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29 December 2010

Workshop: Comparing Genealogy Software - Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

California Genealogical Society Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Join Glenn Koch, Lisa Gorrell, Gary Darnsteadt and Kathy Watson for a preliminary discussion about genealogy software. Our panelists will present a brief, live demonstration of four popular programs: Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic and The Master Genealogist.

This is a great opportunity to compare software and ask questions of our team of power users.

This workshop is limited to forty participants and is offered free to members. Non-members fee is $20.00 (non-refundable) and can be applied towards a CGS membership the day of the workshop.

Register online.

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

27 December 2010

More New York City Research with Steve Harris - Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday, Feb 12, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

California Genealogical Society and Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

New York City Research Part II - Naturalizations, Probate Files, and Directories

If you are like the majority of Americans, at least one of your ancestors spent time in New York City.

Just over a year ago Steve Harris presented his first NYC workshop to rave reviews. Now he's back with a second installment – this time on using naturalization records, probate records, and city directories to research your New York City ancestors in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Attendees will also have access to Steve's large personal library of New York City telephone and city directories after the workshop.

The workshop is FREE for CGS members but is limited to twenty people. There is a sign-up fee of $20 for non-members. (This fee is non-refundable and can be applied toward membership on the day of the workshop.)

Register online.

Dr. Stephen Harris is a consulting genealogist with extensive experience assisting clients with their family histories. Born in Brooklyn, he has deep roots in New York City, but the siren call of California was too strong to resist. Steve is president of the California Genealogical Society and Library. His office and 6,000-volume research library are in Oakland, just down the hall from CGS.

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

25 December 2010

Mary Mettler's Best Christmas Gift Ever

Mary Mettler shared this story of her best Christmas gift ever. Thanks, Mary, for a great story and another idea for where to look for information about ancestors.

Two years ago, I was puttering on my computer, when I received an email from my grandniece, Anna Lindemann, then a senior at Yale. “Aunt Mary, go to this website and find seventy-nine pictures I took for you. You have two weeks to download them. Merry Christmas!” I have no idea how long it took her to locate and take pictures of 79 documents in the Yale University Archives, all of my father who is also her great-grandfather and a 1915 graduate of Yale. These were a treasure trove of information!  I never would have thought to look for anything other than the University yearbooks; however, Yale, and probably other universities, kept a close watch on their graduates and have rich archives of information.

There were birth and marriage announcements for him and his children, newspaper clippings, pictures, a history of the class of 1915 reunions, a questionnaire given to the graduating seniors, and questionnaires for most years from his graduation to his death in 1955. The senior questionnaire was really fun! I learned that he coveted a “Y” in track more than a Phi Beta Kappa key, had the Scott-Hurtt scholarship, loved to watch football and to participate in track, had been to twenty states and was nicknamed “Monty.” (He was born and raised in Kalispell, Montana.) His favorite prose writer was Rudyard Kipling; his favorite poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and his favorite historical character, Julius Caesar. It also included where and with whom he lived each of the four years, what classes he had taken and much more. The annual questionnaires showed every address change, each job and job title he had, the dates he served on various boards, what his sons did in World War II, what charitable work he had done and even the charities to which he donated. 

I doubt that I will ever receive a more memorable Christmas present! My father died, when I was seventeen; but I learned so much about him from these documents. Even if you don’t have relatives attending colleges of your ancestors, please do add college archives to your list of valuable genealogical sources. Thank you, Anna, for the best Christmas present I ever received!

Image from Yale University Archives courtesy of Mary Mettler.  

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

24 December 2010

San Francisco Bay Area Genealogy Calendar: January 2011 Published

January 2011 events have been published on the San Francisco Bay Area Genealogy Calendar – a collection of local genealogical society classes, workshops and meetings within a 75 mile radius of San Francisco.

The January calendar includes forty-none events at various venues around the Bay Area, sponsored by twenty different societies and genealogy libraries. The Commodore Sloat Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, are holding their 30th Annual Ancestor Roundup – an all-day genealogy conference – on Saturday, January 22, 2011, at the Monterey Family History Center in Seaside.

If you would like to add your group's events to the calendar, please email the information by the 20th of each month for publication on the 25th. (Please put "SFBA Calendar" in the subject line.)

