Recent Posts

30 June 2008

CGS Business Cards

I'm still working on a post about some of the lessons learned at Jamboree but I wanted to share a tool that Jane, Carolyn and I used last weekend.

As the chair of the Marketing Committee, I'm always on the lookout for new ways to promote the California Genealogical Society and Library.

My blog-mentor, Jasia, of Creative Gene, suggested the use of society business cards in her post, Two Plans for Marketing Your Group:

What you're going to do is give a dozen or so to every member in your group. Include them in initial membership or renewal packets or pass them out at meeting with the instruction to 'become an ambassador for the organization.'

Members should be encouraged to pass out these cards to anyone they have a casual conversation with when they're at the library doing genealogy research, chatting with someone at the bus stop, or even leave one with a tip for their favorite waitress. The point is to use these cards like a mini brochure for the organization. Ask group members to talk up the group whenever they get the chance... and pass out those business cards!

The card above is a generic one, created for use by anyone at the society. In addition, inexpensive personal cards are on order (from VistaPrint) for some board members and a few others with specialized jobs at the society. The cards proved indispensable at Jamboree.

Jasia admonishes:

Remember, genealogy is a people-based hobby if ever there was one. Word of mouth advertising by your members is a very personal and powerful resource. Use it!

If you are a member of CGS and you would like to have some cards to use to promote the society, please e-mail me or leave a comment.


29 June 2008

Some Photos From Jamboree 2008

Things have been non-stop at the 39th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. The California Genealogical Society and Library table, number 710 in the Exhibit Hall, is well positioned for President Jane Lindsey to meet and greet attendees, including some familiar friends.

Ron Arons stopped by to show Jane his newly released book, The Jews of Sing Sing. Ron will be the featured speaker at the CGS Membership Meeting on Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 1:00 p.m.


Jane spent some time with former NEHGS colleagues, President and CEO, D. Brenton Simons and Christopher Childs.


Jamboree Chair, Paula Hinkel came by to say hello and show off her festive costume.


The "first-ever" Genealogy Blogger Summit featured seven of the best. Pictured are Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, George G. Morgan, Steve Danko, Schelly Talalay Dardashti of Tracing the Tribe - The Jewish Genealogy Blog and Randy Seaver, author of Genea-Musings. Not shown are moderator Leland Meitzler and Dick Eastman.


Megan Smolenyak of Roots Television/ Megan's Roots World and George G. Morgan of The Genealogy Guys Podcast listen as Stephen Danko of Steve's Genealogy Blog makes a point.


Craig Manson at GeneaBlogie wrote about how Elizabeth O'Neal of Little Bytes of Life stole the show with her live-blogging of the event.


Great company! Seated: Kathryn Doyle, Dick Eastman, George Morgan, Steve Danko. Standing: Leland Meitzler, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Randy Seaver, Craig Manson and Elizabeth O'Neal.

27 June 2008

Finding Cousins in the Library

Genealogists are always on the hunt for cousins – it's what we do. But imagine finding them in the next chair at your local genealogical society library!

That's what happened to three active volunteers at the California Genealogical Society. Book repairers Marianne Frey and Dick Rees were chatting one second Tuesday and realized that they had both attended Yale and both had New Haven, Connecticut ancestors. When they started comparing surnames, they zeroed in on KITCHEL (an original settler) and his SHEAFE wife.

On another day at the CGS Library, Lavinia Schwarz referred to an upcoming visit to her daughter in New Jersey and some family research time in nearby Morristown. Marianne's ears perked up at the mention of the ancestral home of "hordes" of her ancestors and, as she tells it "we started tossing names around and found several in common, including KITCHEL."

Seventh cousins: Marianne Frey, Lavinia Schwarz and Richard Rees.
[Photograph by Kathryn Doyle, January 19, 2008]

Marianne provided this background:

"The KITCHEL clan was part of a large group of colonists who didn't like the way things were being run in their part of Connecticut. They got a charter to start a settlement (now Newark) in New Jersey, which was Dutch when negotiations began but became English before they were finalized. Expansion meant moving inland, westward over the low "mountains" into what is now Morris county.

Some of the Kitchel-Sheafe tribe moved to New Jersey while others stayed in Connecticut. There's been lots of research, including articles in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register and The American Genealogist in the early 1900's and two books on the Kitchel family -- a slim volume from the 1800's and a nice thick one from the late 1900's.

