Friday, March 29, 2024

Research Quickie - Using Google Gemini to Transcribe a Document

I have been awful about keeping up this blog, but I'm going to try to do better! (Don't I always say that?)

I have been creating short videos that I call, "Research Quickies" for a few years; but, I haven't been good about sharing them publicly - at least not beyond Facebook. I made one today, and it occurred to me that this blog would be a good place to start sharing them, in addition to my (rarely used) personal YouTube page. 

Those of us doing traditional genealogy research spend hours and hours pouring over old records written in 19th century and earlier handwriting. We know that, as good genealogists, we really should transcribe each of these documents before trying to analyze or work them into our research, right? But, taking the time and making the effort to actually do that is truly a tedious undertaking, one that's hard on our eyes and exhausts our brains! What if we could find a magical way to get these transcriptions done for us? Well, that's exactly what I was thinking this morning, when I realized that I might have just the tool right at my fingertips! I've recently been playing around with Google's "Gemini" tool, mostly using it to come up with wording and summaries for a few different text projects; but, what if Gemini could actually transcribe a document for me? I decided to give it a try - and here's what I found out!

I've randomly tried to do this with a couple of other AI platforms, but I didn't make a recording and I don't recall enough of the details to make a comparison in this post. Perhaps I'll come back and do that another time. (I do recall first doing this with the free version of ChatGPT, and getting much better results.)

Are you using AI to transcribe documents? If so, I invite you to share your experiences and recommendations in the comment section. 


Permalink for this post: https://genea-related.blogspot.com/2024/03/research-quickie-using-google-gemini-to.html

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Updates to (Mostly) African American Funeral Programs Database

Wow! Has it really been almost TWO YEARS since I've posted here? I have GOT to do better. (And, I will!)

This is just a quick post to announce updates to my "Mostly African American Funeral Programs"database. As a reminder, if you see programs that interest you or that are connected to your family, simply email me at yarsan@aol.com and I will either scan and email the full program to you, or, if I have more than one copy, I'll mail you an original!

Today's additions to the database include a few of my grandmother's programs, from the 1960s, and a set of my own fellow Aberdeeners (the section of Hampton I grew up in), which were collected by the late Lin Batchelor, a neighborhood icon who left us in 2016. He collected the programs and kept them in his barbershop. After his death, they were loaned to me by our mutual friend, Shelton Tucker, to upload to my database. I added a few, today, and will get the rest input during my next sitting.

Surnames added today (with year of death) are as follows: 

Armstead (2004)

Batchelor (2016)

Blount (1964)

Challenger (2014)

Debnam (1965)

Dent (1965)

Harper (2009)

Jones (1963)

Jones (2014)

Peters (1964)

Temple (2014)

Wallace (2015)

To view more info about these, and almost 300 other funeral programs, please visit my database at this link. https://tinyurl.com/y4wfe7ck

Remember, just email me at yarsan@aol.com if you'd like to receive any of actual funeral programs.

Here's a randomly selected sample from today's additions to the database. This is my friend, Robin Jones, who grew up just around the corner from me, in our beloved Aberdeen neighborhood, Granger Court.

Thanks for reading.


Permalink to this post: https://genea-related.blogspot.com/2020/09/updates-to-mostly-african-american.html

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Hermitage - A Presidential Plantation Doing the Right Thing!

One of the talks I give is entitled, "Researching Formerly-Enslaved Ancestors - It Takes a Village!" The entire focus of the presentation is to share the different types of documentation, in existence, of the lives of the formerly-enslaved, and to encourage descendants of slave/property owners to become actively engaged and involved in sharing information, that may be in their possession and/or research notes, which would help to illuminate the lives and circumstances of once-owned human 


Today, while doing a search for something else, I ran across this site for Andrew Jackson's Hermitage Plantation, in  Nashville, Tennessee.  While perusing the site, it occurred to me (almost instantly) that THIS is a great example of the work that can be done to research, and then SHARE and EXPOSE the names and lives of our formerly-enslaved ancestors. The staff of this presidential property has taken the time to SAY THE NAMES and share the stories of many of the property's enslaved individuals. Here's just one example:


Not only are the names of the formerly-enslaved given on the site, but also there is a page showing the occupations and family groups of the people who lived and worked at the Hermitage! Yes, I said family groups!!!!  (Click the link.)