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

17 December 2010

The California Nugget, Volume II, Issue 2, Fall 2010

The Fall 2010 edition of The California Nugget has been sent to the printer and should be arriving in members' mailboxes next week. It's another information-filled issue by Editor Jane Hufft and Production Editor Lois Elling.

Jane's letter from the editor is a great synopsis of the contents:

Dear CGS Members:
True to the title of our publication, we have a goldmine of articles for you in this issue. In our “Twenty-First Century Genealogy” section, Dr. Henry Snyder, Professor Emeritus of U.C. Riverside, writes about the current state of California newspaper digitization, a topic of enormous importance to anyone conducting research in the golden state. An expert in the subject, he is the former director of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research at U.C. Riverside.
Thomas MacEntee, a professional genealogist specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research, makes the case for careful and thorough citing of sources, a must for twenty-first century genealogical research. Twenty-first century genealogy also requires that the society embrace the electronic world. As society member Cathy H. Paris explains in her article “Lulu Comes to California,” we are doing exactly that by using print-on-demand services for our newer books to expedite publishing.
Our “California Ancestors” section features an engaging account from CGS member Janet Brewer Forsburg, whose immigrant ancestor’s successful company was widely known in the Bay Area. CGS manuscript specialists Virginia Turner and Georgia Lipinsky assisted with the preparation of this remarkable story. Kathleen C. Beals, author of many genealogical and history titles, including Early Families of Unity, New Hampshire and San Francisco Marriage Returns, 1850 – 1858, describes how a second look at previously completed research on Simeon Leach unearthed fresh and surprising mate- rial. The 1883 List of Pensioners appears here alphabetically by pensioner which makes this compilation unique.
With winter coming, curl up with one of the new titles reviewed by Marston Watson, a professional genealogist specializing in New England genealogies, and author of three volumes on Royal Families: Americans of Royal and Noble Ancestry.
We have a splendid list of new books, the names of many new members, and a brochure for you to use for ordering any of the society’s publications.
Please note that Part III of “Finding the Laughran Sisters” will appear in the Spring 2011 issue.
Jane Hufft, Editor

Twenty-First Century Genealogy
The California Newspaper: What Survives and How to Find It by Henry Snyder
Family History or Mythology? Why Source Citations Matter by Thomas MacEntee

California Ancestors
Herman Fischbeck and His Queen Lily Soap by Janet Brewer Forsburg 
Taking a Second Look at Simeon Leach by Kathleen C. Beals  
List of Pensioners 1883 compiled by Jane Hufft

For Our Readers
Lulu Comes to by Cathy H. Paris
Recent Acquisitions in the Library
New Members 
Book Brochure

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

16 December 2010

Christine In Search of Her Roots

Imagine an intensive internship for young genealogists to learn how to research their family history in America, culminating in a pilgrimage to their far-off ancestral villages.

Fantasy? No!

In Search of Roots is an annual San Francisco program created in 1990 for Chinese Americans aged 17 to 26 with families from the Pearl River Delta region in the Guangdong province of China. More than one hundred interns have visited over 150 ancestral villages, including our own Christine DeVillier.

I recently ran into Christine and saw the gorgeous photo book she created to document her experience. The book had just arrived in the mail and Christine was eager to share it with some genealogy-mad friends. Where better to find some than at the CGS Library?

Ancestral Homes of the Lim - Wong Family documents Christine's amazing trip to Hoisan, Guandong, China in July of this year when she visited the ancestral villages of her maternal grandparents. Christine used MyPublisher's bookmaking software and her photographs to chronicle once-in-a-lifetime moments, like when she met her grandfather's younger sister, Lim Cahn Woon, who had met her brother only once when he returned to China to marry.

Christine called her newly found great-aunt "Goo Paw." Goo Paw helped to fill in missing parts of the family tree and led Christine to her grandmother's village and family home using only her memories of the wedding that took place more than sixty years ago.

Christine has been researching her family for almost ten years. She was one of the speakers at the recent Chinese American Family History Conference at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center and she was one of the four creators of the two-part Chinese Ancestry Workshop organized by the California Genealogical Society in the spring.

Thanks, Christine, for sharing!

