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30 November 2007

Fort Wayne in August

President Jane Lindsey led a third CGS sponsored research trip to the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 19-26, 2007. This year's trip was especially well timed to follow the FGS Conference which was held August 15-18. And while many attendees (Dick Eastman estimated the total to be about 1500) raced to the library to try and cram in some research time before, between and after conference sessions, we from CGS were smugly relaxed with the knowledge that we would be there for a whole week after the crowds had left. (Okay, so actually we did sneak in occasionally - the temptation was just too great and they opened the library at 6:00 am!)

The conference was my first and was as fun, informative and exhausting as I had expected. One of the high points was hearing Christopher Haley, nephew of "Roots" author Alex Haley and Research Administrator of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives.

Even better was Chris's interview of our prez for Roots Television in the Exhibit Hall. Jane used the forum to tell viewers about some of the exciting changes we have made this year, including our long-anticipated online catalog.

Hmmm - it's daylight and we're not in the library. It must be Sunday - the library was closed but it was not a day of rest for us. Here we are in the dining room of the LaSalle Bed & Breakfast gearing up for our week of research.

This was the first CGS trip to the Allen County Public Library since the renovation project was completed. The library is a gem from its space-age pods where the littlest readers can curl up with a picture book to the state-of-the-art televison studio available to Allen County residents at no charge. Of course we only saw these things on the tour since we would go straight to the 2nd floor to the genealogy department and stay til closing with only a short break for lunch.

Jim Robinson is a CGS member and serves as 1st Vice-President of the Marin County Genealogical Society. His parents and grandparents were Indiana natives so his roots are deep there and he was able have Sunday dinner with ten ROBINSON third cousins.

One very special treat was a private lecture by Curt Witcher on "Fingerprinting Our Families: Using Ancestral Origins/Ethnicity As a Genealogical Research Key." Curt is the Manager of the ACPL Genealogy Department and author of the GenealogyGems Mailing List. He provided a comprehensive hand-out with reference suggestions for context which can be just the thing to help us over our brick walls. Jane arranged the talk for us which is typical of the kind of scrupulous attention she pays to the details on these research trips.

Here we all are on the last night - Jane always organizes a closing dinner so we can celebrate our finds. Starting at front left (around the table) are Sandy, Carol, Jane, Kathryn, Lorna, Lavinia, Gail, Jim and Pat. Thank you, Jane for another successful research trip.

Photographs courtesy of Jane Lindsey.

29 November 2007

Open house

One of the things I love about CGS is that the members are always ready to throw a party. After the move was over and the dust had settled, our volunteers were glad to celebrate and show off our new facility. The Open House was held on Thursday, April 26, 2007. The invitations looked like this and were hand delivered to all of our neighbor tenants at 2201 Broadway.

Many of our neighbors came to introduce themselves.

Several of our board members and volunteers were on hand to greet our guests.

A few were interested in looking for an ancestor in the 1920 or 1930 census.

I think that we were successful in finding something for everyone and more than a few seemed to catch the genealogy bug. It was another successful CGS event.

Photographs courtesy of Jane Lindsey.

28 November 2007

Our library

Since its inception in February 1898, the California Genealogical Society has emphasized the sharing of relevant source material and the establishment of a library was one of its earliest goals. Our new home in the Breuner Building is located in a "lower level" (basement) suite that was renovated, painted and customized just for us.

This is a view of the library through the entrance door to our suite.

One of our dedicated volunteers, Gloria Hanson, at the reception desk.

A view of the stacks (notice the matching chairs - a
bargain negotiated by president Jane Lindsey.)

On the shelves and in the files are more than 30,000 reference aids and genealogical records including dozens of periodicals, 10,000 local and family histories, reels of microfilm, CDs and many unpublished manuscripts. The library has a wide variety of San Francisco and Northern California materials but is also generously stocked with regional, state and local references for the entire United States. New England, Mid-Atlantic states and the South are particularly well represented in the collection.

After hundreds of volunteer hours, a beta version of the CGS online catalog is now available and is also accessible from the society home page. Over 10,000 books are now searchable on this user-friendly site. By year end, input of the book titles should be complete and the process of loading the CD collection and periodicals will begin.

Photographs courtesy of Colleen Huntley and Jane Lindsey.

27 November 2007

A new location

The California Genealogical Society opened its doors in March 2007 at our newest location in the historic Breuner Building in Uptown Oakland at 2201 Broadway at 22nd. The move was one of a series that our genealogy library has made over its 109-year history and lands CGS at its second Oakland address, after a century in San Francisco.

The entrance to the building is on 22nd Street.

Annalee Allen, Oakland Tribune landmark columnist and Oakland Walking Tours program coordinator, featured CGS and the Breuner Building in her April 22, 2007 column: Historical building to house society.

Photographs courtesy of Jane Lindsey.

26 November 2007

An Experiment

I often find myself looking back and retracing my steps to remember exactly how I got to where I am. It's something I do when researching my family genealogy and what I am doing now as I write this first blog entry. For me, the journey into the blogosphere started with a special report in the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine about shrinking membership in genealogical societies by Diane Haddad. Diane quoted Jasia, a "marketing expert who blogged at CreativeGene about societies after hers shrunk by half in three years." Off I went to learn from the master and to read her series of 17 posts: "Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies." Then I attended the 2007 FGS Annual Conference Meeting at the Crossroads of America in Fort Wayne, Indiana with a group from CGS. The keynote address was Societies Going Virtual by David E. Rencher and his conclusion was "Go Virtual or Perish!" I figured it was time to give this a try.

25 November 2007

About me

Welcome to the California Genealogical Society and Library Blog - a Web log for and about the society - its members, programs and events.

I'm Kathryn Doyle and I am the writer and editor of this blog and of the California Genealogical Society and Library electronic newsletter – the CGSL eNews.

I am a great believer in genealogical society membership. I belong to three county societies in Pennsylvania where my forebears lived (Blair, Indiana and Huntingdon) and to the Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast, Northern Ireland – my Doyles left County Tyrone at the time of the famine. I also hold membership in the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS), host of the annual Jamboree, in the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and in CGS, my local society here in Oakland, California.

Membership in the California Genealogical Society has given me more than just the "genealogical" benefits I had expected. Since I don't have California ancestry, I originally joined CGS for the surprisingly large Pennsylvania collection at the library. As I met other members I learned how much more you get from a local society. The volunteers at CGS are an amazing group of smart, talented, giving individuals and I value their friendship. The camaraderie is infectious - as I hope you will learn reading the California Genealogical Society and Library blog.

I appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Feel free to email me or leave a comment at the end of any post.

Updated 10/18/2009 for the 82nd Carnival of Genealogy.