I discovered the latter volume when a Jane Kitchel appeared on the roster of my folk dance club. She owns the book, which enabled us to figure out that we are seventh cousins, not removed! (During the 1800's someone in my line started spelling our name "Kitchell" with two L's.)"

In July 1983, Dick had the opportunity to visit Cranbrook, Kent, England, the home of their common SHEAFE ancestor. Dick sent this photograph of the monumental brass rubbing he did of the Thomas Sheafe (ca. 1470 - 1520) tomb in St. Dunstan's Church. The oval on the right is made up of Sheafe's initials (T.S.) with his merchant mark in the center.

Dick provided this account:

"Cranbrook is not easy to reach. I had to take a train from Canterbury to Ashford, then one from Ashford to Staplehurst and a bus from there to Cranbrook. I bought the last stick of rubbing wax in the town, along with black paper and a huge roll of masking tape. I made three rubbings of the brass (my brother has one of them and I don't know what became of the third.) I had time one evening and the next morning to walk around Cranbrook. There are several buildings still standing that belonged to the Sheafe family, as well as some windmills and a school named for Mary (Harman) Sheafe, the wife of Thomas Sheafe II."

Besides sharing New England ancestry, the cousins have lived for a time in the New England states while pursuing their education (Lavinia received her M.A. at Tufts) and all three have worked as educators. Marianne taught junior high (two years) high school (seven) and community college (twenty-three). Dick started his teaching career in public schools in Connecticut, moved to private schools in Shaker Heights, Ohio; in Montecito, California; and finally in San Francisco. Lavinia, better known as Vinnie, worked for a time as a preschool teacher.


At CGS, Marianne Frey was membership chair for a few years and set up the Lookups project on the Web site. She and Dick Rees are members of the Book Repair Committee. Dick wears several other hats at the society. He regularly teaches the class for beginners on Free First Saturdays, does occasional desk duty, manages some special projects and handles the mail. Lavinia Gilbert Schwarz is a member of the CGS Board of Directors and handles Lookups (with Pat Smith) as part of the research department. Vinnie is currently also overseeing a research project for the Peralta Hacienda.

25 June 2008

Wordless Wednesday












Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle
California Genealogical Society Library
Oakland, California, 18 June 2008.

23 June 2008

The CGS News - July 2008


The July 2008 issue of the CGS News, Volume XXXIX, No. 4, will be mailed out to members this week and its twelve pages are full of news and information:

• Guidelines for Publishing Web Pages on the Internet - page 2
• Registration Flier for Nora Keohane Hickey - page 3
• Diversity in American Last Names - page 4
• Registration Flier for NEHGS Library Trip - page 5
• Book Review - Royal Families: Samuel Appleton - page 6
• Nancy Peterson's "Major Northeastern Holdings" - pages 7 and 8
• New Books in the Library - pages 6 and 9
• New Members List - pages 9 and 10


The CGS News, edited by Jane Hufft and produced by Lois Elling, is published six times a year by the California Genealogical Society. An annual subscription to the bimonthly newsletter is included in a society membership ($35 per year). For membership information, visit the CGS Web site.

The newsletter keeps members up-to-date regarding speakers, trips, and other events of interest to family history researchers. Articles on relevant aspects of California history and ongoing publication of vital records are some of the regular topics. Back issues of the CGS News are available at the Web site in the "Members Only" section.

20 June 2008

Just One Week Until Jamboree!

Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree

Burbank Airport Marriott and Convention Center
June 27-28, 2008


The California Genealogical Society is heading south next week for Jamboree 2008. This is a great opportunity for our Southern California members to meet each other and attend some fantastic sessions. "Solve Your Family History Puzzle" is the theme of the 39th Annual SCGS Jamboree. More than 1200 registrants have signed up to hear thirty-seven speakers present more than eighty sessions.

A CGS Membership Coffee will be held on Friday morning, June 27, from 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. in Sunset A and B in the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. Jamboree attendees and members who live in the Los Angeles area are invited to join CGS President Jane Lindsey for an update on society events. Please be sure to let us know if you can come.

The California Genealogical Society is also sponsoring Membership Table # 710 in the Exhibit Hall next to the California State Genealogical Alliance. Be sure to stop by and say "hello!"

For detailed information about schedule, speakers, genealogy exhibitors and more, visit the Jamboree blog.

