Recent Posts

30 January 2017

Why Go on a Research Trip to the Family History Library?

by Lisa Gorrell

Are you on the fence about whether a group research trip should be in your plans this year? Need some good reasons to encourage you to make the trip?

Here are my top reasons to visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:

Research in the best library on the West Coast with microfilmed original records from around the country and the world.

Enjoy the successful finds with companions who get your excitement of breaking through a brick wall. You'll have access to consultations before and during the trip to help you over any researching hurdles. Your leader, Lisa Gorrell, and others in the group can be great sounding boards when you’re unable to make progress.

Family History Library consultants can help you, too. There are experts on every geographic area around the globe, especially the British Isles, Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia.

Make new friends and cultivate old friendships during lunch and dinner breaks.

And the best: Spend a week away from your home chores and focus on your research without distractions.  My personal favorite!

The deadline for the early bird pricing is February10th. The final deadline is March 10th.  Right now, we've only had two people register for the trip and we need seven more attendees to make it a go.

So what are you waiting for? Help us continue the annual tradition of our Salt Lake City Genealogy Research trip by registering today---you'll be glad you came!

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

27 January 2017

Why I Contributed to the Capital Campaign: Jim Sorenson

Jim at the Annual Membership Meeting, January 2017
For those not familiar, The California Genealogical Society's Capital Campaign kicks into high gear this February with a goal of raising $1.2 million dollars.  The goal was created to coincide with the beginning of our 120th Anniversary in 2018. 

A committee chaired by Chris Pattillo was created to lead this effort. Chris also has the considerable help and talent of both Jane Lindsey and Sandy Fryer to ensure that the campaign will be a huge success.  

Why is a Capital Campaign needed?  The money raised will help ensure that our society will remain a leader in genealogy and give us the necessary financial cushion to weather various storms in the future. 

Now that you know about the Capital Campaign, I hope you enjoy the beginning of a new monthly series of blog posts entitled Why I Contributed to the Capital Campaign.  The first will focus on life member, long-time volunteer, donor and previous board member Jim Sorenson.  

Jim has given generously of his time and money for over nine years to The California Genealogical Society (CGS).  He has been involved in key strategic roles in the organization that have allowed us to thrive and succeed where many genealogy societies have either failed or begun to lose membership. Jim is a strong believer that the California Genealogical Society is an institution that contributes to our local community and collective history.  His latest genealogical project is pursuing information pertaining to his biological paternal grandfather, who was recently identified using analysis of autosomal DNA test results.

With that being said, here are a few questions I asked him on why he chose to financially support our society:
  • By contributing to the Capital Campaign, what do you hope to accomplish? I’m strongly interested in keeping CGS going as a vital resource for doing genealogical research and to support the many educational activities that they present.
  • You have many organizations to choose from when considering a donation, what made you choose us? My wife and I support many local and national charities. However, I know that my donation to CGS will be used wisely and every dollar goes to support CGS without being diverted to pay for expensive fundraising.    
  • How does donating to CGS extend your personal legacy or the legacy of California genealogical research? By keeping CGS fiscally healthy, I know that their great resources will be available to my descendants and me for years to come.
  • How did CGS' genealogical resources help your research efforts? In addition to the subscriptions to online databases, the CGS library has many books which can’t be found online or at general-purpose libraries. Although I’ve been doing genealogy for several years and have built up considerable experience, the collective expertise of the CGS members and their programs offers help that is not available if you just do it on your own.
  • What would you say to those contemplating a donation to the Capital Campaign? Donation decisions are personal and there are many deserving organizations asking for support. However, being an all-volunteer organization means that your support of CGS goes further to support its goals and purposes in providing an understanding of your ancestors and the world in which they lived, the challenges they faced, and the successes or failures that made them what they were.
If a donation to the Capital Campaign sounds daunting, then consider becoming a Life Member of the society.  Did you know that 100% of the Life Membership fee ($1200 that can either be paid at once or over a 5-year installment plan) is invested in mutual funds and provides long-term support for CGS? 

