30 July 2009

Introducing GooBooGenI [Reference Shelf]

I am happy to announce the launch of GooBooGenI (pronounced Goo Boo Genie), the latest incarnation of the Google Books Genealogy Index I started eons ago on my masthead website, Rainy Day Research.

Now moved to its own domain, and using a MUCH friendlier backend system (Joomla!, for those curious), the index finally has some legs to grow on, and will be much much easier for me to maintain, organize and update. In addition, I've utilized the new embed feature from Google Books to embed titles right in their page, so users can do preliminary searches within books to see if titles are appropriate for their own use.

The site is a work in progress. It needs some beautifying, it needs a mite more content moved over from the original site, and it needs some additional features, but it is already a useable site, so I wanted to let researchers know about it.

Let me give you a tour!

Navigating the Site

The navigation options reside on the left-hand side of the site. You can drill down from general to specific categories from the Main Menu, or you can search on a keyword using the search field.

Note that books for localities outside of the United States will be added in the coming weeks.

Once you have arrived at a location-level page (in this case a state in the U.S.), all titles for that locality have been broken up into distinct categories. Each book resides on its own article page, thus the numbers to the right of each category tell you how many books are listed therein:

Note, too, that a breadcrumb trail appears at the top of the screen, so you can always find your way back to where you were!

Once inside of a state's categories, you will see the books listed by title. The year after each title is the date of publication:

The hit numbers tell you how many times each title has been viewed.

Another item to note is the "Display" option. The default number of titles displayed is 20. You can make this number higher or lower, depending on your preference and your internet connection speed.

You can also use the "Title Filter" to search for keywords within the category you are in. Remember that this only searches for your keyword within the titles of the books as listed on the pages here at GooBooGenI. Here's a shot of the category listing all titles, followed by a Title Filter search:

Title filter searches are run across all titles in a category, even if there are more than 20 titles, and the titles run across multiple pages.

You can also use the site's search field, which is present in the left-hand menu at all times (although sometimes fairly far down). (Note that there is currently a 20-character limit for searches.) Again, remember that this search is only being run on the titles of the books on GooBooGenI, not within the books themselves. The following screenshot shows a search being run, and the subsequent search results page:

Each title relevant to the search is listed, along with the category in which that title resides, and the date it was added to the database.

The Books

As mentioned above, I have taken advantage of the embed feature from Google Books to embed a searchable, browsable version of each book on its own page. Here's a screenshot of a Jones family genealogy:

Each page shows the title of the book, includes a rating option (more on this below), and the embed itself. As noted by the red arrow, the embed has some navigational features (albeit rudimentary ones), which allow you to increase or decrease the zoom, and flip backwards and forwards in the book. For titles on which it is available, a "Contents" button will appear to the left of the search field, which allows you to browse the table of contents for the book.

The real power of the embed, however, lies in its search functionality. Here's a search on the term "Wales" being run on the Jones genealogy we selected above:

Note that the search function tells you how many results were found within the book, allows you to page through the results, and shows the results in context on the page! This should prove a handy tool for genealogists looking for titles worthy of closer inspection.

In the Future

I hope that this brief overview of the new Google Books Genealogy Index proves to you that it has the potential to be alot more useful than its static HTML predecessor:

I am working on adding international titles, as well as updating each category.

I am researching ways in which I can allow submissions of titles not currently found in the index; enabling registered accounts to create personal libraries; adding comment capabilities to each book page to allow for discussions of each books' merits or drawbacks; and the ability for trusted registered users to add books to the index on their own! I'm hoping that in concert with the rating option currently available on each book's page, we will be able to begin some online conversations about the reliability and veracity of different titles.

As you can see, there is a lot to do, and many ways in which GooBooGeni can become even more useful to the genealogy community. If you have any comments at all about the site, good or bad, I would love to hear them. The index is only as useful as it is used, so I want this to be a resource that works for the most people possible. Please leave me a comment or find me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/JenniferJRegan) to let me know what you think.

