Recent Posts

31 December 2012

A Message from President Jeff

California Genealogical Society President Jeffrey Vaillant sent these words of appreciation.

Members and Friends: 
There is a great deal to be thankful for as 2012 winds to a close. We are appreciative of our loyal members, numbering almost 1150, and for the many volunteers who devote time, energy, and talent to the California Genealogical Society.

Volunteers serve the society through program committees including:
  • Book Repair
  • Desk and Patron Services
  • Education and In-house Programs
  • Events
  • Finance
  • Investments
  • Library Services
  • Manuscript collections
  • Membership, 
  • Outreach
  • Publications and Marketing
  • Research & Look-ups
  • Strategic Planning
  • Technology
  • Website
This long lists translates to more than 100 volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours per year. 
The highlights from the year are a long list and at the risk of overlooking some people here are a few: The Library had its great migration with the addition of shelving and hundreds of books while removing non genealogical materials. The blog celebrated its fifth year of publications. New videos were produced and posted at the website. Successful field trips were held both locally and out of state. Our relationship with the Family History Center flourished. Many hundreds of people attended classes at the Library. Books were repaired on a regular basis. Desk duty responsibilities were covered allowing the Library to be open to members and visitors.

So THANK YOU for being a member and interested person in the California Genealogical Society. We hope you have a wonderful finish to 2012 and look forward as we do to 2013!!

Jeffrey Vaillant, President

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

28 December 2012

Black History Month Panel Discussion – Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

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

The California Genealogical Society (CGS) is partnering with the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC) to present a Black History Month panel discussion. Felicia Addison, Annette Madden, Vernester Sheeler, Nicka Smith, and Jackie Stewart are members of both societies. They will be discussing genealogy research in their respective home states: South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi. The panel will share some of the challenges they have faced and how they overcame them, including the use of DNA. Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a strategy session.

The panel session is limited to thirty 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 of the event.

Register online.

Preregistration is required. Walk-ins will not be admitted. Registration confirmations will be sent to the first thirty registrants. Additional names will be collected and placed on a waiting list in case of cancellations.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

27 December 2012

Genealogy Writing Series Begins Saturday, February 16, 2013

The California Genealogical Society will present an encore of our popular series Writing Your Family History: Start Now. By the end of the course, you will be ready to start writing, or will be already writing, a family history with confidence and style!

Who Should Take this Course?
This course is for genealogists and family historians who are ready to transform their research into a quality family history.

Course Details
This course will meet for a five-hour session one Saturday a month at the library in the Learning Center. Class size is limited to twelve participants. All sessions are on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with one hour break for lunch.

The course will provide participants with all the information and assistance needed to get started on writing a family history. The course includes
  • a copy of the class text Producing a Quality Family History 
  • helpful course materials organized in a binder 
  • step-by-step instruction in organizing and writing your history 
  • a variety of lecturers on topics to expand on reading assignments 
  • experienced instructors 
  • editing and writing help 
Session dates:
  • Saturday, February 16, 2013
  • Saturday, March 16, 2013
  • Saturday, April 20, 2013
  • Saturday, May 18, 2013
  • Saturday, June 15, 2013
The course has been created by a team of dedicated volunteers – Matt Berry, Tim Cox, Lisa Gorrell and Jane Hufft – who have different and complementary skills.

Fee $100*
Non-members $125

Registration Requirements
  1. Attendance is required at all five sessions.
  2. There is no registration for individual sessions.
  3. Participants must be willing to commit a reasonable amount of time to the homework assignments, which consist of reading assigned chapters in the provided text and working on individual writing projects.
Last year's course filled very quickly, so please register now!

*All course fees are non-refundable.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

24 December 2012

San Francisco Bay Area Genealogy Calendar: January 2013 Published

Genealogical societies throughout the Bay Area are gearing up for a new year of meetings and events.

January 2013 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 lists sixty events at various venues around the Bay Area, sponsored by thirty societies, libraries and archives.

If you would like to add your group's events to the calendar, please email the information by the 15th of each month. (Please include "SFBA Calendar" in the subject line.)

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

21 December 2012

115th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon with Dr. Andy Anderson

Saturday, February 9, 2013
11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Nile Hall
Preservation Park
668 Thirteenth Street
Oakland, CA 94612

The California Genealogical Society and Library will celebrate the 115th anniversary of our founding at a special luncheon event. Dr. Andy Anderson, Chief Historian of Wells Fargo Bank, will present The Healing Power of Genealogy. Dr. Anderson has given keynote addresses at both the National Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Society annual conferences. He is an inspirational speaker and we are honored to have him at our event.

The festivities will include a social hour, used book sale and luncheon buffet. Several of the society's committees will have displays tables. Complimentary parking at City Center West Garage.