The revenue from these funds is used to cover unanticipated expenses and helps secure that the Society will remain viable in the years to come.  Rather than calculating a return on a Life Membership, we encourage you to think of this as donation with benefits.

Have questions? Please send either Chris or Jane an email to discuss what's best for you.

We need our dedicated and visionary members like Jim to step forward and make the pledge towards creating a more sustainable and prosperous future for CGS.  Please act now to preserve the heritage that you've worked so hard to discover.  We're counting on you.

Thank you for considering how you can help ensure that The California Genealogical Society will remain a financially strong leader in the field of genealogy.

Photo by Ron Madson

Logo designed by Lois Elling

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

25 January 2017

Annual Appeal: We're Almost There...

Ready to put us over the top? 
The Annual Appeal for the California Genealogical Society so far has raised 88% percent — $13,170 — of its $15,000 goal. We only need $1,830 to meet our goal for this year.  Can we all come together and make it happen by Feb 1st?  We’re very close to meeting our numbers for 2016 (thank you all). However, we still need your help to reach 100%.

Treasurer Kathie Jones said, "So far, 133 members have given a little over $13,000.  I'm so happy to see that each year we're able to exceed our previous year's goal.  In 2015 our goal was $12,500, which we accomplished, and I'm hopeful that we'll do the same for 2016's Annual Appeal. Our average donation this year is now $99 per person, a definite increase from the previous year.  Thank you CGS members!” 

Where does the money go?
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.  Our member survey results showed that The California Nugget, our biannual genealogical magazine, is another huge draw for our members.

What’s on tap for this year?
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 enjoyable genealogical experiences. Both will 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 2017.

Genealogy community
In addition to the library, resources, trips, events and classes---it's the people that make The California Genealogical Society the valuable resource that it has become.  Without your devotion of time and resources, we wouldn't be a leader in genealogy.

Thank you for all that you have done and will do for us in the future.  Our future looks bright because of members and donors like you.  

Please donate today.

You make our success possible.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

17 January 2017

Ready for a Genealogy Party?

by Janice Sellers
Image courtesy of Janice Sellers
Are you familiar with the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society?  It's one of the great genealogical societies in the Bay Area.  It has an upcoming indexing project that will help genealogists researching their San Francisco ancestors, and you can be part of it.

San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society
Jewish Records Indexing Party
Sunday, February 19, 2017, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.

Oakland FamilySearch Library
4766 Lincoln Avenue
Oakland, CA 94602

Pay it forward, fellow genealogists! If you've ever enjoyed finding records easily by using a search form on JewishGen, FamilySearch, Ancestry, or many other genealogy sites, you have been a beneficiary of indexing. Indexing is the result of volunteers reading images of old records and typing the information into a searchable format.  You know how FamilySeach has an annual worldwide indexing event to make a big push on transcribing their online records?  We're doing the same kind of thing, but on a smaller scale.

The San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society has taken on the task of creating an index for the old burial records from San Francisco's Sherith Israel synagogue for the 1850s through 1906. We expect that these records will uncover currently unknown death dates for this period, one that is notoriously difficult to research due to record destruction after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. So we need REAL PEOPLE to read the records and type the information into Excel spreadsheets.

We will provide the snacks, computers, and instruction on this valuable and essential service. The records are handwritten, but we'll help you learn how to read them. If you can't stay for the whole afternoon, we will be happy to have you for as long as you can help. We will be giving out prizes for most records entered, longest time spent working, and a few more categories we have yet to think of. Don't miss this opportunity to make burial records accessible to genealogists around the world! The ancestors you find may be your own!

We would like to have an idea of how many people will be coming (so we can buy the right amount of food!), so please send a message to to let us know that you'll be there.

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

11 January 2017

Next Issue of the Nugget Is Almost Ready

Antonia Maltos Davis, great-grand-aunt of Linda and Stella Allison
Janice M. Sellers, the new editor of our genealogy journal, The California Nugget, is happy to announce that the next issue is almost ready and should be going to the printer soon.  As this is her first issue, there's definitely been a learning curve, finding out about all the people and procedures involved.  But she has a great team working with her, and things have been going pretty smoothly.

