Recent Posts

19 December 2016

Great Finds at the Library

by Lorna Wallace, Member & Volunteer

As a long-time Desk Volunteer at the California Genealogical Society’s Library, I would like to encourage you to come in and use our wonderful library resources in Uptown Oakland to search for your ancestors. 

Whether you come in-person, or request a “look up” via the Research Committee, our library catalog is the place to start.  If you start with Research, then it's best to send an email first and ask what can be done for you. However, I recommend that you “play” with our catalog, which is part of WorldCat, because you may be surprised to find what we have!

Let's start a search
As an example, if you were interested in the first topic in last month’s eNews, Thanksgiving and Pilgrims, you could search our catalog using the “subject keyword” for “pilgrims” or “Plymouth”, which for me brought up 143 and 79 hits from the catalog, respectively.  Sticking with the theme, when I used “Puritans” as a subject keyword, I got 308 findings which included books, microfilm, maps, and over 200 article titles! 
I hope I’ve given you a reason to try a search in your favorite topics and see what you can discover.  Want to understand what's actually happening when you search our catalog using WorldCat?  Try WorldCat's tutorial page and soon you'll be a search expert.

We hope to see you in the library exploring our great resources in 2017!

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

16 December 2016

FindMyPast is now at The California Genealogical Society

by Maureen Hanlon 

In November we asked our eNews subscribers to help us decide on whether or not the California Genealogical Society (CGS) should continue having a subscription to the genealogy research website, FindMyPast (FMP). A trial subscription at the library ended on November 16. 

Of all the respondents, 80% were in favor of purchasing the subscription. So after hearing from our subscribers, even though the response rate was relatively small, it was up to the board to make a decision---and make a decision they did!  The Board voted to buy a subscription after considering the following:  survey results, library use, and also the value of having access to PERSI

What's PERSI?  FindMyPast's website states, "The PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) enables you to easily locate key information about people and places. It contains over 2.5 million entries from thousands of historical, genealogical and ethnic publications, making it an invaluable, comprehensive family history resource.

PERSI provides a simple way to access articles, photos, and other material you might not find using traditional search methods. This can help to build the historical context around your personal research, and the world your ancestors lived in."
We're excited that we're able to offer FindMyPast as another valuable, library-only resource for those visitors and members who come in for genealogy research. We also realize that many of you may not be that familiar with FMP, so we're making plans for a workshop and/or printed instructions on getting the most out of FMP when you visit the library.

Have you been to the library lately?  Now you've got one more reason to visit. See you soon!

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

13 December 2016

Meet our Board Member Nominees

by Karen Lemelin

The Nomination Committee is proposing two new board nominees for the 2017 - 2019 term. The new nominees are Rich Kehoe and Arlene Miles. The full slate of candidates will be presented to the general membership for election at the annual meeting.  

Board members
Continuing in a first term are Maureen Hanlon, Vicky Kolakowski and Stewart Blandón Traiman.  Continuing in a second term is Felicia Addison.  Proposed nomination for a second term are Linda Okazaki, Kathie Jones, and Therese Hart­-Pignotti.  Continuing in a third term are Nicka Smith and Karen Lemelin. Proposed nomination for a third term is Shannon Reese.  Ellen Fernandez­-Sacco will be also serving in the role of past president.

We thank these board members for their service
Lisa Gorrell and Jim Sorenson have termed out after serving three terms, Diana Edwards will not be serving an additional term, and Todd Armstrong has decided not to seek a second term nomination.

                                   Meet the new board nominees
Photo courtesy of
Shannon Reese
Arlene Georgia Schroeder Miles is a longtime volunteer, having joined CGS in 2007 hoping to continue her genealogy research and to help others research and record their family history.  A native New Yorker, Arlene has lived in San Francisco since 1984.  She has an Associate Degree in the study of Library Technology from City College San Francisco and many years of experience in record management.  She is currently the CGS Library Manager, and motivates a group of volunteers dedicated to maintaining and growing our collection of books, manuscripts and vertical files. Arlene is currently serving on the board for the remainder of the 2016 term to replace the late Henry Snyder.

Photo courtesy of Rich Kehoe
Richard Kehoe became interested in family history research years ago during visits with his mother and aunt, listening to their spirited discussions about growing up in San Francisco. Rich is a 6th generation San Franciscan.  His ancestors came to San Francisco in 1769 with the Spanish Portola Expedition.  He also has extensive Irish roots.  

