Recent Posts

31 August 2009

October Workshop: Genealogy Blogs - Why, How, Do's and Don'ts

Are you curious about genealogy blogs? Or have you dismissed them as fluff and not worth your valuable time? Two experts will show why blogs are more than just "the latest fad" and how they are a valuable way to enhance your genealogy research.

As part of a special Family History Month line-up, the California Genealogical Society announces a special Genealogy Blog Workshop on Saturday, October 10, 2009.

Renowned genealogy bloggers Thomas MacEntee and Craig Manson will be on hand to share their blog expertise and have some fun.


1:00 - 2:00 p.m. How to Use a Blog - MacEntee

2:15 - 3:15 p.m. Building a Genealogy Blog - MacEntee

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Blogging and the Law - Manson

Thomas MacEntee will start with the ABCs of blog use in a basic introductory demo. You'll leave this session with a list of great genealogy blogs to read, tips on how to best use the information found in blogs and wonder why you didn't start following blogs sooner!

Thomas' second session will show how having your own genealogy blog can take your genealogy research to another dimension. Learn how to get started in this easy-to-understand session geared towards beginners. With the help of an audience member, Thomas will create an individual family history blog right before your eyes.

Thomas MacEntee is a genealogist specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. With over twenty-five years of experience in the information technology field, Thomas writes and lectures on the many ways blogs, Facebook and Twitter can be leveraged to add new dimensions to the genealogy experience. As the creator of he has helped organize and engage a community of over 600 bloggers who on a daily basis document their own journeys in the search for ancestors.

Craig Manson will end the day with a topic of interest to beginners as well as experienced bloggers: Blogging and the Law - Privacy Issues & Copyrights.

Craig is Distinguished Professor and Lecturer in Law at the Capital Center for Public Law and Policy at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. He teaches administrative law and has been a lawyer for twenty-eight years. Craig began the study and practice of genealogy in 2004. He writes the popular blog, GeneaBlogie and a weekend column called Appealing Subjects on the highly-regarded magazine Shades of the Departed. Although GeneaBlogie focuses on genealogy, he often writes about legal topics of interest to genealogists.

28 August 2009

Found in Fort Wayne

Ten members of the California Genealogical Society met at America's crossroads for the biennial CGS Research week at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This year's group included members Carole Brisson, Kathryn Doyle, Sandy Fryer, Jane Hufft, Mary Mettler, Frankie Rhodes, Jim Robinson, Pat Smith and Kate VanDemark, led by Jane Knowles Lindsey.

Sandy Fryer and Jane Hufft.

On Wednesday I wordlessly posted several photograph of our week in the library, including some of Curt Witcher, Genealogy Center Manager, who generously gave us a personal tour of the facility and an excellent private lecture on military resources.

Pat Smith, Jane Lindsey and Carol Brisson

All in all we were a pretty driven group - entering the library at 9:00 a.m. when it opened and staying until the last closing announcement at 9:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.) The exception was mealtimes.

Jim Robinson and Mary Mettler.

Unfortunately, the concession that ran the in-house cafe on the main floor of the library (which served great soup and sandwiches two years ago) has been replaced by Dunkin' Donuts. That meant more time out at restaurants and less library time and consequently, a bit more fun (as you can see by this collection of photographs.)

Pat, Kathryn, Jim and Frankie Rhodes.

This year's group was a little smaller so we ate together as a group several times during the week. New friendships were formed and former connections were rekindled.

Frankie, Kate, Jim, Kathryn and Jane Hufft.

As always, a special dinner celebration was held on the last night and everyone shared some of their special finds. Here's a quick list of some of the week's highlights:

Pat Smith proved Thomsen Clark who was named in her sister-in-law's will. Pat found her in Indiana in the 1880 census.

Jane Knowles Lindsey and Pat Smith did some work on the Judge Project - the latest of the society's group research undertakings. Jane was tracking Alonzo Kelly of Iowa. She found his widow and four children in Arkansas in 1900.

Sandy Fryer made a wonderful discovery using PERSI – the PERiodical Source Index. She learned that her ggg-grandfather, Martin Burris, died instantly after being shot by "Mr. Frost" during a dispute over a cow in Wayne County, Kentucky.

