Recent Posts

31 October 2008

Unraveling Historical Cold Cases: A Workshop November 15, 2008

CGS member Penelope Curtis sent this notice of an upcoming workshop.

I have been involved with the preservation of the North Star Mine House, designed by Julia Morgan in 1905, for many, many years. Part of that preservation has been in-depth research into the lives of its primary occupants which led me to my own ancestors. The result is this workshop on November 15 that features a local historian who has written numerous accounts of female pioneers.



The North House was designed by Julia Morgan as a hospitality house for the North Star Mine. This photograph is from the Foote family collection. Arthur De Wint Foote took the photo in 1907 when he was superintendent of the North Star Mine and the new host of the house. [Photograph from Penelope's SmugMug gallery.]

The North Star House docents present Grass Valley author Chris Enss.

Saturday, November 15, 2008, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the North Star Mine House, Grass Valley, California.

Join us in a workshop to learn from Ms. Enss how to unravel cold cases as an historical detective. She will share ten tips for conducting personal genealogical or historical investigations:

1. Prowling the courthouse; 2. Nosing around the archives; 3. Checking out the church; 4. Hunting through the home; 5. Tramping through the trades; 6. Delving into the dispensary; 7. Poking around the Pokey; 8. Roving over the reports; 9. Listening for clues; 10. Noticing the newspapers.

Workshop fee $45 will benefit the North Star House rehabilitation.
Bring your own lunch.
Workshop attendees limited to 25.

Make checks payable to: North Star Historic Conservancy, Post Office Box 578, Cedar Ridge, CA 95924

Ms. Enss is an award-winning screenwriter who has written for television, short subject and feature films and for stand-up comedians. She is the author of several books, including A Beautiful Mine: Women Prospectors of the Old West, Hearts West: True Stories of Mail Order Brides on the Frontier and How the West Was Worn: Bustles and Buckskins on the Wild Frontier.

For reservations or more information e-mail Penelope Curtis or call 530-798-5955.

30 October 2008

Genealogists Invade Facebook

You may have noticed the "Find us on Facebook" badge on the right side bar of the blog. It's been there for the past couple of months since I created a special CGS Facebook page for the California Genealogical Society and Library. Unlike individual profiles or groups on FB, you don't have to be a member of Facebook to view the CGS Page. What you'll find there is a nicely organized presentation of everything CGS - links to our Web site, blog posts, photo albums and the opportunity to become a "fan." Facebook is not just for kids anymore. It is one of many social networking services that I've been experimenting with as a place to promote the society and post our events.

Photo Detective Maureen Taylor nudged me into joining Facebook back in June and I've been watching in wonder at the number of genealogists who have embraced this new way to share information and make friends. Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak started the genea-stampede to Facebook with Unclaimed Persons – a self-described "group of volunteer genealogists who donate their time and research skills to assist medical examiners, coroners and investigators to locate the next of kin of deceased individuals." Smolenyak states she had "no idea about all these unclaimed people who are usually cremated and buried in unmarked graves, and that’s often after several months on a shelf in a morgue. We hear about abandoned pets, but you never hear about these abandoned bodies." You can view a video on RootsTelevision showing how Megan got her start working with coroners' offices.

By July 2008, hoards of genealogy bloggers had invaded Facebook and Thomas MacEntee of the Destination: Austin Family blog created a "Genea-Bloggers Group" on Facebook. The FB learning curve can be a little steep so Thomas also started the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers and more blog to assist members "in becoming more familiar with Facebook functions." The blog has evolved into a "how-to" manual for blogging in general.

Thomas posts a weekly Facebook update about the Genea-Bloggers Group. There are now 230 members, the vast majority of whom are genealogist bloggers who are writing about every aspect of family history.

Just in the last couple of weeks I've re-connected with several Internet acquaintances I'd met in years past through Rootsweb mail lists. Now that we are "Facebook friends" I've been able to put a face with the name and learn more about them and their other interests. I haven't found any cousins yet but I know it's only a matter of time.

