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28 June 2019

July events! Building Skills for Successful Family History Research

It's almost July! If you haven't taken a look at our summer classes and events, you may be surprised at the breadth and depth of our offerings. Over the next few days, we'll take a closer look at some of these upcoming opportunities.

One course offering that is sure to appeal to many members (or non-members interested in genealogy) is Pamela Brett's 4-part course, "Building Skills for Successful Family History Research."

Held Wednesday evenings at the beautiful Oakland Family Search Library (by the Mormon Temple) it begins July 10 and continues through the month of July.

Who can benefit from this "building skills" class? Well, almost anyone. If you've started doing family research but feel like you've exhausted every resource available, or if you find yourself revisiting the same problems over and over again, Pamela will cut to the chase, teaching these six key research skills:
  • Determining which kinds of records to look for
  • Identifying where to find these records
  • Documenting the sources of your information
  • Assessing the reliability of the records you found
  • Analyzing the results of your research
  • Making a solid case for your research conclusions
Through group exercises and (optional) homework assignments, Pamela will lead students through a process that helps you stop wasting time on fruitless searches and build a firm foundation for continued research. The course is suited to beginners, too. At just $100 for four classes, that's a bargain at $25 a class! Fee for nonmembers is $140, with $40 credited toward CGS membership.

Class is limited to 15 people, so sign up now! You can take a quiz to see if this class is for you, read more about it, and register at EventBrite.

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

All our Events can be found listed on the CGS Facebook page
or on our website:
or at (search for California Genealogical Society)

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

26 June 2019

Our Library Collections: Rhode Island

One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

An example of a four-generation tree from
Ancestral Dictionary
You will find our Rhode Island books shelved in F76 through F90. The section starts with five volumes of Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England by John Russell Bartlett, published in 1861. It covers thirteen years of history from 1757 to 1769. I sure hope I find a similar set of books when I get to Tennessee and Virginia, where my farming ancestors are from. It includes several original letters from the key participants in the conflicts between the colonists and French. Each volume has an index.

We have twenty-one volumes of Vital Records of Rhode Island 1638-1850 compiled by James N. Arnold and published in 1891. Each book covers a different set of counties. The preface of volume one offers an apology for the record not being complete, and an explanation that the fault lies with our ancestors for not having “placed the items upon the Town Records.” Arnold estimates that not more than a quarter of what should have been placed there exists for the period 1790 to 1850. That said, these volumes contain a wealth of data that may be just what you’ve been looking for.

The next little gem is Ancestral Dictionary edited by John Osborne Austin, published in Providence in 1891. This book consists entirely of tiny family trees for sixty-four individuals. Each page presents a four-generation family tree with names, birth and death dates, some location data and some titles. Anyone who is starting their research will be thrilled to discover this book.
One of the engraved portraits from Representative
Men and Old Families of Rhode Island
Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island (1908-1912) is covered in six large volumes. These books were donated by Charles Francis Griffin and are similar to many other biographical books the library houses. They provide lengthy written biographies and beautifully rendered engravings of many of the men profiled with their signature.

The Book of Rhode Island is from the Dorman collection. It was published in 1930 by several state business associations and includes biographies, a history, maps, photos of historic houses and civic buildings, information on local businesses and towns, and much more. It is very well illustrated but lacks a table of contents or index. The book features a lot of industrial plants and is really quite fascinating There is even a photo of a nicely-designed aeration plant of the Providence Water Supply at Scituate.
One of many images about the industries of Rhode Island
from The Book of Rhode Island
The final book I selected was Churches in Rhode Island by Henry Jackson (1854). This is a charming little book that has been lovingly housed in one of Bill O’Neil’s beautiful handmade boxes. The contents are a report by Rev. Henry Jackson at the twenty-eighth annual session of the Baptist State Convention. He visited each Baptist church in their organization and reported on what he found in this book.
First Presbyterian Meeting House of Rhode Island

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

19 June 2019

2019 International German Genealogy Conference

Many CGS members were in attendance at the German Genealogy Conference this past weekend in Sacramento! The event was hosted by the International German Genealogy Partnership, with local hosts the Sacramento German Genealogical Society and the German Interest Group of the San Diego Genealogical Society.

