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29 February 2008

43rd Carnival of Genealogy - Technology

One of the many new wonders I have discovered since entering the world of genea-blogging is the Carnival of Genealogy which is a collection of blog posts around a designated theme.

I've decided to jump on the carousel this month and describe my three technology picks. Carnival hostess, Jasia, asks: "What technology do you most rely on for your genealogy and family history research? Select one piece of hardware (besides your computer), one piece of software (besides your internet browser), and one web site/blog (besides your own) that are indispensable to you. Resist the urge to dilute the impact of your 3 choices by mentioning several others you use and appreciate as well."

So here goes...

Hardware: I consider myself moderately techno-savvy but gadgets and toys didn't really interest me until the iPhone . It is literally with me 24/7. I'm just beginning to tap into its genealogical potential by downloading and listening to a variety of podcasts. I'm especially enjoying the old Irish songs at Mike O’Laughlin's Irish Roots Cafe.

Software: I've been using Reunion for Macintosh by Leister Productions, Inc. since 1990 when I had my Mac SE with its 20 MB hard drive. I upgrade to every new version, now up to 9.06. It has grown into an amazing program, always keeping up with the technological advances of the Mac OS. There is plenty of support at ReunionTalk, an online community of users.

Web site: One of my favorite "sharing" sites is, which grew out of founder Jim Tipton's love of visiting the graves of famous people.

The site is a collection of memorials (now over 21 million), arranged by cemetery, which include biographical information, photographs and even "flowers" for the "gravesite." I especially like the way that you can create virtual cemeteries and link family members together, even though they may be buried in different places. In the seven years since joining the site, I've been involved in many collaborations with volunteers from all over the country. Please take a look at my memorial for my ggg-grandfather, William Hainey BRIGGS. You can leave flowers if you want.

27 February 2008

Book Repair Committee

The sound of laughter coming from the upstairs annex at the old library in the Latham Building was a sure sign that it was the second Tuesday of the month and the book repairers had their backs to the wall as they toiled in tight quarters. Since the move to the Breuner Building last year, the restoration work continues in more spacious quarters and the mirth now emanates from the back room of the new library. You can't help but get the feeling that these five loyal volunteers really love what they are doing.

The CGS Book Repair Committee, headed by Bill O'Neil, has been meeting like clockwork on the second Tuesday of every month, since the group formed in 1987 under the tutelage of the late Dick Thrift. Because the repair process can require several steps and the committee meets only once per month, it can take several months for the repair business to be completed. During that time, the books are out of circulation.

The committee allows the California Genealogical Society to maintain open stacks. Books in need of care are marked by a blue ribbon and stay on the shelves to allow patron use until the menders can get to them. The most common repairs are for torn spines and loose pages, but the committee has seen it all. Bill explained that their goal when repairing books is to strike a balance between "keeping them in one piece and doing no harm."

Each member "adopts" a book and works on it one day a month until it is ready to be placed back on the shelf. The average book takes three months to complete. The committee repairs an average of 100 books per year.

Tools of the trade.

Lorna Wallace puts the finishing touches on a newly repaired book

Book repair group: (standing) Lorna Wallace, Marianne Frey, Bill O'Neil;
(seated) Anne Robinson and Dick Rees.

Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle, Oakland, California, 12/11/2007.

Copyright © 2008 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

25 February 2008

Amazing New Offerings at the Family History Library

CGS March Membership Meeting

Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 1:30 p.m.

Oakland Family History Center
4766 Lincoln Avenue
Oakland, CA 94602


Those who have signed up for the CGS Research Tour to Salt Lake City in April won't want to miss the March Membership Meeting. Margery Bell, Assistant Director of the Oakland Regional Family History Center, will update us on the new projects that the LDS Church is working on from to the results of the massive indexing program that is underway. Currently more than 100,000 volunteers are indexing over 1 million names a month and they are rapidly coming on-line with links to the original records. Some of the new technologies can be seen at FamilySearch Labs. Marge will also show us the family history center portal that is the gateway to the member websites available in the Family History Center and demonstrate how their favorites list is organized to provide easy access to some of the choice websites for genealogical research.

An avid genealogist for thirty-eight years, Margery Bell is the author of "Line Upon Line: A Beginner's Guide to Genealogy" that is published with Ancestral Quest software.

