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28 February 2011

Genealogy Addiction


by CGS Vice President, Chris Pattillo

I think genealogy should come with a warning – Danger: May Be Addicting. I should know. I’ve been possessed ever since I took a month off last July to immerse myself in genealogical research. I’ve amassed volumes of new information, agreed to co-chair the RootsMagic Users Group, signed up for the ten week Intermediate Genealogy course with Marge Bell, paid the deposit for this year’s Salt Lake Research Tour and attended Shirley J. Riemer's German Genealogy workshop a couple weeks ago.

As the mound of new data has grown, I realized I need to get it all organized and ready to share with family members, but I pondered - at what point? The notion of stopping to write up what I’ve already found and needing to cut myself off from this feverish rush to discover more and more has been a bit unfathomable. I thought, “Well, something will tell me when the time comes to write it up.”

Then a few days ago a modest 4” x 5” card arrived in our mail with a simple message, “Save the Date! Dana and Mary will tie the knot June 18, 2011” and I knew this was it – a deadline. Counting on my fingers – February, March, April, May, June – that’s just four and a half months. When I published our family history in celebration of my oldest nephew’s marriage in 2001, I spent every weekend for six months to get the job done. That involved writing sixty-three biographies, scanning and composing over 100 black and white photos and writing captions. In the final days, before my flight to Australia for the wedding, I begged my partner and a friend to help with editing and rearranging several hundred commas – not my strong point.

Four and a half months would be tight and I wanted to learn a new program for the book production. Now mind you, I still work at a real full time job. In fact I own my own landscape architecture business and have partial responsibility for the livelihoods of three business partners and eight staff. But, at every opportunity, I am focused on research, writing, checking facts, selecting images and thinking about how to organize and present the new material I’ve found thanks to many at the California Genealogical Society. On weekdays, as soon as dinner is over, I’m on my laptop doing research or writing. During my lunch break at the office I edit what I found or wrote the night before. In essence, I am possessed. I talk about my latest finds with my staff – like the online Find A Grave website – oh, that’s cool. I found eight Stover and Drake family relatives, including one great obituary, in one evening all buried in the Carr and Drake’s Cliff cemeteries in Carter County, Tennessee, but my fascination is starting to make my staff a little nervous.

So, I needed to share this story because I knew you readers would be sympathetic – you’d understand, but really we should consider adding that warning label to the society's website. Genealogy – it’s great fun, but very addicting.

Chris reflected in a monument at the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery
where her great-grandfather "James Pattello" is buried.

Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

25 February 2011

Anatomy of the Sanborn Maps Workshop with Melinda Kashuba

One of the things the California Genealogical Society does really well is events. Our classes, workshops and seminars are usually well-attended and more-than-meet expectations. Melinda Kashuba‘s Sanborn Maps workshop last December was a home run.



Events Coordinator Tim Cox and his team do a fantastic job at handling every aspect from scheduling, through execution. Online registration tools are now an integral part of the operation and make the collection of statistics a snap.



Tim sent these numbers:
  • Total registered: 29
  • Cancellations: 2
  • No show: 1 (non-member)
  • Non-members registered: 2 (1 was a no-show and the other one joined)
  • Total in attendance: 26
  • Total evaluations returned: 15



Tim also uses online tools to send an evaluation form to participants. It makes it easy for them to send feedback. The results:
  • Length of workshop (2 hours) was appropriate.
  • Number of attendees (24) was a nice size for most. Two responded that it was too crowded to get to the maps for the hands-on experience.
  • The workshop met everyone's expectation! "There was enough information to demonstrate the maps' uses and advantages, but not so much that one is overwhelmed."
  • It was unanimous that we should invite Melinda back for a repeat workshop or have her teach on another topic.
Thing that could be improved: moving the maps to the hallway for the interactive exercises for easier access.


Here's a sampling of some of the comments:
It was great to be able to examine the large Sanborn firemaps she'd posted on the wall in detail. I have a much better understanding on where to look for such maps, as well. – Dan Ford.
She had a nice mixture of listening to lecture and actively using our knowledge that required some physical movement. She was able to tie it altogether to make a very understandable and usable lecture. – Cheryl Schmidt.


The informal atmosphere made it easy to ask questions of the instructor. The presenter was well informed and the hand-outs were helpful for reference. – Ed Souza.
The topic was interesting and the speaker enthusiastic. I particularly enjoyed the exercise of looking at the maps. Learned lots. – Chris Pattillo.


Melinda is very knowledgeable and well organized. I thought she did a great job of presenting the information. – Marcia Holstrom.

Thanks, Tim, for the report and photographs of another well-run event.


