Recent Posts

10 October 2018

CGS Library Collections: Colorado

One of several Who's Who-style books in
our Colorado collection

An occasional series highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also listed in WorldCat.

After California, Colorado was a breeze. Our collection includes fifteen print books and two boxes of The Colorado Genealogist – a Quarterly Publication of the Colorado Genealogical Society from 1974 to 2003. The first tome to catch my eye was a dense turquoise-covered volume titled Colorado Families: A Territorial Heritage published in 1981 by the Colorado Genealogical Society. This book offers a short early Colorado history and 629 pages of family histories. For example, the Samuel and Caroline (Smith) Andrew family begins on page 14 and continues to page 33. Each individual has a biography and the names of their children are listed. 173 members of the Andrew family are featured in the book along with many other families. The book is well indexed.

I found three Who’s Who-style books and was not surprised to find the now very familiar George R. Dorman bookplate on the inside cover of Who’s Who In Colorado, which resembles a Bible with its black, leather-bound cover. The volume was published in 1938 and offers biographies of “Leaders in Business, Professional and Public Life.” The book content is organized by county and includes a short county history at the beginning of each section followed by short individual biographies. The index lists each county but not the individuals.

Another Dorman donation is The Glory That Was Gold – Central City Opera House first published in 1932. With that title, one would think it was a book about the opera house or about the impact of gold mining on the state, but it is actually another book devoted mostly to biographies of prominent Colorado citizens.

A student text written jointly with the State
Historical Society of Colorado
This student text includes a chapter on Indian Sign language
The last book I checked was a colorful picture book: Colorado: Crossroads of The West by Matthew T. Downey and Fay D. Metcalf. This is actually an elementary school history textbook first published in the 1970s and used to teach students about the different people and cultures that inhabited the state of Colorado. It is very well illustrated and has some interesting subject matter like a chapter on Indian sign language.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

05 October 2018

Genealogical Proof Standard Flowchart!

Anyone who is serious about genealogical research has heard of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), first issued in 2000 by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. The GPS's five components, from "reasonably exhaustive research" to a "soundly written conclusion" serve as a guide for best practice in the field.

Recently, genealogy blogger Marc McDermott, author of Genealogy Explained, put out this handy and attractive flowchart illustrating the GPS process. He had the assistance of two of the biggest names in genealogy: Elizabeth Shown Mills and Thomas W. Jones. The chart illustrates the thought process that needs to go into applying the GPS, with some of the most common pitfalls and dead ends. Readers are already clamoring for him to make it available as a poster. That's not currently offered, but McDermott is generously making it available to all through his website. I've printed out my own copy and have it hanging over my desk for handy reference!

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

03 October 2018

CGS Library Collections: California, Part 3

George Richard Dorman, donor of many
of the books in our California collection
Last in a 3-part series about the library's California Collection. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also listed in WorldCat.

As mentioned at the start of this series, our library's largest collection is California materials. As always, offsite visitors can browse the catalog on our website to get a sense of the holdings. It is far too extensive to describe in detail, but here are some highlights.

Many of the books in our California collection were donated by George R. Dorman. They are easy to spot – each book is marked on the bound edge with a letter “D.” A blog post by Kathryn Doyle dated 31 March 2008 tells us that we received his collection in 1984 and that it was the single largest book donation to the library. Kathryn noted, “Mr. Dorman, a CGS member for 47 years, served in various capacities on the Society’s Board. A dedicated genealogist, his research on the signers of the California Constitutional Convention was published as a long-running series in the Society’s newsletter and later in The Nugget.”

One of many high-quality portraits
in the CGS collection

One of the things that stands out about the Dorman collection is the large number of "Who’s Who"-type books. Many of these provide substantial biographies of important California citizens (almost all men), and they include beautiful, high-quality portraits of the subject with their signature. If you have an ancestor of some prominence in California, there is a reasonably good chance you'll find information about that person in our library.

