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06 November 2019

Our Library Collections: Ireland and Scotland

One of the newer reference books in our
collection for Irish research
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the CGS Library in Oakland.  For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

Our books for Irish and Scottish research are combined with Great Britain in section CS400.  We have a ten-volume set of Scottish Record Society books that were given to the society by George R. Dorman. Each volume covers a different record set. For example, volume 35 is The Register of Marriages For the Parish of Edinburgh, 1701-1750, published in 1908. Volumes 40-50, bound together, are Parish Registers of Canisbay, Durness, Kilbarchan, Wigtownshire and Minnigaff. These volumes are packed with lists of names and dates.

A more recent publication is A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors, written by Linda Jonas and Paul Milner and published in 2002. This reference is a good starting point for anyone who has not yet tackled their Scottish ancestors. The book offers a step-by-step process for doing research. Chapter One is "Getting Started," followed by "Research Process Guidelines," "Uniqueness of Scottish Research," "Accessing Internet Resources," and more. Unique to this book are graphic icons to guide the user through the material. For example, there is an icon of a warning hand indicating: “Stop before you make a mistake.”

An excellent source for beginning
Scottish family research
We have a similar book for Irish research – Tracing Your Irish Family History by Anthony Adolph. It includes a section on first steps for tracing your ancestry back to Ireland, including a survey of Irish genealogy resources available in numerous countries, from the U.S. to Canada to Argentina. This book is very well illustrated.

One of our older Irish references is a hefty tome; A Genealogical and Heraldic History of Landed Gentry of Ireland by Sir Bernard Burke, published in 1912. This is a dense compilation of land and family records – birth, marriage and death records and pedigrees.

Another of our newer books is John Grenham's Tracing Your Irish Ancestors (2006). Each chapter focuses on a different record set, including general register office records, census records, church records, property and valuation records, genealogical office records, emigration records, and more. This book includes a lengthy section on Roman Catholic Parish Registers listing “all copies of Roman Catholic parish registers, microfilm and database transcript" to be found as of 2005.
A good book to start on your Irish research

As I worked on writing this article I realized I no longer have an excuse for avoiding researching my Irish great-grandmother Mary McGowan. The tools I need to get started are right here in our library.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

30 October 2019

Preparing for Disasters: Saving Your Genealogical Treasures

A few of my personal treasures
Chris Pattillo writes:

This blog post is for all our California members – which means nearly everyone who reads this blog. Raise your hand if you feel you were/are well prepared for this year’s fire season. Hmm, I don’t see many hands – must be all the smoke in the sky.

I am very fortunate in that I live in an Oakland neighborhood with one of the most well-prepared groups of citizens. We are part of the CORE program. CORE stands for Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies. Berkeley has a similar group. Our neighborhood has a stash of emergency supplies, we have had practice drills, many of us have completed the three-course emergency preparedness training offered by the City of Oakland, and we meet twice every year to refresh ourselves and inform new residents.  This has been happening in my neighborhood since 1998.

From all this training the most valuable lesson I learned was to take time well in advance of a real emergency to think about what you value most. What things would you try to save if you had to evacuate your home during an emergency? And write it down so that when the time comes you won’t have to think about it.
My list of what to evacuate fits on one page.
Items in red are what I'd try to grab if
I had only a five-minute warning.
Our home was threatened during the Oakland firestorm but saved when firefighters stopped the fire in Mountain View Cemetery, so we take these threats very seriously. This week, while the Kincade, Carquinez Bridge and the Getty fires were burning, we checked our lists and got everything organized – ready to load and leave if we got a call to evacuate. It’s all stacked neatly on my dining room table. Doing so helped reduce my anxiety a lot.

The process of preparing the list is very interesting. I encourage everyone to prepare such a list just to experience what if feels like to think about what you value most. What do you own that would tear your heart out to lose? What each of us would choose to save will vary. For me, and I suspect for many of you, it’s family things – both old and new. For me my box of favorite Christmas ornaments is sitting on my table, I cannot reasonably pack all the china and crystal but I did pick out one particularly treasured plate. I have a favorite vase, 3 carved polar bears, a mug I bought in Kentucky while on my 2017 Genealogy Journey, my grandmother’s cookie jar which happens to be full of homemade cookies, our wooden salad bowl, my Snap-On rachet and screwdriver set, and my favorite recipes including our traditional Christmas cookie recipes.