Thanks to Linda Okazaki and Lisa Hork Gorrell for the photos!

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

Our Library Collections: Pennsylvania

The Dutchman is a charming journal with
good articles - too bad we have so few
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

Our Pennsylvania collection is one of the largest I’ve reviewed so far, with over thirty shelves of print books. No doubt there is much more to be found on our catalog. This short blog post cannot begin to cover what is available, so if you have Pennsylvania ancestors you need to schedule a visit to our library and budget plenty of time.

The section starts with just a few issues of the Pennsylvania Dutchman from 1956-1958. This is a charming, informative and well-illustrated journal worthy of review–even if just for fun. We have a large set of Pennsylvania Archives from 1852 that includes “original documents from the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth conformably to acts of the General Assembly February 1851 to March 1852.” This volume has a very interesting fold-out of "Indian Auto-Graphs" from 1682 to 1785. These are sketched depictions of Native American signatures.

 "Indian Auto-Graphs 1682-1785" from Pennsylvania Archives
We have several sets of journals. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography starts in 1960 and continues to July 2009. This appears to be a scholarly journal published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Our Keystone Families, Vol. 1 by Schuyler C. Brossman features a collection of weekly newspaper columns that were published in the Lebanon News from Oct 1966 to Oct 1969.

All of these volumes are Pennsylvania Archives
Our shelves hold ten volumes of Philadelphia Wills covering the period 1682 to 1825. These were compiled by the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania and consist of copies of handwritten abstracts of wills.

Our shelves also host three volumes of Pennsylvania German Society proceedings, published in 1934. This is a publication of the original lists of arrivals to the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808. Each volume is packed with details and lists of persons who arrived at various times. Other groups represented in our Pennsylvania collection are the Palatines, Huguenots, Welsh and Scotch-Irish.
One of the hundreds of handwritten abstracts of wills
in our ten volumes of Philadelphia Wills
A side note: at our June CGS board meeting earlier this month Vice President Jim Sorenson reported from the 50th annual Jamboree in Los Angeles that Family History Library director David Rencher announced that they are reconsidering the earlier decision to remove most of their books. Current plans for Salt Lake City are to return some of the books to their shelves to augment computer research. Fortunately, we at CGS are way ahead of them!

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

12 June 2019

Our Library Collections: Oregon

An Illustrated History of  Central Oregon
showing damage from the flood.
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

In case you are wondering, our Oregon books are hiding in the California room in the back corner of the library – one of my favorite quiet places. We have three shelves of journals and books awaiting your perusal, so come in and have a look.

The first book that caught my eye is an oversized book– four inches thick—that looks like a survivor of the 2004 library flood in our history. Many of the pages show damage but it is still a source worth checking out. It is An Illustrated History of Central Oregon published in 1905 and covers seven counties of central Oregon. It includes a history of the state as well as each of the counties. This is a well-organized and indexed book with much to offer.

One of the nice things about writing this blog series is that I keep learning new things. That is why Genealogical Material in Oregon Donation Land Claims caught my interest. I have not heard about donation land claims before and wanted to find out what it was about. We have seven volumes of these records that were abstracted from land grant applications and compiled by the Genealogical Forum of Portland, Oregon. These cover land claims granted to settlers of the Oregon Territory before 1853. Each abstract includes a wealth of information for the first 2500 grantees, including name, residence, birth date, marriage place and date, wife’s name, and more. 
First There was Twogood is a relatively
recent addition to our library with lots of
historic photos