The Hermitage property still has three slave cabins standing, one of which was the cabin of Alfred Jackson, a formerly-enslaved man who continued to live there until his death in 1901. 

Visitors Inside Aflred's Cabin, a Slave Site at The Hermitage
Photo from The Hermitage web site:

There is so much on this informative web site, I can't even begin to tell it all, especially since I stopped, shortly after finding it, to write this post! Not only have the stories of these formerly-enslaved people been brought to the light, but the staff at Hermitage have also created a digital archive to allow us to further examine the types of over 800,000 artifacts they've found, and to share the stories they tell. Wow! /Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery

I believe that, though this is a large scale entity, and of public interest, it is a prime example of what I mean when I say, "It takes a village"! Kudos to the staff at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, and to any and all researchers, archaeologists, historians, and anyone else who had a hand in putting this site together. I wish I'd known about this when I visited Nashville, a few years ago, but I didn't. I will definitely put this on my list of places to visit, if I'm ever in that area, again!


- The source of all information in this post is from the web site: Andrew Jackson's Hermitage: Home of the People's President https://thehermitage.com/ specifically from the section entitled, "Understanding the Other Families at The Hermitage. https://thehermitage.com/learn/mansion-grounds/slavery/
- The presentation, "Researching Formerly-Enslaved Ancestors - It Takes a Village" was created and is given by genealogist, Renate Yarborough Sanders, and may be scheduled by contacting me at yarsan@aol.com.

Permalink: https://genea-related.blogspot.com/2017/11/one-of-talks-i-give-is-entitled.html

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The One Hundred Days Draft - Slave Names and Owners

A few days ago, I posted an article on Facebook that's gotten as much attention and commentary as anything I've ever shared. I ran across the article on www.newspapers.com during a search for the name of an enslaved ancestor of one of my gen-friends. My search terms were "Curtis slave Raleigh". Instead of finding anything about the enslaved individual for whom I was searching, I came upon this article.

Clipping A (Click to view.)
Found on Newspapers.com As I read this article, I just couldn't believe my eyes! Here were the names of 63 enslaved men, with their owners' names given! And, not only that, but these men were being drafted into service (presumably) for the Union Army! Wow! I'd never seen anything like this. I was so excited, I just HAD to share this document with my Facebook friends; and so I did!

I posted the article on my page, and in several relevant groups, and, as I mentioned, above, it garnered much attention in the genealogy community. Lots of questions were asked, but I didn't have the answers to any of them, nor did I have the time to research it as I was preparing for an upcoming presentation. However, now that said presentation is in the past, I've taken some time, today, to try to gain more insight about, and context for, this article. Here's what I've learned in the short amount of time I've had to dedicate to this:

1. On Monday, May 16, 1864, it was announced that the Governor of Maryland had made a Proclamation calling for two or three regiments to be raised to relieve troops serving within the state, so that those men could go to aide in the war effort in Richmond, Virginia. These volunteers would not be sent outside of the state of Maryland, without giving their own consent. The period of service would be for 100 days. 

Clipping B:

Source: Newspapers.com - The Baltimore Sun, 16 May, 1864, Mon, Page 2

In the days that followed, the papers were filled with ads soliciting recruits to fulfill the 100 days of service to the Union.

Clipping C: (Click to view.)
                                                                       Found on Newspapers.com

2. In the final sentence of Clipping B, it's stated that if enough men didn't voluntarily enroll within 10 days, a draft would be implemented. The date on the article I first shared on Facebook (above) was May 31, however, before I found the Proclamation, I'd already been thinking, "If I found one article listing enrollees, there are probably more!", and I was right. I found several more articles like the one I'd posted. Here's the earliest one I found, which was published on May 25, 1864. 

Clipping D: (Click to view.)

                                                                  Found on Newspapers.com

But, what's confusing, to this researcher is the statement in this article (below), published on the same day and in the same paper as Clipping C, which says that the names of the "colored" persons enrolled had to be removed from the draft lists, because those men were not eligible for militia service. If those names were so removed, then, presumably neither the free men of color, nor those enslaved men whose names are listed in these articles ever mustered into service.

Clipping E: (Click to view.)