Please take a look at the California Genealogical Society and Library page on Facebook. If you decide to join the fun, be sure to "friend" me.

29 October 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Tenants of 2201 Broadway - Information Swap Meet
Thursday, October 23, 2008 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Lavinia Schwarz, Nancy Servin, Judy Bodycote





Photographs by Kathryn Doyle, 10/23/2008.

28 October 2008

Come One, Come All - Used Book Sale & Fundraiser for CGS

Attention, bibliophiles!

The California Genealogical Society and Library invites you to come browse our book sale on Saturday, November 8, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The sale is part of the special Thanksgiving at CGS! event to honor our volunteers.

CGS Library Committee volunteer Arlene Miles reports that there are some great bargains among the wide variety of used genealogy books and periodicals set aside for the sale. Donated books continue to be a welcome source of materials in the library and the society is selling those which are duplicates of items already in our collection and some which do not meet the strict collection policy. Also priced to sell are older editions or printings of books on our shelves that have been replaced by newer versions.

The CGS Library recently received a donation totaling fourteen boxes of materials from one member. About half of the items are new to the library and will be kept for the society collection. The balance will be sold and I am told by volunteer Librarian Barbara Hill that "there is lots of good stuff."

Arlene, Barbara, Laura Spurrier and Gloria Hanson are to be commended for their efforts. I admit I sneaked a peek at some items that Barbara was processing and I noticed a copy of Pennsylvania Line: A Research Guide to Pennsylvania Genealogy and Local History. This is a classic that went out of print years ago. I'm also told that one batch of donated items on sale is heavy on Virginia and Kentucky.

Please note that all sales are final. First come, first served. See you there!

27 October 2008

Peralta Hacienda Banquet

As reported in August, CGS has been involved in an extensive research project of the Peralta family over the last several months. The research team – Judy Bodycote, Dick Rees and Lavinia Schwarz – was honored at a banquet hosted by the Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park (FRIENDS) on Sunday, October 12, 2008. The dinner was held in the Victorian-style home on the grounds of the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park.


Lavinia Schwarz and Judy Bodycote
arriving at the Peralta Hacienda Victorian.


Lavinia Schwarz sent this report:

Last Sunday the three CGS volunteers (Judy Bodycote, Dick Rees and myself) who have worked on the Peralta family tree for Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, were feted at a banquet in the dining room of the Victorian built by Antonio Peralta's son near where the original land grant adobe was built in 1820. It was the first non-native dwelling in the East Bay. A second adobe, constructed in 1840 when the family outgrew the original, smaller structure, was later destroyed by an earthquake. The family moved back into the 1820 adobe and started building the Victorian home where we enjoyed our dinner.

Time for some conversation before dinner.
(Note the antique Peralta trunk.)


Chris Pattillo, Ken Talken and Judy Bodycoat with
the portrait of Ken's great-grandmother, Tonita –
Maria Antonia Peralta Lehmann (1877-1954).

There were fourteen people at the banquet including members of the FRIENDS board – Justin Brown, Ken Talken, who is also a Peralta descendant, Chairman Dale Hagen and Treasurer Mike Falk and his wife Lynne; Deborah Cooper, Collections Curator (retired) of the Oakland Museum; L. Thomas Frye, Curator of the Gold Rush exhibit at the Oakland Museum and former director of the museum; CGS board member Chris Pattillo and her partner Dianne Sierra; Holly Alonzo, Executive Director of FRIENDS and the three of us.

Deborah Cooper, Holly Alonso, Lynne Falk and Justin Brown.


The food was of the time – delicious chili stew, tortillas, mustard greens, potatoes, grapes, figs, bread pudding, champagne, wine, sherry, and chocolates. We were told that at the time the food of the poor and the rich was basically the same. The difference was that the wealthy enjoyed wine and spirits.

Judy Bodycote, Ken Talken, Lavinia Schwarz, Tom Frye and Deborah Cooper.


Dianne Sierra, Dale Hagen, Chris Pattillo and Mike Falk.

