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29 June 2009

Workshop: Using Land Records in Genealogy - August 8, 2009

Using Land Records in Genealogy - A CGS Workshop with Pam Miller

Saturday, August 8, 2009
10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California

Join CGS member Pam Miller for this practical overview of land and property records and learn why they are absolutely necessary to your family history research. Discover how these often overlooked records can help you solve lineage problems, accurately identify ancestors, correct faulty information and enrich the story of those more distant ancestors.

Lecture topics will include terminology, abstracting, property law, the Public Land Survey System (PLSS, the aliquot system), the metes and bounds system, and the critical information found in deed books.

In addition, the workshop day will include a lunch break and "hands-on" sessions where participants can practice platting and locating specific lands. Bring your own land records to work on after learning how!

Attendees are encouraged to bring laptop computers; the six CGS computers may not all be available for the program. For the practical component Pam will supply graph paper and protractors. Suggested supplies are pencils, erasers and a ruler.

Bring a brown bag for lunch or, if you prefer, there is a nearby deli where you can buy a sandwich and bring it back to the library.

The workshop is FREE for CGS members but is limited to fifteen people. There is a sign-up fee of $10 for non-members. (This fee can be applied toward membership on the day of the workshop.) Download the registration flier. Questions? E-mail or call CGS at 510-663-1358.

Pam Miller, a native of Dallas, Texas, attended Stanford University where she earned a B.A. in Linguistics and an M.A. in Spanish. She was employed as an educator in the Bay Area for twenty-eight years, teaching Spanish and computer science. Pam grew up "walking the family lands" with her parents, inheriting her family's love of maps and developing a severe case of what she calls "Tara Syndrome." She has been a member of CGS since 2005.

Graphic courtesy of Pamela A. Miller.

28 June 2009

Fun at Jamboree!

Three exhausting but fun days at SCGS Jamboree 2009 are behind us. Tim has promised to write a report for the blog so I'll just share a few photos and express my appreciation to everyone who contributed to the CGS table in the exhibit hall.

Special kudos to Tim Cox and Carolyn Steinberg who organized every aspect of space #114 in the hall and who are already planning to make next year's CGS table even better. Heartfelt thanks also to CGS members Ron Filion, Arlene Folkers, Pamela Storm, Marston Watson and Geri Willinger for helping to staff the table.

Marston Watson and Tim Cox

Marston was a speaker at Jamboree this year. He graciously signed over his table in the hall to CGS and brought two of his Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry books to sell: Volume Two - Reverend Francis Marbury and Five Generations of the Descendants Through Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson and Katherine (Marbury) Scott and Volume Three - Samuel Appleton and His Wife Judith Everard and Five Generations of Their Descendants.

Pamela Storm and Ron Filion

Pam and Ron of brought their brochures and magnets and their expertise to the table. (And they wore their special tee shirts!)

Carolyn Steinberg, Steve Danko and Elyse Doerflinger.

Steve Danko of Steve's Genealogy Blog and Elyse Doerflinger of both Elyse's Genealogy Blog and The Graveyard Rabbit Student stopped by. They are both first-name-only geneabloggers since they have universal recognition in the gen-blog world (think Madonna). Steve will be our speaker at the July membership meeting.

Marston, Kathryn and Tim

Thanks, everyone, for a successful California Genealogical Society and Library presence at Jamboree!

24 June 2009

"Tip of the Iceberg" Poster Debuts at Jamboree!

Back in March I reported on an idea based on a conversation between CGS members Lisa Gorrell and Tim Cox that turned into a wonderful graphic designed by Lisa's daughter Elizabeth Gorrell.

The "Tip of the Iceberg" graphic went viral after it was picked up by Dick Eastman who quoted Lisa's wish:

What would be nice is to have a poster of it in every research facility – especially those with computers – to remind them that so little of their research will be found on the internet.

Thanks to the efforts of Tim Cox, Lisa's dream has become a reality and the "Tip of the Iceberg" poster will make its debut on Friday at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree.

Tim informs me that an 11 x 17 full color poster will be available at Jamboree for only $10, including taxes and a protective cardboard tube, at the California Genealogical Society and Library table #114. Tim, Carolyn Steinberg and I will be staffing the table with some other CGS members so please stop by and see us. And consider purchasing a poster to donate to your local public library!

22 June 2009

Shelf Reading Day - July 22, 2009

CGS BooksHelp Put Our Books in Order!
California Genealogical Society Library
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Marianne Frey sent this notice:

If you've been to the library you probably have admired our books on their nice new shelves (no more mismatched hand-me-downs), clearly marked and easy to find. But - are they perfectly arranged? No. Like cars on the freeway, the books bunch up in one place and are generously spaced in another. And books are occasionally re-shelved in the wrong place. With your help we can get every book in the right place.