19 June 2008

Red Hat Ladies at CGS

Yesterday the California Genealogical Society Library was the third and last stop of a full day field trip for members of a local chapter of the Red Hat Society. Barbara Hill, a CGS volunteer librarian, planned the day of shopping, lunch and genealogy research for her fellow red hat enthusiasts.

The Red Hat Society had its roots in a tradition started in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper of Fullerton, California. Inspired by the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, Cooper began giving red hats to her friends as birthday gifts with a copy of the poem which begins "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me."

Barbara sent this description of the group:

The Red Hat Society has been around for ten years now, and is a "disorganization" for women over 50 who just want to have fun. There are no rules, and only a few traditions, so chapters don't have to have elections or by-laws or dues or charitable functions unless that is what they want to do.

Women under 50 can be "pink hatters" and wear lavender clothing with a pink hat. When they turn 50, they "reduate" and then wear purple clothing with a red hat. (During your birthday month you can wear reverse colors, red clothing with a purple hat.

We try to do things for fun as a group that we wouldn't think of on our own. Some of our outings have included going to tea, touring museums, painting pottery blanks, a Jelly Belly factory tour (fascinating!), a Scharffenberger's chocolate factory tour, going to plays, and many other activities, often along with other chapters. I once arranged for my chapter to have a lesson on how to play pool, with a professional woman billiard player as the instructor. The ladies who went have never stopped talking about it!
Standing: Susan Kaasa and Chapter Queen, Judy Fox;
Seated, left to right: CGS Librarian, Barbara Hill,
Jane Kaasa and Mary Louise Prentice.
[Photograph courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.]

Yesterday's excursion seemed to yield many smiles despite the absence of a pool shark. Lavinia Schwarz and Jane Lindsey stepped in to help Barbara guide the purple-clad neophytes with their first attempts at genealogy research. All four left with copies in hand of census, WWI draft registrations and other finds.

The California Genealogical Society welcomes interested groups to come and tour the library and spend some time exploring our genealogy resources. Contact CGS at (510) 663-1358 to schedule a field trip.

18 June 2008

A Day of Irish Information - July 9, 2008


Internationally known author and speaker, Nora Keohane Hickey presents

A Day of Irish Information - four talks to help with your Irish research.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008, 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Yacht Club.

Ms. Hickey, a native of Cork, Ireland, is the founder and director of the Irish Genealogical Project. She visits the U.S. several times each year to lecture.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Lectures start promptly at 10:00 a.m.

The program:
10:00 Debunking some of the myths of Irish genealogy
11:15 Extracting all the important information from Griffith's Valuation
12:15 Break for lunch and book sales
1:15 Little-known and under-used Irish genealogical sources
2:15 A discussion about common problems in Irish genealogy

Ms. Hickey will also provide Personal Consultations on Thursday, July 10, 2008, at the CGS Library. The fee is $15.00 for fifteen minutes.

Registrants can opt to bring their own lunch or pre-pay for a boxed lunch which includes a sandwich, salad, drink and cookie for $10. For further information about this event or to schedule a Personal Consultation with Nora Hickey, download the event flier and reservation form.

The deadlline is approching so please send your registration form today!

Nora M. Hickey was educated at Loreto College, Manchester, England. After returning to Ireland in 1974, she studied history and philosophy at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, a constituent college of the National University of Ireland. Her B.A. thesis was genealogical: a study of the Norman family, the de Berminghams of Leinster. As a founder member of the Federation of Local History Societies, she was Honorary Editor of Local History Review for many years. An early member of the Irish Family History Society, Nora also acted for some years as the Honorary Editor of Irish Family History.

Her publications include: Going to Ireland: A Genealogical Researcher's Guide; Kinsale Historical Journals; Kinsale: Glimpses of a Town through the Years and The Battle of Kinsale. She has also writen many articles, historical and genealogical, published in many journals in two continents.

17 June 2008

Feedback on the Scandinavian Workshop

Cynthia Peterson Gorman sent this report on the last Saturday's Scandinavian Research Workshop:

All three presenters were so well prepared and had spent a great deal of time organizing their talks and materials. We had a great group - more than expected and it was definitely worth attending. We also all gave our email addresses so we can continue to share questions and information. It was nice to have a facilitator to keep the group 'on agenda.'

