Saturday Night Wiki Fest

Over the past few months I have been contributing to FamilySearch’s Research Wiki.  In August I did a post describing my overall & positive impressions of the site.  Essentially, it could become the Wikipedia for Genealogy if enough of us contribute to it.  FamilySearch already has an impressive number of volunteers contributing to the Indexing initiative and it would be nice to see momentum gather around the Wiki.

The Wiki team has pursued collaborations with genealogy projects and societies as one method to increase contributions.  It is in these efforts that I’ve been involved,  for all three of the state USGenWeb projects in which I participate have “adopted” the corresponding wiki sites.   The TNGenWeb, NCGenWeb and FLGenWeb have all signed on to help add resources and information.

The Wiki is easy to add to – very much “what you see is what you get” with the option to add using wiki code if you’re comfortable with that syntax.  Tonight, I focused on adding links to the North Carolina counties I either host or am temporarily taking care of – Craven,  Jones, Lenoir,  Martin,  Onslow, Wake, and Washington.  A friend of mine sent me a template she uses for county sites and after viewing it, I created an outline for myself.  Though not as easy to use as a “template,” with my outline I can get a bare bones page up in less than 30 minutes.  The pages can always be enhanced, but at least if someone lands on them it won’t be blank :-).

If you have knowledge to share about any genealogy resources, consider adding to the Wiki.  Registration is easy and you’ll be going in no time at all.  I am trying to condition myself to use it as my own personal research tool – adding links to resources as I come across them from the appropriate page. So far, there’s only one drawback — I can’t seem to login with Google Chrome and need to use Firefox instead.  Hopefully they’ll fix that issue soon!

Evansville Argus – Historical Black Newspaper

I love newspapers.  I truly do. Anything I can do to promote their accessibility is one of my passions.  I am pleased now to learn that an African-American newspaper of Evansville, Indiana (where my husband’s family is from), is now available in it’s online!

The Evansville Argus was published from June 25, 1938 – October 22, 1943.  The University of Southern Indiana’s David Rice library is one of the few places that holds the entire run of the paper.  I have been interested in the paper for awhile now because of the fact that my husband’s family is from there and from time to time I have visited Willard Library in Evansville and perused a few of them.  I contribute from time to time to the blog of the genealogy society in Evansville and for one post I transcribed a marriage I found in the paper.

Front page of the first issue of the Evansville Argus - June 25, 1938

The David Rice Library received grant funds to digitize this collection, and in doing so, provides us all with access to this treasure trove.  You may browse the issues online at the library’s website or choose “Advanced Search” at the top of the screen to search specific information.   For any specific issue, the archive team has implemented a feature that allows you to view the entire issue in PDF format — quite handy indeed! I especially like that feature since I find contentDM’s page navigation absolutely horrid and nowhere as easy to use as that used by Google for their newspapers and the Library of Congress for the Chronicling America website.

And, in keeping with my new practice of using the FamilySearch Research Wiki as my own personal research tool I have added a link to the collection to the Wiki page for Vanderburgh County, Indiana.

(Update:  I thought ALL the issues were available, but it looks like currently they have up through April 1942 online).

Internet Archive Instead of ContentDM?

Here is news that I like to hear! The Internet Archive (IA)  posted recently that the Montana State Library has made the decision to use IA as their institutional repository in lieu of the contentDM platform.  I’m a fan of the Internet Archive; the variety of their offerings is incredible.  ContentDM is a popular choice among libraries for hosting digital content, but I find their system much less user-friendly – particularly in the display & navigation options.  I could do a whole separate blog post on that!

The Montana State Library has placed 3,000 digital items there so far, and ultimately expects to have about 55,000 items.  I have no genealogical interests whatsover in Montana, but this type of news excites me since I believe there is a lot of potential yet untapped for IA.   And just as a note — Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, will be a keynote speaker at the RootsTech conference.  I’ll have my ears open for any other news that may come from them. :-)

Some RootsTech Inspiration

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, is a keynote speaker at the upcoming RootsTech 2011 conference.   I’m planning a couple of posts within the next 14 days or so around the Internet Archive, so this seemed especially appropriate to post about him.  As he, I too am a librarian, and I am absolutely in love with the Internet Archive.   I only wish I would have a chance to see him speak at RootsTech, but here is a speech he made for a TED talk back in 2008 explaining the establishment and processes behind the Internet Archive.  A must-watch for all those attending RootsTech.