The company was delightful and the food was great. We swapped Peralta stories and a good time was had by all. Chris Pattillo and her firm PGA Design did the original landscape design for the park and it was she who thought of getting CGS involved with the Peralta family history. It's been a nice collaboration. Judy Bodycote has done most of the research. Her husband is a DeAnza party descendant (four ancestors) so she was up to speed right away with researching the early Californios. Judy also figured out how to print out a large color-coded family free.

Based on our work, graphic artist Gordan Chan will create a wall mural of the first five or so generations of Peraltas in California. In addition, our CGS research team has created a genealogy database of 700 plus descendants. We hope visitors to the park will be able to access the database to look up ancestors. The banquet was a thank-you beyond anything we imagined.

Photographs courtesy of Dick Rees.

24 October 2008

It's Catching! More Cousins Discovered in the Library...

It seldom happens that you meet someone in person whom you connect to genealogically, although it seems to be happening quite frequently at the CGS Library. First Marianne Frey, Dick Rees and Lavinia Schwarz discovered that they shared New England ancestors, then board members John Moore and Shirley Thomson found that they were fifth cousins, once removed.

Now it has happened again to member Dorothy Koenig, nationally-recognized expert on early Dutch families in New Amsterdam. On Saturday, November 11, 2008. Dorothy volunteered her services as a consultant as part of the California Genealogical Society October Family History Month activities. Laura Spurrier, one of our volunteer librarians, signed up for a one-on-one, members only session with Dorothy. Laura was pretty sure she had a Dutch line but needed help documenting a link in the early nineteenth century. Laura came to the meeting with charts to help explain the problem. Dorothy looked, looked some more, and came to the realization that one of Laura's charts contained her own ancestors! The cousins connect via the Hegeman, Van Wyck, Polhemius and Rapalje families.

The story became even more astounding when another CGS volunteer librarian entered the discussion. Barbara Hill was also in the library that day and connects to both Dorothy and Laura through the early Rapalje line. Just like that – three instant cousins, instead of two.

Dorothy wrote to let me know that the cousins share another coincidence: "All three of us – Laura, Barbara, and I – have retired from our careers at the Library on the University of California Berkeley campus. It must be the genes we share!"

So is there a statistician out there who can calculate the odds of finding a cousin at the California Genealogical Society Library? They're starting to look pretty good to me!

23 October 2008

How Call Numbers Work

Books in the California Genealogical Society Library are organized according to the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system, instead of the more commonly known Dewey Decimal Classification.

LCC is used by academic and special libraries across the United States since the Dewey system is considered suitable only for public and school libraries. The LCC system is criticized as being "U.S.-centric" but it is widely used in this country because of its ease of use and logic.

CGS Librarian Laura Spurrier recently created a hand-out for her talk on the library's holdings which included a section on "How Call Numbers Work." She agreed to let me publish it here. I hope you find it as informative and useful as I did.

How Call Numbers Work by Laura Spurrier

The Library of Congress Classification system divides up the universe of knowledge by one or two letters of the alphabet, followed by numbers up to 9999. Complex subjects are subdivided further. Then they are put in order by author (or by title if there’s no identifiable author) and date. For example, Nancy Peterson’s book about San Francisco research, Raking the Ashes, can be found under:

F – Category for local history subjects
869 – California cities
.S3 – San Francisco
P4 – represents Peterson
2006 – year of publication (tells it apart from the next edition)

The F category covers materials about places in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, including gazetteers, church, cemetery and vital records, periodicals, etc. in each country, arranged by:

Region
Each state (or province) within the region
Counties within that state, in alphabetical order
Cities within that state, (capital city sometimes first)
Miscellaneous, including materials about local minority groups

Other call numbers of interest to genealogists:

BX – histories of religious groups
CS (low numbers) – how-to books and genealogical reference books, The American Genealogist, royal descents, compiled genealogies of multiple families
CS71 – genealogies of individual American families, including family newsletters, in order by surname
CS80-90 – Canadian materials (other Canadian materials are at F1001+)
CS420+ – British nobility and county histories, followed by genealogical materials about other European countries
E99+ – books about Native Americans
E184+ – books about immigrants to the U.S. by ethnicity or religion
E255+ – military and some service pension records (D.A.R. Lineage Books are shelved separately.)
Z – reference books, especially resources in other libraries.
The row ends with the American Genealogical & Biographical Index (Rider) volumes.

