Library of Congress Visit

This weekend I traveled to Washington D.C. for a professional conference. My trip was short, but I did get to spend most of the day Friday at the Library of Congress (LOC). I’ve been to LOC before as a visitor/tourist, so I didn’t feel compelled to take many pictures. I’d not been as a user of their collection however.

I’d not prepared for the trip, other than spending a few minutes reading the website, so, I did not have clear cut goals. Because of this, I decided to focus more on seeing what I could find of value for the NCGenWeb project rather than my own personal research.

Upon getting to the library, I went first to get my Reader Identification Card. Good for two years, the card is used to gain entry into the numerous reading rooms and request books from the closed library stacks.

The process for obtaining the card was straightfoward and easy so I was done in less than half an hour. After getting the card I then took the underground tunnel from the Madison Building over to the Jefferson Building to go to the Local History & Genealogy Room.

This is the view from my position in the research room looking towards the front.  The reference desk is hidden behind the atlas. You see those TV screens? They have cameras so they can see what’s going on in all parts of the room.  There is free wireless access which I loved having available!

My first order of business was to request books from the closed stacks.  I knew that this would take approximately 50 minutes for them to be retrieved so I jumped online, identified some books of interest, and then made the request using the paper slips they make available in the room. There is no limit to the number of books you can request to have pulled at one time.

After filling out many of these slips, when I handed them in, I asked the staff person if there were any plans to allow requests to be submitted electronically.  At that time, he gave me instructions on how to do just that! I only wished the staff person who gave me the room orientation had told me this beforehand.

The room has 7,000+ items present so I was able to extract information from some of the North Carolina holdings while I waited for my books to be delivered.   I then spent the next few hours going through the books, taking digital pictures of pages of interest.  I took over 300 pictures with my cell phone of information that I plan to use throughout various NCGenWeb sites for other researchers.   Sweet.  Maybe next time, I can look for particular sources that may help my own individual research.

Following the Local History & Genealogy Room, I then went to the Newspapers & Current Periodicals Room.  My visit here was not as nearly productive.   First of all, the staff person didn’t seem to quite understand my vague request for a newspaper reel from the 1880s that included various NC newspapers.  I guess they are used to people seeking specific titles, but I tried to explain that from the library catalog record I knew that the reel contained multiple newspapers and I just wanted the reel.  He kept insisting that I put a specific title on the request form, but the reel contained about 20 different titles.  Eventually I jotted down one of the titles on the reel and sure enough when the reel was delivered the title was not on there but instead it read “Misc. NC newspapers”.  Yeah.

Now, I was looking forward to using their digital machines.  It is advertised on their homepage that you can bring your USB drive and download images to the microfilm reader.   In addition to all the standard types of microform readers, they have 4 ST-200 machines.

While I was initially excited, my excitement quickly waned.  I do not like this machine.  :-(

It seemed that there was not an easy way to view a readable image of an entire newspaper page nor capture a high-resolution image of an entire page.  Without being able to see the whole page at a sufficient zoom level, it was difficult to know what was on each page.   I was able to zoom in on the page, but then I’d spend a lot of time moving the plate around in order to see different parts of each page.  Cumbersome is not even the word.

I then tried the digital capture and tried to download it to my external harddrive.  Turns out, when they say download to your USB drive, they mean USB drive – it wasn’t compatible with my external harddrive.  Oh well. Not a biggie.  I used a workaround and snapped some more pictures with my phone’s camera.  I guess I could have asked for help, but I was trying to figure it out on my own.

Overall though, if I’d had more time, I’d definitely have requested more rolls of film and relied on the traditional microfilm machines.  I did spend the afternoon regretting that I’d not been interested in genealogy when I lived in DC! I lived there for a year in 1999-2000 and if I’d only have been interested I could have been spending a LOT of time at the Library of Congress.

And you know what else? I found out that the cemetery I lived next to when I did live in DC was the cemetery where F. Scott Fitzgerald was originally buried.  I remember passing that cemetery often too!

All in all, I had a great day though and am very glad I had the opportunity to go visit LOC and see friends.   For more tips on visiting LOC, check out Missy’s blog post.