11:00 – 12:00 p.m. Social hour
                               Mingle and browse book sale and committee displays
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.  Welcome by President Jeff Vaillant
                               Light buffet lunch (soup, salad, sandwiches)
  1:00 – 1:30 p.m.   A Short History of CGS
                                Introduction of Dr. Andy Anderson, Jeff Vaillant
  1:30 – 3:00 p.m.   "The Healing Power of Genealogy," Dr. Andy Anderson

Seating is limited. Be one of 115 members and friends who will gather to celebrate our 115th anniversary! Tickets are $40, including lunch and parking.

Register online.

If you would like to give a birthday gift to the California Genealogical Society, please round up the ticket price to include a donation to help support our library.
  • $115 – One dollar for every year!  ($75 tax-deductible donation)
  • $100  ($60 donation)
  • $75  ($35 donation)
  • $50  ($10 donation)
If you cannot attend but would like to give a birthday gift, please donate online or send a birthday check to The California Genealogical Society, 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, CA 94612.

Dr. Andy Anderson
Andy Anderson is executive vice president and chief historian of Wells Fargo & Company. Over the past thirty-four years, he has built the Wells Fargo archives, several history museums and a modern fleet of stagecoaches. He also has managed Wells Fargo’s corporate marketing, advertising, and brand management programs, and the initial development of in 1994. He is the author of Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the Rise of the American Financial Services Industry (Simon & Schuster, February 2002).

Dr. Anderson’s interest in history led him most recently to create the Wells Fargo Family & Business History Center to help families and businesses discover their own history and cultural roots. He believes a family can better manage its legacy into future generations by understanding its past.

Dr. Anderson’s most recent publication is an interactive CD and Internet guide titled: "How to Find Your Family History & Cultural Roots." Copies of this CD are available gratis by contacting any Wells Fargo Wealth Management representative. His favorite quote is the advice Henry Wells offered to a young person who asked, in 1864, what it takes to succeed in business: "There is one very powerful business rule. It is summed up in the word — Courtesy."

Dr. Anderson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Villanova University, and his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in History from The Ohio State University. He has taught history at Ohio State, Arizona State, and Stanford universities. He received his archival training at the Hoover Institution and the Archives Institute of the National Archives of the United States.

For more about Dr. Anderson's work, please read this 2007 article from the Wall Street Journal: A Bank's Historian Shakes Money From Family Trees

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

20 December 2012

Winter Intermediate Genealogy Series Starts January 29, 2013

For the fifth consecutive year, the California Genealogical Society (CGS) is pleased to present a winter series of genealogy classes. The 2013 Intermediate Genealogy Series is designed for the researcher who wants to go beyond the basics.

Be resolute! Class size is limited and expected to fill quickly so reserve your space now.

Ten classes will be held on Tuesday mornings from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Oakland FamilySearch Library, 4766 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, California. Classes begin on January 29, 2013 and run through April 2, 2013.


01/29 Probate and Guardianship Records – Susan Goss Johnston 
02/05 Cemetery Records – Jane Knowles Lindsey
02/12 Church Records – Lindsey
02/19 Newspaper Research – Janice Sellers
02/26 Military Records – Johnston
03/05 Finding Country Cousins in Land and Property Records – Johnston
03/12 Seeking City Slickers in Lesser-Known Records – Johnston
03/19 Reading and Transcribing Old Handwriting – Lindsey
03/26 Immigration and Naturalization – Lindsey
04/02 Solving Your Toughest Genealogy Problems – Johnston and Lindsey

  • Class size is limited to thirty participants. No walk-ins.
  • Fee is $50 for ten classes, including syllabus.
  • Pre-registration is required. Participants are encouraged to utilize information received in the beginning classes BEFORE enrolling in the intermediate series.
  • Free parking at the Oakland FamilySearch Library
Download the series flier for full class descriptions.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

17 December 2012

The California Nugget, Fall 2012, Volume IV, Issue 2

The Fall 2012 edition of The California Nugget has been sent to the printer and will soon begin arriving in members' mailboxes. Editor Jane Hufft and Production Editor Lois Elling have created another information-packed issue for your reading pleasure.

Here is Jane Hufft's letter from the editor:
Dear Readers:

Too much family history piled up in the garage? Denise Levenick will make you feel better about all of it. Still looking for that elusive female ancestor’s family? Alison Shedd shares her strategies in “Finding Carrie Seigle.” Ever wonder what good a genealogy society does? Read Virginia Turner’s “The International Congress of Genealogy, 1915, San Francisco.” To this day stories and excerpts from that significant, founding event are discussed and archived on the internet. Need new places to look for information? This issue of the California Nugget has a mini-theme of specialty libraries: The Maritime Museum in San Francisco, described by Gina Bardi, is a local treasure; in Boston, the New England Historic Genealogy Society’s library and the Archdiocese Archives of Boston, more commonly called the Catholic Archives, both maintain unique collections, as does the Leo Baeck Library in New York City. Oh, and don’t miss the list of family surname newsletters we have at the library. Is your surname there?