Photographs from Ancestral Homes of the Lim - Wong Family courtesy of Christine DeVillier.
Photograph of Christine courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey, 10/6/2010, Oakland, California.

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

15 December 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Board of Directors Facilitated Meeting
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Photographs courtesy of Jane Lindsey and Kathryn Doyle, Oakland, California.

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

14 December 2010

Honored to Be Nominated by Family Tree Magazine

The California Genealogical Society and Library blog is honored to be included in the Local/ Regional category of Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs nominees. The magazine will name the Family Tree 40 in the July 2011 issue and they are asking for your help!

The nominated blogs are divided into eight categories:
  • Everything
  • Cemetery
  • Technology
  • Heritage
  • Research Advice/ How To
  • Local/ Regional
  • New 
  • My Family History
Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20, 2010. Choose five blogs in each category.

Among the nominees are several other CGS member blogs:

Elyse's Genealogy Blog by Elyse Doerflinger

Little Bytes of Life by Elizabeth O'Neal

The Educated Genealogist by Sheri Fenley

The Internet Genealogist by Leah Allen

We Tree by Amy Cofin

One of the five genealogy blogger panelists who lent their expertise in formulating the blog categories and qualifications (and whose blogs have been excluded from consideration) is "far-flung" (as he calls himself) member Thomas MacEntee, author of Destination: Austin Family and GeneaBloggers. The other Family Tree 40 panelists are Lisa Louise Cooke, DearMYRTLE and Randy Seaver.

Now, please go vote for your favorite blogs!

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

13 December 2010

Workshop: Getting Started in German Genealogy with Shirley Riemer

Saturday, January 29, 2011
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

California Genealogical Society and Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Join Shirley Riemer for this informative workshop to get you started with your German research!

This session will focus on the first steps the German family historian must take to gain an understanding of the cultural, historical and genealogical facts essential to German ancestral research. The basics of the Second German Empire as they are relative to German research will be laid out so as to create an understanding of  the basic organization of German and German-American records. A brief overview of German church and civil records, some peculiarities of such records, and several other basic research tools will be discussed.

The workshop is FREE for CGS members but is limited to twenty people. Non-members fee is $20.00 (non-refundable) and can be applied towards membership on the day of the workshop. Preregistration is required. Walk-ins will not be admitted.

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Shirley Riemer earned her Masters Degree in English from Carnegie-Mellon University. She taught high school English for ten years, then worked in communications for 22 years in Pennsylvania. Following her retirement, her book, The German Research Companion, was published in 1997, followed by a second edition in 2000, now sold out. For the third edition, which appeared in April 2010, she added two additional authors for their expertise: Dr. Roger P. Minert and Jennifer A. Anderson.  In 2001 she co-authored with Dr. Roger P. Minert the book Researching in Germany: A Handbook for Your Visit to the Homeland of Your Ancestors.

For the last 18 years, she has published Der Blumenbaum, the award-winning quarterly journal of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society. For the last nine years she has also published the quarterly newsletter, Mitteilungen, for the Sacramento Turn Verein German-American Cultural Center – Library.

In response to her never-ending awe of the history and culture of our ancestors, Shirley will make her 42nd visit to Germany later in 2011. As the editor of German-interest publications, she has worked extensively with German family history researchers known nationally for their expertise in the field, in order to disseminate information helpful to descendants of German immigrants who are actively pursuing their German family history.

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

09 December 2010

Three Ways to Give Back

Carly Perez-Banuet, Operations Manager of Cushman & Wakefield of California, Inc., the management company of 2201 Broadway, sent this announcement about the annual Breuner Building holiday drives:

This holiday season we are supporting three wonderful ways to give back in our community.

The cold weather is here! Please consider donating a warm winter coat to our coat drive. Coats and jackets should be clean and gently used. The goal of One Warm Coat is to provide any person in need with a warm coat, free of charge. Carly has a collection box in her office, or feel free to leave them with security. Coats will be collected until February 1, 2011.


The Alameda County food donation barrel is in the main lobby. Last year the Breuner Building  collected about 350 lbs. –  about 270 meals for local folks. Let’s top last year!

This is a list of most needed non-perishable foods:
  • Canned Fruit & Vegetables
  • Canned Meats and Fish
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pasta
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Canned Soup
  • Dry Cereal and Oatmeal
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Powdered Milk
The food bin will be located in the main lobby through the first week of January.

