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30 October 2019

Preparing for Disasters: Saving Your Genealogical Treasures

A few of my personal treasures
Chris Pattillo writes:

This blog post is for all our California members – which means nearly everyone who reads this blog. Raise your hand if you feel you were/are well prepared for this year’s fire season. Hmm, I don’t see many hands – must be all the smoke in the sky.

I am very fortunate in that I live in an Oakland neighborhood with one of the most well-prepared groups of citizens. We are part of the CORE program. CORE stands for Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies. Berkeley has a similar group. Our neighborhood has a stash of emergency supplies, we have had practice drills, many of us have completed the three-course emergency preparedness training offered by the City of Oakland, and we meet twice every year to refresh ourselves and inform new residents.  This has been happening in my neighborhood since 1998.

From all this training the most valuable lesson I learned was to take time well in advance of a real emergency to think about what you value most. What things would you try to save if you had to evacuate your home during an emergency? And write it down so that when the time comes you won’t have to think about it.
My list of what to evacuate fits on one page.
Items in red are what I'd try to grab if
I had only a five-minute warning.
Our home was threatened during the Oakland firestorm but saved when firefighters stopped the fire in Mountain View Cemetery, so we take these threats very seriously. This week, while the Kincade, Carquinez Bridge and the Getty fires were burning, we checked our lists and got everything organized – ready to load and leave if we got a call to evacuate. It’s all stacked neatly on my dining room table. Doing so helped reduce my anxiety a lot.

The process of preparing the list is very interesting. I encourage everyone to prepare such a list just to experience what if feels like to think about what you value most. What do you own that would tear your heart out to lose? What each of us would choose to save will vary. For me, and I suspect for many of you, it’s family things – both old and new. For me my box of favorite Christmas ornaments is sitting on my table, I cannot reasonably pack all the china and crystal but I did pick out one particularly treasured plate. I have a favorite vase, 3 carved polar bears, a mug I bought in Kentucky while on my 2017 Genealogy Journey, my grandmother’s cookie jar which happens to be full of homemade cookies, our wooden salad bowl, my Snap-On rachet and screwdriver set, and my favorite recipes including our traditional Christmas cookie recipes.

Copies of all of the family history books I’ve made were the first things I grabbed and some of the original family photos, though all of those were scanned years ago. Oh, I added a few practical items – my two favorite, most comfortable pairs of shoes, my favorite slacks and blouses, favorite earrings and enough undies and socks to get by before I could buy more. I added some food in case we need to live out of my motor home for a few days. Medications, checkbooks and cash. That’s about it.
This lightweight box holds all my favorite Christmas ornaments

Nancy Cork was impacted by one of the two fires that sparked in Lafayette this month. Here’s what she had to say: “When I was told that a grassfire sparked by downed power lines had threatened houses on my street in Lafayette this Sunday, my first thought was that I wanted to save our family's boxes of home videos... if only I could rush in and grab them, then everything else could burn. That desperate panic has lasted after the threat has gone (for now...this IS California). For years I have been trying to preserve my family photographs by scanning and digitizing them, sending files to relatives out-of-state, storing them in 'the cloud.' The video recordings also need to be duplicated, digitized, shared and stored remotely. This is my next big project. Until then, the boxes of videos are sitting on the desk, near the door, ready to go at a moment's notice."

So, do you feel prepared? Have you:

1.       Finished scanning the family photos you’d hate to lose?
2.       What about documents you inherited - have those been scanned?
3.       Have you made backup copies that are safely stored away from the fire zone?
4.       Have you uploaded your digital files to the cloud?
5.       If you had five minutes' warning, do you know exactly what you would grab in a panic?
6.       Have you sent copies of your most valuable photos and documents to other family members?
7.       Have you thought about the practicality of taking large items? The original painting of an ancestor – one-of-a-kind, but framed in a 24” by 30” wood frame – will it fit in your vehicle along with everything else? I know there is no way we could ever pack Dianne’s great grandfather’s rocker but we will always have the photos of it.
8.       Do you own a fireproof safe? Is it rated to withstand the likely temperatures in an intense inferno?