Events coordinator, Carolyn Steinberg, reports that there was a "full house" - seventeen attendees - plus the three specialists, Laura Spurrier (Danish), Pat Smith (Swedish) and Gloria Hanson (Norwegian). Carolyn also noted:

There was some lively conversation amongst attendees as they contributed their knowledge and asked questions. Three of the four non-members who attended joined CGS on Saturday. Cynthia Gorman brought a number of books to share and to demonstrate the resources available. Rick Sherman also assisted with information on church records and brought up an Online Web site for anyone interested after lunch. A new member who joined Saturday was also able to contribute based on his knowledge and experience being Swedish-born. Our speakers had also brought in some books from the library to show the resources available in the library. Pat, Laura, and Gloria all deserve to be commended for a job well done! CGS is very fortunate that these three members rose to the occasion, providing a very informative, lively, and interesting workshop for us.

Carolyn is compiling the lessons learned from this workshop and the Eastern European one held in April. She would appreciate additional reviews from those who attended on Saturday. Please share your comments here or send an e-mail to Carolyn.

Do you have a suggestion for the next workshop? French-Canadian? German? Do you have expertise in researching another location? Let us know!

16 June 2008

Digital vs. Print - Where do you stand?

Last week many genealogy blogs published the news release sent by Leland Meitzler of Everton Publishers announcing the new Online Edition of Everton’s Genealogical Helper. The electronic publication, which debuts on July 1, 2008 with the July/August issue, will be identical to the paper edition but with added hyperlinks to the Web site addresses published within its pages.

Diane Haddad, managing editor of Family Tree Magazine and its primary blogger at Genealogy Insider, went a step further and asked Would You Read an Online Magazine? referencing Dick Eastman's recent post Printed Newsletters and Magazines are Disappearing. Diane summed up the debate in one sentence:

The entire publishing industry is caught up in the "digital vs. print" discussion, with some swearing it's just a matter of time before all print publications go away, and others insisting people always will want to curl up with a paper magazine or book.
Genealogical societies are also grappling with the new paradigm. The News & Notes, the Southern California Genealogical Society quarterly, announced that the May/June/July issue will be the final print version delivered to members' mailboxes. Editor Alice Fairhurst noted that it is "transitioning to virtual... due to the rising cost of postage, and the fact that most people have internet access.

The California Genealogical Society and Library publishes news and information in three formats: a print newsletter (the CGS News), an electronic newsletter (the CGS e-News) and this blog. In response to the suggestion that this might be information overkill, CGS News Editor and former school administrator, Jane Hufft, quotes the old rule in teaching - "eight repetitions for the average learner."

Each of the society's periodicals have unique attributes that are not duplicated in the other two.

The CGS News, a benefit of membership published bimonthly and mailed to members' homes, features lists of the society's newest members and their research surnames and places; lists of new books and media in the library and original content, such as Nancy Peterson's two-part report "Post-1906 Immigration and Naturalization Records."

The CGS e-News, started last year by President Jane Lindsey with the technical assistance of Kathy Watson, is a monthly electronic newsletter that is e-mailed to all society members who have e-mail addresses (currently 93% of members) and to non-member subscribers. The e-News publishes CGS Ancestors, a place where members can submit interesting old family photographs with a bit of history; Suggested Links from the Blogsphere and Did You Miss These Posts from the CGS Blog?

The California Genealogical Society and Library Blog recently celebrated its six-month "blogiversary" and continues to experiment with new ways to promote society events and feature the work of its volunteers.

There is one significant difference between the CGS print periodical and the electronic ones - the way that readership is measured. Traditional media report the number of subscribers or the number of issues printed. We know how many copies of the CGS News are printed and mailed out to members and subscribing societies but we don't really know how many of these issues are actually read.

With electronic media we have a few more tools in the toolbox. Constant Contact, the e-mail, marketing and survey software used to produce the CGS e-News, provides a report to users that tells how many of the e-mails are actually opened. The results, although high by industry standards, are disappointing: only about 53% of members actually open their CGS e-News.

Blog statistics, such as the number of visits to a blog, or the number of page views, are readily available from sites like Sitemeter or ClustrMaps.

At least for the now, CGS members have three unique periodicals they can read to obtain society news. Which do you prefer?


09 June 2008

Breaking Down Brick Walls - July 12, 2008

Brick WallJuly Membership Meeting
Breaking Down Brick Walls, a Panel Discussion

Saturday, July 12, 2008
1:00 p.m.
CGS Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California

For the July membership meeting, the California Genealogical Society is experimenting with a new kind of presentation. Breaking Down Brick Walls brings together three active and knowledgeable CGS board members for a panel discussion of the tools they use to dismantle genealogical barriers. CGS News Editor Jane Hufft, CGS Research Director Nancy Peterson and "Lookup" Maven, Lavinia Schwarz will present their most challenging research problems and the unique strategies they used to solve them.