Come to the library on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. for a review of the Library of Congress call number system and a chance to check your shelving skills. Then you can get to work putting the books in order.

We hope to have at least 20-25 people so this project can be completed in one day.

Volunteers who know how to read shelves can come earlier and begin reading at 8:00 a.m. Our librarians will be available for questions as shelves are checked.

Bring your own lunch or purchase one nearby and take a break with other members (dessert, iced tea and coffee will be provided.) Want to have some fun? E-mail Jane Lindsey if you can help!

08:00 a.m. Early Bird Shelf Readers - need no orientation
10:00 a.m. Orientation class on shelf reading
11:00 a.m. until done - read shelves, break for lunch, work in teams or alone. Stay as long as you can so we can complete this project in one day.

19 June 2009

Announcing The California Nugget

After months of planning, writing, editing, designing, indexing, sourcing and proofing, The California Nugget, Volume 1, Issue 1, will be arriving in members' mailboxes any day. Its thirty-four pages of original articles - most contributed by CGS members - have been beautifully assembled by Jane Hufft and Lois Elling.

As announced earlier this year, CGS stopped publishing a paper version of the society newsletter and now communicates with members electronically via the monthly CGS e-News and this blog. The change has allowed our publication duo – Editor Hufft and Production Editor Elling – to turn their attention to a revival of the "Nugget" which ceased publication several years ago. As President Jane Lindsey notes in an introductory letter on page one, "We are delighted to be able to bring back a serial publication in a new and up-to-date format."

The inside cover is a goldmine of information about the society and includes the publication's mission statement:

The California Nugget, the magazine of the California Genealogical Society, is published twice a year. Its purpose is to share the unique genealogical material in the CGS library, add to the body of family history information about Californians, offer guidance and timely information to family researchers, and provide a forum for members to share their expertise and findings. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the society. The magazine is distributed free to members and is available to non- members for $5.00 an issue plus postage.

Twenty-First Century Genealogy
What Is a Genealogy Blog and Why Should I Care? By Kathryn Doyle
An Unexpected DNA Journey By Kathy Beals

California Ancestors
My Mallorcan Ancestor: Guillermo Castell Enseñat By Thomas Fox
Martin Bacon and Mary Elizabeth Shepley By Kenneth Haughton
Alfred Guile Thompson By Susan Hutchinson
William Mendenhall, “The Forester” By S. A Mendenhall

For Our Readers
Events Calendar for 2009
Research Trip to Allen County Public Library: Registration Form
Recent Acquisitions in the Library
NEHGS Fall Event: Registration Form
Guidelines for Submissions to The California Nugget
Book Review By Laura Spurrier
Books and Publications Order Form
Salt Lake City Research Trip \
News from the Society
New Members

Please come back to this announcement after you've had a chance to read the first issue and leave your comments for Jane and Lois.

17 June 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Desk Duty Committee Meeting
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.

15 June 2009

What You (and I) Missed: Morse and Morse on DNA

CGS membership meetings are held every other month in January, March, May, July, September and November but this month we had a special presentation by Steve Morse and his daughter Megan Morse on DNA on Saturday, June 13, 2009.

Steve Morse

We had a record turn-out (56!) which meant that I gave up my seat. Fortunately, two of my fellow genealogy bloggers were on hand – Craig Manson of Geneablogie and Steve Danko of Steve's Genealogy Blog. Steve has written up an excellent summary of the talks on his blog: Morse and Morse on DNA.

Megan Morse

I did sneak in to take a couple of photos, including this one of Petunia the opossum.

Petunia the opossum

We also took a minute to get a photograph together. (Thanks to Steve Harris for acting as photographer.)

Steve Danko, Craig Manson and Kathryn Doyle

Photographs by Kathryn Doyle and Steve Harris, 6/13/2009, Oakland, California.

12 June 2009

Member Spotlight: Marston Watson

One of the speakers at the upcoming Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree is CGS member Marston Watson who will be presenting "Internet Research: Joys and Pitfalls."
Watson comes from a long line of genealogists and was introduced to the pastime as a very young child when his father created a typewritten genealogy from the hand written notes and pedigree charts of Marston's grandfather and developed a clever way to reveal the next pedigree chart by cutting rectangular bars on each page with a razor blade.