African Americans in Civil War Medicine

Today, while visiting the website of the National Library of Medicine for work purposes, I noticed an announcement of a new online exhibit titled, “Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine.”

The online exhibit focuses on the specific contributions of African-Americans as nurses, surgeons and hospital workers.   There are 5 main sections to the site, each presented by a banner in physical form:

  • In Uniform
  • Catalyst for Change
  • Nursing the Wounded
  • Working for Freedom
  • Within these Walls

Banner display at the National Library of Medicine

The online exhibit includes brief biographies of several individuals and includes numerous pictures.  It’s not an in-depth treatment of the topic, but gives a solid overview.  In addition, there are Lesson Plans for K-12 educators and the exhibit will be travelling around the country.  The online exhibit can be found here.

Disclosure:  In my professional career, I’ve been funded by the National Library of Medicine twice for training fellowships.

Kaleya In the Cemetery

Over the holiday weekend,  I made DH take me to two local cemeteries so I could take a few pictures for Find-A-Grave.  We didn’t stay long – about an hour combined, but during that time I got many pictures for uploading.  Perhaps my favorite part of the whole experience was how involved Kaleya (who will soon be 6) got in the process!  She and/or Jihad have been to the cemetery with me before, but this was the first time she declared that she was going to take pictures too.   It was by chance because I asked her to hold my phone while I got my digital camera ready and off she went with the phone while I used the camera!

She had a ball.  From getting in close to take good pictures….

to brushing leaves off the headstones so that the names could be “read” (or in her case since she’s still learning to read.. “seen”)

she was such a great helper and enjoyed it.

Now, of course she still has a thing or two to learn about taking pictures :-)  Comments heard in the cemetery,

“Mommy — my shadow got in that one!”

or – “Ha, ha! my fingers were in the way!”

But, she did quite often get pictures that were excellent.

She’s definitely going back with me next time I go :-)  I was truly amazed.

Wiki Thoughts

Today while reading a blog post on the FamilySearch blog, a phrase they used with regard to their Research Wiki caught my eye — the blog post mentions that anyone using the wiki “need look no further” than their Research Wiki.  The Research Wiki, while a great resource, is far from needing to be the last place to look.

But, after reading the post, I did take another look at the site; for I do use it from time to time.   Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about use of Wikis in genealogy and how I’d love to see a site as comprehensive for genealogy as Wikipedia is for general use.  I think the Research Wiki has this kind of potential.

What I Like

  • interface – clean layout,  easy to navigate, easy to browse or search. given the importance of locality searching in genealogy, having an option to browse by country as they do on the front page is important.  also, on any subpage, there is a clear option in the top right corner to either browse by country or browse by topic. very handy indeed.  of course, the search box is always present.  Breadcrumbs are used throughout most of the site so you know where you are.  The icon at the top of the page needs to change though — it should go to the front page of the wiki, not the main FamilySearch page.  Branding the site as one of FamilySearch’s can be done differently.
  • editing – uses a “what you see is what you get” editor — much like using a word processing program.  This feature encourages broad participation since most users will be familiar with how to do edits if they’ve ever used a word processing program..
  • LDS records – the wiki is especially helpful in that they link to available LDS records and we know there is a lot of those! who else to do that better?
  • formatting – each county page, as an example, has a standard format; makes it easy to orient yourself when you move from county to county.  Topic pages are not standardized, but this would be harder to do given their variety.
  • social — each page has links to send a page to your Facebook or Twitter profile.  None of the other genealogy wikis have this feature.
  • registration – is easy. one-step process. see something you want to edit? register and you can start editing immediately.  and of course, anyone can edit.

The competition?