Our neighbors at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, Suite 815, are hosting a Toasty Toes sock drive to benefit a woman's shelter – A Friendly Manor. Please deliver new adult and youth sock donations directly to Suite 815; they have a box in their front lobby and will collect socks up until December 17, 2011.

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

08 December 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Jane Lindsey and Laura Lee Karp

Photograph by Kathryn Doyle, Oakland, California, 3/16/2010.

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

06 December 2010

eNews December 2010, volume 4, number 12

The December 2010 issue of the eNews, volume 4, number 12,  has been published and emailed to members and friends. 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: California Ancestors.

This month's photo, submitted by member Maureen Hanlon, is of her grandfather, Daniel Martin Hanlon (1868 - 1938), the fifth of six children born to Daniel HANLON and Emilie FRANCK in San Francisco.

Learn more about Daniel and exactly what he thought about this photograph of himself!

Past issues of the eNews are available at the eNewsARCHIVE.

The January 2011 issue will be emailed on December 31, 2010. To receive a copy, please join our mailing list.

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

05 December 2010

Workshop: The A-B-Cs of Blogging - January 15, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

California Genealogical Society and Library
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, California 94612

Let Craig Siulinski show you how to build your own genealogy blog.

This workshop is designed for beginners who are interested in learning the fundamentals of blogging.

You'll learn how to get started by:
  • Determining the purpose of your blog
  • Choosing a name
  • Identifying your audience
  • Creating your first blog post
  • Adding text and images
  • How commenting works

Participants are encouraged to bring their laptop computers and use the library's free Wi-Fi to build a blog during the workshop. To save time, please identify and have easy access to at least two images ready to attach to your blog. We will be using which is a Google product and requires a GMail address. Workshop attendees are encouraged to sign up for a free Google account if they don't already have one.

(Workshop participants without laptops will be able to follow along and will be able to build their blog at home).

The workshop is FREE for CGS members but is limited to ten participants. Non-members fee is $20.00 (non-refundable) and can be applied towards membership on the day of the workshop. Preregistration is required. Walk-ins will not be admitted.

Registration confirmations will be emailed to the first 10 participants who register. Additional names will be collected and placed on a waiting list in case of cancellations.

Register online.

Craig Siulinski
Craig Siulinski has been an Oakland resident for ten years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, and has been a mathematics educator for many years. He has been involved in the study of genealogy and oral histories since 2007 when he decided to search for his paternal great-grandparents. Craig is the author of two blogs: August Legacy documents his family history and genealogy research; Jack and Pauline is devoted to oral history.

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

03 December 2010

Winter Intermediate Genealogy Series Starts January 18, 2011

For the third year in a row the California Genealogical Society (CGS) and the Oakland Regional Family History Center (ORFHC) are teaming up to present the 2011 Winter Intermediate Genealogy Series. Classes are designed for the researcher who wants to go beyond the basics.

Reserve your space now!

The course has been completely overhauled since last year's series and includes new material and more sessions. Ten classes will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. at the Oakland Regional Family History Center, 4766 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, California. Classes begin on January 18, 2011 and run through March 22, 2011. The series includes a Saturday field trip to the California Genealogical Society Library on February 26, 2011.


  • 01/18  Probate and Guardianship Records 
  • 01/25  Cemetery Records
  • 02/01  Church Records
  • 02/08  Newspaper Research
  • 02/15  Military Records
  • 02/22  Finding Country Cousins in Land and Property Records
  • 02/26  Field Trip to the California Genealogical Society Library
  • 03/01  Seeking City Slickers in Lesser-Known Records
  • 03/08  Reading and Transcribing Old Handwriting
  • 03/15  Immigration and Naturalization
  • 03/22  Solving Your Toughest Genealogy Problems

• Class size is limited. Walk-ins allowed if space available.

Nominal fee of $30 for the entire series and syllabus.
• Pre-registration is required. 
• $10.00 off a CGS membership upon completion of the series (expires 3/31/11).

Download the series flier for full class descriptions.

Register online.

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

01 December 2010

There's One in Every Family: The Wanderer

They call me the wanderer.
Yeah, the wanderer.
I roam around, around, around, around.