Copies of all of the family history books I’ve made were the first things I grabbed and some of the original family photos, though all of those were scanned years ago. Oh, I added a few practical items – my two favorite, most comfortable pairs of shoes, my favorite slacks and blouses, favorite earrings and enough undies and socks to get by before I could buy more. I added some food in case we need to live out of my motor home for a few days. Medications, checkbooks and cash. That’s about it.
This lightweight box holds all my favorite Christmas ornaments

Nancy Cork was impacted by one of the two fires that sparked in Lafayette this month. Here’s what she had to say: “When I was told that a grassfire sparked by downed power lines had threatened houses on my street in Lafayette this Sunday, my first thought was that I wanted to save our family's boxes of home videos... if only I could rush in and grab them, then everything else could burn. That desperate panic has lasted after the threat has gone (for now...this IS California). For years I have been trying to preserve my family photographs by scanning and digitizing them, sending files to relatives out-of-state, storing them in 'the cloud.' The video recordings also need to be duplicated, digitized, shared and stored remotely. This is my next big project. Until then, the boxes of videos are sitting on the desk, near the door, ready to go at a moment's notice."

So, do you feel prepared? Have you:

1.       Finished scanning the family photos you’d hate to lose?
2.       What about documents you inherited - have those been scanned?
3.       Have you made backup copies that are safely stored away from the fire zone?
4.       Have you uploaded your digital files to the cloud?
5.       If you had five minutes' warning, do you know exactly what you would grab in a panic?
6.       Have you sent copies of your most valuable photos and documents to other family members?
7.       Have you thought about the practicality of taking large items? The original painting of an ancestor – one-of-a-kind, but framed in a 24” by 30” wood frame – will it fit in your vehicle along with everything else? I know there is no way we could ever pack Dianne’s great grandfather’s rocker but we will always have the photos of it.
8.       Do you own a fireproof safe? Is it rated to withstand the likely temperatures in an intense inferno?

Past President Linda Okazaki had five minutes to evacuate her home in Lafayette a few days ago. “We were out of the house within five minutes of receiving the text to evacuate. Having already pondered what to bring, the car was in the driveway, we grabbed the two fire-resistant boxes with important papers, and filled a large suitcase with other items such as laptop, phone, chargers, dog food. In the scheme of things, nothing else really mattered. My genealogy is backed up once a month. Most of the very old photos have been scanned. In hindsight, I should have been prepared to not be able to bring anything. As it turned out, we were back home within a few hours. It was a good lesson.” Coincidentally, Linda just wrote a post on this very subject for the Nichi Bei Weekly. It is well worth reading.

My grandmother's cookie jar has no monetary value but it is
priceless to me.
For all of us who’ve been spared disaster this time there have been many good lessons during the power outages and threats of fire. Let’s all heed the warnings and prepare to save our most treasured possessions. 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

Volunteer for the front desk one day a month!

Felicia Addison at the front desk
As you know, CGS is entirely staffed and managed by volunteers. We can always use more volunteer assistance, even just one day or a few hours a month!

Currently we have an urgent need for more persons to manage the front desk at the library. If you can volunteer for one Thursday, Friday, or Saturday per month, please consider it. Training is provided. Be the welcoming face of CGS as a volunteer receptionist! Welcome our patrons to the library, shelve books, answer the telephone. It's a wonderful way to meet people and to learn more about our society. 

The library is open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The following slots need filling:

Thursday: 1st and 2nd Thursdays of the month

Friday: 3rd Friday of the month

Saturday: 4th and 5th Saturday each month

Volunteers have the option to work with another member or they can split a shift with another member (10 a.m. - 1 p.m. or 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.).