<Found on Newspapers.com;

3. Still, even as late as May 30th, men of color were still being enrolled in the draft for the 100 days of service. (See Clipping D.) It would seem that they'd stop enrolling them, if they were going to follow provisions of the militia law of Maryland (as stated in Clipping E), but nothing seems to have changed.

Clipping F: (Click to view.)

                                                                                                       Found on Newspapers.com

                                                                       Clipping G: (Click to view.)                                                                                                                 Found on Newspapers.com
4. What I did find, on this same date, was a list of "Exemptions" to the draft, which would take place on June 6, 1864. This article states that it has been determined that the only reason for exemption would be "actual physical disability" and, although it does say that enrollment made by the 1862 militia would be used, there is no mention of exempting people of color, and there is no such category on the exemption list, shown. As a matter of fact, there are people of color named as exempt, but in each case it is for one of the acceptable reasons, not because of their race. 

Clipping H: (Click to view.)

                                                                                                                Found on Newspapers.com

5. As I moved toward concluding this post, it occurred to me that I had not looked up the 1862 Militia List, which had been repeatedly referred to as being used as the basis for accepting enrollees to this 1864 100 Day Draft. So, I finally Googled it, and guess what I found? My results pointed me to the Militia ACT of 1862, and here is what it states in Section 12 of the Provisions for this Act:

SEC. 12. And be it further enacted, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to receive into the service of the United States, for the purpose of constructing intrenchments, or performing camp service or any other labor, or any military or naval service for which they may be found competent, persons of African descent, and such persons shall be enrolled and organized under such regulations, not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws, as the President may prescribe.

So, there you have it. Once it was determined that the lists of enrollees from 1862 would be used, the Maryland Militia Provisions became mute. No names would be deleted from the lists of enrollee, based on race, alone. None. Nada. Nil.

No matter what, the information in these articles is genealogically rich, and filled with promise for researchers who may descend from any of the enslaved, enslavers, or free people of color names therein. I pray that this work will be a blessing to someone.



Permalink to this post: https://genea-related.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-one-hundred-days-draft-slave-names.html

Any reference to this work is to be accredited to Renate Yarborough Sanders, Genealogist. Reposts are permitted with written permission of the author.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The American Antiquarian Society - A Great Find!

This post was originally dated July 15, 2016, but I am just seeing it in my drafts folder, so apparently, I never hit "Publish"!  Ooops!!

Hellllooooo! I haven't posted here in a long while, but I want to share info about this web site I ran across, quite by accident, as widely as possible!  I originally posted this on Facebook, but because I think I have some (a few) followers, here, who aren't connected to me on social media, I want to cover this "base", also.  So here's what was posted:

As a result doing a search for a friend, today, I ran across this absolutely AWESOME site that I never knew existed. Since I've "been around" for a while, and have never heard of the "American Antiquarian Society" or its AWESOME, RICH website! If you're seeking information 1876 or before,this site is a GOLDMINE of information! It's like its own Archives! Here's the description from the site.
"Founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas, the American Antiquarian Society is both a learned society and a major independent research library. The AAS library today houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, music, and graphic arts material printed through 1876 in what is now the United States, as well as manuscripts and a substantial collection of secondary texts, bibliographies, and digital resources and reference works related to all aspects of American history and culture before the twentieth century. AAS was presented with the 2013 National Humanities Medal by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House."
Fellow researchers, you'll want to check this out! (And, if I'm "late" and everyone else already knows about this one.... sorry!)

This site is pretty awesome (as I said above). I everyone to take a look!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over 2016!) - Reblog

I know I need to do a better job of keeping this blog up, and that is going to be one of my goals for 2016. When I created it, the purpose was to share information that would be of interest to genealogists, but which was not directly connected to my personal research. It didn't seem that there was a lot of interest in what I was posting, so I sort of "fell off the wagon" with this effort. However, I have never forgotten Genea-Related! Many times I have things that I want to post (but don't), or I read fabulous and informative posts by others, which I want to re-blog (but don't). Well, today is the last day for my lack of action!  Thanks to my gen-friend (and genealogist extraordinaire), Thomas MacEntee, I have something that I just can't resist reblogging!

