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15 August 2018

The Great Migration: Researching 17th-Century New England: NEHGS comes to Oakland September 22!

Robert C. Anderson and Christopher Child
The year 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, and preparations for celebrations are well under way. Leading the way is of course the grandparent of all American genealogical societies: The New England Historic Genealogical Society. On September 22, Bay Area residents have a chance to hear two renowned experts in early New England research: Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, Director of the Great Migration Study Project and Christopher C. Child, Senior Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press, editor of The Mayflower Descendant, and frequent contributor to the NEHGS Vita Brevis blog.

Anderson and Child are the featured speakers at "The Great Migration: Researching 17th-Century New England," a daylong seminar exploring the genealogical and ideological connections among the Puritans who settled New England. Speakers will also address settlement and migrations within early New England, research strategies for breaking down genealogical brick walls, and longoing scholarly contributions to the field of study. Beyond lectures, participants will have the opportunity to chat with visiting NEHGS staff, enter to win door prizes, take advantage of NEHGS membership specials, and enjoy lunch with fellow family historians. CGS will host a membership table and have a silent auction.

On Friday, September 21, consultations with members of the California Genealogical Society who are experienced in early New England research will be available at the CGS Library.

Click here to sign up for a consultation on September 21.

For tickets and more details about the September 22 event, go to the EventBrite listing.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

14 August 2018

Perspectives on DNA and Adoption: A panel discussion

On Saturday, September 29, the California Genealogical Society will host a panel discussion on one of the hottest topics in genealogy today. DNA testing is transforming genealogical research, and it’s having a huge impact on families with adoptions. Our six panelists will share a range of perspectives, from adoptees, adoptive parents, and consultants. Our panelists will discuss using DNA to build a family tree, and offer guidelines and insights for dealing with the emotional and ethical issues that can arise.
Speakers include:
Laura Ashizawa, an adoptee who found her birth mother through genealogical records online and then located her birth father using DNA.

Eva Godwin, who is experienced in genetic genealogy research, including adoptions. She has contributed research for the Who Do You Think You Are? TV series. 

Therese Hart-Pignotti, an adopted only daughter. She works as a paralegal developing family pedigrees for use in legal cases when a person has died without an heir.

Sarah Liron, who was adopted at birth through a closed adoption. She eventually located her birth mother through genealogical records. DNA then helped her identify hundreds of people in her paternal family tree and connected with scores of cousins in her birth father’s family. Sarah holds a master’s degree in genetic counseling from UC Berkeley.

Joanna Shear, a professional genealogist and adoptive mother, uncovered living family members thought lost in the Holocaust through traditional research. DNA testing has led her to the ancestral villages of her immigrant great grandparents. She has experienced the powerful influence that knowing details of family history can make on sense of identity for herself and through work for others. 

Linda Okazaki
The panel is facilitated by Linda Okazaki, a contract researcher with Ancestry’s ProGenealogists and past president of the California Genealogical Society. She writes a column, “Finding Your Nikkei Roots,” which is published bi-monthly in the Nichi Bei Weekly.

The event runs 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, September 29 at CGS. Tickets available at EventBrite (click for link): Cost is $45 (can be applied toward CGS membership). Free for CGS members.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

11 August 2018

September 8 Board Meeting: Unveiling the 2018 Strategic Plan!

At our next CGS Board Meeting, on Saturday, September 8, we will be unveiling the 2018 Strategic Plan, an ambitious proposal to reorganize and update the organization to better serve our members and secure our future.

Proposed organizational chart based on the 2018 Strategic Plan (click to enlarge)

The SPC has set out an aggressive Goals & Action Plan with six main goals and 43 proposed specific actions. Primary goals:
  1. Attract new members and meet the needs of existing members.
  2. Expand and improve our educational programs.
  3. Attract and retain more volunteers.
  4. Sustain our outreach efforts.
  5. Continue to improve our library
  6. Achieve a sustainable financial base for the society.
Members can read the entire plan on our website at "Minutes and Reports" under the Membership tab (login required). 

The plan has been nearly a year in the making, with input from numerous members and stakeholders. The Strategic Planning Committee began last fall by interviewing members on each of the active CGS committees to hear their thoughts about CGS’ strengths and weaknesses. The board has reviewed different parts of the plan at its last three board meetings. Now it is time to hear from YOU.

