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28 February 2010

Judy Avery's Report From London: Who Do You Think You Are?

I'm so excited that Judy Avery agreed to send a report from this year's WDYTYA - Live. Okay, I'm a little jealous, too. Thank you, Judy, for taking time out to be our eyes and ears in London!

It's been a busy and jam-packed couple of days so at night I've been too tired to report anything! Today it's pouring rain and a good morning to stay in the hotel and actually try to write about what I've seen and heard at the conference.
It's called Who Do You Think You Are - Live: a National History Show at the Olympia Conference Center in London. Even though WDYTYA is a hit BBC show, it's not a BBC event but sponsored by, in association with the Society of Genealogists and The It's a huge success - they estimated 10,000 to 15,000 participants over the three days and judging by the number of day passes and workshop tickets that have sold out, they've reached their goal.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has a table in one of the corners for the first time and this is an experiment to see what response an American organization gets. The president, Brenton Simons, and three staff members are manning the table and giving lectures (they're called workshops in the brochure). Trustees and councilors were invited to join up and at least four of us are here - visiting booths (at least 200), enjoying bangers and mash for lunch and chatting with other participants.

Sandi Hewlett, Judy Avery and Meriwether Schmidt at the NEHGS table.

You should see the crowds! Very orderly, queuing up cheerfully as the British do, so happy to be here. There is a fairly-quickly moving line in front of the Military Memorabilia booth, where people are bringing in photos, medals, letters, etc. and waiting to talk to a military expert who can tell them about their treasures. Another very popular booth is Ask the Experts – a free 20-minute session with a genealogist and his laptop. Michael LeClerc and Josh Taylor have volunteered stints there, and find themselves answering family history questions about the U.K. and other European countries. They report great interest in people who went to America and have been lost by family members. "My grandmother's favorite brother went to California in 1910 and no one knows what happened to him."  Or "Mary sailed for America in 1890 - we think she went to New York and married a man named Smith." Remarkably in most cases, the staff members have been able to find some information or give helpful advice, and  people are so grateful. It seems at conferences in the U.S. we're interested in where our ancestors came from. Here we've had many questions on what became of family members in America.

Highlights for me: Maureen Taylor's talk on Scrapbooks. Remember when she gave that wonderful talk to the California Genealogical Society about dating old family photographs? She said scrapbooking in Britain isn't the big industry it is in the U.S. but it's coming. There are no big stores dedicated to readymade scrapbooks yet but supplies are in arts and craft shops. Audience members said they are making their own albums - very creative. Original photographs or documents should be copied and then pasted into the scrapbook. In the 20th century scrapbook makers began telling a story in their scrapbooks and it's a good idea to have a theme in the book.

Photo Detective Maureen Taylor

FamilyTree DNA has a big presence here and interesting workshops. If you're like me, you've done some testing but find it really frustrating and confusing to interpret. I think I understand it a bit better going to "DNA for Genealogy - Basic Concepts" and "I've Been DNA Tested - Now What?" FamilyTree is in the beta phase for a new program called Family Finder, which can find relatives within 4-5 generations across all lines. Traditional testing has done the yDNA and MtDNA chromosomes which can show direct male and female lines - good for surname projects and showing if men are related. The new Family Finder tests the other 22 chromosomes and can find male and female cousins, half-siblings, and will become the "perfect test for adoptees." Their new motto on a t-shirt is, "Sex doesn't matter anymore."
The best find in all this new information was Terry Barton explaining the FamilyTree website and giving information on his organization He and his wife have explained for us laymen about terms (markers, alleles!), and navigation of the FamilyTree website to get the results we want. "You are responsible for your own learning," he says, but this makes it seem possible.

So many booths with enthusiastic volunteers - small local history societies, Irish, Scottish and Welsh history groups, preservation supplies, map sellers, military history tables, a booth scanning documents, etc. I'm going back this afternoon and will try to take in some more!
- Judy Avery

Photographs courtesy of Judy Avery.