If you've been at this genealogy thing for a long time, or perhaps even if you've just recently started, it's likely that you've made some organizational errors. If so, you'll want to check out Thomas' 2016 Genealogy Do-Over! Please read below to learn more about this amazing opportunity. I'm going to give it a try; won't you join me?

The following is re-blogged from Thomas MacEntee at http://www.geneabloggers.com/.

The Genealogy Do-Over: 2016 Topics

The Genealogy Do-Over switches to a monthly format for topics in 2016 - here is the lineup. Are you ready to jump start your genealogy?

The Genealogy Do-Over 2016 Topics

The Genealogy Do-Over started in January 2015 as a weekly program lasting 13-weeks. There have been four cycles of the Do-Over and the feedback from participants has been important to the Genealogy Do-Over program.
Based on input at The Genealogy Do-Over Facebook group, we will be switching to a monthly format for topics. I’ve taken the 13-week program and have rearranged some of the groups for better workflow and to shorten the program to 12 parts.
The Genealogy Do-Over will start on Friday, 1 January 2016 with Month 1, and the topics will be Setting Previous Research Aside and Preparing to Research. Here is the complete list of monthly topics:

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 1

  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 2

  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines
  • Setting Research Goals

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 3

  • Conducting Self Interview
  • Conducting Family Interviews

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 4

  • Tracking Research
  • Conducting Research

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 5

  • Citing Sources
  • Building a Research Toolbox

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 6

  • Evaluating Evidence
  • Reviewing Online Education Options

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 7

  • Reviewing Genealogy Database Software
  • Digitizing Photos and Documents

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 8

  • Conducting Collateral Research
  • Reviewing Offline Education Options

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 9

  • Conducting Cluster Research
  • Organizing Research Materials – Documents and Photos

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 10

  • Reviewing DNA Testing Options
  • Organizing Research Materials – Digital

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 11

  • Reviewing Social Media Options
  • Building a Research Network
  • Reviewing Research Travel Options

Genealogy Do-Over – Month 12

  • Sharing research
  • Securing research data

The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook

Here is a listing of chapters for The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook slated for publication on Monday 28 December 2015. The book will be available in print and e-book format.
  • Introduction
  • The Golden Rules of Genealogy
  • The Genealogy Do-Over 2016 Monthly Topics
  • A Genealogy Go-Over Instead of a Do-Over
  • The Genealogy Do-Over for Genealogy Societies
  • Resources
  • Tools and Templates
  • Appendix
Pre-sale orders of The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook will be available on Amazon starting Monday, 14 December 2015.
©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.
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About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

About Ben Affleck - You Tell 'im, Mr. Twitty!

I must share this!
In an open letter to actor, Ben Affleck, culinary blogger Michael W Twitty, on his blog, Afroculinaria  perfectly expresses the feelings that I, and so many others in the genealogy community have experienced since learning of the decision by PBS and Dr. Henry Louis Gates to honor the actor's request to disclude information from the show, "Finding Your Roots" about Affleck's slave-owning ancestors. Twitty lays it all out, in no uncertain terms, why Affleck's move was so shamefully wrong, and how it is precisely the type of thing that contributes to our nation's struggle in healing from this horrible part of its past.

Like the letter-writer, I am a descendant of former slaves, slave owners, and even a "Negro Trader". I also descend from free people of color and Native Americans. I've been researchimg my family for 18 years, and I won't stop until all of my "brick walls" come tumbling down. I just hope that the descendants of my slave-holding ancestors won't be too embarrassed (like Ben) to come forward and with whatever information they may have about them.

Here's the link to the full article, which you can also read, below.


Kudos, and thank you, Mr. Twitty.


