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25 December 2019

Happy holidays to all - see you in the new year

Holiday Candles, Rachel Stallworth/Flickr
Photo by Rachel Stallworth/Flickr
Just a reminder that the CGS library is closed this week, December 26-28, and January 2. We look forward to welcoming you back in the new year! May you all enjoy the holiday season.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

21 December 2019

Fall 2019 Nugget is here! Plus, a call for submissions

Fall 2019 Nugget front coverHappy Solstice, everybody! Our Fall 2019 issue of The California Nugget hit the mailboxes just before the official first day of winter. (Talk about making it just under the wire.) If your copy hasn't yet arrived, you should be seeing it soon.

The fall issue contains a number of articles we hope you'll find interesting. "The Curious Case of Daniel Duracq" follows the trail of a boy from South Boston whose adventures led him across the country and eventually into San Quentin State Prison. Also, Barbara Kridl details how an old newspaper clipping inspired her investigation into the story of an Ohio ancestor who joined the California Gold Rush. Carolyn Nash writes about the Ă–lander brothers, Swedish immigrants to California. And our columnist Lisa Gorrell offers a guide to "writing as you go" for the contemporary genealogist.

We hope you enjoy the magazine! You'll also find a preview of upcoming 2020 classes and eventsand a call for submissions! Do you have an interesting genealogical story to tell, or a research problem you've solved? Why not write about it for The Nugget? Next year marks the centennial of Prohibition and women's suffrage in the USA, as well as the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's arrival at Plymouth, Massachusetts, so we are looking for items related to those anniversaries, but anything that might be of interest to our wide and varied readership is invited for consideration.

Wishing you all happy holidays.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

20 December 2019

Our Library Collections: Oversized Books

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.

Ormerod's History of Cheshire
One of the sections of our library you may not think to look at is located at the back wall of the library. It is there that we shelve all of our oversized books–books that don't fit on the standard sized shelves. These would be filed in sections associated with the topic they cover except for the fact that they are just too big.

Many of the oversize books are quite old. Our section begins with three volumes of Ormerod’s History of Cheshire, a massive history of the county of Cheshire in north England compiled by George Ormerod and first published in 1819. These books are leather bound with decorative gold detailing on the binding. They stand 19” tall and weigh about ten pounds each–so take care when lifting one down from the top shelf.

We have a very large collection of genealogical columns from the Boston Evening Transcript spanning the period 1894 to 1941. Remarkably, these are the original columns on newsprint, each cut out from the newspaper and carefully pasted onto the book pages. Each day’s column fits on one page. The patient person(s) who created these record books helpfully underlined each family name in red, making it easy to find the genealogical information being sought. (The names are all indexed in our card files.) The columns cover a broad range of information, from wills and marriage announcements to individual queries or comments.

A portion of our collection of genealogical
columns from the Boston Evening Transcript

We have two volumes of pedigree charts collected by the California Genealogical Society from the early to mid-20th century. These family pedigrees were filled in on pre-printed forms, with space for eight generations on both the maternal and paternal sides. The first chart, for John Hart Allen (1843-1918) and his wife, Mary Helen Kerr Strohan, both of New York, is pretty sparse but others are much more complete. Some include snapshots, news clips or other memorabilia. Each chart is fascinating to look at.

The Tartans of the Clans of Scotland, published in 1886, caught my eye because of its elaborate binding. The cover page says that the book is “also an introductory account of Celtic Scotland; Clanship, Chiefs, Their Dress, Arts, etc., and with Historical Notes of Each Clan.” The bulk of this book consists of large (10” x 7”) high-quality color reproductions of each of the tartans followed by a one-page description of the clan.

man in kilt
From The Tartans of the Clans of Scotland
picture of tartan
An example of one of the tartans

Ireland in Pictures (copyright 1898) is another of the many gifts from George R. Dorman. This book consists of 400 black and white photographs of places in Ireland. Each image has a lengthy and informative caption describing what is depicted. A detailed table of contents makes it easy to find a specific place, useful if you were looking for a photo to augment your family’s genealogy.

Ireland in Pictures is just what it says, plus short narratives
The oversize section includes a lot of geographic history books, a few genealogical dictionaries, and a number of atlases. Two more volumes of interest are Edwin A. Sherman's Fifty Years of Masonry in California (volumes II and III, published in 1893). It begins with a chapter on the origin of Royal Arch Masonry, followed by chapters on Freemasonry in America and in California. This book is well illustrated with photos and engravings of historic sites and portraits of notable Freemasons. My great-grandfather and grandfather were both active in Oakland Masons, so this is a book I’ll be coming back to.

