Recent Posts

21 February 2018

Passing the Baton

genealogy, California Genealogical Society
 by Shannon Reese & Jennifer Dix

We want to let you know about a few changes coming up at The California Genealogical Society (CGS). Shannon Reese is stepping down as Blog Editor, after almost 2.5 years of heralding our society's story.  He will continue to focus on bringing relevant stories on genealogy and history to our Facebook and Twitter channels.

Shannon Reese, genealogy, Adolph Sutro
Shannon having fun with Adolph Sutro,
San Francisco History Days
Shannon joined CGS in January 2011 and has held many volunteer positions, from the research committee to chair of the previous PubMark (Publications & Marketing) committee.  He was also on the Board of Directors for many years. 

He’s been poking around in his family tree since 1996 and has learned countless stories about his diverse ancestors. Shannon’s also a firm believer in the power of DNA genealogy research. His mysterious Virginia ancestor, Sally Reese, has recently been accepted by the Leftwich family after years of trying to prove a connection.

Shannon is redirecting most of his energy towards new ventures at Chartwell Content, a marketing and writing firm, but plans to be a blog contributor from time to time as well.  We thank him for his service!
Jennifer Dix, genealogy
Jennifer Dix,
 New Blog Editor

Our new blog editor, Jennifer Dix, has lived in the Bay Area since 2000, and became a member of CGS several years ago. 

She worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years before turning her focus to genealogy. Her own ancestry includes early New England settlers and Mormon pioneers (among others), but her interests are wide-ranging. 

She enjoys exploring California’s incredibly rich history and looks forward to learning and sharing more with you all.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

19 February 2018

Capital Campaign Successful

The 2016-18 capital campaign is now officially over as of February 18, 2018 – the actual date of the Society’s 120th anniversary. As chair of the campaign I want to thank everyone who made a donation and helped us raise over $402,000. This money is invested in our Sherman-Haughton Fund and will continue to help augment the society’s financial needs for the next 100 years.

I, and committee members Jane Lindsey and Sandy Fryer, also want to thank everyone who helped us during the campaign. Lois Elling who designed special graphics for the campaign, Shannon Reese who helped with writing and editing blog posts, and Stewart Blandon who promoted the campaign in our eNews. Kathie Jones kept us up to date with monthly financial reports. Linda Okazaki was a tremendously helpful sounding board, and the Board of Directors who reviewed and acted on our ideas.


Chris Pattillo, CGS Capital Campaign Chair

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

31 January 2018

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) 2018!

The California Genealogical Society (CGS) was well represented, 17 members, at this year's Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, otherwise known as #SLIG2018! 

The 17 Genealogists were...

Ron Arons (Instructor), Sheila Benedict, Sandi Benward, Jan Brandt, Kim Cotton, Vanessa Crews, Lisa Gorrell, Stacy Hoover, Laura Lee Karp, Victoria Kolakowski, Linda Okazaki, James Russell, Joanna Shear, Jacqi Stevens, Jeffrey Vaillant, Tina Wikner, and Carolyn Williams

and they took 7 Courses...

Advanced Methodologies, Advanced Land Tools, Early English Records, Repositories and Archives, Great Lakes, Swedish and Finnish Records, and Writing.

We had a blast in Salt Lake!  
Send in your pictures and we will add to the mix! 

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

17 January 2018

Want to Build Your Skills for Successful Family History Research?

Whether you are a beginners or an intermediate genealogist, then you should plan to join genealogy instructor, Pam Brett, for this 4-part series sponsored by the California Genealogical Society! What the course about?  It's designed for family history researchers who want to build a strong foundation of genealogy research skills to avoid wasted time and unreliable family trees.  Who wouldn't want to accomplish that?