Past President Linda Okazaki had five minutes to evacuate her home in Lafayette a few days ago. “We were out of the house within five minutes of receiving the text to evacuate. Having already pondered what to bring, the car was in the driveway, we grabbed the two fire-resistant boxes with important papers, and filled a large suitcase with other items such as laptop, phone, chargers, dog food. In the scheme of things, nothing else really mattered. My genealogy is backed up once a month. Most of the very old photos have been scanned. In hindsight, I should have been prepared to not be able to bring anything. As it turned out, we were back home within a few hours. It was a good lesson.” Coincidentally, Linda just wrote a post on this very subject for the Nichi Bei Weekly. It is well worth reading.

My grandmother's cookie jar has no monetary value but it is
priceless to me.
For all of us who’ve been spared disaster this time there have been many good lessons during the power outages and threats of fire. Let’s all heed the warnings and prepare to save our most treasured possessions. 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

Volunteer for the front desk one day a month!

Felicia Addison at the front desk
As you know, CGS is entirely staffed and managed by volunteers. We can always use more volunteer assistance, even just one day or a few hours a month!

Currently we have an urgent need for more persons to manage the front desk at the library. If you can volunteer for one Thursday, Friday, or Saturday per month, please consider it. Training is provided. Be the welcoming face of CGS as a volunteer receptionist! Welcome our patrons to the library, shelve books, answer the telephone. It's a wonderful way to meet people and to learn more about our society. 

The library is open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The following slots need filling:

Thursday: 1st and 2nd Thursdays of the month

Friday: 3rd Friday of the month

Saturday: 4th and 5th Saturday each month

Volunteers have the option to work with another member or they can split a shift with another member (10 a.m. - 1 p.m. or 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.).

If you're interested, please contact Felicia Addison or Kathleen Beitiks, or fill out the CGS Volunteer form at our website.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

27 October 2019

November 2019 at CGS

Nothing makes a happier holiday for a genealogist than learning and researching! We have a cornucopia of wonderful classes and events coming up this month and continuing into the holiday season. Here's a preview:

Saturday, November 9:
Following the Paper Trail in England, 1837-1937
An exploration of the kinds of records available for researching ancestors in England and Wales from 1837, when civil registration began, to the outbreak of World War Two. Instructor is Jeremy Frankel, professional genealogist and President of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.

Saturday, November 16: We have two classes this day at different locations.

1. - At the CGS library, the Mayflower Descendants SIG holds an extended meeting on making your application to the Mayflower Society. Bring your documentation and enjoy 
this opportunity to learn and share research tools with other Mayflower descendants.

2. - At the Oakland Family Search Library, FamilySearch experts Debbie Perrone and Denise Plaskett cover the ins and outs of entering your family data on in Creating and Maintaining a Family Tree on FamilySearch. 

Be sure to check our website for first Saturday intro class and Special Interest Group meetings as well.

Looking ahead, on December 14 Mark McLaren offers an introduction to Scotland and Northern Ireland Research, and December 15 is the annual CGS Holiday Party! (check your eNews for details)

And don't forget - we have many more exciting classes and events coming up in the new year, including a six-week "Introduction to DNA" class with Mark McLaren beginning January 8, a research trip to the Salt Lake City Family History Library in April and much more! Check out the calendar for details.

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

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

24 October 2019

Our Library Collections: Great Britain

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

The books for Great Britain begin with an assortment of introductory how-to books. They include titles such as: Tracing Your Family Tree, Tracing Your Ancestors, In Search of Ancestry, Genealogical Research in England and Wales, Genealogical Gleanings in England, British Research, The Genealogist’s Internet, English Genealogy, Family Tree Detective, the Oxford Guide to Family History, and it goes on.

Within this section we have a four-volume set published by Cambridge University Press in 1994. Volume One is From Family Tree to Family History, followed by From Family History to Community History. Volume Three covers Communities and Families and Volume Four is Sources and Methods: A Handbook. Apparently this set of books was written as part of a university course series. They appear to be excellent, well researched references.
This four-volume set was written as part of a class curriculum

Next on our shelves are an odd couple – Records and Record Searching: A Guide to the Genealogist and Topographer by Walter Rye (published 1888), and Instant Information on the Internet: A Genealogist’s No-Frills Guide to the British Isles (1999). Written 111 years apart, these two offer a classic perspective on how genealogical researched has evolved.
An odd couple, written 111 years apart

We have five shelves of books on royalty and peerage, many of which are massive tomes with ornate, gilded covers. There are five volumes of The Blood Royal of Britain. These are devoted to the descendants of Kings Henry and Edward of England and James III, King of Scotland.

