Websites/Resources

My Battle With FootNote

Since I first learned about FootNote a couple of years ago, I have been excited about the possibility of the site’s Genealogy 2.0 potential. However, I have found that for me personally, it has not been as useful as it ideally could be. Perhaps this is due to my lack of understanding the structure and content of the types of records they provide? Admittedly, I’m not very familiar with the NARA resources and some of the others they’ve added and I have not yet found much in the site that have provided a beneficial return on investment of my time and my money. However, that may soon change.

A recent blog post from Eastman about FootNote’s latest collection has intrigued me. He posted their announcement of an interactive 1860 census. Knowing the capabilities FootNote offers, I had to go look right away. This may be the point that gets me subscribing to FootNote’s content! Why? Because by adding census records, this may address a feature I only wish was available in Ancestry.

Consider this – wouldn’t it be cool to know what other researchers/family members may be associated with a specific person /familyin the census? You could look at the census record and see who had established themselves in some way to be “connected” with that particular family? From my limited experience thus far, there are a couple of ways that I know this can be done:

  • Ancestry — allows you to add comments to a particular person’s index entry for the census. However, when there are comments, it seems the only way to know this is to click on the “Comments and Corrections” link and then see if there is a link to “View Comments.” Thus, you do not know before you take action, if there is indeed a comment on a particular person’s record. Then, from there you can connect to the person that made the comment, and see their profile, but I find the ways to connect to be a bit removed from the overall interface of the site. Also, comments are not displayed right away when you make them.
  • Lost Cousins — allows you to indicate that person in the census is your ancestor. From my few trial runs of the site, I am rather put off by the fact that you have to go over to use the FamilySearch site to get the person’s info and then come back to Lost Cousins. This is too cumbersome for me personally. Then, when it’s time for me to mark my connection to that person in the census, you have to specify a specific relationship. Well, what if you are not related? What if you are just researching this person, have information about them, and others could benefit from knowing that? Their new features for Upstairs/Downstairs, and Neighbors offers some expansion, but I’m still not convinced.

So, I’ve just spent some time playing around in Footnote and like what I see so far. While not all of the 1860 census is there, I was able to play around with the site some and I like what I see so far.

  • I can browse to specific locations to find the person of interest, then I can contribute to the record once I find them – add images, notes, details, etc. Can also search by name. This is much better than having to input specific microfilm information like Lost Cousins requires.
  • I can connect to the person who made the comment, and the connection process is more integrated than at Ancestry.
  • Anything added to a record is easily displayed on the right side of the screen, so you know right away whether people have touched this record and made contributions
  • When I do add contributions, I get featured briefly on the front page as a recent contributor

Unfortunately:

  • cannot do annotations at this point – it looks like FootNote does not yet have these turned on
  • cannot attach a note to a family cluster -that would be cool
  • user profiles do not have as many fields as Ancestry – but, it is easy to see the history of that person’s contributions and the images, etc. they have
  • Would be even cooler to have feeds to track favorite users so you can keep an eye on what they are doing – think Facebook!

I will continue to play around with the site and see what I find. So much more transparent for this sort of activity than other sites I’m familiar with. But, perhaps I am missing other key resources. If you think I am, please let me know! Hmm.. I’ve just found something suitable for my Black Nashville History & Genealogy Blog. Will update again later! Here’s a link to my FootNote profile.

Update: I found something very moving on FootNote. You can read it here.

Where does the time go?

Over the past several days, I’ve not been online quite as much to work on genealogy. My sister graduated college this weekend from the University of Florida (see my main blog), so that obviously kept me offline.  :-)  In addition, I began a course on research ethics and now I’ve got plenty of reading to keep me busy at night for the next month. But, I sneak in a little genealogy here and there.

