e-Veritas Archive | March, 2016

Former Library Dean Tells Tales from His ‘On-the-Road’ Genealogical Research

By Sarah Block
Library Communications

Professor William Walker’s genealogical work has led him to cemeteries and courthouses, small-town historical societies and public libraries, and the villages and streets where early nineteenth-century settlers lived.

Professor William Walker’s genealogical work has led him to cemeteries and courthouses, small-town historical societies and public libraries, and the villages and streets where early nineteenth-century settlers lived.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 24, 2016) — Questions of ancestry are a known source of debate at family dinners; in some cases those questions still linger beyond the meal. As a table is cleared, chairs pushed in, and everyone heads home, some find that, out of these questions, a new kind of appetite takes form.

UM Professor William Walker, former dean of UM Libraries, can relate to this feeling. He has spent the past seven years engaged in genealogical investigation that began in just such a way.

Walker discussed the challenges and rewards of his work in the March 15 presentation, “Hop into the Jalopy: Tales of ‘On-the-Road’ Genealogical Research.” Using his own work as an example, Walker shed light on the wide variety of resources available in retracing one’s family history. In addition to making use of online information, Walker is a strong advocate for stepping away from the computer and taking to the road.

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, Walker was raised with the belief that many of his ancestors, some who settled in the area, came from England. Their surname was Chick.

“It was a point of pride for my mother,” Walker said. “When I would ask her about our background, she would say ‘Well we’re English, Welsh, some German – [and as if to say ‘in case you missed it’] did I say English?’”  This version of his ancestry, long informing familial traditions and in some ways his own identity, was called into question, however, when a great-aunt brought up one night that the family’s actual name was shortened from “Kovalchick.” “I immediately started to wonder, is this true? Did the Chicks exist? That’s when I started digging.”

As he built the first rungs of his family tree on Ancestry.com, Walker found the answer was yes – he was a Chick, and the Chicks lived for decades in the south of England. That discovery then led to new questions.

“What you want to gain in doing genealogy is a story,” Walker explained in his presentation at the Otto G. Richter library. “You want to understand – beyond names and dates – why they moved and what their lives were like in these new places.” Uncovering this level of detail in his ancestry would ultimately require deeper research across libraries and historical resources far and wide. In the process, he retraced the lives of Jane McCullough and Harriet Bogle, two of his great-great-grandmothers, who settled in regions of Ohio and Pennsylvania during the late 1800s.

Bogle, from his maternal side, lived most of her life in Dubois, PA, a coal-mining and lumber town twenty miles from where Walker grew up. “My mother had no recollection of her; I had never heard of her.” So when he found her obituary in the town’s historical society, he was amazed by the level of detail recounting her life. “Her parents came over from Yorkshire, England, and were weavers. She ran a truck wagon, then a small store, a series of hotels. She continued running her businesses up until the time she died. Remarkably, she had acquired quite a small fortune.”

Walker shared early records he’s found retracing the lives of two great-great grandmothers in “Hop into the Jalopy” at Richter Library.

Walker shared early records he’s found retracing the lives of two great-great grandmothers in “Hop into the Jalopy” at Richter Library.

Some information came in shorter strands, requiring patience as well as persistence. Locating property records in one Ohio courthouse, for instance, meant standing in line for hours behind gas and oil reps in the quest for fracking contracts. That was after walking a cemetery three times before finally coming across the standalone grave of McCullough, his paternal great-great grandmother. “I have no photograph of her, so in a way this was the only memory of her I had. Her name, and these two interlocking hands carved on top of the tombstone.”

Wanting to know more about her life ultimately took him even further across the country. In the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, Utah, he found maps and newsletters from around the time McCullough was alive. He found her 80-acre plot of land in Harrison County, Ohio, that Jane and Robert Walker cleared and farmed. “I really started to gain a sense of connectedness while I was there,” he said.

Walker explained that the Family History Library, which is run by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, is the strongest resource of genealogical records for the United States and abroad. The Church also operates an online ancestry resource known as FamilySearch.com; it along with Ancestry.com, partners with the U.S. National Archives to help preserve and make available documents such as census and naturalization records.

