Websites/Resources

FindAGrave Photos

Do you use FindAGrave? If not, you should!  Thanks to a wonderful volunteer, I today received notification that a picture of my uncle’s headstone had been fulfilled.  My mother has been wanting a picture of it for years now and she no longer lives in the city where he is buried.  

We love you and miss you Calvin!

If you get a chance, sign up for FindAGrave and check for photo requests in cemeteries nearby you. You may just make someone’s day!

My mother and Calvin in the 1960s.

Google Books On A Website Near You

Today Google announced on their Book Search Blog that they have developed a series of partnerships in order to more fully integrate Google Books into existing websites.  In the post, they highlight several advantages of this feature including

“For example, suppose you’ve turned to the Books-A-Millionsite to look for a book on the history of your hometown (say, Mountain View, California). When you see a book that looks promising, you can now click on “Google Preview” to browse through the book just as you might in the physical store, without ever having to leave Books-A-Million’s website. “

Whenever browsing participating websites, you just need to look for the Google Preview button and it will open up a window to preview the book online.  There are many different sites participating – bookstores, university libraries, publishers (even Arcadia Publishing – publisher of the Images of America Series), and social book sharing sites.  One of my favorite sites, WorldCat.org is also participating. 

I’ve blogged about Worldcat before: it allows you to locate books in libraries that may be close to you.  When you are looking at a record for a book, if you see the Google Preview button you can begin to browse what is available. 

You can read more about what WorldCat did here.  Right now, it looks like you need to use APIs in order to take advantage of the book preview.  I wonder if there would be any utility in them making an embed code of some type for an individual book-by-book basis?  One could always make a static link to a book, but I like the look of the embedded book. 

I find this particularly of interest as I’ve been spending some time exploring Google Books for my various genealogy interests.  Each month I choose a database to look at more in-depth and this month, Google Books was the one of choice.   During the Genea-Blogger games, my posts from this month on Google Books included:

I have more posts coming this Friday that are not up yet. I’ve written them and set them for pre-publish. I have the Genea-Blogger Games to thank for that!

Easy Ways to Create Citations

During the Genea-Blogger games, one of the categories involved learning how to properly format and use citations.  Though I cite correctly in my professional life, when it comes to genealogy, I’d been very laid back, so this gave me an opportunity to start to clean up my citations in my trees.

While doing this, I used two tools to help make the formatting part easy – Worldcat & EasyBib.

WorldCat – is an online database of what libraries all over the world have in their collections. Therefore, if there is a book you are trying to track down, this is one of the best sources to consult.  Previously, I’ve blogged about the Lists feature, which I find very helpful.  But the citation feature was particularly helpful for this category of the games.  When you do a search in Worldcat and retrieve a record, there is a link that you can use to get the citation of that book (or item) formatted for you in multiple ways.

When you select “Cite this Item,” you then get a pop-up screen that lists the citation for you in MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard & Turabian styles. All you then have to do is copy and paste.  It’s great!

The other site I used was particularly usefulfor non-book formats. Need to cite a website? Newspaper article? Some other format? EasyBib comes to the rescue.

EasyBib – uses a fill-in-forms to create your citation.  It is free if you want MLA style, but costs 7.99/year for the MyBibPro if you want APA style.  Not a bad price, but for my genealogical needs, not worth it. I’m okay with MLA.  :-)

The first step with EasyBib is select what type of format you have -they offer over 50 to choose from, including podcasts, blogs, letters, comics, and more.

Once you select a format, you are given fields to fill-in and you only have to fill-in what you know. So, no worries if there is a part of the citation for which you don’t know.  Then, there is also a section you can click on to expand the form if you retreived to document the method in which you found it – online?  an abstracts journal? Just select your source

There are also several other tools and features on the EasyBib site.  If you register you can share your lists, and use some of the other features.  They even offer a widget you can put on your website to create your citations without even having to go to the EasyBib website. That’s coolness!

Google Books Index

In case you haven’t happened across this yet, Jennifer at Rainy Day Research has a great resource that she is building – a Google Books Index.

Jennifer creates a list of those books in Google Books that are public domain and focused on genealogical/historical information.  As I come across books that I think would be good additions, I just send them to her, but then I also thought I should write a blog post about it as I find it quite helpful.

Connecting with Cuil

With all the fanfare around the launch of the Cuil.com search engine, I was planning to spend a little time exploring the site. In all of 5 minutes earlier today, I had formed my initial impressions of it – that I’m not sure I like it.  But, that could be me being hasty and not accepting something new, so I’ll spend some time later this week doing more investigations.

However, it has already done something for me. Today, I was contacted by a descendant of one of the family trees I am working on, that of James Carroll Napier.   We just spent an hour and half on the phone having the best conversation and just like other Napiers I’ve been contacted by, he’s declared me an honorary cousin!

His branch of the family has had a strong oral history and his uncle used to spend time at the house of JC & wife, Nettie. How cool!  DB (we’ll call him) found me as he was playing around with Cuil himself looking for any heretofore unknown JC Napier items and found the pictures I’d posted to Find A Grave of JC’s and family tombstones.