We have four volumes of Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage – a genealogical and heraldic history. Our copies include volumes published in 1906, 1923, 1935 and 1957. These are some of the largest books in our library – the 1923 volume has 2790 pages of very fine print and nice illustrations of family heraldry symbols. Sadly, my English family name does not appear anywhere in the set.
Our shelves offer a number of books
on blue blood and peerage
I was surprised to find the books on peerage followed by a large collection of Avotayne: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy. I checked with library volunteer Phil Hoehn, and after some discussion, he found the journals had been misfiled. The library committee soon rectified the situation. Just a reminder that even the most careful volunteers can go astray–and that there's a reason we request you leave the reshelving to our experts!

An assortment of vital statistics books comes next, with books on marriages, wills, censuses and such things. Among these is The Yorkshire West Riding Poll Book 1835 – a gift of Dorothy Fowler, which provides the names of individuals eligible to vote and in some cases a few more facts on these early voters.

If you claim royalty or have British ancestors you won’t be disappointed with our offerings. 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

17 October 2019

Our Library Collections: International Books Introduction

Two beginner guides published in 2007
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the CGS Library in Oakland.  For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

Today I decided to start a series on our international books. I’ll begin with a confession – until I started writing this series, I hadn’t known we had such a large collection of books on places outside the United States. I’m guessing that I am not alone in this gross misconception. For others like me I want to tell you about our wonderful collection of books from places beyond our national boundaries. We have a very large collection for Great Britain, a good number from Germany, and collections for Canada, Sweden and more.

Our international books begin where the Family Histories end. There you will first find an assortment of books for Canada and a few from Baja California, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, Cuba . . . You get the idea. I found a pair of books published by Ancestry Publishing in 2007. One is Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide and a similar book for Mexican Ancestors. Each of these books is a how-to-find-records source. The one for Canada has twenty-six chapters and four appendices that cover such topics as libraries and archives of Canada, Canadian geography, immigration, Aboriginals, Acadians, and each state within Canada.
Two volumes on Scots research for Canada

We also have two volumes of Some Early Scots in Maritime Canada by Terrence M. Punch published in 2011. For anyone with Scottish ancestry these may be books you’ve missed and may want to check out.

CS-400 is where you will find books on Great Britain and Ireland. Like other sections this one begins with several sets of journals. One is The English Genealogist. We have ten years of these covering 1976-1985. Next is The Genealogist New Series, for which we have issues spanning the years 1906-1921. A bookplate inside the oldest copy indicates it is a loan to CGS made in 1916 . . . I wonder if the donor may want them back soon. The covers on these journals are quite tattered but the content is intact. (Yes, I added a blue ribbon to alert our book repair team that help is needed). In total we have about five shelves just for various journals for Great Britain. Next week I’ll tell you more about our books for Great Britain.
One of several journals in our collection for British researchers

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

10 October 2019

Our Library Collections: Reference Books, Part 2

We have over 100 years of NGS journals
One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the CGS Library in Oakland.  For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

The rest of our reference books are in the back corner of the library beyond the bank of computers. Similar to the state books, the reference books begin with journals. I counted eleven different sets of hard copy journals. The first is The Augustan Society Omnibus. Book 14 of this set has 160 pages and dozens of articles covering a wide breadth of topics including Falconry, Chivalry, Heraldry, and Colonial Genealogy. Page 73 offers “Wicca Study Circle and Colonial Witches and Witchcraft Study Group – A Pennsylvania Witch.” There are sections by French, Germanic, Irish, Scandinavian, Scottish and Hispanic Study groups.

One of our largest journal collections is the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. We have journals covering the period 1912 - 2019 – over 100 years! The March issue begins with a lengthy article titled “A Family for Mary (Jones) Hobbs Clark of Carroll County, Arkansas.” It is an extremely well-documented piece where the footnotes occupy more space than the article itself. Of particular interest to some will be the lengthy section on DNA.

A 3-page tree for my 8th great grandparents
begins on page 1122 of this book.
There are several volumes on royalty in this section including a three-volume set titled The Royal Ancestry Bible by Michael L. Call. It contains 3400 pedigree charts and royal ancestors of 300 colonial American families. Just for fun I checked for the one family name of mine that I thought might possibly be included and sure enough found my eighth great grandparents, Dr. John Waller and Mary Pomfrett, on page 1122. Their pedigree chart extends over three pages and includes several names I am not familiar with – so I guess you know how I’ll be spending my afternoon.