NARA Records: Eastern Cherokee Applications Going Online

The Allen County Public Genealogy Center crew is doing it up! They’ve started adding another collection of NARA microfilm to the Internet Archive.  I’ve already posted about the following two collections

The latest collection is that of the Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906—1909 (M1104). This record set is a collection of 348 rolls of microfilm of applications submitted for by Cherokee tribe members for money appropriated for them by Congress on June 30, 1906.  Applicants had to prove they were members of the Eastern Cherokee tribe during 1835, 1836 & 1845 treaties.  More information about them can be found on the NARA website.  The Eastern Cherokee Reservation consists of approximately 56,668 acres in five counties in North Carolina: Cherokee, Graham, Jackson, Macon, and Swain Counties.

Just as I’ve done with the other collections, I’ve started a spreadsheet for tracking updates (at the time of this writing, there was only one reel, but ACPL should be adding more).

Similar to the Compiled Service Records, these too are also on   There are indexes to Volume 1 & 2 of the collection to make it easier to locate persons of interest. The index is in abc order by surname and provides name, state & application number.  The applications are rich with genealogical data; often providing details of 4 generations.  They are definitely worth taking a look.  Here is a direct link to the first reel they’ve added.

Scribd Joins the Genealogy Bandwagon

Well now!  Here’s  another example of how much penetration genealogy is getting.   As I was uploading a document to, I saw that they have now added a designation under their Research category for genealogy!  That was not there a few weeks ago when I last uploaded a document and needless to say I am quite pleased to see it there.  I was getting tired of having to use History as the category of choice.   Of course it would help if they spelled genealogy correctly, but it’s a start right??  :-)

To explore all documents assigned to the Genealogy category – visit their browsing interface.   The browse page also suggests that this category is new as there are only 2 pages of documents so far; other categories such as History have over 200 pages to browse.  Check it out.  Upload your documents.  Help their Genealogy collection grow!

P.S. — What was I uploading? An index to a 1960s book of gravestone records for the Duplin County, NCGenWeb project.  I’m helping the new county coordinator rebuild the site and thought this would be of help for county researchers.

UNC Yearbooks Available Online 1894-1960

As a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I feel urged to share this news as widely as possible – the UNC Libraries are adding old issues of the school yearbook, the Yackety Yack (formerly the Hellenian), online to the Internet Archive.   I find some irony in the fact that I graduated from there, seeing as how the Kemp P. Battle, former University president from 1876-1891 was my ancestors’ slaveowner, but oh well.  (Kalonji tells me I should seek retribution :-)).

For anyone with persons of interest who went there during this time span it is definitely worth checking out! Read more on the NCGenWeb Blog.

New Year, New Blog Design

We are just about one month into 2010 and with the new year comes a new design for my blog.  If you read my posts through a feed reader, be sure to stop by for a visit and see the new look.  My previous design had an Asian theme, but I went for a more “clean” design for this year.  I plan to update my design each year, so who knows what will happen next year.

With this new design, I have more space, so here is what you’ll find on my sidebars now

  • my cartoon avatar — looks very much like me if I can say so myself!
  • connect w/ me – find me @ Ancestry, Footnote, Twitter, my “normal” family site & my genealogy database
  • RSS feed of ALL my blog posts — I have multiple blogs, so created a feed to show my posts from across them all
  • My USGenWeb site – I administer 6 sites in the USGenWeb project.  Maybe  you have research in these areas?
  • Genealogy Tweets – see real-time view of genealogy tweets on Twitter
  • Featured Video – i’ll try to regularly rotate a genealogy-related video

There is some quirkiness going on; for example, some of my embedded videos and pics are wider than the space allocated for blog posts, but I’ll fix that later.

Hope you like the new look.  And remember, my blog is mobile phone compatible, so don’t be shy to visit me on your smartphone. :-)

New on My Genealogy Bookshelf

Last week I learned that the NC Office of Archives & History was having a sale on some of their publications so I ordered a couple of books.