Nancy Peterson is the CGS Research Director and author of Raking the Ashes, Genealogical Strategies for pre-1906 San Francisco Research. Nancy is a Stanford graduate and certified genealogist.

Lavinia Schwarz's unique journey into the archives of New Orleans in search of her great-great grandmother, a free woman of color, yielded many important strategies for breaking down not only brick walls, but the invisible walls that so often block our reasoning. Lavinia graduated from Cal with an English major and holds a master's in education.

Jane Hufft, editor of the CGS Newsletter, has had several articles appear in genealogical publications and has been at work on her own research for many years, developing strategies that go from the paper card catalog days of the Salt Lake City Family Library to the Internet. A Cal graduate in sociology and former school administrator, Jane has a master's in education.

Please note that the short membership meeting starts promptly at 1:00 p.m. The panel discussion follows at 1:30 p.m. There will be handouts for the audience and time for questions and answers.

04 June 2008

Alameda County Fair Genealogy Booth

Volunteers Needed!
June 20 – July 6, 2008
The Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society (L-AGS) is gearing up for the annual Genealogy Booth at the 2008 Alameda County Fair. This is the ninth year that the society has organized and staffed the popular station in the fair's Technology Adventures Building at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, located at Valley Avenue and Bernal Avenue in Pleasanton, California.

CGS member and L-AGS Fair Booth Coordinator, Kay Speaks, sent the following:
"We are inviting other genealogy societies, DAR Chapters, FHC docents, historical societies and library genealogy docents to join us in this fun and very rewarding endeavor. Want to reserve an entire day for your organization? Please contact the fair booth coordinator to reserve a convenient date."

The genealogy booth is one of the most popular attractions at the seventeen-day fair, where hundreds of people get their first exposure to the genealogy bug. The booths are equipped with computers, laser printers and Internet access. Each session has three research docents and two greeters scheduled. Many volunteers, like CGS member Lorna Wallace, have wonderful stories to share from past years so organizers are promoting the event as "An Experience You Will Want to Repeat Year After Year."

The Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society serves the cities of Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin and surrounding areas in the Livermore and Amador Valleys of southeastern Alameda County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The society was formed in June 1977 by student participants of a Livermore Adult Education Class. General meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton. The Society, in cooperation with the City of Pleasanton Library, maintains the largest collection of genealogical materials in the Valley, numbering over 1000 books.

For additional information about volunteering, e-mail Kay Speaks.

02 June 2008

The CGS Style Sheet

One of the most important works to come through the CGS Publications Committee will never be assigned an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) or be found on the shelves of a library. The CGS Style Sheet, contrived and collated by Jane Hufft and Shirley Thomson, was created to help lay the foundation toward a consistent style among the various publications of the California Genealogical Society and Library.

The CGS Style Sheet covers various aspects of usage, grammar, spelling, punctuation and presentation. It is an evolving work based on some of the common problems spotted by Shirley and Jane. The style sheet is to be used for the broad swath of CGS written works, including committee reports, newsletter articles, public relations copy, Web site pages, fliers, and even this blog.

Specifically, the style sheet addresses abbreviations, acronyms, formatting requirements, bibliographies, book lists and titles, capitalization, compound words, dates, electronic sources, numbers, plurals, spacing, voice and several other specific issues. The document also refers users to three additional publications: The Chicago Manual of Style, The Elements of Style and Webster's Third Dictionary.

Shirley shared these thoughts: "Anyone called upon now and again to write in the name of CGS is urged to make use of it. At first glance the sheet may seem a collection of odd bits and pieces. It is also a useful tool, answering questions, providing examples and creating awareness of the style choices made (often unconsciously) in any written work."

The creators of the style sheet both serve on the CGS Board of Directors in addition to their work on the Publication Committee.

Shirley Pugh Thomson is the Recording Secretary for the society and has served as chairperson of the Publication Committee. She has many years’ experience in editing, writing, project management and publishing.

Jane Hufft is the editor of the CGS Newsletter. She came to CGS after thirty-six years in education as a teacher, project manager and administrator.

Source: Hufft, Jane and Thomson, Shirley, "The CGS Style Sheet," California Genealogical Society and Library, Publications Committee, 2007.