One of the many things we inherited from the California Historical Society is a twelve-volume set of American Ancestry: Giving The Name and Descent, in the Male Line, of Americans Whose Ancestors Settled in the United States Previous to the Declaration of Independence, by Thomas P. Hughes. Volume One was published in 1887. While the first two volumes focus on two counties in New York State, the remainder cover the whole of the United States. Each listing provides a brief biography for each individual.
An example of one of the family trees in
Bible and Family Records by the DAR

This section of the library holds two shelves of blue-clad books containing Bible and Family Records that were collected and transcribed in 1953 by the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Margaret Griffith was the Editor. Our collection begins with Volume Ten so if you happen to have volumes 1-9 in your personal collection, please consider a donation to the library. Each volume has a listing of the contents followed by a carbon copy of typed pedigree charts. It is mind-boggling to me that someone typed these highly formatted pages without a word processor.

These are followed by two similar volumes that were prepared by CGS members in 1921 and 1944. Most of the material in these books is typed but the 1944 edition has numerous hand annotations.  Next are several volumes of California Genealogical Society Collections: Family Histories. Volume One includes the trees of the Perkins, Weeks, Snow, Knight, Wines, Armstrong, Thompson and Davis families. Each is quite substantial.

This group of reference books ends with books about immigration, military records, four volumes about Southern families and a few other topics.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

05 October 2019

Reminder: Quarterly Membership Meeting October 12

Saturday, October 12, is our Quarterly Membership Meeting at the CGS Library, 2201 Broadway, lower level. Come at noon, bring a lunch and socialize with fellow genealogists. We'll have some brief announcements and a preview of the new CGS website to be launched early next year. Trish Nicola Hackett's presentation on The Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files follows at 1 p.m.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

04 October 2019

Our Library Collections: Family Histories

One of hundreds of family history books at the
CGS library
Dear blog readers: due to an editorial error, the next post in this series by Chris Pattillo was posted out of order. 

Here is the first in a continuing series 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.

For those who have enjoyed reading the series about our state collections and were disappointed that it would end with my post about Wyoming, I am happy to tell you that I am not finished yet. There is much more in our library to tell everyone about. This post features our large Family Histories section.

Our Family History books occupy the shelves behind the bank of patron computers plus the shelves beyond the computers against the wall. In total there are over 120 shelves of family history books. The section begins with an eighteen-volume set of Historical Southern Families and also has several books about presidential families – their ancestors and descendants. I found a two-volume set among these that piqued my interest – Southside Virginia Families by John Bennett Boddie. My Pattillo ancestors lived in southside Virginia so I hoped to find a tidbit or two for my own family but was disappointed. I did find references to a second great uncle and three first cousins 3x removed in The Descendants of the Presidents by R. Whitney Tucker. They were descendants of President Andrew Johnson.

I found a few of  my distant relations in this book
Our shelves also offer The “Connection” In East Tennessee by Olga Jones Edwards and Izora Waters Frizzell. My James Pattillo married Carrie Stover from East Tennessee so this too was worth looking at. I found no Stovers in this book but I did find information on familiar allied families. My point in telling you these details is not to flaunt my personal family history, but rather to demonstrate that you might be surprised to find relevant information about your own family in unexpected places, so you need to think creatively about where to look.

Then we have numerous family histories arranged alphabetically by surname. The Families of Abbe and Abbey – another donation from George Dorman – is an impressive 500-page reference published in 1916. It starts with a chapter on John Abbe of Salem and Wenham, followed by eight chapters taking us through nine generations of his family. There are also chapters on Unconnected Lines, the 1790 Census and Revolutionary Soldiers. The index for this book is sixty-six pages long, so very complete.

Abbe is followed by fifteen books on the Adams family name. The range of what is available in our Family History section varies. Some Early American Ancestors of The Adams Family is a twenty-nine-page spiral-bound book that covers eleven generations. Obviously, there is much less detail than the Abbe book but it does include three fold-out fan charts that present a lot of information in a concise and very legible format.
This little gem was published in 2011 by Peter Adamson Meredith
Our collection also includes some charming self-published jewels like Jemina: An Incomplete Story. Author Peter Adamson Meredith used MyPublisher in 2011 to produce a little 5x7 hardcover book with text, color and black-and-white photos and a tiny but readable four-generation descendants chart.