But it wasn't until 1991 when he noticed one of the names on his chart in a book by Frederick Weis, Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists that he was hooked on genealogy forever. He learned about his royal ancestor, Governor Thomas Dudley and began recording his ancestor’s data on an early version of Roots III. Today he uses TMG and his genealogy has grown from about 300 names to over 30,000, including six more royal lines.

His thirst for uncovering his family genealogy led to the discovery of Mayflower lines, colonial physicians, colonial governors, sixteen more Revolutionary War ancestors, and participants in the colonial wars. Each of these discoveries led to his acceptance in the related hereditary societies.

A member of the Sons of the American Revolution since 1967 and past president of the San Francisco Chapter, Watson was one of six compatriots to receive the prestigious Minuteman Award at the NSSAR Congress on Monday evening, July 6 in Atlanta, Georgia. It it their hightest honor and no more than six candidates are selected each year among 28,000 members.

His SAR California membership of nearly forty-two years includes his election as Oakland Chapter (now Thomas Jefferson Chapter) president and state secretary in 1968, state vice president in 1969 and state president in 1970.

Marston and wife Kathy joined the California Genealogical Society in 1993 and have been desk duty volunteers at CGS for many years. Kathy currently also serves on the computer and website committees. They are very much involved at the national level of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion as co-editors of the Journal. They have both been invested into the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem and traveled to the Holy Land in November, 2007. He is the Grand Editeur of the national journal and she is the Grand Webmaster for the Order.

A native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Watson spent his youth there and in Houston, Texas and completed his last two years of high school in Burlingame, California. He received his bachelor degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

He was a freelance writer for eighteen years with the Contra Costa Times and was a columnist there for eight years on the subject of job search. Marston has contributed articles to a number of national genealogical publications including The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Mayflower Descendant and SAR Magazine. He has written several books on royal ancestry and other genealogical volumes.

10 June 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
First Saturday Free - June 6, 2009
Introduction to Genealogy Class with Lavinia Schwarz

Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox.

08 June 2009

Member Book: The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley

Read any good fiction lately? How about some with a genealogy theme?

A few years ago, genealogist-extraordinare Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak wrote a series of articles for the 24/7 Family History blog about her pursuit of mysteries, cozies and other books with a genealogical theme. I haven't yet cozied up to any of Megan's suggestions and lately it seems that everything I read is on a computer (or iPhone) screen but all that may change this week.

On Thursday night I'll be heading to my favorite neighborhood bookstore to meet a new CGS member. Author Christina Sunley will be reading from her first novel, The Tricking of Freya, at A Great Good Place For Books.

What is her novel about? I hope Christina doesn't mind if I let her tell us in her own words. (You can read more at her blog.)

It’s about a young woman obsessed with unraveling a family secret that takes her all the way to Iceland.

It’s about turning your back on the past, then discovering years later that you can’t move forward in life without coming to terms with your own history.

It’s about forgiving the very family members who have hurt you most deeply.

It’s about being influenced by ancestors who died long before you were born.

It’s about writing your way to redemption.

Christina Sunley
The Tricking of Freya

Thursday, June 11, 2009
7:00 p.m.

A Great Good Place For Books
6120 LaSalle Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

05 June 2009

A-Files Update

On Wednesday, June 3, 2009, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS and the National Archives and Records Administration NARA held a formal joint signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. to "designate as permanent the immigration files created on the millions of aliens residing in the United States in 1944, as well as those arriving since then." The NARA press lease described the significance:

These Alien Case Files (commonly referred to as A-Files) document the famous, the infamous, the anonymous and the well-known, and are an historical and genealogical goldmine. The new agreement authorizes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services/Department of Homeland Security to send A-files to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birthdate of the subject of a file. The National Archives expects to receive the first transfer of A-files later this year, and will store the files at National Archives facilities in San Francisco and Kansas City. Researchers will be able to access the files at these two sites, or request copies of files. An index will be available to support research use.
CGS member Jeanie W. Chooey Low has been a tireless advocate for the A-Files and active member of "Save Our National Archives" SONA, an ad hoc group formed in 1998 when the Regional NARA were threatened with closure. Jeanie was concerned that the recent publicity, including the USA Today article, made no mention of SONA's ten years of advocacy nor the major contribution of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, California. She sent this:

After ten years of SONA (Save OUR National Archives) advocating to the USCIS and NARA to schedule the accessioning of the Alien Files (A-Files), those two agencies now have an agreement to transfer custody of these invaluable immigration case files from USCIS to NARA. Then too, a major victory was gained by the NARA agreeing that for all time the Alien-Files in the Pacific Region would be allowed to remain at the NARA Leo Ryan Building in San Bruno, CA.