Although not about California, the 226-volume American
 Genealogical Biographical Index is housed
in the "California Room."
Other books in this collection include many indexed vital records that have been compiled by CGS members. For example, there are twenty-two volumes of San Francisco Call, Vital Records of Births, Marriages, and Deaths starting in 1899 and continuing to 1907. Also, copies of our published volumes – San Francisco Probate 1906-1942, Raking the Ashes and the four-volume set of San Francisco Deaths 1865-1905. We have a twelve-volume set of Vital Records from the San Francisco Bulletin

California has fifty-eight counties, and our library has books on fifty-seven of them. Anyone want to donate a book on Mono County so we’ll be at 100 percent?

In addition, we have a fairly large collection of books about individual cities. These include multiple books for Berkeley, Oakland, Livermore, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Diego. We have five full shelves of books on San Francisco.

Don't forget the many state maps kept in our map drawer, and the oversize books found along the back wall. Come on in and explore!

San Francisco books occupy five shelves
in the California Room
Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

01 October 2018

Rare footage of post-quake 1906 San Francisco

A still from film footage of devastation after the 1906 earthquake.
Photo: Jason Wright, Silver Shadows Daguerrotypes.
Digitized by David Kiehn,

As the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake looms this month, it seems appropriate to pause and consider our state's long history of seismic activity. Our knowledge of quakes prior to the 20th century is scant, as the oral tradition of indigenous peoples was largely lost after the arrival of Europeans, and the records kept by the Spanish missionaries and later explorers through the 18th and 19th centuries are spotty. It wasn't until the catastrophic San Francisco earthquake on April 18, 1906, that the United States established the Coast and Geodetic Survey to track and research earthquake activity.

In 2017, collector David Silver made an almost miraculous find at a San Francisco flea market: a long-lost roll of film showing San Francisco immediately after the 1906 quake. Amazingly, the 9-minute reel was intact, although at the time Silver came across it, the seller was holding the fragile, highly flammable nitrate film and "looking through a length of it with a lit cigarette hanging from his lips," as Silver told SFGate.  

The footage of a devastated city was shot by the Miles Brothers and pairs with their most famous work, "A Trip Down Market Street," shot from a cable car just days before the earthquake. Film historian historian David Kiehn made a digital copy of the footage, which was screened at several venues this past spring. It will be shared publicly online through the Library of Congress. You can get a glimpse of it here:

The release of the footage was reported in many news outlets. Our thanks to Dick Eastman, who wrote of the find in his blog, where it came to our attention.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

28 September 2018

Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island October 13

Approaching Angel Island by ferry

Taiko drummers greeted visitors at a previous year's Nikkei Pilgrimage

On October 13, please join us for the annual Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island! The all-day outing is focused on the Japanese-American experience at this immigration station, which many Asian immigrants passed through—or were delayed in—on their way to a new life in America. There will be visual exhibits about the Japanese and Japanese American experience on Angel Island; a dance performance honoring the ancestors; and more. The schedule is designed to allow a free flow of activity during the day. Participants can explore history exhibits at the Immigration Station, get help with genealogy research, learn about community history and local organizations, and just enjoy time with family, friends and colleagues.

Entrance to the barracks
While Angel Island is notorious for the poor treatment of many Chinese immigrants detained there, approximately 85,000 people of Japanese descent also were detained on Angel Island between 1910 and 1940, making them the second largest ethnic group to pass through this point of entry. Before 1920, the immigration station also saw a large influx of “picture brides”—Japanese women who came to America through an arranged marriage with Japanese men already in the U.S. The station was closed after a fire in 1940, but the barracks were used during the Second World War to hold Japanese prisoners of war and Nikkei detainees from Hawaii and the Pacific Coast. All of this history makes for a rich experience

Grant Din, Judy Russell, interpreter Casey Lee, and Kim Cotton at last year's event
This is the fifth year in a row that the Nichi Bei Foundation has hosted the pilgrimage, and the fifth year that CGS has participated. Keynote speaker will be Sonoma State University president Judy Sakaki. Other speakers will include CGS past president Linda Harms Okazaki and Grant Din of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. CGS volunteers will be on hand to offer personal genealogy consultations, and participants are enrolled in a raffle of 100 DNA kits generously donated by

Day trip packages include ferry departure from either Tiburon or Pier 39. Tickets for the outing are $25 (discounts for seniors and children), with the option to pre-purchase a bento lunch. To purchase tickets and for complete details on activities and transportation, visit the Nichi Bei Foundation’s website:

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society