Our Family Histories collection concludes with three books on the Zumwalt family name. We have Paul L. Reed's The Andrew Zumwalt Family, Volume One: The First Four Generations of Zumwalts in America and two copies of George R. Zumwalt's Zumwalt Family History. Both of these books provide more than just names and milestone dates. Each includes short narratives about each entry.
Our 18-volume set on Historical Southern Families 
Obviously, there is a lot to be found between Abbe and Zumwalt, so next time you find yourself in downtown Oakland you might plan to stop by the library and see what gems we may have to help with your family research. We look forward to seeing you there soon.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

03 October 2019

Our Library Collections: Reference Books, Part 1

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

Two of the classic reference books available at our library
Currently our General Reference books are located in two places in the library. They outgrew the back corner so now there are four shelves of reference books at the end of the tables opposite the front desk. These shelves offer a rich collection of how-to books including most of the new and old classics. One such book is Evidence Explained Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills. For anyone who is a series researcher this is a must-have or use source. It is an intimidating book – nearly 900 pages that explains “how to cite every conceivable kind of source.” We have the second edition. The third edition from Amazon is $59.99 so the cost of a CGS membership is much cheaper.

We have the two-volume set of Genealogical Research: Methods and Sources by the late Milton Rubincam, published by the American Society of Genealogists in 1980. In the forward Rubincam is described as “everyone’s favorite genealogist, knowledgeable, indefatigable, conscientious, thorough, and amazingly unrufflable.” Chapter 1 of this book is titled "Adventures in Genealogy." This is a very readable book.
Google Your Family Tree by Daniel M. Lynch
Google Your Family Tree: Unlock the Hidden Power of Google by Daniel M. Lynch was a donation from CGS volunteer Barbara Hill. It has fourteen chapters starting with "Search Engine Basics" and including "Advanced Search Techniques," "Google Books" – which I have used a lot – "Google New Archives," "Google maps," and much more. There are five appendices including Appendix B – "Top Sites for Genealogists." The book is well illustrated and indexed.
One of a few reference books in our library that focus on specific ethnic or cultural group research
We have a couple of resource books for researching Jewish heritage. I found one book on the shelf for African American Genealogy by James M. Rose and Alic Eichholz titled Black Genesis. This book has chapters on general topics like "Oral History," "National Archives and Federal Records," "Military Records," "Migratory Patterns." These are followed by sections for each state that summarize what is available for each state.
Christine Schaefer's book about colonial American research
Another “Where To Look” book is the Genealogical Encyclopedia of the Colonial Americas by Christina K. Schaefer. In the preface she explains that the book “has been written out of my frustration at the lack of an existing single-source reference for Colonial America.” Schaefer addressed this problem by producing over 800 pages that help researchers find the records they seek from this period.

Practically every book in this section has something to offer. Next time you are in the library you might want to see what may be of help in your personal research.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

01 October 2019

October 2019 Events

leaves, pumpkins, fruit

Happy October! Culminating in All Hallows’ Eve, this is a month that's close to many a genealogist’s heart—who doesn’t appreciate a good cemetery or tales of those who’ve gone before?

You're sure to get a thrill at one of our events this month! Stewart Blandon Traiman’s popular “Excel for Genealogists” has already sold out, but there are still tickets available for other classes. They include:

October 10 - Trish Nicola’s presentation on “The Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files.” An introduction to the more than 50,000 case files for Chinese immigrants available at the National Archives-Seattle. This talk is offered twice, on October 10 and again on October 12 immediately following the -

October 12 - Quarterly Membership Meeting. All are invited to hear brief announcements and get a preview of the new CGS website to be launched early next year. Come at noon, bring a lunch and socialize before the meeting. Chinese Exclusion Act talk follows at 1 p.m.

October 15CGS Members’ Trip to Sutro Library. Did you know the Sutro has one of the largest genealogy collections in the U.S.? Pre-register to join this visit, which includes an orientation and tour by librarian/genealogist Dvorah Lewis.

October 26Book Building and Book Repair Workshop with Bill O’Neill A rare opportunity to learn book repair techniques and create your own book under the guidance of Bill O’Neill, a retired art teacher and former CGS Book Repair Committee leader.

And don’t forget our regular monthly offerings:
October 19 - San Francisco Special Interest Group (10 a.m.)
October 19 – Family Tree Maker Special Interest Group  (1 p.m.)

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

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society