Rich did not become obsessed with genealogy until 2010, and discovered CGS two years later, after retiring from a sales and marketing career in the educational technology business.  He has been a volunteer with the Educational Programs & Events Committee, and has attended SLIG and taken many of CGS’s wonderful classes, seminars and trips.  Rich is a member of UGS, NGS and Los Californianos.

The California Genealogical Society's bylaws specify the annual creation of a Nominating Committee in Article VII, Section 1: Nominations and Elections.


Section 1. The Nominating Committee shall consist of at least three (3) members to be named not less that ninety (90) days prior to the Annual Business Meeting. The President shall appoint the Nominating Committee. The chairperson of the committee shall be from the Board of Directors and additional committee members from the general membership. 
Section 2. The Nominating Committee shall submit its report to the Board of Directors and the Board shall give timely notice of nominations to the general membership prior to the Annual Business Meeting. 
Section 3. Following the Nominating Committee’s report to the membership at the Annual Business Meeting, the floor shall be open to additional nominations, provided nominees have given consent to serve if elected. 
Section 4. Nominees shall be members in good standing in the Society. 
Section 5. Members in good standing who are present at the Annual Business Meeting shall elect the Directors. A plurality vote shall elect. 
Section 6. If there is only one candidate for an opening, the ballot may be dispensed with by general consent and the election held by voice vote.

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

08 December 2016

Help us reach our $15,000 Annual Appeal goal

We need your help to achieve our goal 
The Annual Appeal for the California Genealogical Society so far has raised 40 percent — $6,000 — of its $15,000 goal. We’re currently on-track to meet it (thank you all) and are ahead by approximately $1000 compared to the same time last year. However, we still need your help to reach 100%.

Treasurer Kathie Jones states, "So far, 68 members have contributed $6,000.  I’m encouraged that our members are digging deeper this year to support our resource-rich genealogy society and library. Our average donation this year has increased to almost $87 per person.” 

Why is the money needed? 
Membership fees only cover 40% of our operating expenses; most of the rest comes from special events and tax-deductible donations from members like you.  Kathie says, "The cost of real estate in the San Francisco Bay area continues to be our number one expense for the society---meaning our rent consumes about 70% of our budget."

Our library, with thousands of volumes, is one of the premiere genealogy libraries on the West Coast, and is one of the main reasons that many of you joined the society.  We also learned through our member survey results that The California Nugget, our biannual genealogical magazine, is another huge draw for our members.

2017 Goals 
This year, the goal was set at $15,000 - $2,500 more than last year’s target to help us continue offering quality trips, classes, events and speakers for you, such as the world-famous Cyndi Ingle.  Cyndi’s seminar was sold-out and received rave reviews from the attendees.

We also led our first-ever trip to Washington, D.C. “Our genealogy research trip in November was a great success---we added almost $4,000 to our coffers and had a collegial group of genealogy-minded people who had a fantastic experience exploring all of the available federal and DAR records. I couldn’t be more happy with it!” exclaimed President Linda Harms Okazaki. 

Linda also wants to remind you to check your mail to see if you have received the Annual Appeal letter that was sent out in mid-November.  If you haven’t already done so, please consider contributing to the society. "Don’t forget that there’s a 2016 tax deduction created by contributing before year-end. I also want to thank each and every one of you that have donated or have volunteered in some way this year. Without your incredible dedication, none of this would be possible,” says Linda. 

What’s ahead in 2017?
Member Lisa Gorrell will lead our 17th annual genealogy research trip to Salt Lake City in April and on September 23rd we will play host to the incredible Judy G. Russell, also known as The Legal Genealogist.  We hope you’ll consider one or both of these amazing genealogical experiences.  Both help us raise needed funds for the society and library. We also have an interesting and constantly evolving slate of classes for you to choose from in the New Year.

The genealogy community is amazing 
In order to ensure that our society remains a leader in the genealogy field (in just over a year we'll reach our 120th anniversary), your help is needed.  With all the rapid advances in technology, we’re managing to stay current and remain a relevant resource for scholarship, education and community thanks to all of you.

Please donate today.

You make our success possible.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

07 December 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Washington, D.C. Genealogy Research Trip

Did you miss out on our inaugural genealogy trip to DC this past November?  Linda Okazaki, our president, led this wonderful group of passionate genealogists to explore all that D.C. has to offer. 

