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.

SNGF: Dream Database

This week @ GeneaMusings Randy has asked us to consider what our dream database would be

Define one or more genealogy or family history databases, that are not currently online, that would really help you in your research. Where does this database currently reside?

What are some of the things people are wishing for??

1)Randy stated that he would like to see an index to the San Diego Union newspaper as well as index to probate records

2) Chris states that he has an interest in seeing Pennsylvania marriage, deed & probate records go online, in addition to a nationwide county level inventory of records.

3) Tina would like to see NARA’s Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Land records

4) Mel also has a desire to see newspaper indexes go online, one from Hawaii and one from San Francisco – in addition to some other resources

5) GeneaDiva has a request close to my heart – the actual images of TN Death Certificates, as well as those from AK and AL. She also has a newspaper in her list – an index to the Jackson, TN paper and one from Jonesboro, AK.

6) Family Tree Writer keeps it simple — every small town newspaper indexed!

7) Transylvania Dutch also desires newspaper indices -for the St. Louis Dispatch that is comprehensive enough to cover existing gaps; better indexes for the St. Louis Globe Democrat;  and indexes for 4 St. Louis area Jewish newspapers.

From these posts that I could quickly locate (there may be more and I’m sorry if I missed you), there is something that very clearly stands out for me.  Do you see it?  NEWSPAPERS!!!  5 out of 7 people have newspaper indexes on their wish list.  Guess what? That is also what I desire for my dream database.

As I began doing genealogical research, I quickly realized the tremendous value of newspapers; I think primarily because of the work of the Evansville Public Library’s Browning Obituary Database and how I was able to find a tremendous amount of information about my husband’s family using their extensive database.  When I considered how I could do something to give back to the genealogical community as I felt I’d been given too, I quickly settled in on creating newspaper indexes.

Instead of just wishing for my dream database, I’m making it happen!

For these efforts, I have three separate newspaper indexing projects going on.  True, they are slow-going, but they have been incredibly valuable for my understanding of local history and culture.  And, I try as I can to share notices from them with other researchers by posting to message boards, looking up persons named in the articles in Ancestry Member Trees and sharing them with tree creators, and sharing them with USGenWeb sites & project archives.

Some people help out by indexing records for FamilySearch & Ancestry.  I personally, would rather work on my own databases.  My three projects so are:

a)  Roanoke Beacon Index — newspaper of Plymouth, Washington County, NC.  So far, I’ve covered issues from the late 1800s.  In addition to my efforts, I’ve just recently made contact with another researcher who wanted to help, so now there are two of us working on it.  This is a weekly paper and the database includes 96 issues so far.

b) Kinston Free Press Index – newspaper of Kinston, Lenoir County, NC. To date, I’ve covered issues from the late 1800s to early 1900s.  This is a daily paper and so far I’ve done 81 issues.  Right now I’m working in 1905.

c)  Black Nashville History & Genealogy Blog – this started with my interest to index a former black newspaper of Nashville, the Nashville Globe, but I’ve expanded the scope to include other aspects of the history & genealogy of blacks in Nashville.  This is the one I get the less work in on because I have to visit the public library to capture the content.  With the other two, I have purchased microfilm and had the microfilm digitized so I can work on them as I wish.

Here’s to making dreams come true!  When I’m done with my academic studies in May, I am looking forward to really picking these projects back up; adding a few more newspapers to the mix and hopefully recruiting a few other interested researchers in helping with the work.  In the ideal world, I’d love to have a database for the newspapers of each of the counties I coordinate for the NCGenWeb Project (Jones, Martin, & Onslow — I already have Washington covered w/ the Roanoke Beacon).

Fundamentally, as I am a librarian, I believe area public libraries should be spearheading these efforts.  Some are, but so many more could be involved.  Until then, you’ll find me indexing away!

