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14 June 2018

Strategic Planning Committee Update

Chris Pattillo of the Strategic Planning Committee reports:

Since December 2017 a small group of CGS members has been meeting monthly to create a strategic plan for our society. The group includes President Vicky Kolakowski, Past President Jane Lindsey, board members Stewart Traiman, James Russell and me. Past President Linda Okazaki and member Marisela Meskus have also contributed.

In January and February Stewart and I met with representatives from all but one of CGS’s active committees. Our purpose was to solicit input on what is working well with the society and to hear ideas about what we could be doing differently. That series of interviews netted 106 specific suggestions, which were then ranked by the committee members to identify top priorities. 71 suggestions were ranked No. 1 or No. 2. 

To help focus our efforts we developed this mission statement for the strategic planning committee: 

The Strategic Planning Committee will devise a plan for the California Genealogical Society’s continued success. To insure the longevity of the California Genealogical Society and Library by identifying the society’s and members’ needs then creating a plan that will address those needs. Goals will be set for 1, 3, and 5 years that will be implemented by Committee members, Board Members and volunteers.

The committee identified 8 specific things to focus on and developed specific proposals for how to achieve them. These include:
  • A plan to update our website
  • A proposal to create a Member Interest Database
  • A plan to host webinars
  • A formalized training program
  • An update to our organization chart that better reflects how the society functions
  • A proposal to update our membership fee structure
  • A proposal to charge for some classes
  • A proposal and schedule for implementing the Strategic Plan
We received input on these proposals from the Board of Directors at the May and June meetings. The timeline is to present the final report to the Board at the September meeting. Implementation will begin immediately thereafter for a proposal approved by the Board.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

06 June 2018

Last chance to join the trip to Allen County Public Library

Curt Witcher and Jane Lindsey at the ACPL in 2015

Only a few spaces are left for our August 16-22 trip to the amazing Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Deadline to sign up is June 15!

For more than 10 years, CGS has organized research trips to ACPL, the largest public genealogical library in the country. You can browse the ACPL website to get a sense of what it has to offer. The library offers access to over 513,000 rolls of microfilm and 55,000 compiled genealogy volumes, privately published family histories, an impressive collection of state and territorial censuses, and many other unique resources. It’s an invaluable repository for genealogists, and for those with family roots in Indiana, it's one of a kind.

This year, past president Jane Knowles Lindsey leads intermediate-level researchers in a new format: participants will do independent research but have the opportunity to network with others during the week.

This year’s trip runs concurrently with the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. We have hotel rooms set aside for CGS members who wish to go to just the conference.

But the deadline to reserve your spot or hotel room is fast approaching! Contact Jane Lindsey by June 15 to confirm.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

02 June 2018

In Memoriam: Dorothy Ann Koenig, 1933-2018

Photo: Facebook
We are sorry to report the passing of longtime CGS member Dorothy Ann Koenig of Berkeley. Dorothy was an expert in the genealogy of colonial New York. She published the quarterly New Amsterdam Connections from 1996-2006, and generously donated many books on early New York to the CGS library. She was a Bay Area native, a retired UC Berkeley reference librarian, a former nun who lived 9 years in Tanzania,  a polyglot, and a lifelong learner. Her obituary, which details more of Dorothy’s remarkable life, can be read here.

A memorial service is planned for June 16 at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Albany.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

30 May 2018

Chinese Ancestry Day 2018

Chinese Ancestry Day,  held Saturday, May 26, at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, was a fabulous success. CGS board member Chris Pattillo was among those who volunteered at the event, and she sent us this report: 

Next time you see Maureen Hanlon, make a point of thanking her for planning another tremendously successful CGS event!

Speakers Grant Din and Felicia Lowe
Keynote speaker Felicia Lowe started the day with flair, showing an 18-minute clip of her documentary “Chinese Couplets”—just enough to leave us wanting to see the film in its entirety. Lowe’s journey to uncover her immigrant mother’s past was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It also introduced the day’s theme: the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act on Asian American families to this day.

CGS member Grant Din gave a well-illustrated, clear and concise introduction to doing Chinese family history research. Grant is an engaging and exuberant speaker with 35 years of experience, and he shared ample anecdotes from his work.

We enjoyed lunch and socializing
The delicious lunch provided by Peony Restaurant was worth the price of the event on its own! There was plenty of food--even enough for seconds of yummy sesame balls.

After lunch we heard from Marisa Louie Lee, a former archivist at NARA. She served as an advisor on the PBS documentary “The Chinese Exclusion Act,” which aired this month. I was impressed with how easily Marisa moved between presenting and answering questions. She is a pro speaker. Marisa’s talk was also well illustrated, to the point and included a five-page handout with helpful information and links to other sources.

Finally, we heard from John Wong, a volunteer with the Roots Plus program who has led several tours for Chinese Americans to visit their ancestral villages in China’s Guangdong Province. John showed four videos that showcased the incredible experiences of four different families. The stories that John shared have universal appeal. No, I have no ancestors from China, but I still felt the shivers and warm glow these families experienced as they saw their ancestor’s graves and rural townships for the first time.

Much of the information being presented was not directly relevant to me personally, but I am so glad Maureen invited me to volunteer because I learned so much about things I knew nothing about. Do you know what a “paper mother” is? That is something I learned—if you weren’t there, you’ll just have to ask me.

CGS volunteers Kathryn Doyle and Linda Okazaki
It was apparent that a lot of productive networking was happening throughout the day. At our CGS table, we had two people join as new members and 18 added their names to our e-News list. Our table was next to that of the California Historical Society, where volunteer Frances Kaplan reported that she is grateful for CGS because she refers people with questions to us on a daily basis.

The event was sponsored by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, California Genealogical Society, the California Historical Society, and the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. Our thanks to OACC for providing the beautiful venue and to OACC staff member Terri Kaley for being such a gracious host. 

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

21 May 2018

Notes from the field: 18th Annual Family History Library Trip

In our 120th anniversary year, CGS members continue to host and participate in a variety of learning experiences. Last month, Lisa Gorrell led a group on the 18th annual trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lisa Gorrell (left) orients visitors to the library
We lucked out with the weather; while it had snowed in Salt Lake just the week before, during our visit temperatures soared and flowers were in bloom everywhere.

Our group of 14 had a great week of research, study, and socializing. 

Four of our members also took time for a day trip to the recently opened Topaz Japanese American Internment Camp Museum in Delta, where more than 11,000 persons of Japanese American ancestry were confined during World War II.

Kathy and Steve Ikeda, Linda Okazaki, and Jim Russell at Topaz
Our research was as varied as the participants. A few of us had amazing breakthroughs, while others found their brick walls remained stony. Sometimes it's a kind of vindication to know that even the experts can't trace that maddeningly elusive ancestor. All agreed it was well worth our while. Thanks to our fearless leader, Lisa, for organizing and leading the trip! 

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society