26 February 2010

What We Missed and How Technology Saved the Day

The California Genealogical Society presented a full-day program last Saturday, February 20, 2010, in honor of Black History Month and at the last minute the whole thing was threatened with cancellation, or at least a significant postponement. In his article CGS February Meeting a History Maker, our featured speaker, blogger and new board member, Craig Manson, explained what happened and how my two favorite geek-members, Thomas MacEntee and Kathy Watson, came to the rescue. Using WebEx and with only a couple of minor glitches, Craig was able to present his two talks from his home office in Carmichael, California with Past-President Jane Knowles Lindsey at her laptop control center at the library in Oakland.

Since I wasn't able to attend I've gathered some feedback from some of those present to give you an accurate accounting of the day.

The morning started with expertise from three long-time friends and colleagues from the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC). Past-President Juliet Culliver Crutchfield, Ed.D., Electra Kimble Price and Jackie Stewart fielded questions from the audience.

Lorna Wallace reports: 
The panel of members of AAGSNC did something unexpected in that they started right out asking the audience what questions they had – there never was a "lecture" as such. That way none of the attendees were left at the end without hearing what puzzled them. The open format also allowed people in the audience, who had a lot of pertinent experience, to easily contribute their personal stories as examples.

One of our new board members, Jeffrey Vaillant, had these comments:
The use of the Webex tool was an exciting new adventure that brought the presenter's voice and on-screen power point presentation in the room for all to experience. The technology has been around for some years so its use at CGS was a potential step into the 21st century. 
The morning three person panel was terrific as each shared insights into their genealogy quest. A lesson learned was solid genealogy practices apply to any ethnic research along with an understanding of that culture.

Vernester Sheeler sent accolades:
One word Fabulous!!  The CGS’s Black History program was wonderful. There were a couple of minor technical glitches but once resolved the session was great. Craig is a gifted and engaging presenter. He shared valuable tips, and tools to broaden my research. My employer uses WebEx for most of our project meetings however this was my first time to use it for something I value and enjoy!

Panelists Juliet Crutchfield, Electra Price and Jackie Stewart

Special thanks to everyone who helped make this a successful program.

Photographs courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey, Nicka Smith and Vernester Sheeler.

24 February 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Working on the Judge Project
Lavinia Schwarz and Judy Bodycote

Photograph courtesy of Arlene Miles, November 16, 2009, Oakland, California.

23 February 2010

Honored by Family Tree Magazine!

Diane Haddad, Managing Editor of Family Tree Magazine informed me that the California Genealogical Society and Library blog was named to the "Family Tree 40" after being voted one of the Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy blogs!

The awards were given in several categories, as follows*:

Genetic Genealogy
Local & Regional
News & Resources
Photos & Heirlooms
Personal & Family

In the online version of the magazine article, which appears in the May 2010 issue, Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, had this to say about the CGSL blog:
Even though I don’t have California roots, this is one of my personal favorites—you get a feel for this community that hangs together to solve genealogical problems. Society member Kathryn Doyle delivers news about the group, as well as local genealogy events and resources. On Wordless Wednesday, you get a peek behind the scenes of the organization.
Thank you, Maureen; thank you Family Tree Magazine and thank you to everyone who voted! I'm honored to be listed with such august company!

*Links reprinted here with permission of Diane Haddad, Managing Editor, Family Tree Magazine.

19 February 2010

Kate's Story in the Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal

In the Missouri State Genealogical Society Journal, Volume XXIX, No. 4, 2009, member Patricia Burrow chronicled the story of her ancestor, Kate Stuedle McCormack, who she discovered in 2007 when she obtained her grandmother's adoption papers.

Kate's Story is Patricia's "tribute to a hard-working family that serviced the westward migration of this great country." In it we meet Kate's father, Balthasar Stuedle, who built wagons for the families that made their way across the Santa Fe Trail and learn how Kate helped settle Oklahoma Territory and rear a family during the Great Depression.