Here’s to Cuil for making me a new genealogy buddy!

Footnote Findings & Feature Friday

I haven’t been working on my own family genealogy much this past two weeks or so – we’ve been rather busy and I’ve been devoting quite a bit of time to a few other genealogy projects; but, tonight I took a few minutes to play around on Footnote’s website.  I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I have developed some blogging memes – one of them was to take a database a month and search/browse for content relative to my genealogy blogs. I call it “Feature Friday”.

  • Last week, I found something in Footnote for my Kinston Free Press blog of deceased soldiers from Kinston on the Vietnam Memorial
  • Tonight I found a UFO sighting that was reported in Plymouth, NC for my Roanoke Beacon Blog
  • And, I just blogged about a descendant of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt (namesake of my employing institution) who was approached to go in with a group of people to buy an island in France and make the American dollar the legal tender.

The time that I spend poking around gives me a better sense of the collections – as we know, much information continues to be frequently added.

For my own family tree however, back in May I found my grandmother’s brother listed on a crew list for the USS Neosho.  I already knew he was on this ship and let me tell you, that ship saw some crazy action – I leared a couple of years ago that about 80% of the crew was lost in action around the time of Pearl Harbor.  That is a story for another post – but my spotlight page is here.  I believe I have overcome my “battle with footnote”  :-)

No affiliation with

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.

Am I Allowed to Curse?

Holy [EXPLETIVE DELTED]! :-)

Why am I four days late to seeing that Ancestry has added this database – NC Death Certificates 1909-1975! Original death certificates! The Ancestry blog says this is an update, so I wonder how long it’s been there?? Apparently long enough for Joe to have it added on his page. Oh, where have I been?

Oh my. We are taking Kaleya to go see Kung Fu Panda tonight, but guess who will be up half the night playing around with this one? A majority of my family research is in NC.

Ancestry Profiles

Last week Ancestry made changes to their member profiles pages – see announcement on their blog.  I’ve taken a few minutes to update my profile and after doing so, I think this is a good move. The comments on that blog post are filled with a lot of negative comments, but I’m pleased by what I see. Do I think it’s ideal? No. But I like!

The profile now has

  • the ability to add you surnames of interest and the counties they are linked to. Though, it seems you can only have one county per surname and I’d appreciate being able to attach multiple counties to one surname
  • links to all of your posts on the Ancestry message boards
  • can add you picture! Though, the picture box is way to big
  • shows the images and docs you’ve recently added
  • shows all of your public family trees and how many people, photos, and sources are attached to them
  • links to your favorite message boards
  • profile shows date of last login – i like that – lets me know if someone is active or not
  • you can also state how you can help others (looking up items at local repositories, take pictures at cemeteries, offer research assistance, etc.)

Here’s a screenshot of my profile page.

Ancestry states that by beefing up the profiles they will be better able to offer connection suggestions – to do so, you have to go to their Main Community Page once you are logged in.  I did so and based on the names and locations I put in, it showed me how many Ancestry members lived in that area, how many Ancestry members were also researching my surnames, and even of those, how many were researching that surname in the area that I am also researching. Very cool.

I did notice a discrepancy though in the connections.  The location field is not restricted to the county, state, country format I’m used to seeing. You can enter either a city or you can enter either a county.  Therefore, this can create issues when matching connections. A few of the surnames I entered are for Washington County, NC, but the connections page shows me people living in Washington City, North Carolina which is in a different county.  Methinks they should standardize this field better.

I wonder if Ancestry will continue to add to the profiles – like having “friends” and being able to send out messages to all either in your city, or all your friends, etc; in short – become more like Facebook.  You can find my profile here.

I have also explored FamilyLink in the past and while I was initially excited, everytime I go there I get frustrated because I don’t quite fill it lives up to my expectations. Hmm.. I’ll keep exploring though.  For now, you can find my Ancestry profile here.  I also have my Footnote profile here about which I’ve blogged about before.

Genealogy Social Networking – i love it!

Ancestry Boards RSS Feeds

For the past several months, I’d noticed that all the boards on Ancestry.com offered RSS feeds, but I have just recently started using them. It is way cool!

So far, I have subscribed to about 10 feeds for various counties and surnames and I am finding it to be a very convenient way to keep track of new posts. I much prefer to get them through my blog reader rather than having to visit each board. Honestly, RSS feeds are like the blessing of my internet life!

I think I’m the only one using them though :-) – well, at least for the boards I subscribe too. According to Bloglines & Google Reader, there is only 1 subscriber! I really do hope others take advantage of these feeds as it is a cool feature. Now, if only GenForum would do this…

In other news, this weekend I had a chance to do some cemetery walking. I went to one of the black cemeteries here in town to search for a particular grave site. Doing so was quite an experience. As I have been working on my Black Nashville Blog, I have been learning about the history of blacks in Nashville. So, as I was walking through the cemetery it was like a who’s who of Nashville! I’ll post more about it later, but it was quite a fulfilling experience for me at a very personal level.

Then, I also came up with a blogging schedule for myself too. With so many blogs, I want to make sure they get regular attention from me, so I started a schedule. As I begin to implement that schedule, I will share that here as well.