Recent Posts

01 July 2015

Japanese American Discussion Session

The California Genealogical Society will continue to host a series of ethnic discussion groups that are free and open to the public.  

Maruko Okazaki, ca. 1937, Santa Maria, California

On Thursday July 23, 2015 from 6:30-7:30 pmCGS President Linda Okazaki will lead an informal discussion on Nikkei Genealogy. This session is free and open to the public. Please rsvp on Eventbrite. Feel free to come early, bring your dinner and meet other researchers. The library is free for those who arrive after 4pm.

Here's a brief description of the session:

Searching for your Japanese roots can be challenging but not impossible. Getting started is no different than researching any other ethnic group. Begin with yourself and work backwards, collecting birth, marriage and death records. Then venture into census, land and immigration records. For Nikkei, internment camp records and A-files are critical. All of these documents can give you clues needed to get your records in Japan.

In addition to our free discussion session, Linda will repeat the seminar "Finding Your Japanese Roots: In the U.S. and in Japan" at CGS on August 29 from 12:00-3:00 pm. Come learn how to document your unique family history! Registration is already open. This seminar has a $30 fee for non-members, which may be applied to a membership on the day of the class.
            Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society and Library

25 June 2015

Meet the Speaker: Marvin Shepherd


Writing Non-Fiction: An Informal Discussion 

Marvin Shepherd 

Thursday July 16
California Genealogical Society
2201 Broadway, LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Names. Dates. Facts. You’ve done the research, organized the data, and reviewed your sources. Now what? Do you ever wonder how to take all that data and write something your family will want to read? Do you wonder how to combine facts with legends in order to create an interesting article?

Meet CGS member and author, Marvin Shepherd. A retired investigative engineer, Marv is the author of 3 books for engineers and more than two hundred technical articles. During a career that spanned more than fifty years, Marv developed his writing and research skills while investigating accidents.

After his retirement in 2008, Marv started looking into the lives of interesting people and the legends surrounding those personalities. As a boy, he worked in the garden of a Eureka woman where he heard tales about her father, a Danish sea Captain. Marv discovered that the sea Captain “arrived in San Francisco on a whaling ship, just at the time that gold was discovered in 1849. Slightly later, 1850, he located the entrance to Humboldt Bay, California, settled there and became quite wealthy as a bar captain, lumberman, and rancher in Eureka.” Marv put his investigative skills to work and wrote a biography called The Sea Captain’sOdyssey. He published a second non-fiction book in 2014, A Scottish Syndicate in the Redwoods. This tale of fraud in Humboldt County was based on information he discovered while researching the sea Captain.

Marvin Shepherd will lead a casual and informative group discussion about writing non-fiction on Thursday July 16 from 6:30-7:30 pm. He will discuss how to approach the writing of non-fiction books, techniques he used, suggestions for finding facts, and looking at some unusual sources. Of course, there will be plenty of time for Q&A.

This discussion group is free and open to the public. Please RSVP at Eventbrite. The library will be open from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm. Feel free to come early and do some research, or bring a bagged dinner before the discussion and meet other genealogists.

            Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society and Library

10 June 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Jamboree 2015

   SCGS Jamboree 2015


          Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society and Library

05 June 2015

Meet the Speaker: Gena Philibert Ortega


Saturday July 18 1:00-3:00 California Genealogical Society Library 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2 Oakland, California 94612
The California Genealogical Society is pleased to welcome back genealogist, blogger and author, Gena Philibert Ortega. If you haven’t met her yet, you are in for a real treat. On July 18, Gena will present Her Name Wasn't Unknown: Researching Your Female Ancestor's Life. Female ancestors can be more difficult to document using traditional genealogical methodology. Successful research includes a social historical approach. Gena will use case studies to teach you different ways of looking for your female ancestors.

To learn more about Gena and her interest in women’s history, take a peek at one of her two blogs. In Gena’s Genealogy, her tagline is “Where Every Day is Dedicated to Women’s History/Genealogy”. Her other blog, Food. Family. Ephemera.: Revealing the food history behind our family history is equally interesting.