Update 10/25/2011 – Craig Siulinski posted a summary of Melinda's workshop on his Genealogy Jamming blog: The Value of Insurance Maps. Check it out! —kmd.


Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox, Oakland, California, 12/11/2010.

Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

23 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Jane Lindsey and Lavinia Schwarz
Thursday, November 18, 2010








Photographs by Kathryn Doyle, Stockton, California, 11/18/2010.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

21 February 2011

Top Ten Reasons to Go to Salt Lake City with CGS

Spaces are filling fast for the 2011 Salt Lake City Research Tour. Although final payment isn't due until April 15, 2011, plan to send a deposit ASAP to hold your place.

Payment can be made online via PayPal or you download the information flier and snail mail a check.

Once you have signed up, appointments can be made in person or by phone to discuss your research plan. Email Jane Knowles Lindsey if you have any questions.

I first published this "top ten" list of reasons to go to Salt Lake City with the California Genealogical Society three years ago – but they still hold true today.

#10 - The Family History Library is vast and going alone for the first time can be intimidating. Come with two experienced leaders who will save you hours of time learning what is where and how best to use the overwhelming number of resources.

#9. - Arrangements for hotel, breakfast, shuttles and three dinners have already been made for you. Accommodations are at the Shilo Inn - three blocks from the Family History Library and the rooms have free wireless internet.

#8. - Spend time with like-minded individuals. No one will roll their eyes when you start rattling on about your great-great whoever. Where else can you spend a week with other people who are just as nutty about genealogy as you are?

#7. - You will finally have time to organize your papers. Catch an early flight and throw everything into an extra suitcase. Spend Sunday afternoon in your hotel room without distractions and get ready for a week of research. (Believe me, we have all done this!)

#6. - Take advantage of advanced assistance. Jane and Nancy will review your research goals and objectives and make suggestions before you even go to Salt Lake.

#5. - The tour is a perfect blend of togetherness and alone time. Three dinners are planned with the group (don't miss Saturday night at Lamb's) and the other evenings are free to do with as you please. Groups meet informally in the library lobby for lunch and you can choose to join them, explore on your own or stay and work through lunch.

#4. - Nancy Peterson, CG has donated her time and expertise to assist you. Nancy is the CGS Research Director and has taught numerous genealogy classes. Private appointments with her during the week are included in the price.

#3 - Jane Lindsey is a mother hen who logs miles and miles running up and down the library stairs making sure we are all finding what we need. She has been researching in Salt Lake City for over twenty years and has led all of the CGS tours.

#2 - The company is fantastic. I've made friends that I only see once a year but we pick up just where we left off. And there is always someone in the group who has the experience in an area that you don't.

And the number ONE reason to go to Salt Lake City with the California Genealogical Society?

It is the perfect way to get away from life's distractions and responsibilities – except to your ancestors.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

18 February 2011

Workshop: Online Newspapers with Janice Sellers - April 2, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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

Newspapers are valuable in genealogical research because you can find information about births, deaths, marriages, moves, business, naturalizations, court cases, and more. Millions of pages of the world's newspapers are now accessible online, but there is no one place to find them all. Janice Sellers will give an overview of what is available and how to find it, and teach you some techniques to find your ancestors in the paper.

This workshop is limited to forty participants and is a free benefit of membership. 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 sent to the first forty participants to register. Additional names will be collected and placed on a waiting list in case of cancellations.

Register online.

Janice M. Sellers is a professional genealogist who specializes in Jewish research. She is the editor of The Galitzianer, the quarterly newsletter focused on Jewish research in the former Austrian province of Galicia, and of ZichronNote, the newsletter of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (SFBAJGS). She is also the publicity director for SFBAJGS and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, California State Genealogical Alliance, California Genealogical Society, and Gesher Galicia. She has been on the staff of the Oakland Regional Family History Center for eleven years.



Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

16 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Membership Meeting with Jean-Fran├žois de Buren
Saturday, November 13, 2010







Photographs courtesy of Tim Cox, Oakland, California.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

14 February 2011

Internet Workshop with Lisa B. Lee - Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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

Join CGS member Lisa Lee for two lectures to help you harness the power of the internet.

Internet Security will explore various ways that your computer, PDA and cellphone may be vulnerable to attack by computer viruses or unscrupulous persons intent on stealing your personal data. Lisa will explain what all those terms mean – phishing, denial of service, firewall, malware, etc. – and tell what you need to do to protect yourself and the precautions you need to take while traveling. Is that hotel wi-fi really safe? Whether you're a Mac or PC user, this workshop will take the mystery out of internet security and help you prepare yourself for safe surfing.

Lisa's second presentation is Finding Your Unfindables.