Laura J. Spurrier, M.A., M.A., M.L.S., 9/08


22 October 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Family History Month Class
"Tips for Using the New FamilySearch.org"
November 9, 2008

Jane Lindsey, Pat Wong and Diana Wild.

Photograph courtesy of Linda Darby.

21 October 2008

CGS News - November 2008


The November 2008 issue of the CGS News, Volume XXXIX, No. 6, has been mailed out and will be arriving in members' mailboxes this week. This month's issue is a scaled back version - only four pages:

• Membership Meeting - Thanksgiving at CGS! - page 1
• Proposed Changes in the Newsletter - page 1
• News for Family Researchers - page 2
• New Members Welcome - page 2-3
• Calendar of Events - page 4

The four-page newsletter was a cost-saving measure that the board took in September. The U.S. economic downturn was just beginning to make headlines so the board took some preliminary steps to curtail non-essential spending. Newsletter Editor Jane Hufft suggested the abbreviated newsletter as a way to save on production and postage costs.

The front-page article - "Proposed Changes in the Newsletter" - addresses some changes that the CGS board has been discussing about the way that the society communicates with its members. Included in the proposal is an exciting plan to resurrect a serial publication similar to the former Nugget. As these plans are finalized, I'll be reporting them in future posts and in the CGS e-News.

The CGS News is edited by Jane Hufft and produced by Lois Elling.

20 October 2008

Stories, Books, Wine and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at CGS!

Wine Reception at CGS for Volunteers
Hear Their Stories and Visit the Book Sale
Saturday, November 8, 2008
1:00 p.m.

California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway at 22nd, Oakland, Lower Level

Please join the CGS board of directors for a special wine and nibbles reception to honor our volunteers.

We are so thankful for all the wonderful volunteers at the society who carry out for CGS many kinds of significant and valuable projects, while serendipitously making many discoveries for their own research. Please join us for this delightful celebratory event. Volunteers will be entertaining us with stories of their greatest, best and most surprising discoveries as well as sharing how they assist the society and its members.

Our volunteers are perfect examples of the many rewards and benefits one can gain from being an active part of a genealogical society. Not only have the volunteers improved the society and helped many people conduct successful research, they have made their own discoveries while working at the library. They are the proof that there is so much more to genealogy than solitary online searching.

Everyone will have nametags listing areas of research to help us connect. To acknowledge our volunteers and all the work they do, we’re celebrating them with wine and nibbles and hearing their stories, and you are invited to be part of the fun!

***Please note: An encore presentation of Breaking Down Brick Walls had been scheduled for this date. The presentation has been postponed until early in 2009. If you would like to submit a research problem for consideration, please email Carolyn Steinberg.


17 October 2008

Tagged Twice by the Five and Dime

Randy Seaver started this meme among the genea-blogger community. I was tagged today by two blogging friends who I have had the pleasure of meeting in person: Schelly Talalay Dardashti Tagged: Fives and Tens of Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog and Maureen Taylor Tag I'm It! An Online Game of Family Tree Magazine's Photo Detective Blog. I don't usually participate in memes but I'll just consider this a continuation of Terry Thornton's Getting to Know Me Challenge.

Ten years ago I was:

1. planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta with 20 of my husband's closest friends to celebrate his 50th birthday.

2. the mother of two in elementary school which meant soccer games every Saturday and a lot of carpooling the rest of the week.

3. in a Greek folk dance group with some other moms.

4. giving disaster preparedness presentations to local neighborhood groups.

5. just on the cusp of serious genealogy research after several years of collecting family information.