  • Ancestry Wiki – the newest broad-topic genealogy wiki. I like it’s interface too.  Registration capitalizes upon your account so there is no need to learn a new password.   I like the overall interface of Ancestry Wiki, but without the use of breadcrumbs it is easy to get lost in the site; there is no constant navigation feature to keep you oriented.  Editing also is not truly WYSIWYG — you have to use Wiki syntax which means a steeper learning curve and is a barrier to participation that could be eliminated.  And, the logo on the site does not link back to the homepage – instead it takes you to  At this point, I don’t see it as viable yet for being “the Wikipedia” of genealogy.
  • Encyclopedia of Genealogy – this was started by Dick Eastman and is the oldest genealogy wiki of which I’m aware.   Eastman was forward-thinking to create the wiki and offer it as a way to capture the collective’s genealogy knowledge, but the site so far has less content than the Research Wiki and is not as comprehensive.   This is understandable though so I can’t complain too loudly :-)
  • National Archives Wiki – this is new as well, just announced a few weeks ago.  I applaud NARA’s efforts to incorporate more web 2.0 technologies and will keep my eye on this one.  The scope of the site is too narrow to be “the Wikipedia” of genealogy, but could grow to be a great resource.  I don’t find this wiki very easily navigated.   The link to browse by Record Group blends too easily on the right sidebar and should be made more prominent since most researchers will be familiar with the Record Group structure for NARA records.  The front page of the wiki also tries to squeeze in too much content in the space.   Their page editing is WYSIWG and that’s a positive! However, the registration process is cumbersome – it is not a one-step process like the Research Wiki and/or Wikipedia.  When I “create an account” b/c I’m ready to edit something,  I need to be able to edit right away – if I have to wait and come back I may not come back.

Overall, I’m excited by the potential the FamilySearch Research Wiki offers.  Given the long-standing history of LDS and their efforts to promote genealogy research, including their massive indexing project,  the Research Wiki has potential to become a great resource indeed.  The site has come a long way, but still needs work, so I’m going to do my small part this weekend and edit more pages so I can get an even more comprehensive understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.

More Compiled Service Records @ Internet Archive

The Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center has added more compiled service records to the Internet Archive.  One of the latest additions are the Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 1st through 6th Calvary.  There are 107 reels in this collection.  For more information about these records, read a detailed overview.

These are also available at and are 39% complete at Footnote.  But, at the Internet Archive they are free!  NARA should add these to their list of microfilm digitized by partners.

These records have been indexed in the book

1st United States Colored Calvary

  • Reel 1 – Ackess, Alexander – Bom, John H.
  • Reel 2 – Bomer, James – Cartwright, John
  • Reel 3 – Casey, Thomas – Davenport, John J.
  • Reel 4 – Davis, Augustus – Floyd, George
  • Reel 5 – Fly, Benjamin – Griffin, Oliver
  • Reel 6 – Griffin, Quinton – Holstead, Peter
  • Reel 7 – Holt, George – Jones, Herbert
  • Reel 8 – Jones, Howell – Macoy, Peter
  • Reel 9 – Madry, Andrew – Mosley, Jacob
  • Reel 10 – Moss, James – Polk, James
  • Reel 11 – Pollard, Sipio – Sales, William
  • Reel 12 – Sample, Abram (Abraham) – Smith, Ives
  • Reel 13 – Smith, James – Times, Nelson
  • Reel 14 – Tines, Archer – Wheldon, Charles M.
  • Reel 15 – Whitby, Joseph – Wilson, Isaac
  • Reel 16 – Wilson, James – Zoe (no first name)

2d United States Colored Calvary

  • Reel 17 – Abbot, John – Bell, Charles
  • Reel 18 – Bell, Henry – Burns, Richard
  • Reel 19 – Burroughs, George L. – Cotton, Samuel
  • Reel 20 – Coues, Alexander – Duncan, Levi
  • Reel 21 – Dunkins, Ezikiah James – Gardner, Richard
  • Reel 22 – Garris, Henry – Harrison, Thomas
  • Reel 23 – Harrison, William – Humphries, David
  • Reel 24 – Hunter, Francis – Jones, Robert
  • Reel 25 – Jones, Robert F. – Martin, Robert (Martin)
  • Reel 26 – Martin, Thaddeus – Osborne, Henry S.
  • Reel 27 – Oulden, Jacob – Prior, Edward or Edmund
  • Reel 28 – Proctor, David – Sawyer, Wilson
  • Reel 29 – Scabber, Charles – Stanley, William
  • Reel 30 – Stanley, Wright or Right – Upshear, Neverson
  • Reel 31 – Upshear, Samuel – Whites, Joe
  • Reel 32 – Whites, Silas – Zodrick, Isaiah A. or Isaiah