It is the only part of the A-Files in the nation to have "escaped" consolidation to Missouri, and instead be retained as a permanent collection of the Pacific Region National Archives as a local Bay Area treasure.

Under the Alien Registration Act of 1940, all aliens in the United States were required to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now known as the USCIS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service). The Alien Registration Files (A-files) are the detailed evidentiary records collected for each of these registered individuals. The contents within these files may include photographs, birth and marriage certificates, visas, employment records, transcripts of testimony, personal artifacts, and other important biographical and historical information.

Although the A-files were first started in the 1940s, some of the A-files contain much older information that was collected and consolidated from earlier entries back and forth through ports of entry into America. For example, the immigration records (e.g. like those from the Chinese Exclusion Act era) that are currently available for public research and viewing at NARA, San Bruno (known as Record Group 85 case files) go as far back as the late 1800s.

The A-files stored at San Bruno are a valuable collection of historic immigration records from the Port of San Francisco, Honolulu, Nevada and Northwest. These A-files not only include records of Chinese immigrants during the Chinese Exclusion period, but also records of such people as German, Italian, and Japanese WW II alien internees; Holocaust survivors; Filipino Freedom Fighters; WWII “war brides”; immigrants from many different regions of Eastern Europe and the Pacific Islands.

In 1998, USCIS began consolidating all of its A-files at a non-research NARA facility in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. At that time a group of educational institutions, researchers, history and genealogical organizations, non-profit organizations, and individuals got together to form SONA (Save OUR National Archives). Their original goal was to prevent the closure of local NARA facilities but it was transformed into a coalition to make sure that the non-current A-files are transferred from the authority of USCIS to NARA so that they can be permanently preserved and made accessible to the public by database. 
For the past 10 years, SONA, under the leadership of former Congressman Tom Lantos (previously representing San Mateo) and others, were able to demand the A-files be stored at San Bruno and never move to Lee’s Summit. Indeed, USCIS has admitted the Pacific Region A-Files are the “lone exception” being the only A-Files that have not been moved to Missouri. However, since the A-files are still under the authority of USCIS, they are not viewable without submission of a formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and are subject to possible censure to protect the privacy and/or government sensitivities as determined by USCIS officials.

What is so significant about the accessioning of the A-Files from USCIS to NARA is to make them part of the nation's permanent historic records and guarantee their availability to the public for all time. Government documents are not automatically preserved.

When a government agency such as USCIS normally retires its older documents, NARA must evaluate these records for their historical value before they can be considered for inclusion in NARA’s permanent collection. Approximately 98% of all the records produced by our national government are not preserved by NARA and the A-files were among those originally designated for destruction.

Thus, after 10 years of constant community clamor and support from a wide range of organizations as diverse and far as Australia, the two agencies have finally come to an agreement for the Alien Files to transfer from USCIS to NARA for protection and preservation for future generations of scholars, researchers and family genealogists of many nationalities.

03 June 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
The California Genealogical Society Library

Photograph courtesy of Judy Bodycote, Oakland, California, 2/27/2009.

01 June 2009

July Membership Meeting - Steve Danko

July Membership Meeting
Saturday, July 11, 2009
1:00 p.m.
CGS Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Genealogy Gadgets and Gizmos: New Technology to Help in Your Research

CGS is thrilled to have member and noted blogger Steve Danko as our speaker for the July membership meeting.

New hardware, software and online technology make finding, recording and sharing information faster and easier than ever. Many of these advancements have found their way into genealogical research, enabling even a moderately technology-capable genealogist to take advantage of these new gadgets and gizmos. New technology allows genealogists to have access to family history data from anywhere in the world. Researchers can avail themselves of genealogy education at times and places of their choosing, collect documents and information more easily and prepare professional-quality family books without the commercial price.

Please note that the short membership meeting starts promptly at 1:00 p.m. Steve's talk follows at approximately 1:20 p.m. Seating is limited so please arrive early. Meetings are open to everyone but non-members pay a $5.00 users fee to enter the library. (Or come and become a member of CGS!)

Dr. Stephen J. Danko holds a Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology and recently completed requirements for the Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (PLCGS) from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, University of Toronto.

Steve began seriously researching his family history ten years ago, focusing primarily on American, Canadian, and Polish records. He has conducted research on location in Poland and Lithuania and has visited the villages in which his immigrant ancestors lived.

Steve writes a daily genealogy research blog where he posts images of family documents and discusses his genealogical research process. In the course of his writing his blog, Steve has reconnected with lost cousins in Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States.