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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!

Happy Birthday Grandma

Yesterday, October 16th,  was my daughter’s birthday. She turned 4! She was born on my maternal grandmother’s birthday and she has the middle name of Kalonji’s paternal grandmother.

My mother told me she went to the nursing home yesterday to help grandma celebrate her birthday. She turned 84 yesterday.  Happy Birthday grandma!

So, as a tribute to grandma (albeit a day late), let me post a poem that she loved. My mother went to the nursing home a couple of years ago and while there recited the first line and grandma recited a few more lines after.  It freaked my mother out b/c this after Grandma’s Alzheimer’s set in.

It Couldn’t Be Done by Edward Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.

Approaching Deadline

Contributions for the Heritage of Edgecombe County book are due October 15th! I have two submissions I will be making, that I started and wrote back in July.  I have ancestors from Edgecombe County and I certainly want them represented. 

However, I have to finalize my entries – such as print out photos, list my sources, and format appropriately. My target day to do this is by Sunday so that I can mail in by Monday. 

I am very excited to have this opportunity! Pieces of my family history printed and available on library bookshelves!

Academic Genealogy

Genealogy isn’t just for biological relationships. It can also manifest itself in academic relationships as well.

This past May, I took a research ethics course.  During the last week, the professor had a brief discussion on Academic Pedigrees. Of course, this piqued my interest! In class, we discussed the historical context of academic mentorship and how there is strong filial imagery throughout the concepts of mentorship.  Consider this: 

  • the German word for dissertation supervisor is “Doktorvater” which means “doctor father.”
  • there is part of the hippocratic oath that the one taking the oath will “hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents”

An academic pedigree reflects the historical tree of those that have trained you, trained them, etc. It is like a family tree of where you come from academically.  There is even a Wikipedia entry for the term academic genealogy, which gives a little more insight.  There are specific discipline genealogies that have been created too.

As I reflected on this on my own professional life I found some interesting history.  I’m a medical librarian at a major teaching academic medical center and at the core of what we do is the provision of medical literature and how it can best be used to support patient care.  At our library, we have a non-traditional approach to how we provide literature to clinical and research teams – we do fairly extensive analyses and summarizations of the various viewpoints that appear in the literature when we respond to complex questions.  This program has come about as a result of my mentor’s experience in medicine and informatics. 

My mentor, early in her career, worked with Dr. Jack D. Myers (1913-1998) [1], Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh from 1950-1970.  One of her mentors, he was regarded as a top-notch internist with superb diagnositc skills.   He translated his strengths into computers and developed software to aid physicians in diagnosing patients.  Part of the process to create this tool involved a team of physicians not only writing the programming to support the system, but also culling information from the medical literature to create the backend infrastructure.  He viewed the medical literature as a required component to clinical practice.  As did his mentor, Dr. Soma Weiss. 

Dr. Soma Weiss (1899-1942) emigrated to the United States in 1920 from Hungary, the son of an appartently well-known architect and engineer in that country.  When he got to the states,  Soma continued to develop his career and quickly was recognized as an excellent physician and teacher.  He died young, at the age of 43, after diagnosing himself with a subarachnoid hemmorhage.  At various stages in his career, he interned at the well-known Bellevue Hospital in New York,  did research at Boston City Hospital, was a faculty member of Harvard’s Department of Medicine and in 1939, appointed Physician-in-Chief at Brigham Hospital in Boston (now part of Brigham & Women’s Hospital).  Dr. Myers was one of  Dr. Weiss’ residents at Brigham Hospital when he began that appointment.  

Dr. Weiss’ medical knowledge has been reported as “enormous” and he’d established an international reputation by the time he was 40 as “a physician, a clinical investigator, but especially a master teacher” according to Dr. William Hollingsworth. [2]  As I read about Dr. Weiss, I was particularly struck by an account of how extensively he was familiar with the medical literature.  In a eulogy about him, Eugene DuBois commented

He knew the literature so thoroughly that it was almost overwhelming.  Once a patient was encountered with a rare disorder of the circulation, and in the history it was noted that about ten years previously he had been admitted to a hospital in Edinburgh.  Soma knew that if he had been there at that particular time with that particular disease, he must have been seen by a certain clinician who had written on the subject.  Soma  hurried to the library, put his hand on the right volume, and found a detailed study of his patient. [2]


Knowing the literature can certainly go a long way. Thus, what we do as medical librarians is extremely important.