Five things on today's "to-do" list:

1. Order a copy of Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Vol. 20: Co. Tyrone II, 1825, 1833-35, 1840 from the Ulster Historical Foundation. (done)

2. Organize materials obtained from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. (made a dent)

3. Upload and tag photographs from Ireland trip. (done)

4. Clean off my desk (looks better).

5. Work on the CGS Branding project. (tomorrow)

Five snacks I enjoy [the healthy version]:

1. Edamame
2. Blueberries
3. Apple slices
4. Hummus on baby carrots
5. Tzatziki on whole wheat pita

Five places I have lived:

1. Western Pennsylvania
2. Downriver Detroit suburb
3. Ann Arbor (Go Blue! - okay, I'm still saying it but seriously - Toledo? In the Big House?)
4. San Francisco
5. East Bay

Five jobs I have had:

1. Clerk in the corner drugstore - applied at age 4; hired at age 16
2. Cashier/hostess in hotel restaurants - college
3. Retail and hospital staff pharmacist
4. Supervisor, Inpatient pharmacy services
5. Mom (the toughest, by far!)

Schelly included two more categories:

Five places to visit again:

1. Northern Ireland
2. Tzintsina, Greece
3. Sendai, Japan
4. Paris
5. Florence

Five places I want to visit for the first time:

1. Northumberland Co., England
2. Smyrni/Izmir, Turkey
3. Costa Rica
4. Venice
5. Hong Kong

This meme has been passed to many already so I'm tagging some international genea-bloggers:

1. England: Kate Gilby – Kate's Family Tree
2. Ireland: Rachel Murphy – Irish Family History Blog
3. Sweden: Anna-Karin Schander - Anna-Karin's Genealogical Blog
4. The Netherlands: Henk van Kampen – Trace Your Dutch Roots
5. Australia: Carol Riley – Genealogy in New South Wales

16 October 2008

Information Swap Meet - October 23, 2008


The California Genealogical Society received this notice from Carly Perez-Banuet, Breuner Building Operations Manager.

Good Afternoon Tenants,

The owners and management of 2201 Broadway cordially invite you to join us at our “Information Swap Meet”. We have many diverse and interesting people and activities in our 2201 Broadway family and we want to bring us all together so we can all find out what everybody else in our building is up to. We will have tables set up in the large open space on the ground floor and invite you to reserve one and spread your information about your group on it for others to see.

Carly Perez-Banuet
Operations Manager
Cushman & Wakefield of California, Inc.
Global Client Solutions
2201 Broadway, Suite M-3
Oakland,CA 94612

Date: October 23, 2008

Time: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Main lobby conference room, Suite 101

15 October 2008

Wordless Wednesday

California Genealogical Society
Organizing the ancestral chart collection
Gene Peck and Anne Robinson




Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle, 9/18/2008.

14 October 2008

CGS Computer Committee

Some of the most important volunteer work done at the California Genealogical Society is carried out behind-the-scenes by the members of the Computer Committee: Al Clark, Kathy Watson and Gary Willcuts.

In June of this year the committee conducted a survey of member volunteers to identify problems. Responses were logged and priorities set. The committee created a project work list and assigned one member to oversee each issue.

The committee's first priority is to create consistency among all the computers. The intent is to set up all of the computer desktops in the same way so that a volunteer can sit down at any computer and find things in the same place. Icons have been set up in a specific order.

Subscription and free databases are now easily accessed by clicking the "Links" button on the bottom right side of the toolbar.

"Links" opens the list of all available databases:

Ancestry
Boston Pilot Missing Friends
CGS Catalog
Customize Links
Family Search
Footnote at the California Genealogical Society
LDS DigFamHists
Lib of Congress Cats
Mid-Atlantic States Archives
NEHGS
New England Records
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Proquest Historical Newspapers
Rootsweb
VitalSearch-CA
VitalSearch-worldwide
WorldVital Records

Other issues that are being addressed by the committee include performance, training, e-mail, back-up, new software, and setting up all computers for data entry and data access.