Mary Mettler found the maiden name – Whitney – of Mary, seventeenth century wife of Ephraim Pierce of Groton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Jane Hufft was thrilled to find Volumes 1 and 2 of Etched in Stone: Newburyport, Massachusetts Cemeteries by Noreen Cook Pramberg. For some reason the Family History Library in Salt Lake City has one volume and NEHGS in Boston has the other. Jane insists that "Both volumes are essential!" She also told me several times that she should could easily spend another week – she was finding so much.

Carole Brisson found "some good stuff" using two volumes on the New England RAWSON family.

Frankie Rhodes made progress tracking her great-grandfather, Ezra Nichols and his wife Margaret Downs. She found them on a passenger list and located information from 1886 in a Sacramento newspaper.

Jim Robinson got organized and worked with Jane on his JUDY (Tschudi) application to the National Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).

All of us on the last night.

If you have never been on a group research tour, it's something you should seriously consider. Lots of genealogy was discussed during these meals. When a group gets together like this ideas keep flowing even after the library has closed.

Photographs courtesy of Carol Webb Brisson, Jane Knowles Lindsey and Kathryn Doyle, August 2009, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

26 August 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
Allen County Public Library Tour
August 16 - 23, 2009

Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey and Kathryn Doyle, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

24 August 2009

Fall 2009 Beginning Genealogy Series

In celebration of October Family History Month, the Oakland Regional Family History Center (ORFHC) and the California Genealogical Society (CGS) are offering an encore Beginning Genealogy Research Series. Four classes will be taught on Thursdays at the ORFHC and repeated on Saturdays, at the CGS Library.

The same teachers and handouts will be used in both sessions each week and enrolled students can attend classes at either or both facilities. Classes start on September 24, 2009. All classes will be held from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. In addition, an optional Internet Workshop will be held on Thursday, October 1 and Saturday, October 3, 2009 from 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

There is a $15 fee for the full series of classes which includes a printed syllabus. Single classes can be attended for a fee of $4 per class if space is available. The optional workshop will not be open to walk-ins.

Free parking is available at both locations. The Oakland Regional Family History Center is located at 4766 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, California 94602. The California Genealogical Society Library is located at 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California 94612.

Preregistration is necessary to ensure adequate handouts. Drop-ins will be welcome on a space available basis. Please register by telephone 510-531-3905 or by e-mail.

Those students wishing to join the California Genealogical Society will also receive $10 off their memberships after attending all four classes. The offer expires on October 17, 2009.

To register for the Beginning Genealogy Seminar, download the registration form from the CGS website and mail with a check for $15 to the ORFHC, attn: Marge Bell, 4766 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, California 94602.

Class outline and schedule:

Session I – Introduction to the Science of Genealogy (2 hrs.) – Margery Bell
Thursday, September 24 & Saturday, September 26, 2009, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Session II – Secondary Resources (2 hrs.) – Jane Knowles Lindsey
Thursday, October 1, 2009 & Saturday October 3, 2009, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Optional Internet Workshop (1.5 hrs.) – Jane Knowles Lindsey
Thursday, October 1, 2009 & Saturday October 3, 2009, 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Session III – Census Records (1.5 hours) – Margery Bell
Thursday, October 8, 2009 & Saturday October 10, 2009, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Session IV – Vital Records and the Calendar Change (2 hrs.) – Margery Bell
Thursday, October 15, 2009 & Saturday October 17, 2009, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

21 August 2009

Announcing the CGS e-News ARCHIVE

Some of you may not know that in addition to blogging for the California Genealogical Society and Library, I also edit our electronic newsletter, the CGS e-News. Until now, the only way to view an issue was via email.

Now the society is offering an online archive of all past editions of the newsletter. The CGS e-News ARCHIVE can be accessed through the society website. The link is in the left sidebar.

The e-News ARCHIVE contains all of the previously published issues of the CGSL monthly electronic newsletter, organized by year.