18 February 2008

San Francisco Coffee - April 2, 2008

The next California Genealogical Society Membership Coffee will be held on Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 10 a.m. - 12 noon, at the Mechanics' Institute Library cafe in San Francisco's Financial District. Members who live in San Francisco will be receiving personal invitations by phone or email and will be encouraged to bring a friend who is interested in genealogy. Immediately following the coffee, at noon, the regularly scheduled public tour of the Mechanics' Institute Library takes place. The Institute is private and only members are allowed inside the library, so this will be a unique opportunity to tour this historic facility. Reservations will be required since space is limited. The society acknowledges the generosity of Mary Beth Frederick who is a member of the California Genealogical Society and the Mechanics' Institute and who graciously made the arrangements.

Plans are also underway for a membership coffee at the Belle Cooledge Branch Library in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 7, 2008 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Members in greater Sacramento area will be receiving their invitations in the coming weeks.

CGS President Jane Lindsey is looking for a member who lives in the Los Angeles area to help organize a membership coffee to coincide with the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree 2008, which will be held June 27-28-29 at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.

16 February 2008

Top Ten reasons to go to SLC with CGS

#10 - The Family History Library is vast and going alone for the first time can be intimidating. Come with two experienced leaders who will save you hours of time learning what is where and how best to use the overwhelming number of resources.

#9. - Arrangements for hotel, breakfast, shuttles and three dinners have already been made for you. Accommodations are at the Shilo Inn - three blocks from the Family History Library and the rooms have free wireless internet.

#8. - Spend time with like-minded individuals. No one will roll their eyes when you start rattling on about your great-great whoever. Where else can you spend a week with other people who are just as nutty about genealogy as you are?

#7. - You will finally have time to organize your papers. Catch an early flight and throw everything into an extra suitcase. Spend Sunday afternoon in your hotel room without distractions and get ready for a week of research. (Believe me, we have all done this!)

#6. - Take advantage of advanced assistance. Jane and Nancy will review your research goals and objectives and make suggestions before you even go to Salt Lake.

#5. - The tour is a perfect blend of togetherness and alone time. Three dinners are planned with the group (don't miss Saturday night at Lamb's) and the other evenings are free to do with as you please. Groups meet informally in the library lobby for lunch and you can join them, explore on your own or stay and work through lunch.

#4. - Nancy Peterson, C.G., has donated her time and expertise to assist you. Nancy is the CGS Research Director and has taught numerous genealogy classes. Private appointments with her during the week are included in the price.

#3 - Jane Lindsey is a mother hen who logs miles and miles running up and down the library stairs making sure that we are all finding what we need. She has been researching in Salt Lake City for over twenty years and has led all of the CGS tours.

#2 - The company is fantastic. I've made friends that I only see once a year but we pick up just where we left off. And there is always someone in the group who has the experience in an area that you don't.

And the number ONE reason to go to Salt Lake City with the California Genealogical Society is...

It is the perfect way to get away from life's distractions and concentrate on researching your family. Imagine a week without any responsibilities except to your ancestors.

15 February 2008

More bookmark photographs

Lois Elling, creator of the CGS 110th anniversary bookmark, contributed two of her own family photographs to the project.

The first is Lois' grandmother, Caroline (or Karoline) PERRSON, who came to America from Sweden with her cousin Ida in 1902, at the age of 20. She worked as a domestic in the Boston area, where she met and married William A. ROBINSON, Jr., who was working as a chauffeur. After the death of their first child at just 11 months, the couple moved to Southern California to live near one of Caroline's sisters. They settled in Los Angeles and in 1912 had a son, Herman, and a daughter, Alice, in 1915. William made a living as a machinist and auto mechanic.

Lois' second photograph is her father, Herman ROBINSON and sister, Alice, taken at a studio in Los Angeles in 1918. One of William Robinson's hobbies was photography, which is how Lois came to have a good-sized collection of photographs of the young family.

Lavinia Grace Schwarz contributed this photograph of her Granddad, Andrew Bruce Cresap, who ran away from home, lied about his age and joined up as a medic.

Finally, the front bookmark photograph is from the California Genealogical Society and Library manuscript collection. The photograph, part of the HUTCHISSON family collection, is an image of the three children of Harry Hutchisson and Anna Bertha Merrick, taken about 1903. They are (from left to right) Wallace, Hester and Elmer (first name Lawrence, but he never used it) Hutchisson.