Dear Ben,
Its unfortunate because of a massive internet hack we are in this particular place discussing your ancestral past. It’s horrible that your private matters were exposed because of something beyond your control. That’s untenable in any situation, but we need to address something right quick…this slavery thing.  You were embarassed, and that’s reasonable given the situation and the circumstances that produced it. But Ben Affleck, take it from a Black guy; with a platform like yours, don’t you dare be embarrassed to come from an ancestor who held enslaved people. Because….We need to know.
I don’t think many Black people really understand the profound guilt, shame or embarassment some white descendants of slave holding families feel. It’s not just that many assume personal responsibility for the past or that they grasp that their privilege or power is not just based on perceptions based on skin color.  Clearly these things become suddenly very real. It’s the feeling of inheritance from slavery that immediately engenders the internal deflation of the American dream.  It’s a retroactive forfeit of meritocracy, a moment when you realize your positioning in the now is surrounded by shadows from then
Recently, I caught flack from a younger African American man on YouTube after they posted my interview on culinary justice with Vice Munchies editor,  Helen Hollyman. He said that my message of Southern people being “family” was an old, kumbayah feel good trick to ease white guilt and win favor. “Nothing makes white people feel better…” he said. I looked at his picture icon, his phenotype clearly showed European ancestry. I felt a sincere pain in my gut, both an aching ego and a deep concern for his. He didn’t get it; if he ever plans on finding his past, he will have to go through the same valley–not around it. 
To put it another way: if you don’t own your slaveholder ancestor and I don’t own my enslaved ancestors past and the slaveholders who are a part of my bloodline–we will never know the real America and we will never know or understand ourselves. Even the most Afrocentric among us cannot find our “Kunta Kinte” if we don’t know who enslaved them. We have to share our histories, our knowledge, our experiences if we want to understand where we come from. 
I don’t know about your family, but this I promise you–in the South, ancestor worship is a mainstay of many, especially white Southern families of influence and renown. As more and more African Americans get interested in genealogy, because so many of us want to know who we come from, how we got here and how far we’ve come, the dialogue across the color line is especially critical. Many formerly slaveholding families have papers and details vital to the process of climbing African American family trees. We need formerly slaveholding families to come to the fore, not hide. 
I don't do this work because I want to live like a slave. I do it because I don't want anyone to forget. Especially me.
Slavery, wherever it was, made something permanent–for good or ill-it created an alternative history of bondage, blood and bone that is inescapable. This is a fact that makes your embarassment–and those of others in your shoes–so much less helpful than owning your past. When you and others like you own it, and you share what you know–we “meet” our ancestors again. They lose their anonymity and come alive. They are healed and we are healed because we can reveal their humanity, bring them out of American amnesia, and with hope, give them honor for all they gave to all of us.  The vast majority of Black roots-seekers are overwhelmingly grateful when white members of these families share what they know. That’s not always the case–some people, in the age of digital, social-media genealogy refuse to talk to possible descendants of their family’s enslaved workforce. Others are even more disturbed at the idea they share genes and names with people of color. It’s unhelpful to us all–the way we all hide, obfuscate, disown, forget, avoid….we don’t heal, we don’t learn and we don’t move forward.
“We’re all family,” is not a cop out, nor
is it an absolution.  It is a necessary and revolutionary change from our past approach to confronting one of America ‘s original sins. It is clear to me that this is not about our feelings, our hangups, our hurts, our embarassments or our causes. It is about what we want to model for the present and the future.
I want to tell you about a young man named Keith. He was my student a decade ago. One class we discussed issues of race and culture, and I was the only person of color in the room. My students began spouting narratives about how they learned from parents or teachers at school that Blacks “didn’t want to uplift themselves like our (ethnic white) ancestors did” or that Black people “wanted to live in the ghetto or bad parts of town.” I immediately tried to quell the bs but some of my students turned defensive and even disrespectful.
Keith had enough. “Shut up, you’re disrespecting Mr. Twitty and you don’t get it.” Another student retorted, “And you do???” Keith said without flinching, “My family owned slaves, a lot of slaves, and you don’t know what that did to Black people in this country.” Keith’s paternal roots went back to a number of large rice plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry.  
He and his family knew about my interests in the stories of the enslaved and our contribution to American food history. They let me borrow old family books and I learned more of their story. Ten years later, as I make preparations to go to those homeland of my sixth great grandmother–a woman brought from the rice growing land of Sierra Leone to the port of Charleston and her surrounding rice fields, I can think of no one I’d rather to have with me than my former student so he can see a part of my history that inextricably is his as well.
I admire your values and your talents, and hey, the Voyage of the Mimi, was a huge part of my growing up let me tell you…but know this, tell the story of that ancestor, and tell it often, because somebody out there, needs you to.
With respect,
Michael W. Twitty
Descendant of the enslaved and some of their enslavers.