Finding records on the other side of the pond, however, can be challenging, especially in regards to ancestors of Ireland, where records for many areas were lost due to years of civil unrest and the burning of the Public Records Office in 1922. Still, in addition to visiting there, digging through records offices, knocking on doors and talking to people, he’s found the internet resource findmypast.com particularly helpful for international research. “People are finding ways to patch together records in very interesting ways. My favorite is that in Ireland during the 1800s you had to register your dog, and you had to provide more than your name. So these registries for dog tags have become extremely valuable in lieu of census data.”

And yet the path to some answers have, in a sense, been with him all along. It was through DNA testing, which has gained in popularity in recent years, that he learned Harriet Bogle’s husband, Robert Wallace Bogle, died in the Snake River panning for gold.  “DNA testing is very useful for people doing genealogy because not only does it give you a breakdown by percentile of your heritage, it also matches you with relatives.” After getting in touch with a second cousin he’d never met – who knew many details about Harriet – he was then able to fill in a number of gaps about her life.

The data also revealed lineage in Scandinavia, Greece, and Italy, regions to which Walker never considered as his heritage. “This really gives you a different view of who you are.”

For UM students and employees interested in genealogy, the Libraries provide free access to Ancestry Library Edition. There, users can start their own family trees and find a number of other genealogical tools.


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UM Alumna Receives Abess Center’s Environmental Stewardship Award

UM News

Rachel Silverstein

Rachel Silverstein

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 25, 2016)—UM alumna Rachel Silverstein, the executive director of Miami Waterkeeper, received the 2016 Reitmeister-Abess Center Environmental Stewardship Award last Friday for her singularly significant contributions to conserving water resources.

Bestowed by the University of Miami’s Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, the award is named for the late Louis Aaron Reitmeister, the 20th century writer, humanist, and environmentalist whose foundation continues to preserve endangered species and help rid the world’s oceans and waterways of pollution.

Silverstein, who earned her Ph.D. in marine biology and fisheries from the Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science in 2012, joined Miami Waterkeeper in June 2014, after serving as a Knauss Sea Grant Fellow and on the staff of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard in Washington, D.C.

As the head of the nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting Biscayne Bay, its watershed, and its wildlife, Silverstein is part investigator, scientist, educator, and legal advocate, functioning as a public spokesperson for the bay, protecting the public’s right to clean water, monitoring water quality, and bringing water polluters to justice.

As a UM doctoral candidate, she focused her research on the effect of climate change on reef corals, and used genetic methods to answer ecological questions. She also conducted outreach ranging from writing articles about science, including a Letter to the Editor published in the journal Science to mentoring undergraduate, middle, and high school girls on their science fair projects.

Silverstein graduated cum laude from Columbia University in 2006 with a B.S. degree in ecology, evolution and environmental biology. In 2004, she was a summer intern at the San Diego Coastkeeper (then Baykeeper).

Her passion for protecting the environment began early, while growing up along the Southern California coast and playing in the local tide pools. She earned her SCUBA certification at age 14 and has been an avid diver ever since.

Past recipients of the Reitmeister-Abess award include Harvey Ruvin, Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts; Carl Hiaasen, local environmentalist, author, and Miami Herald columnist; Terrence “Rock” Salt, former principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Army, Civil Works; and Jennifer Jurado, director of the Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division.


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UM Awarded Grant to Improve Mental Health

By Barbara Guiterrez
UM News


Daniel Santisteban

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (March 16, 2016)—The Dunspaugh-Dalton Community and Educational Well-Being Research Center (CEW) at the School of Education and Human Development has received a grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida to help several community partners improve their assessment and treatment of underserved clients with mental health issues.

“There is much to improve in the treatment of individuals who are most in need of quality counseling services for mental health and behavioral issues,” said UM Professor Daniel Santisteban, who heads the CEW. “We can and must do better for the most vulnerable in our community. This grant will allow us to work in a collaborative network. By focusing on evidence-based practices and the direct involvement of frontline providers, I believe we will.”

Through the $150,000 grant, the CEW will establish a practice improvement network with Banyan Health Systems, the Institute for Child and Family Health, and Camillus Health Concerns. The goal is to build the capacity of these health care organizations to provide evidence-based services for underserved populations.

The project is important, says Santisteban, because, although many innovative and effective evidence-based treatments in the areas of health promotion, mental health, and drug abuse have been developed through research, these treatments often fail to reach the frontlines of practice—falling short of the desired impact.