13 October 2008

Limited Time Offer: Two Free Issues of Everton's Online Edition

Leland K. Meitzler of Everton Publishers sent this announcement:

Everton is offering access to the two Online Edition issues now available at the site: July-August 2008 and September-October 2008 - absolutely FREE until October 17, 2008.

Simply go to: http://www.everton.com/ and download the issues.

Until October 27, 2008 the $12 annual subscription fee to the Online Edition of the Genealogical Helper will be reduced to $10.00, and the $29.00 annual subscription fee for the hard copy edition of the magazine (includes access to the Online Edition) will be reduced to $25.00.

The Genealogical Helper is widely recognized as having no equal in terms of amount of total content, educational and research information, and lists of organizations, events, and repositories.

The complete magazine is online, and all Web sites listed in either the content or advertisements are hot-linked.

This is a great opportunity for CGS members to take a free look at the publication. The offer expires this Friday.

10 October 2008

Fifth Cousins, Once Removed

As a follow up to Citing "Occult Powers" in a New Netherland Genealogy, Shirley Pugh Thomson wrote to let me know that she and John Moore have pinpointed their relationship. They are fifth cousins, once removed. That particular cousin relationship reminded Shirley of an even better story which she consented to share with you all:

Discovering that fellow CGS board member John Moore and I are distant cousins was a pleasant surprise. Such discoveries do turn up now and again in a roomful of genealogists, but a similar surprise came like a bolt from the blue for me in the late 1980s. My husband of more than 30 years (then) and I also learned that we are 5th cousins once removed!


Thomas and Shirley: their engagement and wedding in 1957 and at their anniversary celebration dinner fifty years later.


Neither Tom nor I had been aware of any connection between our families. Since we both grew up in a small farming community where many lines of both our families had settled early, a number of them arriving before Indiana statehood in December 1816, it may have seemed likely. But those people were neighbors, friends and sometimes fellow church members, not family. My surprise came about because I had not guessed that these—to me—separate and distinct families had been intimately intertwined years before they reached the end of their journey in the rolling hills at the edge of the Wabash.

I discovered that my husband's ancestor, James DRAKE and my ancestor, Benjamin HARRIS had married sisters!

Sarah and Mary PADDOCK were two of the eleven known children of Ebenezer Paddock and Keziah Case. I found the Paddocks, the Harrises and the Drakes all living and paying taxes in southwestern Ohio before their move to Indiana.

The girls evidently started life in Virginia and spent their youth moving from one rough and untamed claim in the woods to another, migrating westward with their family to Nelson County, Kentucky, then Butler County, Ohio, and finally westward across southern Indiana to Sullivan County on the Wabash River, the new state’s western edge.

So I found a connection, a shared line, but—of course—the Paddock girls’ venerable father left us with shared mysteries. While Ebenezer is a DAR patriot, finding records about him has not been easy. Numerous other descendants have been searching for them and for records of his father and mother for a long time.

I would also like to know about that shared migration pattern. How was it that those three families—and a handful of others—seem to have migrated in coordinated moves? Does it only appear that way at this distance? Were the families connected as father/sons or father/sons-in-law or something else? Was it just word of mouth about the great new place?

For now, my cousin-husband and I continue looking for answers.

Shirley Pugh Thomson

09 October 2008

Announcing the 9th Annual SLC Trip - March 29, 2009

The ninth annual California Genealogical Society Salt Lake City Research Tour is in the planning stages. As in previous years, the trip will run from Sunday to Sunday, commencing on March 29, 2009 through April 5, 2009. CGS President, Jane Lindsey and CGS Research Director, Nancy Peterson return again as volunteer leaders of this very popular trip to the Family History Library.


Participants at the 2008 Salt Lake City Tour, from left to right: Susan Nourse Peterson, Kay Liebert Kirkland, Faith Munger Hazelton, Penny Hazelton Pollock and Mary White Limosner.