Our shelves contain several state and county histories of Oregon and a number of books on pioneer families. One of the county books is First There Was Twogood: A Pictorial History of Northern Josephine County by Larry L. McLane, described as “a pictorial and brief historical review of the miners and the pioneer families who came to the northern section of Josephine County in search of wealth, a new way of life, or the solitude of the canyons and mountains.” It is packed with black-and-white historic photos and well worth a review for anyone with Oregon ancestors. 
Another illustration from a flood-damaged book of Mount Hood

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

06 June 2019

At the birthplace of the East Bay: Peralta Hacienda Historical Park tour

One of the exhibits built into the reconstructed adobe wall
CGS members recently had the opportunity for a tour of the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in Oakland. Those who signed up were richly rewarded. Our enthusiastic and very knowledgeable docent Inshirah Berakah led a two-hour tour of the six-acre park and the interior of the 1868 Victorian-style Peralta home.

Inshirah began the tour at a multi-lingual park entry sign and walked us through the outdoor exhibits, explaining each and demonstrating why she is the kind of teacher we want in all our schools. We saw the borrow pit where the Peraltas threw their trash in the early 19th century, excavated by an archeological team in 2004. She explained each of the items in the alcoves of the reconstructed adobe wall that once surrounded the family compound. The most recent exhibit consists of a series of large banners that tell the story of migrants from Mexico and Central America.
One of the outdoor interpretive signs
For those who don’t know – this site is the birthplace of the East Bay. It was the centerpiece of a 44,700-acre land grant given to Luis Maria Peralta in recognition of his service to the King of Spain. The site includes an outline of the original 1820 adobe home and of another built in 1840.

Inside the house, Inshirah showed us their most recent art exhibit, created by migrants now living in Oakland – a combination of poignant paintings and beautifully executed mini quilts that tell their life stories. In one of the rooms the posters and booklets produced from the genealogical research done by CGS volunteers is still proudly displayed and we were told continues to pique visitors' interest.

The original kitchen, fully furnished, has several displays of foods and medicinal plants. A poster on the kitchen wall lists about 25 audio programs available – each telling a piece of the Peralta story. Peralta provides free audio sets so anyone can take a self-guided tour and learn all about the different aspects of what it was like living on the rancho.

The family room where our tour concluded
The dining room table is covered with large laminated maps each telling a different part of our docent’s story. On display are an old saddle; an artist's installation honoring Maria Galindo, the wife of Antonio Peralta; maps illustrating migration patterns, and much more.

Guided tours are offered by appointment Wednesday–Saturday, 2:30-5:30 p.m., and are well worth the time. Visit for more information.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

05 June 2019

Our Library Collections: Oklahoma

We only have two of this journal from
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.
Our Oklahoma books start with two sets of journals. The first is from the Topeka Genealogical Society, a quarterly. We have copies spanning 1988 to 2002. The second is the Oklahoma Genealogical Society Quarterly which begins in 1937 and continues up to 2017. Both publications offer the sort of information typically found in such journals and are well worth looking through.

Tucked in with our books are two volumes of Tree Tracers produced by the Southwest Oklahoma Genealogical Society. These are charming typed booklets published in 1976 and 1978.
Beyond the journals, CGS has eight books on Oklahoma, plus more that can be found online through the library catalog, so don’t forget to look there.

There's also A Gazetteer of Indian Territory by Henry Gannett; Oklahoma Leaders, a classic series of biographies with portraits; a bound copy of the 1890 Federal Census of Oklahoma; Oklahoma Territory Weddings; Research in Oklahoma; Guide to the Historical Records of Oklahoma and Encyclopedia of Oklahoma.
This photo shows the entirety of our library books on
Oklahoma but more can be found in the online catalog
Of this group, Oklahoma Territory Weddings looks the most interesting. It was written by Frances Murphy Bode and published in 1983. It includes a chapter on the history of marriage records and another on people and places. The author combed through county records to collect the data. She includes several short biographies of couples with historic photos, so it has lots to offer. 
Oklahoma Territory Weddings looks like
a good source

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society