3d United States Colored Cavalry

  • Reel 33 – Aaron, John – Black, David
  • Reel 34 – Black, Richard – Cameron, Wyatt
  • Reel 35 – Cammel, Austin – Cooper, Stephen
  • Reel 36 – Coran, Joseph – Erving, Tilson
  • Reel 37 – Erwin, Anderson – Gool, George
  • Reel 38 – Gordon, Alfred – Haskins, Jasper
  • Reel 39 – Hawkins, Frank – Jackson, Harvey
  • Reel 40 – Jackson, Henry – Kembro, Abraham
  • Reel 41 – Kenedy, Lemuel – Lott, Judge
  • Reel 42 – Lott, Matton – Mitchell, Berry
  • Reel 43 – Mitchell, George – Pettis, Edmond
  • Reel 44 – Pettis, George – Roberson, Jefferson
  • Reel 45 – Roberson, Wallace – Simpson, Levi
  • Reel 46 – Sims, Anderson – Taylor, Phillip
  • Reel 47 – Taylor, Richard – Washington, Isaac
  • Reel 48 – Washington, Oscar – Williams, Mitchel
  • Reel 49 – Williams, Moses – Young, Mathew

4th United States Colored Cavalry

  • Reel 50 – Abraham, Randall – Blanchan, William
  • Reel 51 – Blanchard, Moses – Clark, Moses
  • Reel 52 – Clark, Theodore – Ellars, James
  • Reel 53 – Ellars, John – Heath, Culbert
  • Reel 54 – Henderson, George – Johnson, Henderson
  • Reel 55 – Johnson, Henry – Mayberry, Nelson
  • Reel 56 – Macomory, John – Oliver, Celestine
  • Reel 57 – Olsten, Alexander – Robinson, William
  • Reel 58 – Robinson, William E. – Thomas, Stephen
  • Reel 59 – Thomas, William – Williams, Horace
  • Reel 60 – Williams, Isaac – Zulia, Francois

5th United States Colored Calvary

  • Reel 61 – Abel, Fletcher – Biggs, Randall
  • Reel 62 – Birch, Benjamin – Burly, Frank
  • Reel 63 – Burly, James – Coffman, James D.
  • Reel 64 – Coke, Samuel – Dudley, John
  • Reel 65 – Duke, John – Givens, Peter
  • Reel 66 – Glen, John – Harriden, Edmund
  • Reel 67 – Harrigan, Harden – Hughes, Thomas
  • Reel 68 – Hulse, James – Keller, Ephraim
  • Reel 69 – Kelley, Franklin-Matthews, Benjamin
  • Reel 70 – Maupin, Preston – Murry, Ned
  • Reel 71 – Murtney, Morton – Ray, John
  • Reel 72 – Ray, Thomas – Sherrod, Willliam
  • Reel 73 – Shrewsbury, Joseph – Stone, John
  • Reel 74 – Stone, Lewis – Trye, Benjamin
  • Reel 75 – Trueheart, Samuel – Williams, James
  • Reel 76 – Williams, Jerry – Yowell, Joseph

5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored)