Advent Calendar: December 10 – Christmas Gifts

In this installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, our daily prompt is “Christmas Gifts.”  Today, I’d like to share two pictures of me with some of my Christmas gifts

First, here I am in 1980 when I was 5 years old.  I remember getting this needlework set and I just loved it! I was 5 here and I do believe this was the part of my initial spark for needlework! (see my cross-stitch projects here)

taneya_christmas_1980

Me - December 1980

And, another picture of me in Christmas, 1982 when I was 7.  This was the year I got my Barbie RV too – ooh, how I loved that toy! In this particular picture, I’m holding up my Snoopy pajamas I got.

taneya_christmas1982

Me - December 1982

Then, there was the year my mother dressed up as a gift for a work holiday party.  They were having a contest for the “best gift” and needless to say, my mother won :-)

My mother - December 1996

My mother - December 1996

What I Want From Footnote

I’m in the middle of working on a presentation that I have due tomorrow, but I had to take a break to do this post before I forget about it.

So, today I’m in the car on the way home listening to my first Genealogy Guys Podcast.  A few minutes into it, I learn from them that Footnote has released another virtual wall – this time it’s the USS Arizona Memorial in honor of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  I visited Pearl Harbor in May, so I perked up when I heard about it.  (the fact that I missed this announcement in the first place goes to show “out of it” I’ve been w/ my genealogy news of late).

In any case, I just visited the online, interactive memorial and I have to say I’m a little disappointed.  Why? Because to date, while I think Footnote has a great idea to create the ability to contribute to a Person’s Page, they seem to be creating so many duplicate Person Pages that it detracts from the appeal for me.  Is there a way to get Footnote to “merge” individual Person Pages rather than just “Link” two together?  Footnote now has it so that there are Person Pages for the individual collections of the 1930 census, the Vietnam Memorial, the Arizona Memorial, the Social Security Death Index, plus anyone can create a Person Page.

In my own family tree, there are two pages that exist for my great-grandmother, Josephine Holloway Koonce (page 1 and page 2).  I have added information to both of them because at first I didn’t realize there were two different pages.  I do know that one comes from the 1930 census but I don’t remember how the other was generated.  But, I would love to able to merge these two pages as one instead of having Footnote build up multiple copies of her “page” each time a collection came around that included her in it.  Understandably I recognize that there could be data control issues as people could be merged erroneously, but I’d love to see some approaches to how this could be enabled.  Kinda like how Ancestry does their member trees – a person looking can see a “compilation” record of an individual, as well as still see all the separate trees that include what the system thinks may be the same person.   Footnote could let actual people initiate the merge and possibly combine that with computer algorithms.

The “Link” option just does not take care of this concern for me, and until I’m able to initiate a merge, I doubt I’ll be an active user of Person Page Beta.

Another wish item for Footnote? Instead of just “linking” a relative as a Related page, actually create fields for relationships on that person’s page for parents, siblings, spouses, children etc.  The potential to build up a Footnote Family Tree is there, it just needs to be further developed.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like FootNote a lot! Last year, I found an extremely moving account of someone I’ve been researching in the Missing Air Crew Reports, But, I also have big dreams.  I believe Footnote is dreaming big too in order to even start such a large project.

Okay, back to my work. :-)

Update 12/10 — a Footnote representative responded to my comment on their blog post and explained how you can make a suggestion to merge two individuals.  They do plan to enable such a feature in the future, so submit your suggestions now and they will make sure to address them when they make further progress with the project. Thanks Peter!

Advent Calendar: December 6 – Santa Claus

This is another post for my Advent of Christmas Calendar Memories.  Here on Day 6, the prompt is as follows:  Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

Me & Santa Claus at my father's company Christmas party around 1984.

Me & Santa Claus at my father's company Christmas party around 1984.

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a letter to Santa, but I do remember making lists.  I don’t feel like I have enough to really post about that specifically, so, instead I share this picture – I think it is my only one with Santa.

Advent Calendar: December 1 – The Christmas Tree

I’ve never participated in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories before, so this will be fun for me this year.  I won’t be doing all the days, but I’ll do some as I can.  I am beginning to get in the Christmas spirit as I look at some of my old pictures, so this should be fun!

The theme for today, December 1 is “The Christmas Tree.” We are to discuss our family/ancestors’ Christmas tree.  Well, I honestly have no idea what my ancestors did for Christmas trees – I’ll have to ask my parents about that one, but in my own family, most of the Christmas trees we had were when I was very young.  I believe we had mostly artificial trees too..