The September 8 board meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. (30 minutes earlier than our usual time) and will be held in the conference room at CGS, 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland. We welcome your interest and hope to see you there! 

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

06 August 2018

Mind Mapping for Genealogy

Ron Arons discusses using "mind maps" in genealogy
Last week's "Mind Mapping for Genealogy" class led by author and genealogist Ron Arons offered participants an in-depth look at how computer software can be used to create "mind maps" to improve and enhance our research. This is particularly helpful for those who best grasp ideas through visual learning. 

Ron is an entertaining speaker and a patient instructor who knows his material. He introduced attendees to three (free) software programs offering three different approaches to mind mapping: Visual Understanding Environment, The Brain, and Free Mind.

Chris Pattillo, who attended the class, said she "kicked the tires" of each program before coming to the session. "I can tell you that one--Visual Understanding Environment--is so intuitive and easy to use that I was able to create a multi-color organization chart for CGS before arriving at the class," she said. "The introductory video for the program called The Brain is dazzling and it appears to be amazingly powerful." 

It can be a labor-intensive undertaking to use the programs: each requires the user to first enter all their data on a particular subject before being able to analyze the information. But if the effort helps solve one of your family mysteries the time may prove worthwhile.

Thanks to Ron for presenting the class and to Maureen Hanlon and her Events Committee team for making it all happen.

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society

05 August 2018

CGS Library Collections: Alabama

A portion of our collection on Alabama books
First in an occasional series highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland.

Did you know that the California Genealogical Library has 36 books on Alabama? Plus three sets of journals – The Alabama Genealogical Registry 1959-1967, Montgomery Genealogical Society Quarterly 2005-2009 and the Deep South Genealogical Society 1970-2003.

The collection includes multiple state histories and a few county histories. There are the usual collections of records books and some sources books like Family Maps of County Alabama by Gregory A. Boyd, J.D. This book includes 3 maps of each town. One shows homestead lands, another shows roads, and the third shows features like creeks, rivers, and railroads. Cemeteries are included as well as maiden names.
Tracing Your Alabama Past
I am always attracted to the books that look old. One that caught my eye was a small book titled History of Alabama Adapted to the Use of Schools and for General Reading by L.D. Miller, published in 1901. The book has character and includes a wonderful portrait captioned “Old Plantation Couple”. 

Tracing Your Alabama Past by Robert Scott Davis looks like a good source. The back cover explains that “This comprehensive reference book leads to the wide array of facts and essential data – public records, census figures, military statistics, geography, studies of African American and Native American communities, local and biographical history, internet sites, archives and more.”

One of several Alabama county books
Another old book that urged me to take it off the shelf was History of Conecuh County, Alabama by Rev. B.F. Riley, Pastor of the Opelika Baptist Church. This book was published in 1881. The subtitle of the book highlights the contents. It says, “Embracing a Detailed Record of Events from the Earliest Period to the Present; Biographical Sketches of Those Who Have Been Most Conspicuous in the Annals of the County; A Complete List of the Officials of Conecuh, Besides Much Valuable Information Relative to the Internal Resources of the County.” 

The prose in this volume approaches poetry
I selected that last book for this article because the red leather cover appealed to me. It was Early Settlers of Alabama Col. James Saunders Notes & Genealogies written by his granddaughter, Elizabeth Sauders Blair Stubbs in 1961. Inside I found this description of the contents of the book and knew it was a good one, “Most lovingly does Colonel Saunders relate the story of her people, from the humble mechanic at his forge, to the noble Governor in his chair of State. Her whilom ministers, merchants, lawyers, planters, statesmen, come, at his gentle summons near and take on the semblance of the vivid life they lived. Youth and lovers, the jest, the chase – threads of gold in the noble tapestry – each plays their part.” 

Just for fun I checked the index for my family name and was amused to find a listing for Henry Patillo on page 472. Henry is identified as “of Colonial and Revolutionary fame.” I have three Henrys in my RootsMagic database, but none went to Alabama so I cannot claim him.

If I’ve piqued your interest, you can see a complete listing of all our Alabama books on WorldCat
A rare photo

Copyright © 2018 by California Genealogical Society