I have just sent off an article that will be published in a Alabama genealogy newsletter. More details to come once that is published. I’m quite excited about it!  Then, last week I received an email from Nita, one of my original blogging inspirations, about her Koonce ancestry.  She has an offhand feeling she may have connections to North Carolina where my Koonce’s are from, so we will see what happens there.  It would be so cool to have another connection with a geneablogger as I do with Jennifer.

Last night, I had about 45 minutes to play around with a new Ancestry database. I read over on Craig’s blog about the Tennessee State Marriages, 1765-2002 database.  I was glad to see this for two reasons:

  • one of the genealogies I work on is that of a friend of mine who has deep roots in east Tennessee.  I found many marriage certificate/bonds for people on her tree, including her parent’s marriage certificate. That was cool.  Also, by the information on the marriage detail, I was able to find the maiden name of one of her 2nd great-grandmothers, a Cordelia Fellers who married Henry V. Bolinger on January 18, 1898 in Campbell County, TN. Then, by working through census records, I was able to find her grandfather even and I think I have a suspicion of his father! Ooh the joy!
  • as county coordinator for Blount County, TN, I can now add this to marriage information resources.

Interestingly enough, Kalonji and I were married here in Davidson County in 2001 but we are not in the database.  The Davidson county records only go up to 1860 consistently, then after that, coverage is very sporadic.  Would have been cool to see me in there…

HBCU Digital Collection

Yesterday, I learned of a new digital collection being offered online. The HBCU Digital Collection was launched last month and is the beginning of a digital archive of materials from 10 historically black colleges and universities.  The information in the Digital Library contains a variety of items – including “campus charters, student yearbooks, early campus architectural drawings, graduating classes, famous alumni and churches” and more.  Currently, the institutions participating include:

  • Alabama State University
  • Atlanta University Center
  • Bennett College for Women
  • Fisk University
  • Grambling State University
  • Hampton University
  • Southern University
  •  Tuskegee University
  • Tennessee State University
  • Virginia State University

Given my interest in the history of blacks in Nashville, I was happy to see Fisk & TSU represented.  I went to the site to do some searching and found quite a bit of interesting material that would add a family tree if your ancestor was represented in those images. Fisk especially seems to have a concentration of yearbook materials. I definitely plan to spend some time looking through the site.

Library of Congress Goes to Flickr

I haven’t seen this yet posted to any genealogy blogs I read, but perhaps I missed it. This has been circulating in my professional blogsphere for a little while now and I finally was able to spend a few minutes looking around.

The Library of Congress has added (and will continue to add) photos from their vast collection into Flickr for the general community to tag. Their original post is here, but then they followed up with some very interesting data.  They added over 3,000 pictures to Flickr and people have been tagging away! If you get a chance to look, the pictures are all very good quality and many are just gorgeous.

As I was looking, I decided to look for Honus Wagner (I’ve posted before about how my friend’s genealogy intersects with him).  Sure enough, they have a few pictures.  There is one picture of him with some fellow players that was taken about 1912, and another picture of him with the whole team.   Interestingly enough, Honus’ name is a tag on this second picture, so someone out there knew he was on this team and tagged the photo. That is the wonderful premise behind this project.

I can’t wait to see what else LOC continues to add!

I’m developing a book habit

Okay, so I know I’m a librarian, but honestly, I don’t really collect a lot of books. That is, until recently.  I seem to just have a drawing towards historical books now so once again, I picked up some books today at a relatively new used book store here in town. The books I picked up were:

  • Little Gloria…Happy at Last — since I work at Vanderbilt University and absolutely LOVE the Biltmore Estate, I’m developing an interest even more so in the Vanderbilt family. There was no way I could pass up getting this for $1.50. The inside front & back covers of the book have some genealogy charts too so you can keep track of the players all involved in Gloria’s case.
  • Dear Senator — A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond — Since this book came out, I was interested in it, so again, for $1.50 who can pass?
  • The Children – by David Halberstam — this book is about a handful of college students and their involvement in the Nashville Civil Rights movement back in the sixties. It’s a fairly thick book, so I know it will be awhile til I get through it, but it should help me further understand some of the history of this city in which I live. It may also serve as some inspiration for my black Nashville blog.

