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30 October 2015

Anne Atkins Robinson

Anne Atkins Robinson 
Devoted Volunteer and Generous Donor
1921 ~ 2015

Photo provided by Ruth Robinson
Her Family 
Anne Atkins Robinson was born November 30, 1921, in San Francisco. Her parents were David Hadden Atkins, a native of England, and Mary de Fremery, of Dutch ancestry. Anne was a twin to Ruth, and younger sister to Arthur, Mary, Elizabeth, Dorothy, and Susan.

Early Years 
Anne spent her childhood in San Francisco before graduating from high school in Santa Barbara County, and then Pomona College. She joined the Army during WWII, enlisting in the Women’s Army Corps on March 11, 1944. A few years after the war, Anne married Edward P. Robinson. They raised two sons, Patrick and William, and a daughter, Ruth, in Redwood City. According to Ruth, “Anne was a happy, devoted and loving wife and mother, a creative homemaker, and an avid gardener.”

Volunteering and Genealogy 
Anne was an active volunteer in her children’s schools. Her interest in family history grew when she took a genealogy class, following the death of her husband. From there, she became an enthusiastic genealogist and continued her volunteer work, in libraries and repositories. Though she lived in San Mateo County, Anne joined the California Genealogical Society in 1980, where she volunteered for 32 years. She was also a founding member of the San Mateo Genealogical Society, where she tracked periodicals and created beautiful, handwritten labels. She additionally volunteered at the National Archives in San Bruno, where she helped to preserve the Chinese Immigration Files.

Her Legacy 
It was as a volunteer at the California Genealogical Society where Anne really made her mark. She left her Redwood City home early in the morning, and commuted several hours by Caltrain and BART, to arrive at our society once or twice a week, for decades. In more recent years, Ruth drove her mother to our society, as Anne truly enjoyed the camaraderie. She was a member of our Library Committee, where she inventoried our holdings, indexed ancestral charts, and worked on the Great Register of 1890 indexing project. Today, patrons can see Anne’s handiwork in the beautifully scripted labels on our pamphlets and other materials.

Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
In 2008, the Federation of Genealogical Societies recognized Anne for her contributions:

“The Federation of Genealogical Societies is pleased to present the Volunteer of the Year 2008 to Anne A. Robinson, nominated by the California Genealogical Society and Library in Recognition of outstanding service to the genealogical community.” 

Award Recipient
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Anne served many roles at the California Genealogical Society, but her biggest contribution was to the Book Repair Committee. She was an early member of this group, which continues to provide a much-needed service caring for our fragile collection. According to one volunteer, Anne “always brought her book repair ‘kit’ with her own materials: scissors much sharper than the ones in our box and her own ‘bone folder’ – a book repair tool, her own pens and many mystery items.” Through this work, Anne developed lifelong friendships.

Repairing Books
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Her friends at the California Genealogical Society had many kind words to say about her. Dick Rees, also a member since 1980, recalled that “Anne had a wonderfully sharp sense of humor and a real sense of devotion to CGS.” Lorna Wallace mentioned that Anne was “quiet, hard-working, yet with a happy laugh, and a friendly mood.” Pat Bonderud shared that Anne always greeted “everyone warmly” which was a “great way for volunteers to start their day at the library.” Pat also mentioned that Anne “was very pleasant to work with; quiet but filled with interesting stories.”

Every December, the Book Repair group had their own holiday party. Anne always brought her signature cookies, “ginger trees with white frosting and tiny M&M’s.” She never wavered and always brought plenty to share. Her fondness for sweets didn’t end at the holiday party. CGS Life Member and long-serving volunteer, Eugene Peck, always looked forward to their weekly cups of hot chocolate.

Anne A. Robinson and Vern Deubler
Photo by Kathryn Doyle
Anne was a remarkable woman, a dedicated volunteer who gave generously to our society. She passed away on September 20, 2015. One person who knew her quite well, Bill O’Neil, summed it up best by simply saying, “We miss her!” His words reflect how all of us at the California Genealogical Society feel about Anne. Yes, we really do miss her. Anne, however, will live on in our hearts with fond memories of days past and friendships forged at the library.

Thirty two years of volunteerism
Photo by Arlene Miles
You may read more about Anne A. Robinson in one of the many CGS blog posts featuring her activities. Additionally, an obituary written by her family was recently published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the spirit of Anne’s tireless generosity, the family kindly requested that contributions in her memory be made to the California Genealogical Society.   

Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society

28 October 2015

2015 Genie Awards

 Congratulations to our award recipients.
Thank you, Diana Edwards and Kathleen Beitiks, for hosting an event showcasing our "Behind the Scenes" Volunteers!