  • Reel 77 – Abbey, David – Biers, William
  • Reel 78 – Billings, Jeremiah – Burgess, Williams
  • Reel 79 – Burnett, Lewis – Cook, Joseph T.
  • Reel 80 – Cooper, Isaac – Dunmore, William
  • Reel 81 – Durbin, Stephen – Furman, Seneca A.
  • Reel 82 – Gadson, James – Gurley, Joseph L.
  • Reel 83 – Guy, James – Hill, John W.
  • Reel 84 – Hill, Richard – Johns, Thomas H.
  • Reel 85 – Johnson, Aaron – Lambert, William
  • Reel 86 – Lancaster, James – Mason, John
  • Reel 87 – Mason, John H. – Nelson, Philip
  • Reel 88 – Nelson, Preston – Preston, Thomas
  • Reel 89 – Price, Adam – Sampson, George P.
  • Reel 90 – Sanborn, Madison – Stringer, William
  • Reel 91 – Strother, Frank – Vance, William H.
  • Reel 92 – Van Hoesen, Charles – Wilkinson, Simon
  • Reel 93 – Williams, Abram H. – Young, Thomas

6th United States Colored Cavalry

  • Reel 94 – Abbot, John – Birch, James
  • Reel 95 – Bivins, Gabriel – Buckner, George
  • Reel 96 – Buckner, Henderson – Compton, James
  • Reel 97 – Cook, Benjamin – Ellis, William
  • Reel 98 – Ellis, Wyatt – Godley, Isaac
  • Reel 99 – Gooch, Alexander – Herston, Abraham
  • Reel 100 – Heywood, John R. – Johnson, Jackson
  • Reel 101 – Johnson, James M. – Marshall, Lyman
  • Reel 102 – Marshall, William – Neihardt, Isaac D.
  • Reel 103 – Nelson, Joseph – Redd, Tiney
  • Reel 104 – Redway, Hamilton K. – Sebree, Bob Woodcock
  • Reel 105 – Sebree, Crittenden – Sumpter, John
  • Reel 106– Sutherland, Williams – Washington, Charles
  • Reel 107 – Washington, George – Wren (no first name)

Historic Tennessee Newspapers Going Digital & Online!

One of my favorite historical newspaper resources is the Chronicling America site by the National Digital Newspaper Program partnership between the Library of Congress & the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The site contains digital images of  newspapers from 16 states covering 188-1922 and is a valuable source of information in our genealogical research.

The goal of the project is to have representation from all states and in the latest round of grant awards, more states have received funding to come aboard – Tennessee included.  I personally am thrilled to have a chance to be involved in the project as I will be a member of the Advisory Board in the role of an interested recreational genealogist/end user of the project results.  Newspaper research is a high priority for me so I’m ecstatic!

More about the TN Project

  • Coordinated by joint collaboration between the University of Tennessee Knoxville & the Tennesse State Library & Archives
  • Goal is to digitize 100,000 pages of historical TN newspapers from 1836-1922.  There will be representation from all three of the grand divisions of the state
  • Selection of the papers to digitize is part of the project, but there are over 1,000,000 pages to choose from!

The grant involves an experienced body of individuals; coordinated by JoAnne Deeken @ UTK.  I look forward to getting to know others on the team and helping to assist in the recommendations for titles to digitize.  High on my personal wish list for inclusion is the Nashville Globe, a black newspaper published in Nashville from 1907-1960.    I have been indexing parts of it over the past three years and access to the full run during this time frame would be of benefit for African-American genealogical research.

Other states awarded funds to add newspapers (some already have contributed) to the Chronicling America site are:

  • Arizona
  • Hawaii
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Washington

How exciting!

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy – Week 22 (Part II) – Find-A-Grave

In my last post, I expressed my desire for a Find-A-Grave app for my smartphone and outlined several specific features I wished to see in the app.  After posting and sharing the link, I learned from Thomas that there was an ongoing discussion on the Find-A-Grave forums, and then someone posted a link to a beta version of an app in the Android Market. Sweet! I have an Android phone.

Eager to see how it works, I quickly installed it.   The app’s page has several screenshots that will allow you to see how it currently works and I see much promise.   It was released May 11, 2010 so is a very early version.  So far, it provides basic access to the data at the Find-A-Grave website, but it does not have any of the 7 functions I listed in my post.  To be fair though, it is clear from the current menus that many of these are planned, and I am excited!

Overall, the usability of the site is aligned with what I envisioned. It is fast, easy to use and instructions are clear.  I believe the developer is definitely heading in the right direction.  Now I just need to figure out a way to let the developer know of my blog post!