Many thanks to all of the contributors and special kudos to Lois Elling.

13 February 2008

110th anniversary bookmark

The 110th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday was a resounding success. Steve Danko has posted a detailed report on the day at his blog: Maureen Taylor, Photo Detective. I was struck by Maureen's incredible talent and passion for her subject, which we learned is a fusion of her expertise in history, photography and genealogy. I came away with a new appreciation for the value of photographs -- not just as a supplement to our family history but also as a research tool. We all have to become "photo detectives" to make sure we have gleaned all of the clues lying in wait in our own family photographs.

All 140 attendees went home with a special souvenir of the day. CGS President, Jane Lindsey, planned early on to create a bookmark to commemorate the anniversary but it was CGS News Production Editor, Lois Elling, who thought to merge the idea with the theme. She combined her design skills and love of ancestral photographs to create a keepsake that perfectly complemented Maureen's presentations.

Several CGS members submitted photographs for the bookmark. I promised that I would include a personal "thank you" to each and give a bit of background and biographical information about the CGS ancestors featured. I'll start with the two photos that I submitted.

The first is a photograph of my uncle and mother taken in 1938 in Sendai, Japan. My uncle, Iwao OKAMOTO, was graduating from high school and had been instructed by his mother to stop by the local studio to sit for a graduation photograph. He took along one of his younger sisters, Miyako, age 8. My grandmother was surprised to find that all of his portraits included his sibling! Iwao was unconcerned. He told his mother that if she didn't want to include his little sister she could be cut off. I'm so grateful that she wasn't.

The second is from my husband's extended NICKLES family. It is of two siblings, Pauline and George Nikolaides, taken about 1928 in the village of Tsintzina, near Sparta, Greece. The brother and sister spent their childhood years in two villages - summers spent in the mountains in Tsintzina, where it is cooler, and the winters in Zoupena; migrating back and forth, up and down the mountain each spring and fall, as has been the custom for hundreds of years. They came to the U.S. with their father and siblings in 1937; their mother remained in Greece throughout her life. Pauline Nickles Poulos died in 1986. George P. Nickles died November 22, 2007. May their memories be eternal.

This is one of only three photographs taken on the wedding day of Clare and Alta McAllister THOMSON, parents of Thomas Thomson who is the husband of Shirley Pugh Thomson, CGS board member and recording secretary. The young bride and groom (she only 18, he age 19) were photographed 4 June 1916, in Sullivan County, Indiana. In the back seat are their best friends and witnesses, Paul and Lena Sharpe. The car was the groom’s father’s Buick.

Two photographs were contributed by CGS member Lisa B. Lee. David Moses LEE was born in 1847 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, the son of William Barnard Lee and Eleanor Jane Smith, and descendant of William Lee, a black Loyalist who fought in the Revolutionary War on behalf of the British Crown. In his early 20s, he moved to Buffalo, New York with his mother and worked first as a blacksmith and then as a male nurse, a position he held for over 50 years. For much of his adult life, he worked in Dr. Pierce's Hospital, an institution on Buffalo's Main Street. Lee died in 1936 in Buffalo at the age of 89.

Lisa's second contribution was the photograph of the MILLER Family. William Miller was born in Pennsylvania about 1811 and escaped slavery to Ontario and settled in the Wellington County area around 1835. He and his wife, Mary Ann Clement (a Canadian native) had at least 11 children. Those pictured in the photo are William Miller's grandson John Sylvester Miller, John's wife, Amanda Cromwell (whose grandfather was a black Loyalist in Nova Scotia) and their children, Joseph, Jane, William and Cecil.

I have a few more details to gather for the remaining photographs so stay tuned.

12 February 2008

The year was 1898

The year was 1898.

William McKinley was president and declared war on Spain.

Madame Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered radium.

The Hawaiian Islands became a territory of the United States.

Folks were trying a new soft drink called "Pepsi-Cola."

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, died and C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was born.

And, on February 12, 1898, the California Genealogical Society was created.

[Photo of William McKinley from the Library of Congress Digital Collection.]