2015 Genie Award Recipients
Back Row: Karen Wetherall, Ron Madson, Bill O'Neil, Rich Kehoe Larry Youngman,
Georgia Lupinsky, Phil Hoehn
Front Row: Keith Montgomery, Jane Hufft, Virginia Turner

Diana Edwards, Genie (aka Linda Harms Okazaki) and Kathleen Beitiks

Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society

26 October 2015

The California Nugget preview: Fall is filled with mystery & intrigue

Are you ready for the fall issue of The California Nugget ?

Editor Jane Hufft says, “In each issue of the Nugget we want to offer something for every reader, especially for those newly embarked on genealogical research. Fortunately for us, our submitters always seem to light the way.”

Here are Jane's thoughts on this upcoming edition:
Two of the articles in “California Ancestors” demonstrate the importance of an ancestor’s F.A.N. club, or Friends, Associates and Neighbors, the approach to research stressed by renowned genealogy researcher, Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Powerful research approach
While family connections are important, the addition of the names of friends, neighbors, and associates enlarges the historical context, suggests possible links to new information, and adds layers of richness and detail to the story.

Hollywood Intrigue
In the first article, Darcie Hind Posz takes on an unsolved Hollywood mystery that both celebrity writers and other researchers had not been able to solve, and found the true identity of Dorothy Millette. By tracing associates and siblings Darcie uncovered Dorothy’s real name and family, showing how she had lived two lives, first as a poor foster child and then as a player in a Hollywood tragedy.

A Woman of Color
Next is Robert Bubb’s account of Louisa Yoos’ life, first in Texas and then in California, which also followed associates to gleen wonderful nuggets about her past. Not only is Louisa located in very precise times and places because of careful attention to those around her, but her neighbors and associates were also brought to life, painting a clear picture of the challenges she faced as a former slave and woman of color.

Newspaper Research Pays Off
There’s yet another elusive ancestor story, this time from Henry Snyder.  In this case, newspaper research revealed decades of information about Rhenodyne August Bird’s drama-filled life, the good and the bad. The resources he found in various online archives, especially the California Digital Newspaper Collection, shows how they should not be overlooked.

The War to End All Wars
We finish with three WWI ancestor sketches that take us back to the trenches:

A positive experience was had by Clement Robert Gibson (written by Mary Keller) who wrote lively, reassuring letters from France to his family and then returned home to civilian life.

The flipside was true for two other soldiers who perished.  The tales of George Fail of England written by Hugh F. Daniels & Sharon Corey Harris and Henry Oscar Sommer of California as told by Scott Taylor, lost their lives in the huge Allied offensive during the last days of the war. They are not forgotten by their descendants. David Goerss’ introduction to their stories explains the history of the Hindenburg Line.

We hope you enjoy this edition (publication expected by end of November).  Thank you to all our submitters for their thoughtful stories about their ancestors.  Also, kudos to Lois Elling for design and layout!
Have a story about one of your ancestors that you’d like to share?
To submit an article for one of The California Nugget’s upcoming editions, please email Jane Hufft.  She can be reached at

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 © 2015 by California Genealogical Society

22 October 2015

Hitting the Mother Lode: Adventures in Discovering Genealogical Gold

Looking for family history gold?  

Come hear one woman’s personal story and techniques in our class, Hitting the Mother Lode: Adventures in Discovering Genealogical Gold on November 14th from 1 - 3 pm.  
Free to members.

What’s it about?
Teresa Parham discovered that her connection to California was actually in her genes.  Not only will she tell you her family's story, but she'll share with you what has given her inspiration, both personally and artistically.

Even though her motto is “results are not always typical,” Teresa feels that “sharing the journey” is universal for those interested in knowing their family’s history.

What’s her story?
Through dedicated research, Teresa’s mother discovered that F.C. Ewer, Teresa’s paternal 4th great grandfather, had spent some time in California during the 1850s.

Her mother’s research led to a diary at the California Historical Society’s North Baker Research Library in San Francisco. Since her mother lives in Rhode Island, Teresa was the logical choice to investigate further. What she found in the diary was indeed “The Mother Lode.”

Who’s teaching?  
Teresa Parham
Teresa Parham is the Teen Services Librarian at the Pleasanton Public Library.

As the child of a U.S. Naval officer who has lived all around the world, Teresa’s culturally rich and rewarding life experiences have given her a unique perspective on genealogy. Her roots have now been firmly planted in California for the past 14 years.

Registration limited. Reserve your seat today!

Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society

19 October 2015

Meet the Genealogy Teacher: Lavinia Schwarz

Get to know our instructor, Lavinia Schwarz, who will teach our Introduction to Genealogy class as part of the 4-part Beginning Genealogy series starting on October 21st.  

Why did you start researching your genealogy?
My parents died and I inherited quite a few large boxes from them, so my first thought was, “I’ll put them up in the attic”, but then I thought I’d open them up and see what was in them.  In the boxes I found photographs and wills which generated tons of unanswered questions:  How did my parents’ ancestors get to California?  How did my parents meet in California?  How did it end up that I went to an Episcopal Church when my grandfather was a Catholic?

I thought, “Who were these people?”  And so began my quest...

What did you need to learn?
Everything.  I had no idea there were family histories written by people...I had no idea you could research census records and deeds...military records.  I had no idea. I was just like, “How do I do this?”

What were some of your first experiences with the California Genealogical Society?
I took a beginning genealogy class here and the first thing I learned was how to read a death record. It sounds gruesome, but it’s a great source of information.

My next step was to join the society because I realized that I needed to talk to their librarian and found out what books were available, learn who to ask for help and get to know the most knowledgeable people.

I took every class that California Genealogical Society had to offer.  Every one.  I took a census class with Dick Rees, who by the way gives a great census class, he teaches you how to look for all the lies on the census!  I had no idea the amount of records I could find until I started taking the classes offered here.

What do you hope someone new to genealogy research will get from your Introduction to Genealogy class in the 4-part Beginning Genealogy series? (Classes start at 2 different locations on Oct 21st and Oct 24th)

First, I hope they’re inspired to learn their ancestors' story.

Next, I want them to know where to go next and know how to look for whatever it is that they want to know.

Lastly, I want to help them determine their motivation by asking, "Why do you want to do this?"  

Any last thoughts on genealogy?
Some people join genealogy societies because they want to join a lineage society and they need to know if their ancestor really was in the...civil war...revolutionary war, etc.  
We can teach you how to do that.

In my case, it helps keep my feet on the ground by giving me a basic knowledge of history.  People get hysterical about what’s going on in the world right now, but I just say, “Ah honey, just go back to 1770 and you really would have had something to worry about!”

Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society

16 October 2015

Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island

It was a beautiful day for a pilgrimage. 

Angel Island Immigration Station 
On 3 October 2015, the Nichi Bei Foundation hosted the second annual Nikkei Pilgrimage to Angel Island, in honor of the Japanese immigrants who arrived there between 1910 and 1940. An emphasis was placed on the women who immigrated, specifically the picture brides. There were over 300 attendees who journeyed by ferry to enjoy the music, dramatic presentation, speeches, bento lunches, and family history stations.

Kenji Taguma, Nichi Bei Foundation
Picture Bride, Produced by Judy Hamaguchi, SF JACL
Linda Harms Okazaki and Karen Korematsu
Learning about Picture Brides inside the Immigration Station 
There were honored guests and special speakers, including Karen Korematsu, who is perhaps best known as the daughter of civil rights activist, Fred Korematsu. On this day, however, she spoke about her grandmother, Kotsui Aoki, who arrived on Angel Island on January 12, 1914 as a picture bride. Karen addressed the importance a discovering family roots and understanding the experiences of our immigrant ancestors.

Following the formal program, volunteers from the California Genealogical Society provided research consultations, including Todd Armstrong, Grant Din (also of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation), Linda Okazaki, Jim Russell, and Adelle Treakle. By far the most frequent question among the consults was "Did my ancestor come through Angel Island?"

Though most of the participants were of Japanese ancestry, there was a definite mix of ethnic groups represented. Guests had ancestors from Korea, China, Latin America, Canada and Europe. The genealogists were rewarded every time someone "found" an ancestor on an immigration record or census document. Those asking questions ranged in age, as well. One woman was 97 and had been incarcerated in an internment camp. Another young man was eight years old and very interested in family history. His parents listened intently as he asked questions about his great grandmother, who was born in Mexico and was currently living in California. It was a teachable moment when he discovered the importance of interviewing the eldest living relatives. He is most definitely the "NextGen" in genealogy.


Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society

15 October 2015

National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair

October 21 and 22

The National Archives Genealogy Fair is back and it's better than ever. On October 21 and 22, there will be live lectures via YouTube. Speakers represent National Archives branches from across the country. There will be ten lectures on two different days. 

And this event is FREE!  

For more information, handouts, and a complete description of each lecture, go to the National Archives website. Presentations are suitable for all research levels, from novice to advanced. 

Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society

14 October 2015

Allen County Public Library

California Genealogical Society
Research Trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Copyright © 2015 by California Genealogical Society