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22 July 2020

Quarantine Quests: The joy of indexing!

Two volumes of pedigree charts
created in the 1890s
This Quarantine Quests story is from Jean Alderson and the other CGS volunteers who are indexing four volumes of Pedigree and Lineage charts for our website.

CGS has a fabulous team of volunteers who have responded to an invitation to help index the names of individuals listed in four volumes of Pedigree and Lineage Charts. The Lineage Charts were prepared in the 1950s and the Pedigree Charts are much older, having been done shortly after the society was founded in 1896. So far, eight CGS members have indexed all the lineage charts in volume 3.1. They, plus seven additional volunteers, have also gotten involved indexing the pedigree charts.

Jean Alderson was the first to volunteer and she is our star indexer. Of the 63 lineage charts, Jean has indexed 37–more than half the total. Now Jean has taken on the pedigree charts and has already completed six of the 35 sets of cards that have been assigned.
Before the quarantine began Jean had been training to become a Desk Volunteer. Now that our library is closed she eagerly agreed to try on the indexing work. Jean taught computer applications during her teaching career so she has the right skill set for the task. She also likes the flexibility of being able to work on the project whenever it suits her and not having to commit to being in the library on a particular day and time.
One of the lineage charts
made by CGS members in the 1950s

Typically, Jean works on her charts after a morning cup of coffee. She leaves her computer open to these files and goes back to it throughout her day working 20-30 minutes at a time. She thinks it is a perfect project to cure boredom and sometimes a good alternative to watching the nightly news.
Of the two projects, Jean much prefers working on the lineage charts which involve extracting names directly from family trees. She enjoys seeing an entire family and learning a little about their lives from the biographical information that is included. Work on the pedigree charts involves typing names and dates from sets of 3x5 cards, which offers its own intrigue. For example, as names are repeated on multiple trees Jean has deduced multiple marriages for individuals. She has been loosely tracking naming traditions finding many Abigails and Hannahs but no Lindas, Karens or Sharons. For males, Ezekial, Ignatious and Zephemiah were popular when the pedigree charts were created. And, then there are oddball names like Deliverance and Experience.

When I asked if she would recommend these projects to others she said yes and noted that she has benefited from similar work that others have done. Now Jean is giving back and hopes that her efforts will help others.

Names from these old index cards will be
transcribed and added to our website.
One of our other volunteers, Barbara Valdriz, has indexed five lineage charts. Barbara enjoys the work and says, “I found myself being drawn in and a bit distracted by wanting to learn more about these families.” Kathleen Beitiks, our Volunteer Coordinator, was thrilled when we started this project because many CGS volunteers want to work from home and this is proving to be the perfect project–particularly now, during the pandemic.
CGS volunteer Ron Madson has been photographing the pedigree charts,
some of which include photos, news clips and other memorabilia.
If you are interested in joining the team to work on these or other remote projects, please contact or
Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society