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!

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy – Week 22 (Find-A-Grave)

A couple of months ago I read an article about a Vanderbilt Engineering student named Ben Gotow and his work developing iPhone apps.  He developed an iPhone app for artists that has sold more than 20,000 units to date, an app for a Vanderbilt informatics group that allows anesthesiologists to view what’s going on in various operating rooms from their iPhones, and considered another app that immediately caught my attention and sparked my thoughts on the topic of this blog post.  It’ s a blog post I’ve been bouncing around for a couple of months and this week’s prompt for Find-A-Grave gives me the perfect opportunity to present the idea.

What was that other app? The app that was mentioned that particularly caught my eye was described in the following manner in the article I read about him

Gotow hopes to develop an app that would allow users to point their phones at a building anywhere on Vanderbilt’s campus and receive information about what is going on inside as well as the building’s history.

When I read this sentence, I had an immediate realization at how cool something like this could be for a genealogical/historical researcher! Not only for Vanderbilt buildings, but if it were crowdsourced somehow or drew from Wikipedia for use from any location.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  Then, as I thought about its potential for use from any location, I realized that something like this could be useful for Find-A-Grave.  Imaging pointing your smartphone towards any cemetery and getting information about that cemetery?

I’m tweaking the original 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy prompt’s objective, but here are my thoughts on how a FindAGrave app could work:

  • it would use GPS coordinates and map data to show you what cemeteries are near you (a la FourSquare)
  • from the app, you’d retrieve the list of burials as noted in Find-A-Grave an easy-to-visualize method of knowing which ones have pictures or not.  The Find-A-Grave site uses a tombstone marker image to designate the availability of a tombstone photo so this could be the case as well for the app.
  • if there is not a tombstone marker for the grave it would allow you to click on a camera icon to launch your smartphone camera, take a picture and upload that pic to FindAGrave right away.   Find-A-Grave currently has a photo size restriction so ideally, the app would resize your photo since it will probably be much larger than the maximum image allowed
  • if there is not an entry for that burial, have a simple version of the form to add a new entry and then as above, add the picture of the tombstone.
  • Sign-in should be required to use the app so then it could keep track of the graves you added and/or took photos for so you can go back and enhance the data later if needed (ideally,  it would work in tandem w/ the Find-A-Grave website so you could manage the info online)
  • integration w/ other social sites — wouldn’t it be fun if you were in a cemetery and could tweet/Facebook  something like, “I just found my great-grandmother’s tombstone @ XYZ Cemetery!”  along w/ the picture?
  • a “check-in” feature (again, a la FourSquare or Waymarking) that would let you know what other people may have visited the cemetery (and or grave)?  this could possibly lead to connecting with other researchers with familial ties?
  • in June 2009 I posted my wish-list for the Find-A-Grave website — maybe the app could incorporate some of them?

Using an app like this while surveying, viewing a cemetery would be interesting.  It may extend the time needed to survey a cemetery, but with all the steps combined of taking a picture and uploading it to the site, it may in the end save time.  I’d love to try something like this out.   The argument could be made that since smartphones can render websites, the regular Find-A-Grave site could be used, but I personally find usability issues when using the regular site on my Android.  Either a specifically designed mobile version of the site or an app would be better from a  usability perspective.  It is time like these that I wish I were a programmer, or at least had enough money to hire a programmer.

Thanks for the inspiration Ben! Maybe I can get someone at Find-A-Grave, or someone with programming expertise to take this on.  I’d need a Droid version though.  🙂

Update 5/31 — Thomas tweeted a link to a forum discussion on an iPhone app for Find-A-Grave and I posted a comment there.  Also, I had another idea. Here’s the scenario:

Today I am visiting family in Indiana and I’m planning to go visit a cemetery.  Maybe a potential function of the app would be to provide me a % of tombstones photographed at cemeteries around me. I could target some of the cemeteries with fewer percentage of tombstones photographed to start with.  Recognizing that there may not be headstones for everyone listed at a particular cemetery, it would still be an interesting way to know how to best focus my efforts to help contribute to the site.

I also learned that there is a beta version of the app that was just released a couple of weeks ago. The site to learn more about it is here and you can see comments here.  I will do a blog post about it later.

Browse papers in Google News Archive

I posted this on the NCGenWeb blog, but I wanted to do a quick mention here too.  I recently learned  that back in March, Google implemented a browse feature in Google News Archive that now makes it much easier to determine what issues of a specific paper have been digitized.

So far, I’ve made a list of 73 US Newspapers included in the Archive and the date ranges covered. More details over on the NCGenWeb blog, including a spreadsheet that lists them all.  Keep in mind, this may not be exhaustive of the US papers as finding out what’s there is not the easiest task.  I’m hopeful that Google continues to make improvements such as this!

Miriam, I fully expect to see these links added to your Online Historical Newspaper Website! 🙂

Internet Archive RSS Feeds

Today on her AnceStories blog, Miriam gave me a shout-out in reference to sharing directories added to the Internet Archive (IA).   Thanks Miriam for the mention.  It prompted me to write this post to share the fact that I’ve been subscribing to IA feeds for several months now and I find it an easy way to keep track of new items.  The IA is such a vast repository of information (they recently hit the 2 million book mark), that every family history researcher should explore it.

Let me share with you some of the feeds I follow (each header is a link to their feed)

And there are so many more!  If you don’t subscribe, you will definitely want to pick at least a couple to follow.  Who knows what you’ll stumble across?

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.