Patricia consented to share some of the backstory of the document that was the key to unlocking her family mystery.
My grandmother was adopted. According to her children, she did not know about this until she was into her senior years. My aunt gave me a small scrap of paper that was supposed to be the link to the adoption but no one knew any details. The paper was from the Recorder's Office, Jackson County, Missouri, September 1902. It was pure gold. I wrote to the Recorder's office, sending a copy of the paper but got a reply that nothing was there. For four years I wrote to other offices and even the surrounding counties but never got a positive response. In June of 2007 we were visiting relatives in Arkansas, and made a detour to Independence, Missouri. I was determined to find SOMETHING. I marched into the Court house, showed the clerk a copy of my paper and within ten minutes had a copy of the adoption record from 105 years before. I believe that, because Missouri has closed adoptions, when I requested the information by mail, they saw that it was an adoption and dismissed the record's existence. Harder to do when I was standing there reading the microfilm with the clerk. Happiness was mine. He got so excited about it that he looked up the marriage info on my adopted great-grandparents and produced a beautiful copy of their license right there on the spot. It was a good day, about to get even better. I went to a local library and worked with the librarian to find the birth mother, Kate STUEDLE, and her family, in city directories and censuses. We were never able to find an actual birth record.
I have researched this family back to their emigration from Wittenberg, Germany, 1854. Balthasar STUEDLE married Christina Ann SCHWAB, also from Wittenberg, in 1870, Lafayette County, Missouri. These were my gg-grandparents. Using the internet, I met some wonderful people, some new cousins, and some of the most generous genealogists in the world – all willing to help. While writing the article for the Journal, I realized that I did not have Kate's final resting place. Somewhere there was a reference that she died in Cortez, Colorado. I knew that her son was buried there because I found his headstone on the internet. At 1:00 p.m. one sunny afternoon, I shot off an email to the address of the person who had photographed that headstone and asked if they knew if Kate was in the same cemetery. At 4 o'clock I got an email back that he, the photographer, had gone out to the cemetery, found her grave and took pictures of the headstone for me. Is that not a wonderful community?
I found the adoption record in June and was sitting in a genealogy class in September when someone new to the class began to introduce herself and tell who and where she was researching. My ears perked up when she said "SCHWAB" and gave their migration from Germany to Missouri and Kansas and then to Oklahoma. THOSE ARE MY SCHWABs!!! I would never have paid attention if I had not found that adoption record just 90 days before. Timing is everything. It turns out Betty Martinez is a third cousin! The lesson here is, never stop panning for gold. Betty followed up on many of her own leads and eventually handed me a photograph of my own g-grandmother, Kate, looking very much like her first child, the loving grandmother who held me on her lap, sang to me and fed me buttermilk biscuits that she baked in her old wood stove.

Kate Stuedel McCormack (1881-1963)

Photograph courtesy of Patricia Burrow.

18 February 2010

Mountain View Cemetery Walking Tour - March 24, 2010

Mountain View Cemetery
5000 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

Wednesday, March  24, 2010
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Private Tour of Mountain View Cemetery
Member Gaye Lenehan will lead an exploration of an Oakland gem. The walking tour of Mountain View Cemetery will start promptly at 10:00 a.m. – everyone should gather in front of the main office. If Mother Nature cooperates, attendees should witness a spectacular show since the tour has been timed to occur when the tulips are in full bloom.

Founded in 1863, Mountain View was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, renowned landscape architect of New York City's Central Park. The historic, not-for-profit cemetery is nestled in the foothills of Oakland and Piedmont. Gaye will tell a bit of history of the cemetery and lead us past the final resting places of some interesting people. She's including a climb up the hill to Millionaires' Row.