The Tour Package includes:
* Hotel room (7 nights, double occupancy)
* Shuttle service to and from the airport
* Three group dinners (Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday)
* Orientation meeting and several lectures
* Optional assistance at CGS prior to the trip
* Computer assistance
* Hotel shuttle to library, if needed
* Continental breakfast included



Accommodations will be at the Shilo Inn, located three blocks from the Family History Library. The Shilo provides free high-speed internet access in every room.

The cost is $680 (airfare not included.) A deposit of $200 holds one space. Download the tour flier and registration form for full details.

Photographs courtesy of Jane Lindsey and Cathy H. Paris.

08 October 2008

Wordless Wednesday

New England Historic Genealogical Society
Boston, Massachusetts
Linda Darby, Sandy Fryer and Steve Tirrell
September 2008







Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.

07 October 2008

SRVGS Field Trip to CGS & the City Directory Library

Members of the San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society (SRVGS) visited CGS on Friday, September 19, 2008. Gail Roche Van Wye, who is a member of both societies, was the trip coordinator.



CGS member Ilene Peterson sent this report:

We had a pretty good turnout for our field trip. Some of the SRVGS folks are also members of CGS so they had a good idea of what was where. Some were visiting for the first time and went first to look at California directories with Steve Harris. We used the resources in both the library and directory areas so it was never crowded. Steve also gave us special permission to bring directories into the CGS library area, which made it more convenient.

I had three neat 'finds' of my own!

I was successful at locating my grandmother's uncle in the 1905 Chicago city directory. Steve Harris has a fabulous collection. One particular directory stood out for me – even though I didn't find my folks in it – the tiny, well-preserved, 1876 Green Bay, Wisconsin directory. Searching for city directory information online is no substitute for holding the original book in hand and learning about all the things one would never think to search for.

I asked one of the CGS volunteers (I'm sorry I can't recall her name) if there was an alternative to ordering an AGBI reference from Godfrey. She looked at the citation I had printed from Ancestry.com and told me she thought CGS had the actual book. We went back to the Dorman Collection and there it was! I am always amazed at the knowledgeable CGS volunteers and at the depth and breadth of the CGS collections.

I was chatting with someone about our shared research in New York and volunteer Judy Bodycote overheard us and came up to suggest additional resources for Chenango County. I may be able to return the favor since I research people who came through Virginia and Judy said she might need some pointers from me for that state.

According to their Web site, the San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society (SRVGS), formed in 1985, has over 150 members. SRVGS meets in the facilities of the Danville Family History Center, Stone Valley and Smith Roads, Alamo, California from 10:00 a.m. to noon on the third Tuesday of every month. Each meeting includes an outside speaker who is expert in some aspect of family research. The society conducts educational classes for its members and has several special interest groups, including, Irish, German, Southern States, Publishing, etc.

The California Genealogical Society welcomes interested groups to come and tour the library and spend some time exploring our genealogy resources. Contact CGS by e-mail or call 510-663-1358 to schedule a group visit.

06 October 2008

New in the City Directory Library

Steve Harris sent this update.

CGS board member and consulting genealogist Steve Harris recently added 1,000 more city directories to the 6,000 city and telephone directories already in his research library. Included are 650 California directories from all over the state.

Update: These city and telephone directories are now incorporated into our main library.  See post from May 2015 for current details on the collection.

Ranging from the 1860s to the 1970s, the directories have numerous applications to genealogy, including tracking individuals and families through time and finding addresses for census look-ups.

The Library of Congress system is used to catalog the collection. A complete listing of Steve's holdings was compiled by CGS volunteer Nancy Servin. The list follows the shelf sequence: by region of country, then statewide directories, countywide directories, and finally directories for specific cities.


Most of the directories are shelved in Steve’s office just down the hall from CGS.

Update: These city and telephone directories are now incorporated into our main library.  See post from May 2015 for current details on the collection.

All of his California directories are located in a second space dubbed "The Annex." Note that the California Genealogical Society also has city directories, with almost-complete runs for San Francisco and Oakland.