11 February 2008

Great Registers of Voters - SF 1890

Several genealogy blogs have commented on the recent release of a new database on - California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968. This collection is a portion of what is more commonly known as the "Great Registers of Voters" which date back to 1866. Legislation was enacted that year to combat voter fraud and bring order after the massive population influx that came with the Gold Rush. The registers are compiled lists of voter names and addresses arranged by district. Additional information was collected which varies by year.

CGS Research Director Nancy Peterson, who devotes a chapter to "Voting Records" in her book Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research, notes that "the Great Registers before the years that Ancestry digitized contained naturalization information." The 1866 legislation required voters to provide the country where they were born and "if a naturalized foreigner, when, where, and by what Court he was admitted to become a citizen of the United States." By 1900, when the United States began collecting specific naturalization information from individuals during the decennial census, the voters of California were no longer required to supply it.

CGS member, Jim W. Faulkinbury, gives the complete background of the Great Registers and has an online database index of Foreign-Born Voters of 1872.

The California Genealogical Society participated in the statewide indexing of the 1890 Great Register of Voters, chosen to provide a partial substitute for the lost United States census of that year. The massive project, which took eleven years to complete, was organized by the California State Genealogical Alliance, a consortium of independent genealogical societies throughout California, chaired by Janice G. Cloud of Santa Barbara. The California 1890 Great Register of Voters, a three volume set, indexes 311,028 men living in California in 1890 and includes significant personal information but not the naturalization data.

The California Genealogical Society separately indexed and published in 2002 a one-volume San Francisco, California: 1890 Great Register of Voters, edited by Jane Billings Steiner. It contains the names of 59,712 men living in the many precincts of the city and county of San Francisco in 1890, as well as their age, place of birth, occupation, home address and all naturalization details as found in the official record. CGS has a names search at our Web site which includes this records set, as well as many more. Results that include the code "FRAN" come from this database and can be purchased.

04 February 2008

African American Lives 2

Dick Eastman wrote recently about the lack of genealogy-based television programming in the U.S. and the possibility of a new series. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is doing his part to fill the void. Gates, recently named editor of a new African-American online magazine with a slice of genealogy, The Root, is back at PBS this week and next with another of his genealogical treats, African American Lives 2. Gates builds on the previous success of African American Lives (2006) and Oprah's Roots (2007) and returns as the series host with a new cast of prominent and celebrity African-Americans who journey into the lives of their ancestors. This time around Professor Gates examines the ancestry of poet Maya Angelou, actors Don Cheadle and Morgan Freeman and singer Tina Turner, among others.

In case you miss the broadcasts, snippets are available on the excellent companion Web site, launched last week, which is also set up for K-12 teachers to use the program for classroom instruction.

One of the twelve featured "lives," comedian Chris Rock, had an unexpectedly tearful response when learning that his ancestor had served in the Civil War. Said an emotional Rock, "Let's just hope that everybody learns where they come from so their lives can make more sense."

AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 airs Wednesdays, February 6-13, 2008, 9:00-11:00 p.m. PST on PBS local affliate KQED, Channel 9.

Countdown to the 110th

Today is the last day to reserve your place at the 110th Anniversary Celebration, this Saturday, February 9, 2008, at the Concord Hilton. You won't want to miss this special day-long program with Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, who will present four seminars:

Tales from The Photo Detective
Identifying and Dating Family Photos
Preserving Family Photographs
Reading Immigrant Clues in Photos

$45.00 includes all seminars and lunch.

CGS News Editor, Jane Hufft, has organized a special silent auction as part of the festivities. Donated items include a set of champagne glasses in a carrying case, a basket of Irish coffee glasses and accoutrements, two sets of framed botanical prints, Fleetwood Mac wines, a handmade baby blanket, a set of two Malaysian baskets and much, much more.

The society is also honored to announce that our event is the book launch of Maureen Taylor's newest title, Capturing Memories (Your Family Story in Photographs). All of Maureen's books will be available for sale at the event.

President Jane Lindsey has been planning a couple more surprises for the day, including a special commemorative souvenir designed by the CGS News production editor, Lois Elling.

Back in December, George Morgan and Drew Smith, The Genealogy Guys, read the press release of our event on their podcast. George gave Maureen this glowing recommendation:

"If you've never heard Maureen speak about preservation of photographs, identifying photographs, identifying time frames... you're going to find this a tremendous, tremendous session."

Photographs of Maureen Taylor courtesy of Erik Jacobs Photography.