There's one in every family. You know the one I mean – the wanderer – the one who can't seem to put down roots and who will never settle down. From our earliest days, the California Genealogical Society has been a wanderer!

CGS has never owned a building so housing our books has been a challenge. An evening spent perusing decades of newsletters and journals revealed countless hours spent by society officers dealing with this issue, over and over again. Throughout its 112-year history, the California Genealogical Society has moved around – a lot!

Up From the Ashes

The society was founded February 12, 1898, in San Francisco, where it was headquartered for the first one hundred years. In the early days, the books collected by the society were kept in members' homes or offices – until disaster struck in 1906. At the time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, the collection of over 300 volumes was housed with the society's librarian, Mrs. Walter Damon Mansfield, in her apartment at the California Hotel on Bush Street. The hotel was completely destroyed and the entire library went up in smoke.

Mrs. Mansfield escaped and she continued to be the guardian as the society rebuilt its collection. I've written before about how CGS solicited donations from across the country and received books from individuals and institutions, including the Newberry Library. By 1910, Mrs. Mansfield, and the books, moved to the Fairmont Hotel, where in 1912 a special "Library Room" was established for the CGS collection.

The Many Homes of CGS

After Mrs. Mansfield's death in 1916, the CGS Library shared space with a series of illustrious institutions and groups. In 1917, the State Library in San Francisco was established to house the private library of Mayor Adolph Sutro, who stipulated in his will that the collection remain in the City. CGS was allowed to shelve its books at the first Sutro location on the third floor of the Lane Medical Building at Sacramento and Webster Streets. In 1923, Sutro (and CGS) moved to the San Francisco Public Library in the Civic Center.

That arrangement ended with the Depression. In the early 1930s the society was forced to remove its books from the SFPL due to funding cuts. CGS shacked up with the Sons of the American Revolution when they moved into their quarters in Room 327 in the newly constructed War Memorial Building in the San Francisco Civic Center in 1933. Things were stable for more than a decade until the SAR and CGS were forced out in 1945. World War II was coming to an end and the federal government took over that building for the United Nations.

Most of the CGS books were put into storage for a couple of years while the society was homeless until CGS moved in with the SAR again in June 1946, this time in offices at the DeYoung Building at Market and Kearny Streets. Things were stable for many years.

Partnership with the California History Society

In 1962, the California Historical Society acquired title to the CGS collection and for the next twenty years the library was housed at the CHS building at Pacific and Laguna Streets. The relationship with the California Historical Society lasted until CGS leased a new headquarters in the Flood Building at 870 Market Street, Suite 1124, San Francisco, and moved in on November 1, 1983. After months of negotiations, the society reached agreement with the California Historical Society and reacquired 85% of the genealogical collection sold in 1962. More than 60% of the membership voted to approve the CHS/CGS agreement in December 1983.

In 1986, CGS moved again – to the fourth floor of 300 Brannan Street, San Francisco – where the library and headquarters remained for twelve years.

Across the Bay to Oakland

Facing skyrocketing rental rates in San Francisco, the society's leadership explored several options before making the move to the Latham Square Building, Suite 200, on Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, in 1998. After the initial five-year lease expired, the society signed on for three more years and moved down one floor to Suite 100.

In March 2007, CGS moved to its present site in the historic Breuner Building at 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California. We're staying put – at least for now!

Written for the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy,


1.  Eric Maresca, "The Wanderer," Lyrics. Originally recorded by Dion, 1961. Lyrics Freak, accessed Dec. 1, 2010.

2.  Dorothy Fowler, "The California Genealogical Society's Library – A Century of Growth" (unpublished manuscript, California Genealogical Society, 1996).

3.  Dorothy Fowler, "Where the Books Were – CGS Library 1898 to 1998," The Nugget 9, no. 1,   (1998): 3.

4.  "Latham Square Building – the New Home of the California Genealogical Society," The Nugget 9, no. 2, (1998): 3.

5. "At the Society – Library Settled in New Location," CGS News 38, no. 2, (2007): 3.

COG poster courtesy of footnoteMaven.

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

Wordless Wednesday

First Saturday Free - Intro to Genealogy Class
November 6, 2010
Muriel Sonne

Photograph courtesy of Tim Cox, Oakland, California.

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