Within the network, the partners will work collaboratively to improve the access, quality, and sustainability of services for those who are typically vulnerable and hardest hit by individual, family, and community-level risk factors. The team will then identify, design, and select new evidence-based treatments and fund training opportunities for frontline service providers.

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Sociologist Named AERA Fellow

Special to UM News


Jomills H. Braddock II

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 23, 2016)—Sociology Professor Jomills H. Braddock II, whose research interests include race-ethnic relations and sociology of sports and gender equity, is among the 22 scholars selected as 2016 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellows for their notable and sustained research achievements.

“It’s always a tremendous honor to have any aspect of one’s work acknowledged by professional peers,” said Braddock, the   co-author of the book Sex Segregation in Sports: Why Separate Is Not Equal. “I have always sought to conduct research that makes a difference. I am especially grateful to receive this honor.”

Founded in 1916, AERA is the largest national interdisciplinary research association dedicated to the scientific study of education and learning. The 2016 AREA Fellows were nominated by their peers, selected by the AERA Fellows Committee, and approved by the AERA Council, the association’s elected governing body.

Braddock and his fellow nominees will be inducted on April 9 during the AERA 2016 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We are delighted to honor these 22 scholars for their contributions to education research and for their dedication to the field,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “AERA Fellows exemplify the highest standards of excellence through accomplishment, professionalism, and commitment.”

Other AERA Fellows include professors from Florida State University, Vanderbilt University, University of Notre Dame, Harvard University, and University of California, Berkeley.


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Zika Forum Spotlights the Epidemic

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

John Beier of the Department of Public Health Sciences discusses the importance of effective mosquito-control efforts to help prevent the spread of Zika and other vector-borne diseases.

John Beier of the Department of Public Health Sciences discusses the importance of effective mosquito-control efforts to help prevent the spread of Zika and other vector-borne diseases. Seated are, from left, Jose Szapocznik, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences; Anna Marie Likos, director of the Division of Disease Control and Health Protection for the Florida Department of Health; and Lillian Rivera, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 24, 2016) – Here’s the tally, though by the time you read this, the number will have probably changed: 907.

That is the number of confirmed cases of microcephaly in Brazil. The birth defect, in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and often incomplete brain development, has been linked to an explosion of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus in that country.

The virus, which is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, has dominated the headlines for months. While no local mosquito-borne cases have been reported in the U.S., there have been travel-associated cases. In Florida alone, Zika cases now stand at 72.

And it was that number, as well as other startling statistics, such as how Zika has hit more than three dozen countries and territories in the Americas, that drew more than 300 people to a forum at the University of Miami’s Shalala Student Center on Wednesday that addressed recent developments on the virus.

The four-hour forum, which was presented by the Miller School of Medicine; UHealth – the University of Miami Health System; the Department of Public Health Sciences; the Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, whose founder and director, Kenneth W. Goodman, Ph.D., served as the forum’s facilitator; the Department of Medicine; and the Division of Infectious Diseases, included panel discussions and remarks from several researchers and physicians from UM and elsewhere.

“We’re very concerned about the Zika virus,” said John Beier, professor and director of the Division of Environmental and Public Health in the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences. “It causes microcephaly, but it is also the first sexually transmitted vector-borne disease.”

He called the virus an Aedes problem, referring to the mosquito that spreads it.

Aedes aegypti, which can also transmit dengue fever and the chikungunya virus, is proving to be “a little bit more fierce than we’re used to seeing,” said Esper G. Kallas, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, who delivered the forum’s keynote address.

While females are known to lay their eggs in stagnant freshwater, Aedes aegypti are now showing an ability to multiply in polluted water sources as well, said Kallas. And rising temperatures that are the result of global warming are helping the mosquito to adapt to northern locations, where in the past, the insect would never have been found.

Beier called the Aedes aegypti a challenge for vector biologists to control, noting that the mosquito has even demonstrated an ability to go underground and find suitable habitats during winter.

“We have tools for controlling mosquitoes,” said Beier, who also studies mosquito ecology and behavior in West Africa, “and we have newer methods, but they haven’t been validated yet.”

Florida has some of the world’s most effective mosquito control practices, Beier said. But in developing countries, mosquito infestations can be difficult to control, allowing vector-borne diseases to spread easily. Giving people better access to safe drinking water and improving sewage treatment practices could help, he said.



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