Here is a picture of me in December 1977 at our apt in New York; I was two years old at the time.  Can I just say that I LOVED the fact that our walls were pink and the trim blue??

taneya_christmas_newyork_rev
Later in the day, we would go to my paternal grandmother’s house.   Here I am at her house, posing.

taneya_christmas_newyork1_rev1

My mother tells me that I walked in and said, “Hi! Where’s my present?”  Well, at least I said Hi first :-).  And, here is another picture from that day with my grandmother and aunt Ella.  Looks like grandma’s tree was probably an artificial one?

tk_cora_ella_rev

My thoughts on Christmas trees now? I don’t do them; I just don’t have the inclination to put a tree up, decorate it, etc.    I did try one year just for Kaleya, but the cats made it their personal playground, so that was nixed fairly quickly.  Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll come back around.

Home Microfilm Digitization

I know I shouldn’t be shopping for me, but, an opportunity presented itself to me this afternoon and I could not say no.

Background: Last week I emailed a co-worker of mine who has years of photography experience to ask a question. I wanted to know how I could rig a set-up like this.

PhotoMicrofilm

so that I could capture my own digital images of the microfilm of old newspapers I’ve purchased in the past few years.  The picture you see is the setup that a gentleman named Joel Weintraub. Joel shared the details of this setup in the comments section of a blog post by Dick Eastman on the ST-Genie Microfilm Converter.  I’ve been interested in the type of converter Dick posted about for awhile now, but the cost has been greatly prohibitive for me ($1000+).  Over the past few years, I’ve been transcribing old newspaper issues and creating online indices/blogs for them for wider dissemination but b/c of the expense of digitizing them, I only have about 8 rolls total of microfilm.

When I shared this with my coworker, he offered another, cheaper suggestion — try  a gadget that converts slides & 35mm negatives to digital format.  Hmm.. I guess I am working with 35mm microfilm after all? He sent me several different types and I’d planned to do some further research until I could learn more about them.  Well, today, while at Bed, Bath & Beyond of all places, I just happened to see this device from VuPoint Solutions:

VuPoint Converter

VuPoint Converter

The converter offers two resolutions for image capture – 1800dpi and 3600dpi.  At 1800dpi, I can take more than 6400 images and store them on my 4GB SD card.  This resolution works okay from what I can tell, I’m not sure yet if I need to go up to 3600.

As you can see from the picture, it is designed to be used for slides and 35mm negatives, and that tray didn’t look like it would be too easy for microfilm to work well, but I bought it anyway just to experiment.  And, experiment I have. The microfilm is thin enough that it does slide around well in the slide tray.  So far, it seems the biggest problem I have is that the dimension of the image capture area is not quite big enough for each frame of microfilm.  So, I’m having to rotate the image and take two pictures for each frame.  I appreciate having the viewfinder, so I can at least see how it lays out on the screen, but I cannot see the detail of the newspaper issue.

For items in the paper, such as advertisements, I’m pretty much okay with the quality.  Here is an example of an ad from G.S. Waters & Sons of Newbern, Craven County, North Carolina for their buggy business.

waters

The newspaper article text is another story.  The quality I’ve captured so far is not good enough for posting the actual image, but it is good enough for me to read, transcribe and enter into my databases.  Here is an article from the August 3, 1912 issue of the Kinston Free Press about a man named Henry T. King from Greenville that mentions his work to write a history of Pitt county.

king

Yes, the process will probably be tedious, for after capturing the images, I then need to collate the images into newspaper issues, but I rather like working hands on with the images.  If I were to send the roll out for digitization by a commercial entity, it would cost me anywhere from $70-$100 per roll and ultimately, that probably does save me time in the long run.  However, I’m not in this for volume, but rather to enjoy the experience and reading through these old newspapers, so we’ll see how I adjust over time.  This particular converter was $100 and the SD card was $40.

I can’t wait to go to work tomorrow and thank my coworker for providing me with this suggestion!  If you’ve used one of these, I’d love to hear your experience.

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!