The CGS e-News is e-mailed to members and subscribers on the first of each month. Besides the time sensitive announcements of society meetings, classes and events, the newsletter also contains two regular features that may be of interest long after publication:

1. New trends in the world of genealogy are the focus of Editor's Picks: Suggested Links from the Blogosphere.

2. Members submit old family photographs to CGS Ancestors: Photo Tributes to the CGS Family. This feature, edited by Cathy H. Paris, has already helped one member to find a new branch of her Hetrick family.

I hope you will check out some of our old issues. Please let me know if you find a new connection.

19 August 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
Desk Duty Training at the CGS Library
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox, Oakland, California

17 August 2009

BayNet Spotlight on CGS and Interview with Jane

Today BayNet, the Bay Area Library and Information Network, turns their spotlight on the California Genealogical Society and features an interview with CGS President Jane Lindsey. She answers questions about getting started in genealogy, what the society offers those with ancestors from outside California and more.

Thanks to BayNet and webmaster Amy Rogers for helping us spread the word about CGS!

About BayNet from their website:

A multi-type library association, BayNet welcomes librarians and information professionals from all varieties of organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our mission is to strengthen connections among all types of libraries and information centers, and to promote communication, professional development, cooperation, and innovative resource sharing.

14 August 2009

Workshop: Digital Photography - A Tool For Your Genealogical Research

Digital Photography – A Tool For Your Genealogical Research
A Workshop with Mary Beth Frederick

Saturday, September 19, 2009
10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California

Join CGS member Mary Beth Frederick and learn how to use your digital camera to take photographs of books, original documents, microfilms, and computer screens. Using this method will save you time, money, energy, and frustration, not to mention your back by never again toting a mountain of paper in your carry-on baggage!

The workshop is a FREE benefit of membership but is limited to fifteen people. Pre-registration is required - no walk-ins will be allowed. There is a non-refundable sign-up fee of $10 for non-members. (This fee can be applied toward membership on the day of the workshop.) There is a sign-up sheet at the CGS Library desk. Please call CGS at 510-663-1358 or email to reserve a space.

Mary Beth Frederick has enjoyed careers in marketing research, systems analysis and design, project management and as an editor for both print catalogs and an online website. She inadvertently retired when her last employer went out of business.

For over four and a half years, she has been engaged full time in researching her family tree and that of her husband as well as the times and places in which their ancestors lived. She has researched the records of many U.S. states; French Canada and the Louisiana Territory; France and Germany; Wales and the Channel Islands, and South Africa. When the volume of paper collected during the first two years of research threatened to outgrow her office, she started taking digital photos of source documents.

Mary Beth attended the 2008 Salt Lake Institute to study family history writing with John Philip Colletta and Patricia Law Hatcher, has studied Old German handwriting with Ingeborg Carpenter, and holds memberships in First Families of St. Louis and La Société des Filles du roi et soldats du Carignan. She earned a BA in English Literature with Classics from The Loyola University of Chicago.

She was born and raised in southeast Nebraska where she was related to nearly everyone in the county, which meant that finding a date (or a mate) presented a challenge. She solved this problem by meeting and marrying a South African. He does have a French surname, however, so she wouldn’t be surprised to find that they are related, too. Earlier this year, Mary Beth visited Australia where she has no known cousins. She is considering making the koala her totem animal since this furry creature also spends most of its time in trees.

12 August 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
Using Land Records in Genealogy
Workshop with Pam Miller
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox, Oakland, California.

10 August 2009

Family Stories to Help You Break Down Your Brick Walls – September 12, 2009

Brick Wall

September Membership Meeting
Saturday, September 12, 2009
1:00 p.m.
CGS Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California

It's story time at the California Genealogical Society Library but these won't be the bedtime variety. Four active CGS members have interesting tales to tell and each is a lesson of discovery that helped them loosen some of those proverbial bricks.

Lorna Wallace will present Buckingham's Letter – how a twenty year search ended because of what someone said in the CGS Library. She'll tell what happened that day and how it changed her research.