Please note: Walking shoes are recommended; the tour covers almost two miles on hilly terrain. It is not suitable for those with walkers, canes or the need to sit down frequently. There is plenty of parking along the roads in the cemetery. If it is a nice day bring a brown bag and plan for a picnic. In case of rain, the tour will be rescheduled for the following Wednesday, March 30, 2010. Please E-mail or call the libary at 510-663-1358 to register for this event.

Gaye is one of two society members who serve as docents at the cemetery. The upcoming schedule includes:

February 27 — Free Docent Tour led by Gaye Lenahan, 10 a.m., Black History Month Tour.

April 24 — Free Docent Tour led by Chris Pattillo, 10 a.m., The Trees of Mountain View. (If you can't make this, Chris has a self-guided tour on her blog, Historic American Landscapes Survey.

Learn more about the cemetery at Michael Colbruno's Lives of the Dead: Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland - a Graveyard Rabbit Association blog.

17 February 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
Tim Cox and Ron Arons

Photograph by Kathryn M. Doyle, Oakland, California, 1/15/2010.

14 February 2010

Tech Saturday Workshop with Mary Beth Frederick - An Encore Presentation

Saturday, March 20, 2010
10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway LL2 Oakland, CA 94612

Digital Photography: A Tool for Your Genealogical Research

Back By Popular Demand!

Let Mary Beth Frederick teach you how to use your digital camera to take photographs of books, original documents, microfilms, and computer screens. Using her method will save you time, money, energy, and frustration. You'll also be kind to your back by never again toting a mountain of paper in your carry-on baggage!

10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Lecture
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.  Lunch – bring a brown bag and participate in an informal question and answer session.
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.  Hands On: take advantage of the equipment and materials in the library and use your own camera to try the techniques presented during the lecture. Mary Beth will be on hand to assist and make suggestions.

The workshop is a FREE benefit of membership but is limited to twenty participants. Preregistration
is required. No walk-ins will be admitted.

Mary Beth Frederick has enjoyed careers in marketing research, systems analysis and design, project
management and editing both print catalogs and an online website. She has been engaged in the full-time research of her family for several years and when the volume of paper threatened to outgrow her office, she started taking digital photos of source documents.

• Workshop is limited to 20
• FREE for members; $10* for non-members
• Reservation form required

* The $10.00 contribution is non-refundable and may be applied toward membership on the day of the workshop.

Download the registration flier.

10 February 2010

A Valentine From the Manuscript Collection

This month's word prompt for the 20th Edition of the Smile For The Camera Carnival is "Valentine."
Love is in the air, so celebrate with Smile by sharing a photograph of a Valentine; be that person or paper. The interpretation of Valentine is yours. Admission is free with every photograph!

This special valentine is part of the California Genealogical Society's manuscript collection. Linda Darby shared it with me and it was so adorable I snapped a couple of photographs. Now I have the perfect opportunity to share them.

This valentine is neither paper nor person - it is actually a piece of fabric - muslin, I believe - and seems to have been created to commemorate a GRIFFIN family event.

It is a list of family names and the upper right corner includes the following:

August 11, 1908
Picnic Dinner
Griffin Family

Detail - Upper Right Corner

The California Genealogical Society manuscript collection, stretching ninety linear feet on the shelves, consists of loose papers, research and family histories donated to the library over its 100‐plus year history. A searchable document provides a synopsis of each collection and can be downloaded from the society's website.

Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle, November 16, 2009, Oakland, California.

09 February 2010

The Successful Research Trip: Lessons Learned on the Road - March 13, 2010

March Membership Meeting with Mary Mettler
Saturday, March 13, 2010
1:00 p.m.
California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California

The Successful Research Trip: Lessons Learned on the Road

Many of you will recognize Mary's name from her Tuesday Tales - the series of blog articles she wrote in 2008 during her three-month genealogical trek across country. Mary has also made several shorter research trips so her expertise is measured in time and miles.

Mary will tell us about taking research trips to our ancestors' locales, especially small and mid-sized places. She has made seven such trips from as short as one week to that once-in-a-lifetime journey. She will discuss preparation, tools to take, unique sources, tips/tricks and possible pitfalls.