A source that could augment my own family's story
Next time you find yourself in the library, look at the back wall and see what might waiting there for you.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

19 December 2019

Why You Should Go: 2020 Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City

Lisa Gorrell, CG, is leading the upcoming CGS research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City this coming May. Here's what she has to say about it:

photo of Lisa Gorrell
Lisa Gorrell
Our upcoming trip next year to the Family History Library will be from Sunday, May 24 to Sunday, May 30. These dates follow the dates of the National Genealogical Society’s Conference. If you would like to attend the conference, too, you will need to book your own hotel for those dates. Now, you’re probably asking “Why would I want to go to the Family History Library? Isn’t it all online now?” Yes, it is true that FamilySearch has been digitizing their collected records and putting images online, but they are far from putting it all online. Let’s talk about their collection:

Books. Many of the books in their collection may never be digitized. Books that have been recently published are still under copyright laws. Even if a book is digitized, only one person can view it at a time. Your chances are greater viewing a physical copy at the library.

Microfilm. The plan is to digitize all of the microfilm. They are having a hard time getting blank microfilm and it is very expensive. Also, the microfilm machines are getting old and it’s difficult to find parts to repair them. So digitizing the film is a win-win situation for the library. However, some of the original repositories where the records were filmed the have not given permission to publish the images online. Therefore, the only place you can view some “digitized” films is on computers at the Library itself, or perhaps at local Family History centers. This will also include microfiche.

So what is the real advantage of an in-person trip to the Family History Library?

Six days of distraction-free research
Six days where you didn’t have to do household chores
Six days of being with others who share your enthusiasm for genealogy research
Research assistance from the leader (me) or one of the experts at the library (especially at the foreign language floors)

How should you prepare for such a trip?

Decide which ancestral lines you want to work on
Record the localities where these families lived
Check the FHL catalog for the records and books that are available at the library for each locality. Some items may be available online, but if there is a “key” symbol next to the film number, that film can only be viewed at the FHL or at a Family History Center.
image of camera and key
This symbol indicates records
that may only be viewed in a library
If you find lots of books and films you would like to view, then it may be worthwhile to make the trip with CGS.

You can schedule a pre-trip consultation with the leader, Lisa Gorrell. You will also be able to have consultations during the trip at the library.

We have fun, too! Of course, the trip isn’t just all serious research. We have three planned joint meals together, and every day we get together for lunch and dinner at a variety of places. It’s a great time to share our successes and get help with our research issues.

To sign up for the trip, use this link at Eventbrite. There are limited spaces, so be sure to register soon!

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

15 December 2019

Rare opportunity to buy complete set of Civil War-themed books

Civil War book collection

Here's an idea for a unique gift for the holidays or other special event:

A very generous longtime CGS member has made a large donation of the complete American Civil War collector's series published by Time-Life in the 1980s. We have added a lot of the genealogical titles to our collection. We hope to raise funds for the society by selling the duplicate titles and the books that fall outside of our collection criteria. Usually we put such books for sale on our eBay account, but today, in the hope of inspiring some holiday shopping among our historically inclined members, we would like to make this incredible collection of Civil War books available for purchase direct from the library.
We have a complete set of twenty-nine books–twenty-eight titles, one in two volumes–of the Time-Life Books Collector's Library edition. These are leather-bound reprints of books published during or shortly after the Civil War (see below for titles). The richly illustrated books have gilded page edges, red ribbon bookmarks, and embossed images on the cover.  In excellent condition, they would be a treasure for any Civil War historian, young or old. We would like to sell the set locally to avoid expensive shipping charges. We are asking $160 for the complete set; a bargain at less than $6 a volume!

Interested? Contact our library volunteer Kristi Wessenberg for further information.
Books in the series:

Reminiscences of the Civil War by John B. Gordon

Daring and Suffering by William Pittenger

Campaigning With Grant by Horace Porter

Army Life in a Black Regiment by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

A Rebel War Clerks’ Diary, Volumes 1 & 2 by John B. Jones

Memories, by Fannie A. Beers

Army Memoirs By Lucius W. Barber

Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life by Carlton McCarthy

Richmond during the War by Sallie B. Putnam

Hard Tack and Coffee by John D. Billings

One of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry by John H. Worsham

Mosby’s Rangers by James J. Williamson

Recollections of a Private by Warren Lee Goss

The Citizen-Soldier by John Beatty

Destruction and Reconstruction by Richard Taylor

Three Years in the Sixth Corps by George T. Stevens

The Narrative of a Blockade-runner by John Wilkinson

The Story of a Common Soldier by Leander Stillwell

War from the Inside by Frederick L. Hitchcock

Battle-fields of the South by An English Combatant

Three Months in the Southern States by Arthur J. L. Fremantle

Confederate Operations in Canada and New York by John W. Headley

Campaigns of a Non-Combatant by George Alfred Townsend

A Soldier’s Recollections by Randolph H. McKim

In and Out of Rebel Prisons by Alonzo Cooper

Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman by James Harvey Kidd

Four Years in Rebel Capitals by T. C. DeLeon

Life in the Confederate Army by William Watson

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society