What do you do when Soundex and wild cards don't work? This workshop will show you some common ways that records are either mis-transcribed or poorly indexed, and steps you can take to find your missing relatives. Regardless of which online databases you use, you WILL find errors. How you deal with them may make the difference in your ability to break through that brick wall. Lisa will show you some of the amazing errors she's found and teach you HOW to get around them. No more excuses – you're gonna find your unfindables.

This workshop is limited to forty participants and is a free benefit of membership. 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 sent to the first forty participants to register. Additional names will be collected and placed on a waiting list in case of cancellations.

Register online.

Lisa B. Lee is a professional genealogist and owner of GotGenealogy.com where she publishes the monthly Got Genealogy Gazette which provides timely information to help genealogists make the most of their online searches. She is a graduate of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (University of Toronto), where she obtained her PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies) with certificates in U.S., Canadian and Irish genealogy and methodology. Ms. Lee speaks and conducts workshops at genealogical societies and conferences in the U.S. and Canada where her animated style, infinite knowledge of everything internet, wit and perverted humor ensure that attendees will not only learn a lot but will have fun doing so.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

12 February 2011

The California Genealogical Society and FamilySearch on YouTube


I was disappointed not to have been able to attend the first RootsTech Conference this past weekend in Salt Lake City. Congratulations to FamilySearch.org and to the presenters and participants. I've been following the #rootstech tweets and blog posts.

One thing caught my eye on Facebook – a reference to familysearch.org on YouTube. (Thank you, Linda Herrick Swisher.) There was something I'd been waiting to see and had no idea it was posted online.

I shared some photos last August from the interviews with Jane Lindsey and Nancy Peterson and the filming FamilySearch did at the library. Now you can see the entire film on YouTube!



California Genealogical Society and Library works with FamilySearch to provide free online access to the records of funeral homes in the San Francisco area. These records are among the few collections that date back prior to 1906 and the San Francisco earthquake and are great substitutes for death records for that time period.

Thanks very much FamilySearch!

Update 3/1/11: the California Genealogical Society and Library is starting our next collaboration with FamilySearch Indexing: the 1852 California State Census Project.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

Happy Birthday to Us! - 113 years

 


On Saturday, February 12, 1898, at 2:00 p.m., the California Genealogical Society was founded in San Francisco.

A half dozen or so San Franciscans interested in genealogy gathered at Dr. Edward Stephen Clark's office at 16 Geary. They pooled their knowledge of family history research and shared the materials they'd separately gathered. In fact, they held the first meeting of what would become the California Genealogical Society, the state's first organization of family history researchers.

Well over a century after the events described by the late Dorothy Fowler in A Brief History of CGS, more than 1000 members continue to share a common zeal for all things genealogical.

Congratulations to our members and volunteers as we celebrate 113 years of helping people find their roots!


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

09 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Microsoft Excel Workshop with Tim Cox
Saturday, November 6, 2010  






Photographs courtesy of Carl Mueller and Kathryn Doyle, Oakland, California.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

07 February 2011

Special Black History Month Presentation - Friday, February 18, 2011

Anita Wills Friday, February 18, 2011,
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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

In celebration of Black History Month, the California Genealogical Society presents a special program by one of our newest members, Anita Wills. Her two talks on African-American history and research are free and open to the public.


1:00 p.m. African Americans in California

Anita will discuss the history and background of African-American settlers in California prior to and after the Civil War.

2:30 p.m. Mining Gold: Finding My Ancestor in Gold Country

Anita presents the story of her ancestor, William Penn Martin – a soldier, gold miner, and inventor. Martin was born in Pennsylvania and may have remained there had it not been for the Civil War. He joined the United States Colored Troops shortly after the war broke out. His unit traveled to Texas, where he mustered out. Family lore has it that he joined the Texas Rangers and went to California to mine gold. Wills will share some of his fascinating adventures.

Writer, author and speaker Anita Willis has been a genealogy researcher for over thirty years, specializing in free persons of color in Colonial Pennsylvania and Virginia. She is the author of two books: Pieces of the Quilt: The Mosaic of An African American Family and Notes and Documents of Free Persons of Color. Anita is a new member of CGS and hosts Anita Talks Genealogy, on Blog Talk Radio. A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Monacan Indian Nation in Amherst County, Virginia, she is currently working on her third book, Minqua: People of the Welsh Mountains.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

02 February 2011

eNews February 2011, volume 5, number 2

The February 2011 issue of the eNews, volume 5, number 2,  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.

In this month's edition, member Kay Speaks shares four generations of her family photos and sends greetings:
  

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!



Past issues of the eNews are available at the eNewsARCHIVE.

The March 2011 issue will be emailed on February 28, 2011. To receive a copy, please join our mailing list.


Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library