New research opportunities continue to come to light. In their article on the Alien Case Files, Jeanie Low and Jennie Lew describe an amazingly rich and valuable resource at the National Archives, only recently made available to the public. More newspapers appear online; see “Historical Portuguese Newspapers of California Digitized.” Society-sponsored research trips always yield fresh discoveries, as you will read in “Researching the McKinley Family in Boston.” This fall the CGS library acquired a wealth of new books, an event documented by Henry Snyder in “Generous Gifts Enrich the Library.”

No matter how quickly you read through the following pages, don’t miss the wonderful family photograph shared by Cynthia Gorman, a treasure from by-gone era.

—Jane Hufft, Editor


Twenty-First Century Genealogy

I’m Rich! I’ve Inherited My Grandmother’s Stuff! by Denise May Levenick
The Maritime Museum Library in San Francisco by Gina Bardi, Reference Librarian
The Alien Case Files at the National Archives in San Bruno by Jennie Lew and Jeanie Low
The Story of SONA, “Save Our National Archives” by Jeanie Low
Researching the McKinley Family in Boston by Alison Kern Shedd

California Ancestors

Cynthia Louisa Capron by Cynthia Gorman
Finding Carrie Seigle’s Family: Tracing a Female Ancestor by Alison Kern Shedd
The International Congress of Genealogy, 1915, San Francisco by Virginia Turner
1883 Pensioners List: Isaacs, Alf. S through Miller, Isaac Compiled by Jane Hufft

For Our Readers

Historical Portuguese Newspapers of California Digitized by Henry Snyder
Jewish Archives Now Online 

At the Society

Generous Gifts Enrich the Library by Henry Snyder
Family Surname Newsletters at the Library Compiled by library staff
Research Trips With the Society 

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

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

14 December 2012

Member Blog Roll: No Longer a Lonely Place

CGS Member Blogs are listed at the bottom of the right sidebar. From the time the blog started in November 2007, this space was reserved for links to blogs authored by members of the California Genealogical Society. For the first couple of years genealogy blogging was in its infancy and the member blog roll was a very lonely place. Five years later we are proud to feature fifty member blogs!

As I recall, blogs by Jennifer Regan and Lois Elling were some of the earliest listed.

Three of our members, Lavinia SchwarzChris Pattillo, and Craig Siulinski, started their blogs after attending a "how-to" workshop by Thomas MacEntee and Craig Manson in October 2009. In early 2011 Craig Siulinski taught his own blogging workshop and several more members started blogs.

Many of the first to be added weren't new blogs, they were well-established by well-known genealogy bloggers who became CGS members. Thanks to my blogging buddies for your membership in the California Genealogical Society: Amy Coffin, Sheri Fenley, Denise LevenickThomas MacEntee, Craig Manson, Elizabeth O'Neal, Cheryl Palmer and Kim von Aspern-Parker.

Three of our directors have blogs listed in the roll.

I know of two blogs started by members in 2012.

Quesnell & Poole Families in South Africa is about the research Mary Beth Frederick has done on her husband's family. Blogging is a way for her share information with family without writing a formal printed family history which she feels is "too daunting – and it's bound to be full of mistakes that can't be corrected until the next edition."

Quesnell Poole Families

Linda Harms Okazaki blogs about her family, genealogy, and gardening in Linda's Orchard. I've really been enjoying her recent entries about her husband's Japanese ancestry and their trip to Japan.

Please take the time to explore the blog roll and enjoy reading the genealogical discoveries of your fellow society members.

Have I missed anyone? I'm sure there are more members of the California Genealogical Society who are blogging. If you are a member and your blog isn't listed, please leave a comment and the url so I can add your blog to the list.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

10 December 2012

Coming in February: A New Special Interest Group – Genealogy Writing

The California Genealogical Society sponsors Special Interest Groups (SIGs) for members to pursue the study of a particular geographical research area or genealogy discipline. These groups are a benefit of society membership. SIGs meet on specific days every month. A new writer's group will be starting in February. SIG meeting days and times are as follows:

  • RootsMagic SIG
    • Meets third Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Next meeting January 15, 2013.
  • San Francisco SIG
    • Meets third Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  Next meeting January 19, 2013.
  • Writing SIG
    • Will meet second Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. First meeting February 13, 2013.
The new Genealogy Writing Special Interest Group will provide a venue for members to share their experiences with writing their family history. Each meeting will be facilitated by a member of the group. Discussions will include topics common to family history writing: managing organization, developing content, adding context, and addressing common grammatical questions. There may be guest speakers invited to speak to the group. The Writing SIG will be coordinated by Tim Cox, Lisa Gorrell, and Jane Hufft.