Onslow County: A Brief History by Alan D. Watson —  as the county coordinator for Onslow County, NCGenWeb project, I thought it was a good idea to have this book for reference to help me learn more about the county.

An Index to North Carolina Newspapers, 1784-1789 by Alan D. Watson – my general interest in newspapers led me to order this one.

I’m looking forward to perusing these more in-depth over the next few weeks.

Smartphone Compatible

Oooh – this is the ultimate of cool.  Okay, so I spent my Thanksgiving night in complete geekdom, but I’m loving it! Tonight, I made one of my websites smartphone compatible!

One of my genea-duties (is that a word?) is serving as the webmaster for the NCGenWeb project.  I became webmaster in July and have really enjoyed it and come to know so much more about the state since beginning.  Tonight, as I worked on various web tasks for our project, I had a thought — I should see if I can make the site compatible for a smartphone.  I thought about this as I was playing with my own new smartphone, a Motorola Droid that I got the day it came out on November 6th – that thing is just downright sexy.   :-)

So, I looked for a plugin since I have the site in WordPress, quickly found one, and in 5 minutes had made the site iPhone, Droid, Palm Pre, etc. compatible.  How many times can I say that I just love WordPress!  Check out the video clip I made on what it looks like.

I can’t wait to make all my other WordPress sites mobile compatible as well, including this one!  Tell me, do you use smartphones for genealogy? Tell me in this survey!

Washington County is Mine!

Back in July, I became quite involved with the NCGenWeb Project.  I agreed to be webmaster and it escalated from there.  I took on Onslow & Jones counties because of my Koonce roots.   Then, in August, I had the opportunity to become the site coordinator for my top, WISH LIST county – Washington!

Washington County is the home of my grandmother Alice.   Though I’ve only been to her hometown of Plymouth one time (as a 9 month old child),  it is in Washington County where I first began my online genealogical searching.  I quickly learned of some of the great resources that were available on the site, and part of the reason I am so *into* newspaper transcriptions now is b/c I wanted to give back to others as I felt they’d done for me.

So, when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it!  I am now your county host for (the newly redesigned! cuz you know how I do!)  Washington County, NC page.

Update on NCGenWeb

Thanks everyone who commented on the NCGenWeb redesign and all of my other crazy activities.  Over the past couple of days I’ve continued to work on NCGenWeb “stuff” and am quite excited by all that is developing.   As I take the time to futher explore more of the county sites, I am finding information & connections that I did not even know was avaialable.

For example, I was speaking with the State Coordinator, Diane, who is also the County Coordinator for Craven County – that is the county my father is from.  In reviewing the cemetery photos she has posted to the site, I saw that she had my father’s family cemetery there, Mitchell Cemetery.  My father’s parents, along with many of his aunts & uncles and cousins are all buried there and I was ecstatic to see it.  I last visited the cemetery in 2006 when my grandmother died and while I’d taken pictures, I did not get everyone.  A couple of years ago, a FindAGrave volunteer posted photos in the cemetery, but it was nice to see Mitchell represented on the Craven site as well.

I was also corresponding with the County Coordinator for Henderson county on some technical matters and as I was reviewing that site, I noticed in the surname list the name Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick.   One of my ancestors, Silas Kilpatrick, is said by family tradition to have come from Black Mountain, NC, which is in a county next to Henderson.  We know that Silas was a slave within the white Kilpatrick family, but I had not yet had time to investigate any Kilpatrick associations on that side of the state, and since I was told Black Mountain, I would have likely focused on it’s county instead of the neighbor county.  Well, Kathy informed me that there is a white Silas Kirkpatrick  listed in the 1835 Poll Book, residing in Crabtree precinct of Haywood County NC which is not too far from Black Mountain! This is great and gives me another lead for my family research.

In addition, I posted on the NCGenWeb News blog about the Randolph County Coordinator setting up an RSS feed for the county site.  He already Twitters on behalf of the project so this is yet another avenue for further promoting the information available.   Also, I am helping two county coordinators better understand WordPress as an option for redesigning their county sites.

Exciting time in NC indeed!

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.


You can check out the site at  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. 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.