Please note that a short membership meeting starts promptly at 1:00 p.m. Mary's talk follows immediately after. 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!)

08 February 2010

Call For Submissions: First Edition of the Carnival of Genealogical Societies

Announcing the first edition of the Carnival of Genealogical Societies!

Jasia of Creative Gene generously allowed me to introduce this idea back in October with the 82nd edition of the COG, Breaking Into Society. In case you are new to the concept, the Carnival of Genealogy (COG) is a bimonthly blog event invented by Jasia in 2006. Individual genealogy bloggers write about an assigned topic and post the articles on their blogs. Each carnival edition has a host who gathers the submissions and publishes a round-up of links to the articles.

Regular readers know I am a firm believer in genealogical society membership and that this blog has been a wonderful way to showcase the good work of the dedicated volunteers at the California Genealogical Society. It is my hope that a carnival devoted exclusively to writing about societies will broaden awareness of what a great resource a society can be and provide a venue for gen-blogging groups to share ideas and perhaps solve problems.

Society blogs are becoming more commonplace – Thomas MacEntee has 37 Genealogy Society blogs listed on Geneabloggers and Chris Dunham's Genealogy Blog Finder now lists 85 Association and Society blogs. But this is a drop in the bucket when compared to the 500 societies represented by the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). From their website:

FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow. To do this, FGS publishes FORUM magazine, filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news. FGS also publishes an extensive series of Society Strategy Papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society.

FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference — four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics.
I think that a blog carnival can create a gen-society subset within the larger, existing geneablogger community. Although they don't always write about it, many gen-bloggers are active members and officers of their local societies and hold membership in distant societies where their forebears lived. Here are some great articles I've noticed in the past few months that are worthwhile reading for anyone involved in the running of a society:

Genealogy Societies by Karen

Promoting Genealogical Societies by Tina Sansone

Blog Presentation at my Society Meeting by Granny Pam

Should Your Genealogy Society Have a Blog? by Amy Coffin

Amy Coffin's 25 Great Topics for Genealogical Society Blogs

And now for a few specifics. For the first few months I will plan to host the Carnival of Genealogical Societies here at the CGSL blog but my intention is that hosting will rotate to other gen-society blogs. However, any individual blogger is welcome to write an article for the carnival and submit it – as long as it is on topic. The GenSo Carnival will run every other month with entries due on the 7th. I look forward to receiving your entries by March 7, 2010 and I will publish the first edition on March 10, 2010. Even if you've never participated in a blog carnival before, please consider joining us. I welcome your feedback about this new venture.

Call for Submissions! The topic for this inaugural edition of the Carnival of Genealogical Societies is: Doin' Things Right! Shine a spotlight on a specific program, project, or publication at a genealogical society and tell us why it worked. Tell an anecdote about how you benefited from a particular genealogical society service. Share a success story and be specific! The deadline for submissions is March 7, 2010.

Please do indicate in your article that you are writing for the First Edition of the Carnival of Genealogical Societies. Submit your blog article using the the submission form provided by Blog Carnival. Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any article you plan to submit and/or write a brief introduction to your articles in the "remarks" section of the form.

See you at the Carnival!

05 February 2010

Wanted! U.S. Criminal Records by Ron Arons

CGS member Ron Arons has announced the release of his second book, Wanted! U.S. Criminal Records: Sources and Research Methodology.

Following up on the success of The Jews of Sing-Sing, Ron shares the knowledge he gleaned while investigating his great-grandfather's time in the slammer. He's bundled his experience collecting source documents for his first book into a unique resource for genealogists and historians. As he tells it, the first book was about putting the pieces of his family puzzle together. This new work tells us "how to find the pieces."