Pamela Brett will cover six key family history research skills, including how to:
  • Know which records to look for
  • Find relevant records
  • Document the results of the search
  • Evaluate the sources you use and the records you find
  • Analyze the results of your research
  • Write a well-reasoned statement of your conclusions 
This course will be held at the Oakland FamilySearch Library over four separate, Wednesday evening sessions. These session dates and times are:

March 07, 2018    6:00pm to 8:30pm
March 14, 2018    6:00pm to 8:30pm
March 21, 2018    6:00pm to 8:30pm 
March 28, 2018    6:00pm to 8:30pm

Class details
  • In-class group exercises and optional homework assignments will provide participants to practice skills with a wide variety of genealogical records found in a many different places including online websites.
  • Class handouts will include basic strategies and cautions, as well as useful websites to use in your research.
  • It is strongly recommended that participants plan on attending all four classes as the skills are presented in a sequential pattern.
Registration information
  • This course will be held at the Oakland Family Search Library.
  • Pre-registration is required. Class size is limited so register early. 
  • Register early to confirm your seat. Walk-ins will not be admitted.

About the Instructor

Pam Brett's interest in genealogy started over 40 years ago at the birth of her first child, but it wasn't until 1999 when she began serious pursuit of her family history. Most of her ancestors came to America early and moved often leading to research in 31 states and the District of Columbia.

In this series, she hopes to share skills acquired from many years of beginner's mistakes to help participants to focus their personal goals and to acquire new understanding of the lives of their ancestors. 

Join Pam this March and work on strengthening your genealogy foundation. She hopes to have you in her class!

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

16 January 2018

A Special Evening Event with Noted Genealogy Author, Bill Cole

Join us on Thursday, March 8th, and be a part of a unique celebration between the California Genealogical Society (CGS) and the California Historical Society (CHS)! Our two genealogy and history-focused organizations are hosting a special event at CHS' headquarters to celebrate our shared history and collaborative missions. Access to CHS' genealogical collections viewing and current exhibits, and a special speaker, Bill Cole will be highlights of the evening. You must pre-register for the event. Free for CGS members or only $5 for non-members.

Interested in California history?  You won't want to miss this event!
Bill Cole will talk about a fascinating only-in-California event, the 1864 Bullion Bend Stagecoach Robbery. This amazing Wild West caper occurred during the Civil War’s final year. It was front-page news that captured the country’s attention.

These incredible events unfolded right in our backyard, from San Jose to Sacramento to Placerville. Genealogist Bill Cole, a relative of one of the perpetrators, dug deep into the California State Archives to uncover the full story. The treasure trove of information he found tells an amazing story, where fact is truly stranger than fiction.

About the Speaker
Bill Cole, M.A., is a passionate genealogist who has vigorously pursued his family history since 1980. His genealogy exploits include being the first person to document the English parents of his immigrant 8th great grandfather from the 16th Century. He has uncovered ancestors born at sea, a shipwrecked survivor pardoned from a death sentence who survived Jamestown, two Mayflower ancestors, multiple Revolutionary War patriots on both sides, and  other fascinating characters – including one involved in a California stagecoach robbery.  

Bill is a member of the Mayflower Society and the Vice President of the Sacramento German Genealogical Society. He recently served on the International German Genealogical Partnership’s International Conference Executive Committee.

California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Need directions or suggestions on how to get there? Visit their website.

5:45 pm - Doors open with a reception, CHS' genealogical collections viewing, and access to CHS' current exhibits.

6:45 pm - Bill’s talk begins at “Bullion Bend: Confederate Stagecoach Robbers, Murder Trials, & the California Supreme Court -- Oh, My!”.

8:45 pm - Event ends
Exhibit information
Alexander Hamilton: Treasures from the New-York Historical Society

The extraordinary life and prolific career of Alexander Hamilton (1757–1804) continue to captivate the American public more than two centuries after his death. Drawing from the    collections of the New-York Historical Society and JP Morgan Chase bank, this exhibition presents original artifacts and documents—many never before seen on the West Coast—that illuminate Hamilton's role in shaping the legal, economic, and political systems at the foundation of the modern United States.

Meanwhile out West: Colonizing California, 1769–1821

At least 300,000 indigenous people lived in Alta California, as it was once known, when the Spanish Crown asserted sovereignty over the territory in 1769. In the ensuing five decades, Spain left an enduring imprint on the Native peoples, the landscape and on California's cultural heritage. This exhibition explores the period through manuscripts, books, paintings, and artifacts from the California Historical Society's collections.

Join us on March 8th and help us make this a celebration to remember!

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society