NYPL Digital Images

In my blog reading this evening, I re-read a post describing the New York Public Library’s Digital Images database. Wonderful site! I just did a few random searches and located some cool pictures.This is a picture of Dr. Robert F. Boyd. In a visit to a cemetery in the area a few months ago, I’d taken a picture of his tombstone and recognized the name from some of my Nashville Globe newspaper reading. In finding this photo however, I am just now realizing that he was a professor at Meharry Medical College. This is a very nice picture of him and was published in the book

Gibson, J. W., and W. H. Crogman. Progress of a Race; Or, The Remarkable Advancement of the American Negro; from the Bondage of Slavery, Ignorance, and Poverty, to the Freedom of Citizenship, Intelligence, Affluence, Honor, and Trust. Miami, Fla: Mnemosyne Pub. Inc, 1969.

Dr. R. F. Boyd, Professor in M... Digital ID: 1223159. New York Public Library

Even cooler however, is that I found this photo of Mrs. Rev. Nelson G. Merry, the first black preacher in the state of Tennessee. I was ecstatic to find this!! I have been researching the Merry family for a friend who is a descendant of Nelson’s brother, Liverpool Napoleon Merry. And, the above-mentioned visit to the cemetery was because I wanted to search for her husband’s grave! My other blog posts about the Merrys can be found here.

From my own personal research, I know that she was born Mary Ann Jones and she was born abt. 12 Jan 1828 to Edmond Jones in Kentucky. She and her husband likely married around 1850 when they first appear in census records together as a 25 year old and 23 year old couple. Though I have not found her in all census’ that she would have lived through, I do know that she and her husband had at least 7 children. Her 77th birthday notice was published in the Nashville Globe 18 Jan 1907.

The wife of the Rev. N. G. Mer... Digital ID: 1232639. New York Public Library

Her picture was published in the book — Buck, D. D. The Progression of the Race in the United States and Canada Treating of the Great Advancement of the Colored Race. Chicago: Atwell Printing and Binding Co, 1907.

Amazing. I can’t wait to see what else I uncover!

Browning Genealogy Database

Today on her blog, Arlene posted a nice review of the Browning Genealogy Database provided through the Evansville Public Library. I was very happy to see this as this database has been one of my best resources! Kalonji’s family is from Evansville, and when I discovered it last year, I had so much fun looking up his family members.

Between the death information and the local history information, I was able to locate so many news items on his family and extended family members. Including, this picture of his mom’s high school graduation picture from Central High School in 1963. The information from the paper tells us that she was in the Future Nurses club, a member of Y-Teens and on the Student Council. Kitty does in fact have the real picture that is represented in the paper, but I did not know of her club memberships until finding this card in the Browning Database.

This database is amazing and I cannot speak well enough about it.

New Membership to WorldVitalRecords.com

Whippee!! I went to WorldVitalRecords today to remind myself how much the membership was and noticed that they had an option that I did not remember seeing before – a monthly payment option – only $5.95/month. I am ecstatic! I’ve had my eye on WVR for a few months and have been wanting to subscribe, but did not want to shell out the whole fee at once. So, I’m quite happy they now offer this and I just signed up! I’ll post any interesting finds I come across.

ChicagoAncestors.org

I read on Eastman’s blog today that the Newberry Library announced a new website, ChicagoAncestors.org. I went to take a look and I am very excited by this new site!  Do I have any families I’m working on from Chicago? No. So, why am I so psyched?

The reason I like this site so much is because of the integration of a map with family history, genealogy and historical information. You can look at the map and see where relevant items are based on geographic location. I think this is excellent! While not all sources would lend themselves to such discreet mapping (i.e. specific street location), I think this idea has great potential. If you haven’t taken a look at the site, I highly suggest it.