Here are a few of the photos from the group that went.  We've got more photos and stories to share in a longer post that we're working on about the trip, so enjoy these in the meantime!

 Photos provided by Linda Okazaki

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

29 November 2016

Lifetime of Genealogy

Did you know that anyone who donates $1000 or more to the California Genealogical Society (CGS) is entitled to a Life Membership? If you’ve been considering a life membership, now is a good time to make the commitment because in January 2017 the cost will increase to $1200.  
Life membership is being promoted to help build our endowment and will sustain the society long-term. Currently, CGS has 49 Life Members – fourteen of whom joined this year. Two of those new Life Members are Chris Pattillo and Diana Wild.
Here’s why they felt now was the right time to finally make the leap and become Life Members:
Jim Robinson, Laura Spurrier, Gloria Hanson & Chris Pattillo
I’ve thought about becoming a life member many times but never gotten around to it. This seemed like the right time. CGS is important to me – I value the resources the library has to offer and all that I learn attending programs, but most importantly I value the friendships and sense of camaraderie here.  After all, where else can I carry on about my family history and know my listener is actually interested?”     

Chris Pattillo

Jane Lindsey, Diana Wild & Alice Kane (NEHGS)
"CGS was a major reason why I got so involved in genealogy.  It was an incubator of sorts - a starting point for my research, a place where I learned new skills, and sustained my enthusiasm. I not only gained knowledge, but also friends, and enjoy sharing what I have learned with newcomers. I have belonged for many years and plan on supporting it for years to come, so becoming a life member just made good sense."   Diana Wild

All life members – new and old will be included in a special tea to be held in January 2017– so please consider upgrading to a Life Membership.

Thank you for helping create a more secure California Genealogical Society now and for the future!

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

27 November 2016

Our Members Make Us Possible

Happy Holidays!  Now that the holiday season has begun, I hope you’ll take a minute to think about some of our genealogy accomplishments this year and why you should be proud to continue supporting the California Genealogical Society through our Annual Appeal.

What were “firsts” for us this year?
  • We held our sold-out and well-received fall seminar with Cyndi Ingle, founder of Cyndi’s List.
  • We participated in our first ever East Bay Gives community day of online giving and raised $3,000.
  • We conducted in-house consultations in conjunction with Ancestry Day by the Bay.
  • We created a genealogy “summer camp” that was held on Thursday evenings in July and August.
  • We began a Young Genealogists group, an Irish Genealogy-focused Facebook page, and a Roots Magic Special Interest Group.

Our Library
We’re incredibly lucky to have an educational space for classes and events that brings us closer together as a genealogical community.  Isn’t it fun to meet people who have the same passion for genealogy as you?

In all seriousness, our library is the cornerstone of our organization, housing a collection of thousands of books, maps, periodicals, pedigree charts, manuscripts, vertical files, and other resources.

Have you been to the library lately?  If not, come to the library and access the numerous online subscriptions available including American Ancestors,, Find My Past, Fold3, and HistoryGeo

Our History 
In just over a year, the California Genealogical Society will reach a milestone, our 120th Anniversary. As we get closer to this achievement, the goal is to ensure that our society remains a leader in the field of genealogy. Your donation will help us to do that, and more. 

Give to an organization that cherishes the past
At this time of year, we know that other charities and organizations are all competing for your time and resources. We also know that you are the reason that the California Genealogical Society continues to thrive nearly 120 years after our 1898 establishment.
Donate today and help us make the annual appeal a success.  Thank you.

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society 

22 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warm wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving 
from the California Genealogical Society. 

Our library will reopen for research on
 Thursday, December 1. 

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

21 November 2016

Our Volunteer Holiday Open House is Dec 4th!

Ready for some fun?
All current, past, and future volunteers 
of the California Genealogical Society 
are invited to attend our holiday pot luck. 

Come join your friends and have some fun 
meeting other volunteers at our holiday brunch!
Sunday, December 4th
11:00 a.m. ~ 2:00 p.m.
 Lafayette, CA 

Hosted by:
 Linda Okazaki, Therese Hart-Pignotti 
Diana Edwards and Kathleen Beitiks 

Please bring a dish to share
We hope you'll bring either fruit, an appetizer, bread, 
dessert, and/or your favorite beverages.

Have questions or need more information?
RSVP to Linda Okazaki for the address of the party, 
and any other details you may need.

    We hope to see you there!