Two things that will be new with this issue are a message from the president, in place of the previous message from the editor, and a regular column on genealogical methods by Certified Genealogist® Rondina Muncy.  In addition to those, here are some teasers on the articles you will find:

Stella and Linda Allison wrote about their great-grandfather's sister, a Mexican immigrant to San Francisco who moved up economically from her beginnings in Mazatlán.  Scott McKinzie used DNA and old-fashioned paper research to determine who his grandfather was.  Joe Reilly and Tim Cox have stories about their relatives who served and died in World War II.  Kathleen Javdani dove into research on her great-grandmother, trying to find if the information in a family narrative matched reality.  And Carolyn Ervin wrote about memories of her own great-grandmother, whom she was fortunate enough to meet shortly before the latter passed away.

This is officially the Fall 2016 issue.  Janice came on as editor at the end of September, and she wanted to make sure that the Nugget maintained its tradition of quality, so rather than rush to have it out in November, we've delayed it a little.  The Spring 2017 issue will probably be pushed back a month, and by November we should be back on our regular schedule for the Fall 2017 issue.

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

07 January 2017

From Our Manuscript Collection: Joaquin A. Silveira

Joaquin A. Silveira
by Georgia Lupinsky

Have you checked our Manuscript Collection’s searchable database which is available on the California Genealogical Society website? You might find a surname you've been researching and uncover material that will further your research.

This month we highlight the story of Joaquin A. Silveira as revealed in a scrapbook donated to the Manuscript Collection by the Silveira family. Articles within the scrapbook tell how Mr. Silveira built a successful life in the United States and contributed to his Bay Area community.

Born at Ribeira d’Areia, St. George, Azores Islands on October 17, 1873 to a wealthy dairy farmer and his wife, Joaquin Silveira set out in 1891 for California. He arrived in San Francisco with only a ten dollar gold piece left in his pocket, speaking only his native Portuguese. Soon he made his way to Benicia, where he found work on a ranch milking cows.

After a few years in California, he went into the dairy business and began to sell his eggs and butter along a route in West Oakland. In 1906 he opened the American Creamery in Oakland. It eventually became the largest institution to supply dairy products in Alameda County and Richmond on a wholesale and retail basis. In that same year he became a stockholder in the Portuguese American Bank of San Francisco and in 1911 was elected President of the bank. At that time he was the youngest bank president in America.

Next, Mr. Silveira was a commissioner of and primarily responsible for providing funds for the Portuguese Pavilion at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. In 1934 he was awarded the Military Order of Christ by the government of Portugal for his public service and philanthropic efforts in behalf of American citizens of Portuguese birth or descent.  A long-time resident of Oakland, he died May 2, 1947 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

To find out more about our collection, visit the CGS website, select the Databases tab in the upper right hand corner on the home page. Under “Databases Free to All” click on the “CGS Manuscript Collection Index” and a current copy of the database will appear for the reader’s review. The database is organized by:  title, geography, timeframe, description and surname.

If you find a collection that is pertinent to your research, call to make an appointment with a member of the Manuscript Collection Committee or the Desk Duty volunteer to view items, as this is a closed stack collection. We have many wonderful research resources for the genealogy community and look forward to seeing you soon!

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

06 January 2017

It’s that time of year again: Annual Membership Meeting on Jan 14th

Who:  Members of the California Genealogical Society

What:  Annual Membership and Business Meeting - preceded by social hour and potluck lunch

When:  January 14, 2017 from 11:30-3:00 pm; meeting starts at 1pm

Where:  2nd Floor Conference Room at 2201 Broadway, Oakland

What happens before the meeting?
The meeting will be preceded by a social hour and potluck lunch, so please bring a dish to share. We're providing the dessert and beverages.

Meeting schedule
The meeting will begin promptly at 1:00. The meeting agenda includes brief committee reports, approval of the 2017 budget, presentation of the slate of nominees, and electing the Board of Directors for 2017.

Happy New Year to everyone!  We hope to see you there.
Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society