Tom Gesner will offer Name That Man: Who Was Mr. Ross? – how a fiftieth wedding anniversary announcement from 1912 led to an action plan guaranteed to find a missing identity. He'll explain what happened and why he did a lot of unnecessary work.

Mary Beth Frederick will share the search for a surname for her great -great-grandmother – The Long and Winding Road to Anne E. She'll tell the story of what she found in a cemetery that made her more determined than ever.

Steve Harris will relate brief vignettes with brick wall solutions using familiar sources in unfamiliar ways. He’ll share his own personal tips and tricks on researching and what can be done when we think we may have come upon a brick wall.

Please note that the short membership meeting starts promptly at 1:00 p.m. The presentations follow at 1:30 p.m. There will time for questions and answers. 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!)

07 August 2009

Tip of the Iceberg Poster – Buy Three Get One Free!

It was in March of this year that I first reported on the "Tip of the Iceberg" idea that developed during a casual conversation between CGS member volunteers Lisa Gorrell and Tim Cox. Lisa asked her daughter Elizabeth to create a graphic image and the project snowballed after Dick Eastman mentioned it in his online newsletter.

Tim followed up and had a poster created which was unveiled at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in June.

Now Tim has sent word that the "Tip of the Iceberg" posters are available by mail order.

The charge for a single 11 x 17 poster is $13.00, including tax and postage. The poster is mailed in a protective cardboard tube.

Up to four posters can be mailed in one tube so the society is offering these price breaks:

Two posters – $23.00, including tax and postage.

Three posters – $33.00, including tax and postage plus one free poster!

Send request, including payment to:
The California Genealogical Society and Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, CA 94612-3031

Thanks for helping us spread this vital message.

05 August 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
California Genealogical Society and Library
Research Team - the Look-up Ladies
Judy Bodycote, Pat Smith, Lavinia Schwarz

Photograph by Kathryn M. Doyle, 3/3/2009, Oakland, California.

03 August 2009

At the Library: A New Reference Homepage for Patrons

Something new has been added to the CGS computers. Designed to give welcome visitors and give them a starting place, "At the Library" is another innovation to make the technology as user-friendly as possible.

The first thing our patrons see is "Welcome To Our Library."

We are glad you are here! We will make every effort to make your visit to the California Genealogical Society Library comfortable and successful. If you have any questions or need help with equipment, please don't hesitate to ask.

Is this your first time here? If so, please ask for a tour of the library.

At the library, we offer access to subscription internet sites (to the left), the library catalog and reference indexes.

You many recall that the computers themselves are a new purchase for the library thanks to the generosity of our members.

It's the volunteer members of the CGS Computer Committee who keep hardware and software humming along and who handle any problems that may arise. The current members of the committee are Al Clark, Paul Mayer and Kathy Watson. Each Monday, one or two of them are at the library performing maintenance activities and fixing any reported problems. Paul has undertaken the effort to clean up the old computers. Al is the mainstay of the committee with the longest participation and history of the computer environment at the library.

Kathy gave me a quick tour of the "At the Library" features and she also showed me the special Desk Duty version installed on the computer at the reception desk. Calling it her brainchild, Watson informed me, "When there was talk of revamping the reference notebook for the Desk Duty Committee, I was inspired to deliver an electronic version rather than another paper version."

The reception desk version of "At the Library" is password protected and is designed to become an online procedure manual. Kathy's plan is to create a web version of everything in the CGS desk manual so volunteers will have every piece of information "at their fingertips."

Both versions of "At the Library" feature links to the CGS Library Online Catalog and to the following databases:

American Memory: California
Ancestry Library Edition
California Genealogy
Family History Archives
Family Search
Historic American Newspapers
Information Wanted
Library of Congress Catalog
Newspaper Archive
S.F. Genealogy
World Vital Records
Vital Search-CA
Vital Search-World

01 August 2009

CGS and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

The topic for the 77th , hosted by Miriam Robbins Midkiff at AnceStories, is Disasters. For the California Genealogical Society and Library that can only mean one thing: the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.