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society

26 October 2016

Endowment Honors

by Chris Pattillo 

In October of 2016, the board of the California Genealogy Society (CGS) approved a recommendation to rename our endowment fund as the Sherman-Haughton Fund. There are numerous reasons for doing so, but the most important one is that the board wanted to honor and recognize the significant contributions – both financial and in-service – that Frederick “Rick” Sherman and Ken Haughton have made to our society.

Rick Sherman
Frederick S. Sherman, Ph.D.
Known to everyone as “Rick” joined CGS in 1980 and from that time until his death he filled many vital roles in the society.

His first position was as Library Chairman. Then he served for ten years as Research Director, and volunteered as a member of our heroic Desk Duty team. He also participated in in a key strategic planning effort shortly before his death.

Rick was a willing speaker and enjoyed helping others with their research. He even made trips to Salt Lake City 
on behalf of members to find clues about their ancestors. Rick served as President of our society from 1994-1996.

In a 2008 Blog post honoring Rick, member June Nash Lindquist had this to say about Rick, “We all value Rick's sage advice, and cheerful and generous spirit. Rick is so knowledgeable on so many directions of research. We always appreciate his witty and wise conclusions to very knotty problems."

Generous in many ways
Rick and his wife Pat were exceedingly generous in many ways. Over the years they made regular financial contributions to help fund important projects. In 1983, their donations covered the cost of purchasing Bibliofile – at the time a new software program that was used to catalogue the library’s holdings. 

In 1996, a sizeable contribution from Rick and Pat helped to underwrite a 600 square foot expansion of the library when it was located on Brannan Street in San Francisco. As recognition of their gift, a new reading room was named in their honor. Also, when the library moved to its current location, Rick and Pat paid for the new shelving.   

But of all of Rick’s many contributions, the one that will no doubt have the most lasting impact is the endowment that he started in 1992. Rick initially donated $6000 to start the endowment and he contributed more funds each year through 2001. In total, Rick and Pat gave over $490,000 towards our endowment – in addition to their other financial gifts.  These gifts are a huge reason for our continued societal success.

Ken Haughton
Ken Haughton
Our other benefactor joined the society in 1978. Early on Ken served on the board and for many years served as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). He also participated in one of the society’s strategic planning efforts. 

Ken is a very knowledgeable family history researcher. He is particularly knowledgeable about how DNA can be used as a tool for genealogists and has even spoken about it for the society. He also has written several family histories and articles.

Ken and his wife Beverly joined Rick in 1997 by making a sizeable donation. They have continued to make very generous contributions every year ever since. As CFO, Ken set up our endowment and invested it in a small number of prudent mutual funds. Over the years Ken managed these funds and by December 31, 2009 our endowment balance was over $794,000. (This includes a building fund that was started by CGS past president, David Adams.)

As someone who knows Ken well, Jane Knowles Lindsey said, “Ken and I have known one another since our days in the 1990’s as Trustees of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. While I served as CGS president, I frequently called on Ken to lend his expertise in so many areas that helped strengthen CGS.”

A wonderful financial teacher
It was at about this time that Jim Sorenson and I were both appointed to the Investment Committee and Ken taught us how he had been managing the society’s money. I was honored to work with Ken who reassured me that by investing responsibly our assets would continue to grow. Ken must have felt comfortable with us because in 2010 he stepped down as chair of the Investment Committee and I filled the vacancy. Since that time, Jim and I, and now Tom Jones, have continued to oversee and manage the endowment in the same manner that Ken did for thirteen years. Ken has always generously answered my questions and now serves as a sounding board as we continue to make minor adjustments to our investment portfolio. Today, the value of our combined funds is over $1.3 million dollars.

Securing the future
The purpose of creating the endowment was to provide long-term security for the society and to cover unforeseen expenses, should they arise.  Over the years the cost to support the society has grown significantly. As part of our 120th anniversary we have a plan to grow the endowment by $1.2 million. It is a lofty goal, but one we feel is well worth pursuing. The increased endowment will help ensure that CGS will be able to continue to help our members discover their past for the next 120 years.

In recognition of the many contributions to CGS by Rick Sherman and Ken Haughton, we are pleased to announce that the endowment will now be known as the Sherman-Haughton Fund.

Help us continue the tradition of supporting genealogy research, events and library through our endowment.  Please contact Jane Lindsey or myself to discuss how you can be a part of this historic fundraising effort.  Thank you.

Photos provided by Jane Knowles Lindsey

Copyright © 2016 by California Genealogical Society