.  I was moved by many of the pictures, especially these of a cemetery.

I’m not sure if both pictures are from the same cemetery, but the second picture is from the Hollywood Community Cemetery in Orange, Texas.   I looked to see if there were any online transcriptions.  At FindAGrave, there are about 20 names listed.    The USGenWeb page for Orange County has a listing up and I learned that it is an African-American cemetery.  Internment.net does not have any.

I truly hope there are members of the community that may have time in the future to help restore the cemetery. I am sure they have a lot of cleanup to do for those that live in the community and my thoughts are with them.

Watts Hospital – Durham, North Carolina

Over the past week or so, I’ve not felt particularly inspired to do much blog posting. I have been working on my family tree (and others) over this time, but nothing has really jumped out at me to blog about. But, I have been enjoying myself.

Just today, I found a connection that my stepfather has with one of the high schools I went to.  One of my stepfather’s ancestors was named Roosevelt Weaver (1905-1966). He was the son of Archie & Mary (Daye) Weaver.  Roosevelt was born in Durham and lived there his whole life (well, at least he was there in each census record throughout his lifetime).

I was searching the NC Death Certificate collection in Ancestry and found his death certificate. I was very surprised to see his place of death – Watts Hospital!

Watts Hospital operated in Durham from 1895-1976 and was the city’s first hospital. In 1980, the hospital became home to the North Carolina School of Science & Math – a school I attended during my 11th and 12th grade years!  It has been 15 years since I graduated high school, but I certainly remember walking the hallways  – we all knew it had been a hospital previously, and I can still  *see* the pictures of the wards that they had hanging around the school.

My mother tells me that she thinks her father-in-law may have also worked on the hospital grounds at some point – she is going to check.

What an interesting intersection I’ve had today.  :-)  Below is a picture of the Watts Hospital campus from the 1950s and in the yellow circle is the part of the campus that I lived in both years I was there – 1992 & 1993.  The picture is from a postcard collection I found online.

June’s Database of the Month

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I’d established a blogging schedule for myself in order to help me ensure that each of my blogs received at least a little bit of love throught the month.  I used this schedule all through the month of June and it has worked well for me.  I have not posted *every* time that I intended to, but regularly enough.

On of the topics that I started was “Feature Friday.”  Feature Friday posts examine a chosen database and I look for blog-specific content. In June, I made the following Feature Friday posts for which I searched in GenealogyBank.

What was most cool about doing this however was that Tom Kemp himself emailed me and commented favorably on my posts.  :-)

This was a great exercise for me.  I also wrote a contribution for the newsletter of the Heritage Genealogical Society. I am a new member of HGS and I thought this would be a valuable way to raise awareness of online resources.  The contribution I wrote was for the Genealogy OnLine column and should be out soon.

For the month of July I plan to do the same exercise. The database this time will be Footnote.

The Death of John Lennon

No – not the Beatles singer.  :-)

My mother’s grandmother was named Lucinda Lennon Robinson.  From census records I knew that she had a brother named John but until a few days ago I did not know much about him except his approximate age as I’d only located him in two census records – 1880 & 1900.  While I was recently searching the NC death certificates database at Ancestry, I found him.

According to his death certificate – John Lennon died December 12, 1938 in Whiteville, Columbus County, North Carolina.  He was married to a woman whom I think is named Olive and they had at least six kids that I could find in the post-1900 census records.  What is striking to me though is that the death certificate reported his cause of death as a homicide from injuries received during a knife fight. I had to see if I could find a mention of this in the newsaper.

I emailed the librarian at the county library and she was extremely helpful. Within half-a-day she emailed me to let me know she had it and she’d scan it soon.  Today she sent not only one, but two articles!  As elated as I was to receive the email, I was also very saddened to read the report.

John was only 45 years old when he died and from the newspaper record, it states that a man named Frank Wooten stole a shotgun from John at some point in the past.  Because of this, Wooten was indicted and sent to work as part of a chain-gang.  Apparently, upset that he’d been sent away, Wooten took revenge on my great-grandmother’s brother.

The headline of the first article from The News Reporter of Whiteville reads “Negro Victim of Revenge Murder: Western Prong Negro Dies Today Shortly Berfore noon of Knife Wounds Inflicted by Another Negro.“  The hardest part of the article is the description of his body when he was found in a nearby ditch just before he died….

“He was discovered in a ditch in Mount Olive, and attaches at the clinic said that he was slashed from head to foot, stabbed several times, and one eye was completely knocked out.  Walter Haines, a negro, picked the guy up and brought him to the Clinic of Dr. Carnes here this morning.  The physician said that he found it necessary to take more than 200 stitches on Lennon’s head alone.”

The second article pretty much said the same thing as the first one.  This article gives few extra details except that the knife was a pocket knife.  My family was heartbroken that this had happened to him.  But, I will now focus on trying to locate John’s children.

You can read both articles here.

Read this document on Scribd: Articles about John Lennon’s Death

WorldCat.org adds “Lists”

Being a librarian, I have been using a resource called WorldCat for about 10 years now, since I was in library school.  In the past few years, the company that provides WorldCat has made it more open and available online for anyone to search and find out which libraries hold a book of particular interest.

Since getting into genealogy, I’ve realized how useful WorldCat can be for other genealogists and I try to promote it as much as possible and I use it myself quite extensively for this reason too.  I was using it last week and noticed they added a new feature, called “Lists.”  I was excited about this feature – it can be of great help for tracking collections.  I currently use DabbleDB  to keep track of some of the books I want to keep my eye on, but I am also experimenting with this.

To use WorldCat Lists, you must register for the site.  After you do a search for a book and bring up its record, there is an option to Save It.  You then have a drop down box to create a name for the list, or to add it to  pre-exisitng list. Pretty neat!

You could create a list to keep track of resources at

  • a specific library
  • a specific family surname
  • a specific library
  • a specific state

I use DabbleDB to do each of these options.  Currently, you can only add a book to a list one at a time, but you can add a book to multiple lists. It would be nice if you could add a book to more than one list at once and if there was some type of indication when looking at a WorldCat record if that item is already on one of your lists.

As an example of the feature, the book in the screenshot below was written by a descendant of Commodore Vanderbilt that I found while working on my Vanderbilt genealogy research.  In addition to adding this to my list of books for the Vanderbilt surname and I also added it to my list of books available here at Vanderbilt’s main library.

Once part of your list, you can go to that list and do quite a bit –

You can

  • get the URL to share the list with others
  • an RSS feed is available so others can keep track of what you are adding to your list
  • lists can be made public or private
  • can export to a spreadsheet
  • can print in a printer-friendly format
  • choose from multiple views to look at the items in your list, whether it be by the Worldcat record display, by book covers, or by citation view
  • can export reference list in one of five formats — as HTML, RSS, or in three different formats recognized by bibliographic management software
  • the format of the citation can be changed via a drop-down box to one of four formats – APA, MLA, Turabian, Chicago, or Harvard

As part of your “lists,”  WorldCat provides 3 already established ones – Things to Check Out, Things I Recommend, and Things I Own.  If there a way as I mentioned above to look at a record and see who put it on their “Things I Own” list, this would be a great way for genealogists to see what others have and possibly help with Look-ups.  Methinks I will be writing to WorldCat about that! :-)

WorldCat has a number of other social features that are worth checking out too. They also have profiles, so I think I will go in and update mine.  You can also add a WorldCat app to your Facebook profile or to the Firefox browser. As a registered user of WorldCat, you can also add reviews to any book.

If you are interested in keeping up with all that WorldCat is doing, you can subscribe to their blog.