If you're interested, please contact Felicia Addison or Kathleen Beitiks, or fill out the CGS Volunteer form at our website.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

27 October 2019

November 2019 at CGS

Nothing makes a happier holiday for a genealogist than learning and researching! We have a cornucopia of wonderful classes and events coming up this month and continuing into the holiday season. Here's a preview:

Saturday, November 9:
Following the Paper Trail in England, 1837-1937
An exploration of the kinds of records available for researching ancestors in England and Wales from 1837, when civil registration began, to the outbreak of World War Two. Instructor is Jeremy Frankel, professional genealogist and President of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.

Saturday, November 16: We have two classes this day at different locations.

1. - At the CGS library, the Mayflower Descendants SIG holds an extended meeting on making your application to the Mayflower Society. Bring your documentation and enjoy 
this opportunity to learn and share research tools with other Mayflower descendants.

2. - At the Oakland Family Search Library, FamilySearch experts Debbie Perrone and Denise Plaskett cover the ins and outs of entering your family data on in Creating and Maintaining a Family Tree on FamilySearch. 

Be sure to check our website for first Saturday intro class and Special Interest Group meetings as well.

Looking ahead, on December 14 Mark McLaren offers an introduction to Scotland and Northern Ireland Research, and December 15 is the annual CGS Holiday Party! (check your eNews for details)

And don't forget - we have many more exciting classes and events coming up in the new year, including a six-week "Introduction to DNA" class with Mark McLaren beginning January 8, a research trip to the Salt Lake City Family History Library in April and much more! Check out the calendar for details.

All our Events can be found listed at the CGS Facebook page
Or on our website
Or at (search for "California Genealogical Society")

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

24 October 2019

Our Library Collections: Great Britain

A sampling of introductory books for Great
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the CGS Library in Oakland.  For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

The books for Great Britain begin with an assortment of introductory how-to books. They include titles such as: Tracing Your Family Tree, Tracing Your Ancestors, In Search of Ancestry, Genealogical Research in England and Wales, Genealogical Gleanings in England, British Research, The Genealogist’s Internet, English Genealogy, Family Tree Detective, the Oxford Guide to Family History, and it goes on.

Within this section we have a four-volume set published by Cambridge University Press in 1994. Volume One is From Family Tree to Family History, followed by From Family History to Community History. Volume Three covers Communities and Families and Volume Four is Sources and Methods: A Handbook. Apparently this set of books was written as part of a university course series. They appear to be excellent, well researched references.
This four-volume set was written as part of a class curriculum

Next on our shelves are an odd couple – Records and Record Searching: A Guide to the Genealogist and Topographer by Walter Rye (published 1888), and Instant Information on the Internet: A Genealogist’s No-Frills Guide to the British Isles (1999). Written 111 years apart, these two offer a classic perspective on how genealogical researched has evolved.
An odd couple, written 111 years apart

We have five shelves of books on royalty and peerage, many of which are massive tomes with ornate, gilded covers. There are five volumes of The Blood Royal of Britain. These are devoted to the descendants of Kings Henry and Edward of England and James III, King of Scotland.

We have four volumes of Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage – a genealogical and heraldic history. Our copies include volumes published in 1906, 1923, 1935 and 1957. These are some of the largest books in our library – the 1923 volume has 2790 pages of very fine print and nice illustrations of family heraldry symbols. Sadly, my English family name does not appear anywhere in the set.
Our shelves offer a number of books
on blue blood and peerage
I was surprised to find the books on peerage followed by a large collection of Avotayne: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy. I checked with library volunteer Phil Hoehn, and after some discussion, he found the journals had been misfiled. The library committee soon rectified the situation. Just a reminder that even the most careful volunteers can go astray–and that there's a reason we request you leave the reshelving to our experts!

An assortment of vital statistics books comes next, with books on marriages, wills, censuses and such things. Among these is The Yorkshire West Riding Poll Book 1835 – a gift of Dorothy Fowler, which provides the names of individuals eligible to vote and in some cases a few more facts on these early voters.

If you claim royalty or have British ancestors you won’t be disappointed with our offerings. 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society