WANTED! is a 388-page reference that lists archives, libraries, courts and online sites with the information you need to track down the black sheep in your family: prison, court, parole and pardon records, execution information, and investigative and police reports.
George Morgan gave Ron's book a great recommendedation during the Janurary 27, 2010 Genealogy Guys Podcast #195 and summed it up by saying, "Every public library ought to have a copy of this book." I hope Ron will be donating one to the California Genealogical Society Library. What do you say, Ron?

Ron's book can be purchased through his website.

03 February 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Honoring Past-President Jane Knowles Lindsey

Photograph by Kathryn M. Doyle, 1/20/2010, Oakland, California.

02 February 2010

eNews February 2010, Vol. 4, No. 2

The February 2010 issue of the eNews, volume 4, number 2, has been published and emailed to members and friends, and it's sporting our new look. As always, the eNews features timely information about the California Genealogical Society and our upcoming events. Each edition also includes Suggested Links From the Blogosphere and a photo feature: CGS Ancestors.

This month we pay tribute to the Jonathan Johnson family of Jeffersontown, Jefferson County, Kentucky – photograph and story submitted by Jane Hufft.

Jonathan Johnson family of Jeffersontown, Kentucky

All past issues of the eNews are available for viewing at the eNews ARCHIVE. The March 2010 issue will be emailed on February 28, 2010. To receive a copy, please join our mailing list.

Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

01 February 2010

Our New Look

Whew! It's taken almost two years but the dust has settled and I've just checked a big "to-do" off my list. Welcome to the new and improved California Genealogical Society and Library blog. Do, please, let me know what you think!

First, you should know that this is more than just a blog remodel. Our new look extends to all of the locations that the California Genealogical Society sponsors across the web. We've come a long way since 2000 when the society put up its first web page. I was able to find an image thanks to the wonders of the Wayback Machine.

For many years it was our sole home on the net until things changed in 2007 when we published the first edition of the eNews and started the blog. With the addition of a Facebook Page in 2008 and Twitter in 2009, it became apparent that we needed to think about coordinating our look – to create a "brand" – to present a cohesive message to the world.

The one piece that has remained at the center of our look has been the seal of the California Genealogical Society. Who created it is lost to history but it was certainly commissioned under the auspices of the New Englanders who founded the society on February 12, 1898.


Some call it a "logo" but our former recording secretary, Shirley Thomson, set me straight. It is a seal and the library is still in possession of the hand crimper that is used to emboss the image onto paper. The digital image has been cleaned up a bit as evidenced by this photo I took of the front page of The California Register, Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1900. As you can see, the original seal was quite a bit more detailed. It has been prominently used by the society since our earliest days.

We had a couple of false starts with the "branding project" but things came together last July at a meeting of the Publication and Marketing Committee when Cathy Paris pushed us to think of a "nickname" for the society. She was concerned that our domain name,, was difficult to remember and in a brilliant, collaborative session was born.

It is fitting that 112 years after its founding, the California Genealogical Society is once again following the lead of the New England Historic Genealogical Society which has been using for several years. The Website Committee, under the leadership of Kathy Watson and the technical skills of Larry Youngman, took care of all the details and coding involved in switching to a new domain and changing the masthead and colors at the website.

Cathy Paris created a mock-up of a banner and we turned things over to our wonderful graphics volunteer, Lois Elling. Lois works for CGS behind the scenes but her work is everywhere. She is the production editor for The California Nugget and it was she who created the cover for our magazine. Lois's first clever idea was to use that old Ted Turner trick and add color to the seal.

Lois has been a patient and tireless artist, taking in MANY suggestions, and tinkering with colors and fonts to come up with what we now proudly display as our new masthead. (I especially love the outline of the state and yes, the blue field on the far left IS the ocean!)

So now you know the backstory of our new look. We aren't Coke™ or Nike™ so there won't be any Superbowl ads. We did this on a shoestring budget thanks to an army of society volunteers. And we are putting our best face forward in time for what we hope will be a surge in interest in genealogy with the premier of Faces of America on February 10 (PBS) and Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC) on March 5, 2010.