Steve's city directory collection is open to members on two days every month: the second Saturday and the third Friday. Members are to check in at the CGS desk first. From there they will be directed to Steve's library. Dr. Stephen Harris can be reached at [email protected]

Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle

03 October 2008

CGS Member Spotlight: Rick Sherman

As a past-president of the California Genealogical Society and Library, Frederick S. Sherman Ph.D., better known as Rick, is part of a small, special group of volunteers at the society. Calling him "a stalwart," recording secretary and board member Shirley Thomson shared this:

Over the fourteen years since I joined CGS, I’ve known Rick as a capable president, tireless head of research, generous financial supporter, willing speaker on various topics, enthusiastic participant in CGS events and workshops (note, for example, the publication workshop of August 9, 2008, when he was one of the attendees) and an invariably cheerful co-worker.

Rick's tenure with the society goes back even further, almost to the day he first joined CGS in 1980, and he has worn many hats over the years. After retiring as Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1991, Dr. Sherman took his first position at CGS, as Library Chairman.

Rick followed out-going president, Mary-Lou Grossberg, in 1994 into the society's top position and held the post until 1996, when the society was still located in San Francisco. In 1996, still under Rick's leadership, CGS added an additional 600 square feet to the existing space at the Second and Brannan Street, San Francisco location, when the suite next door became available. Rick and Patricia Sherman made a significant monetary gift to the society to help underwrite the costs. The expansion provided more space in the office area and added another reading room to the library, which became known as the Frederick S. and Patricia M. Sherman Room in honor of the physical and financial contributions of President Rick and Pat.

Current president Jane Lindsey recalls that "Rick was the person who got in there when he was president and began developing the endowment and providing financial security for the society."

Since his term as president, Rick served the society for almost ten years as Research Director, a post he relinquished to Nancy Peterson. Rick continues to provide research for some of his long-standing clients. Rick recently lent his time and historical perspective to the Strategic Planning Committee. He continues to participate in the running of the library as a member of the Desk Duty Committee.


Rick Sherman at Lamb's Restaurant at the closing night celebration,
Salt Lake City Research Tour, April 19, 2008.


Member June Nash Lindquist notes: We all value Rick's sage advice, and cheerful and generous spirit. Rick is so knowledgeable on so many directions of research. We always appreciate his witty and wise conclusions to very knotty problems."

Thank you, Rick, for over twenty-five years of outstanding service to the California Genealogical Society and Library. Get well soon. We miss you.

Photographs courtesy of Jane Lindsey and Kathryn Doyle.


02 October 2008

Desk Duty at CGS

Captain Marston Watson leads the trusty volunteers who staff the library desk on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays when the library is open (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays.) Officially and as a group, they are the "Desk Duty Committee" but individually they are the special volunteers who first greet our patrons and are the caretakers of the society's first impression. As you see, smiles come with the job.

Left to Right: Pat Smith, Kathy Watson, Lorna Wallace, Diana Wild,
Judy Bodycote and Dick Rees.

Besides opening for business and staffing the desk, committee members shelve books, field questions, assist patrons, answer phones and give occasional tours of the library. In addition, virtually all desk duty committee members perform other volunteer activities for the society. They are often seen multi-tasking – seeing to their other jobs when the library isn't busy. Members of the Desk Duty Committee also serve as librarians, look-up volunteers, researchers, book repairers and computer technicians. They open mail and do many other miscellaneous and essential tasks. Sometimes they actually get some of their own research done!

The current members of the Desk Duty Committee are: Judy Bodycote, Gloria Hanson, Barbara Hill, Gaye Lenahan, Mary Limosner, Dick Rees, Rick Sherman, Pat Smith, Roland Smith, Peggy Valponi, Lorna Wallace, Kathy Watson, Marston Watson and Diana Wild. Thank you all for your service to our patrons.

Photograph by Kathryn Doyle, September 22, 2008.

01 October 2008

Wordless Wednesday

CGS Desk Duty Committee
Computer Inservice by Kathy Watson
September 22, 2008








Photographs by Kathryn Doyle, 9/22/2008.