29 July 2009

Where Y'At? [Personal]

Well, it's been MIGHTY quiet around RDGR lately, as I've been working on two big projects of late. The first will have its own announcement this weekend after I polish off a few last details.

The second, I am happy to announce, involves expanding my family tree! I am pregnant with our second child, due in late January. The first trimester was a fabulous whirlwind of nausea, exhaustion and lots of crackers and water. Thankfully, I'm moving past that stage, and am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel!

That means I can resume, for now, work on my other big project and start reposting to my beloved little blog! Thanks to everyone who has stuck around in the meantime!

28 July 2009

Tribune Tuesday: Nationality of Williams

Items of interest from today's edition of The Oakland Tribune, back in 1891.

Nationality of Williams

Italian residents say that John Williams, who was arrested on a charge of indecent actions with little girls, is not one of their nationality. They say that Williams is an Austrian.

From: The Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, 28 July 1891, Page 1, Column 5

21 July 2009

Tribune Tuesday: A Wholesome Habitation

The Lowest Annual Rate of Mortality for Ten Years
The Fatal Diseases-Mortality Among Children Younger Than One Year of Age

Paul Schafer, Secretary of the Board of Health, is working hard on his annual report. It is a compilation of interesting statistics of the history of Oakland.

The total number of deaths for the year was 762, as compared with 806 in the preceding year; 431 of those who died were male persons and 331 were female. The largest percentage of deaths was among children under the age of 1 year of age, the total being 163. More deaths occurred in the First ward than in any other ward, the number accredited to that district being 177. The Fifth ward had the lowest number, the total being only 54.

The principal causes of death were as follows: Pneumonia, 65; Heart Disease, 56; Diphtheria, 16; Influenza, 15; Whooping Cough, 10; Cholera Infantum, 13; Cancer, 32.

There were 43 violent deaths, and of these, 10 were suicide and 10 from railroad disasters. Under the heading of homicide are 2 deaths. The greatest number of deaths occurred in the month of March, there being 80, and the least number (39) in the month of September.

The annual death rate figures 12.88 per 1000, the lowest in the past ten years.

There were 112 deaths from zymotic diseases.

There were 787 births, 304 being male, and 393 being female children. But it is a well known fact that many births occur and are never reported by physicians or midwives.

From: The Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, 21 July 1891, Page 1, Column

14 July 2009

Tribune Tuesday: Jenkins Knocked Out

Items of interest from today's edition of The Oakland Tribune, back in 1891.


Last week a farmer named Jenkins, residing near Fruit Vale, hired a man to work for him who soon developed a great fondness for articles about the house that did not belong to him. So frequent became the thefts that Jenkins was compelled to discharge the man, who took his revenge by waylaying his former boss and badly beating him. Jenkins received some severe bruises from the man's fists and has been kept at home for several days in consequence.

From The Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, 14 July 1891, Page 1, Column 3

07 July 2009

Tribune Tuesday: The Fourth at Orinda

Items of interest from today's edition of The Oakland Tribune, back in 1891.

The Fourth at Orinda

A merry celebration of the Fourth of July was held at Orinda Park. Many visitors were present and gathered under the shade of an old oak tree. A string band discoursed patriotic music, and refreshments were heartily enjoyed. The programme of the day was as follows:

Prayer, Rev. Mr. Townsend.

Reading Declaration of Independence, Mrs. Collins.

Song, "Star Spangled Banner"

Recitation, Miss Julia de Laveaga

Song, "Red White and Blue"

Recitation, Miss Hill

Recitation, little Georgie Sandow, costumed as Uncle Sam

Recitation, Miss Josie Minto, dressed as the Goddess of Liberty

Recitation, Master Vincent de Laveaga

Oration, Thomas Garrity, Esq.

Song, "America"

Races and other amusements for old and young wiled away the afternoon hours and in the evening a fine display of fireworks was made. General Wagner officiated as master of ceremonies.

From: The Oakland Daily Evening Tribune,
07 July 1891, Page 6, Column 3