The first meeting will be open to the public. Everyone is invited to attend the inaugural session on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. in the library classroom.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.

07 December 2012

eNews December 2012, volume 6, number 12

The December 2012 eNews, volume 6, 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 we honor Joseph Dory, Jr. (1786-1864) and his wife, Charlotte Hellenbolt (1801-1887), ancestors of California Genealogical Society member Lynne A. Dory.

Joseph Dory, Jr. and Charlotte Hellenbolt

Past issues of the eNews are available at the eNews archive.

The January 2013 issue will be emailed on December 30, 2012. To receive a copy, please join our mailing list.

Photograph courtesy of Lynne A. Dory.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

03 December 2012

First Saturday Intro Classes – 2013 Schedule

February 2012 First Saturday Free class 

The California Genealogical Society offers a free introductory class on the first Saturday of every month, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the library at 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, California, in the historic Breuner Building.

The class – Genealogy: An Introduction – is part of our monthly First Saturdays Free event when we welcome non-members and the general public. We open the library and share our resources with anyone interested in learning more about their family history. The library is a benefit of membership and is available to non-members for a $5.00 day fee during the rest of the month.

Volunteers take turns teaching the class which focuses on basic research methods and terminology. The class covers common (and uncommon) family history records and the resources available, both online and in libraries, repositories, and archives. The two-hour session also includes a tour of the library and an overview of our extensive holdings.

And don't think you have to be a beginner to benefit from the class! Our instructors do a great job of tailoring each session to the experience and needs of the participants so everyone comes away with new knowledge.

The 2013 schedule, with instructors, is as follows:

January 5, 2013 – Lisa Gorrell
February 2, 2013 – Kim Cotton
March 2, 2013 – Dick Rees
April 6, 2013 – Muriel Sonne
May 4, 2013 – Pam Miller
Jun. 1, 2013 – Lavinia Schwarz
Jul. 6,  2013– Muriel Sonne
Aug. 3, 2013 – Lisa Gorrell
Sep. 7, 2013 – Kim Cotton
Oct. 5, 2013 – Pam Miller
Nov. 2 – Dick Rees
Dec. 7 – Lavinia Schwarz

Register online for the January 5, 2013 class.

Photograph courtesy of Linda Okazaki, 2/4/2012, Oakland, California.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library

01 December 2012

A Trifecta of Honors from Family Tree Magazine

For the third year in a row, the California Genealogical Society website,, has been honored by Family Tree Magazine.

"A Fine State" by Contributing Editor Rick Crume (pages 20-27) is the cover article in the December issue which lists the magazine's 2012 picks for the seventy-five best U.S. state-focused websites for genealogical research.
In selecting this year's best state websites, we looked especially for databases (at least one per state) where you can search for your ancestors' names.
We're very proud of our California Names Index, a surname-based index to more than 350,000 records in these databases:
  • San Francisco voters registered 1890
  • San Francisco IOOF Crematory and Cemetery records
  • Biographies of individuals prominent in early 20th century California
  • Records from the First and Third Congregational Churches of San Francisco
  • Deaths in San Francisco 1865-1873, 1882-1889, 1894-1896, and 1901-1904
  • Probate Records: Registers of Actions 1906-1942
Thank you, Family Tree Magazine, we're honored to be one of three Golden State selections!

Also chosen, for the second time, is the California Digital Newspaper Collection, founded by our director and Library Committee Chair, Dr. Henry Snyder.
This site puts more than 5 million articles in California Newspapers (1846–2011) at your fingertips.
This year the magazine added a third California website,, founded by our members Ron and Pam Filion.
In addition to extensive resources for the Bay area, this site has statewide indexes to birth (1905–1995) and deaths (1940–1997).
Congratulations to Henry, Pam, and Ron, and a special "thank you" to Kathy Watson and Larry Youngman and the Website Committee for their continuing work for the society.

You can read the online version of the article at the magazine's website: Top 75 State Websites of 2012.

Family Tree Magazine is America's largest-circulation genealogy magazine, helping readers discover, preserve and celebrate their family history. In addition to their bimonthly print magazine, they publish how-to genealogy CDs, books, free monthly podcasts and weekly e-mail newsletters and the Genealogy Insider blog.

Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn M. Doyle, California Genealogical Society and Library.