Work aside, the genealogist in me can’t end without including some genealogy tidbit.  Soma (i love the name!) arrived in the United States in September 1920 according to the Hollingsworth book.  A quick Ancestry search later and I’d located his New York Passenger List record.   The then twenty-one year old departed Trieste, Italy and arrived in New York on September 7, 1920 on the Presidente Wilson.  He listed his occupation as Medical Student and his father, Ignaz Weiss, is listed as nearest relative. 

I rapidly found more information about Soma, and started my own genealogy file for him.  I have more information to share on my academic genealogy as I look at those who influenced him, but that will have to be on another day.  In doing this reading over the weekend, I have learned so much about the social network of the people I work with, for there are so many other ties to explore.  The father of my mentor’s boss trained under Dr. Weiss as well.  🙂

All of this intrigues me  — the branches of my academic tree are just as fascinating as the branches of my biological tree. It really helps add context to my work environment to learn and understand some of this history.  

[1] Burkhart, Ford. “Dr. Jack Myers, 84, a Pioneer In Computer-Aided Diagnoses.” New York Times 22 Feb. 1998. 29 Sept. 2008 <>.

[2] Hollingsworth, William. Taking Care: The Legacy of Soma Weiss, Eugene Stead, and Paul Beeson. San Diego, Calif: Medical Education and Research Foundation, 1994.

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, 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!

U Can Skype Me

I finally added the Skype button to my blog.  U can now Skype me if i’m online! Whippee!

Now, I don’t suspect it will get much use.  A couple of months ago I experimented with Meebo and I would get incoming messages almost every day. Maybe this is one way that I can establish better contact with blog visitors.  I see from search queries how people land on my blogs, so maybe if they know they can just click a button to get me it would be of help? We will see.

The button is over on the right side of the screen.

Flooded Cemetery

Earlier today while reading a colleague’s blog, I came across a link to pictures showing some of the devastation from Hurricane Ike.  I was moved by many of the pictures, especially these of a cemetery.

I’m not sure if both pictures are from the same cemetery, but the second picture is from the Hollywood Community Cemetery in Orange, Texas.   I looked to see if there were any online transcriptions.  At FindAGrave, there are about 20 names listed.    The USGenWeb page for Orange County has a listing up and I learned that it is an African-American cemetery. does not have any.

I truly hope there are members of the community that may have time in the future to help restore the cemetery. I am sure they have a lot of cleanup to do for those that live in the community and my thoughts are with them.

My New Genealogy Membership

Back during the genealogy games I joined the genealogy society for my area, the Middle Tennesse Genealogical Society.  This week, I received my new member packet with a welcome letter an issue of their journal, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy & History.  This society covers almost 40 counties in the middle tennesse region. 

In the issue of the journal I received (Volume 22, Number 1, Summer 2008) there are several articles.  These include:

  • a biography of Dr. Charles Frost Pickering, D.D.S.  Looks like Dr. Pickering graduated from my employer, Vanderbilt University in 1915.  He was associated with Vanderbilt Medical Center!
  • accounts as published in the July 7, 1860 issue of the People’s Paper, a newspaper of Manchester County, Tennessee
  • transcriptions of letters of Walter and Fanny Keeble written during his service from 1861 to 1863.  Hmmm…Keeble is a name that is part of Blount County, TN where I coordinate the USGenWeb/TnGenWeb site. I wonder if there is a connection?
  • a biographical sketch of John Bartleson, a soldier in the Mexican-American War. 
  • abstracts from the Southern Claims Commission for some individuals from Davidson County that were deemed loyalists and received payment.  Footnote has some SCC files online, but the ones in the journal in this issue come from rolls that have not yet been filmed. 
  • An article about TN Delayed Birth Records prior to 1908. I’m not sure I knew about these, so I’m adding them to my to-do list next time I visit the State Archives. 
  • A petition to the state legislation in 1841 against Thomas Durham of Sumner County.
  • Information on the Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Schedules of the 1880 TN Census — part of the non-population schedules.  Again, something else I am not familiar with.
  • Family bible records of the White-Campbell Family
  • Index to Pardons and Paroles from TN State Prisons, 1904-1925. 
  • A quarterly update from librarians at the TSLA. I did not know there were plans for a new facility in a few years.
Overall, very interesting. I’m glad to have joined! The society offers all the past issues of the newsletter for the past 20 years on CD so I may look into ordering that one day. They also sell an all name index.  As I look through their website again today, I see they have a couple of upcoming workshops.  I hope that I may be able to find time to attend one soon; it looks like they bring in some experienced presenters to help teach.