The California Genealogical Society, founded February 12, 1898, was only in its eighth year of existence when disaster struck. In an unpublished history of the society, the late Dorothy Fowler described it thus:

In 1906, the books--which by that fateful year numbered more than 300 – were housed in the apartment of the librarian, Mrs. Walter Damon Mansfield, in the California Hotel, Bush Street, between Kearny and Grant, San Francisco. The earthquake/fire completely consumed the fledgling library.
Amazingly the society survived and thrives today, but the disaster of over a century ago still remains always in the foreground. The significant loss of source documents presents a serious challenge to anyone researching 19th century San Franciscans. The work-arounds are the subject of the society's publication, Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research. Author Nancy Peterson describes the problem:

This was not the simple courthouse fire with which many of us with southern ancestry are familiar. Over one-fifth of the population of California lived at this time in San Francisco. Within three days 4.7 square miles of the city had burned, and about half the city's population was left homeless. Although the "official" death toll was set at 478, it has since been shown that at least 3400 lives and likely more were lost in a city that then was home to over 400,000. Losses in lives and property far exceeded those lost in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Not only were the documents genealogists are accustomed to accessing destroyed, but also the personal effects of a large part of its citizenry were lost. Marriage records, birth and baptismal certificates, deed and naturization documents were aboandoned and later destroyed as residents fled in terror to the outer reaches of the city or to its suburbs.
I've written before about A Most Dreadful Earthquake: A First-Hand Account of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire – with Glimpses into the Lives of the Phillips-Jones Letter Writers.  Both books were published by the society in 2006 to coincide with the centennial of the earthquake and fire.

What is less widely known, even to our own members, is the role that the California Genealogical Society played during the rebuilding years right after the earthquake and fire. The Panama Pacific International Exposition [3] of 1915 was a way for the city to showcase how far it had come in less than ten years.
The Panama Pacific International Exposition was the 1915 worlds fair held in San Francisco, California. Taking over three years to construct, the fair had great economic implications for the city that had been almost destroyed by the great earthquake and fire of 1906. The exposition was a tremendous success, and did much to boost the morale of the entire Bay Area and to help get San Francisco back up on its feet.

Officially, the exposition was a celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal, and also commemorated the 400th anniversary of the discovering of the Pacific Ocean by the explorer, Balboa. San Francisco was only one of many cities hoping to host the PPIE. New Orleans was its primary rival, but in 1911 after a long competition of advertising and campaigning, President Taft proclaimed San Francisco to be the official host city.
Exposition planners left no stone unturned in their quest to insure a world-wide audience. Building exhibits were elaborately designed from every state and many countries. Railroads and shipping companies were alerted to make preparations for vast numbers of visitors and the city fathers encouraged organizations from every walk of life to hold meetings in San Francisco in 1915.
Using I was able to locate several article touting the Exposition from around the country in 1913 and 1914. Their headlines differed but all carried the same text, presumably taken from a press release with wide distribution, and beginning with these two paragraphs:
Reports received at the headquarters of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, from all parts of the world, indicate that the year 1915 will see more great congresses and convention assembled in San Francisco than have ever gathered together in any one city during a single year.

Throughout the United States, in South America, and in Europe, the greatest interest is being evinced by members and official of conventions, learned societies and congresses of all kinds. This is true of educational and scientific bodies, as well as of fraternal, church, civic, labor, social service, commercial, agricultural, athletic and other organizations. More than one hundred great congresses and conventions have already voted to meet in San Francisco.
This article [4] is from the July 7, 1914 issue of the Oakland Tribune.

The International Congress of Genealogy was held in San Francisco July 25-30, 1915, under the auspices of the California Genealogical Society.


1. Fowler, Dorothy. "The California Genealogical Society's Library – A Century of Growth," Oakland: California Genealogical Society, 1996, unpublished manuscript.

2. Peterson, Nancy. Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research. Oakland: California Genealogical Society, 2006, xi-xii

3. Zoe, San Francisco Memories, "The Panama Pacific International Exposition,", ( : accessed 31 August 2009).

4. "Genealogists to Hold World Meet," The Oakland (California) Tribune, July 7, 1914, p. 5, col. 3; digital images,, ( : accessed 24 July 2009)

Copyright © 2009 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.