Gena Philibert-Ortega holds a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (Psychology and Women’s Studies) and a Master’s degree in Religion. Presenting on various subjects involving genealogy, women’s studies and social history, Gena has spoken to groups throughout the United States and Canada as well as virtually to audiences worldwide. Gena is the author of hundreds of articles published in genealogy newsletters and magazines including FGS Forum, APG Quarterly, Internet Genealogy, Family Chronicle and Family Tree Magazine. Gena was a researcher for the first season of the PBS series Genealogy Roadshow (2013). Gena is the editor of the Utah Genealogical Association’s journal Crossroads. She is past president for the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and is a board member of the Temecula Valley Genealogical Society. Her current research interests include women’s social history and researching women’s lives using material artifacts. 

Please visit our Eventbrite page to register for this class. Seats are limited.

            Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society and Library

15 May 2015

Before Facebook...Locating Californians in City Directories

by Dr. Henry Snyder           

Photo of Sherman Room housing City Directory collection
Come see our expanded collection of California Directories

City directories are an invaluable source for genealogists. They fill in gaps between censuses. Even more important, they extend the period for which residence information is available since the federal census is only available through 1940. CGS has had several hundred city directories for California in its collection for some years. We have exceptionally strong runs for San Francisco and Oakland-Alameda-Berkeley. Elsewhere our holdings are quite spotty. Now in an exceptionally generous donation, Dr. Stephen Harris, our former president, has given us his complete set of California directories. When combined with our collection the total number of unduplicated volumes comes to 963! They are shelved altogether, alphabetically by city, in new shelving acquired specifically to house them and installed in the Sherman Room.

Most of the directories were published by the C K Polk Company who began publishing directories over 140 years ago. A 1916 directory lists 58 areas in California—some cities, some counties—for which Polk published directories; we have at least one directory for 52 of the areas. The number varies from 98 directories for San Francisco to many single directories for some localities. Among the best represented are Bakersfield (42), Chico (16), Eureka (21) Fresno (46), Long Beach (17), Los Angeles (40), plus suburban areas, Merced/Madera (15), Modesto (32), Napa (34), Oakland-Alameda-Berkeley (43), Palo Alto (22), Pasadena (16), Richmond (18), Sacramento (61) and Suburban Sacramento (18), San Diego (27) and Suburban San Diego (6), San Francisco (98), San Jose (58), San Mateo (17), Santa Barbara (20), Santa Rosa (23) and Stockton (17).

A number of cities and counties in California and elsewhere in the United States have collections of directories for their own town. So far as we are aware, there is only one other substantial collection of California city directories and that is at the Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley, where they are stored off-site and where they must be paged individually, volume by volume. Our collection, then, is a unique resource: Readers can go directly to the shelves and utilize any or all volumes they wish to consult.

But this is not all. Dr. Harris also donated his substantial collection of California telephone directories. These telephone directories fill in gaps in the city directories both place-wise and date-wise. What this means is that for most cities of any size in the state we have telephone directories which can provide essential residence information extending from before the turn of the century until about 1980. This extends the coverage provided by the census another four decades! 

Separate lists of the city directories and of the telephone directories are posted on our webpage. (We are in the process of transferring our online catalog from one utility to OCLC to make the records more accessible. We expect that transition to be completed by the end of May.  At that time we will update the catalog entries to reflect the full richness of our collection.)

We are delighted to be able to offer this unparalleled, unique resource to our members and guests and encourage you to visit now and often to make use of it.

I want to give special thanks to our devoted library team – Arlene and Ted Miles, Shirley Hoye, Gibran Rath, Kristi Wessenberg, Phil Hoehn, and Nancy Cork as well as to additional volunteers, Ted Okazaki and Todd Armstrong, for disassembling, moving and assembling shelves and moving hundreds of unwieldy, heavy volumes two, and in some cases three, times.  

           Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society and Library