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24 February 2020

Results of the CGS Member Survey

image: Eventbrite

Late in the fall of 2019, we emailed a 26-question survey to our 880 members. We received 202 responses! Here are some of the things you told us:

Nearly half (47.8%) of the respondents rated their own genealogy skill level as Intermediate, while 20% rated themselves as Advanced, and 25% as Beginners. Two percent of the respondents were Certified Genealogists. About 75% said they belong to or participate in other genealogical societies, or regularly visit other libraries and archives.

We’re happy to know that 88% of respondents think CGS is offering classes that are of interest to them. Leading topics of interest were DNA (genetic genealogy), methodology, and technology, with a number who appreciated classes on particular countries or ethnic or geographical groups. Related to this were requests that the CGS Library carry more books on particular countries: at the top of the list was Britain, followed closely by Ireland, then Germany and related regions (such as Prussia and Pomerania). There also was considerable interest in Scotland, Canada, France, Italy, and the Baltic states.

Librarian Arlene Miles welcomes suggestions for new books
you'd like to see in the CGS library

Regarding the requests for books, CGS Librarian Arlene Miles would love to know what specific titles you’d like to see in the library. Please email her at

While 63% of you feel it is very important that the society maintains its own library, slightly more than half (54%) would like more events to be held in different venues. The reasons for this varied, although many members live far enough from downtown Oakland that it is difficult for them to visit.

Many (68%) of you have a strong interest in seeing CGS offer online classes, live webinars, or posting recorded classes online. Our 2020 goal is to recruit volunteers with the necessary technical skills to set up and oversee this kind of a program.

We appreciate the feedback. CGS is continually striving to engage members by being responsive to their interests. The newly redesigned website includes a link where you can send us any comments or feedback on our programs and your needs.

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

20 February 2020

Nichi Bei "Films of Remembrance," February 22 & 23

In the Japanese American community, February 19 is an annual "Day of Remembrance," marking the date in 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt isssued Executive Order 9066, clearing the way for approximately 112,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry to be evicted from their homes on the West Coast and held in American concentration camps and other confinement sites across the country. This weekend, the Nichi Bei Foundation hosts its 9th annual "Films of Remembrance," showcases of films commemorating the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. On Saturday, the festival screens in San Francisco's Japantown; the program repeats in San Jose on Sunday.

The San Francisco Chronicle offers an overview of the film festival. It includes 11 short films, discussion with filmmakers, local news personalities, a multimedia concert, and more.

The full schedule of events can be seen here.

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

10 February 2020

New Website Launched

The CGS Website Development Team has launched the new CGS website, with a new look and several new user-friendly features. Here is what you will see the next time you visit the site.

The menu bar across the top should be familiar. You can use the pull-down menus to access the content you are used to finding on our website. The SEARCH box at the top right has been improved to search our entire site–much more than it used to. Members can also LOGIN from the top menu bar.

We are pleased to  prominently feature several ancestor photos on the new website home page. To see more ancestor photos, just click on any of these images; that will take you to the Members’ Ancestors photos page, where you can hover over an image to see the name of the person and/or who submitted it.

To the right of the three Ancestor Photos you will see a list of upcoming events. These will be updated regularly. You can scroll through the list and click on an image to go to the Eventbrite listing where you can register for an upcoming event.

Just below the photos you will see three large boxes: CLASSES & EVENTS, VISIT OUR LIBRARY, and SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS, each with a short description and links to the pages where you can read more details. Below that are three more large boxes.

From here you can view photos of CGS PAST EVENTS, go directly to the BLOG, or DISCOVER what’s new in downtown Oakland near our library, including a list of places to eat within one block.

Beneath that are three small GOLD boxes that link to CGS videos, let you sign up for our free E-news, or hire a researcher.

There is lots more, including some new features at the bottom of the home page. The SHOP page has been expanded to include the swag items that are for sale at the library. SUPPORT CGS/DONATE is new and explains different the ways you can help our society thrive. LEAVE US A SUGGESTION is also new. Feel free to make comments about the new website or any other topic. Your suggestions will go directly to the website team and be addressed. You will also find a link to our entire CALENDAR at the lower left. 

You should find that the new site works much better than the old site did on phones. To report technical problems with the website look for the message at the very bottom and click on the link to the Webmaster. Also, note that in the lower right corner there is a link to our Sitemap. Clicking on this link will show you an outline of everything that is on the site.

The website team has worked very hard to complete this update. We thank everyone who has reviewed our content and offered suggestions and ideas for improvement. We hope you find what you are looking for easily and like the new look. 

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

06 February 2020

Chinese American Pilgrimage in Historic Marysville, February 22 and 23

Photo by Jay Nixon - copyright Bok Kai Festival
The Chinese American Pioneer Heritage Committee hosts its third annual Chinese American pilgrimage to coincide with the Marysville Bok Kai Parade and Festival, celebrating the Lunar New Year on the weekend of February 22 and 23. The weekend’s activities include in-depth panels, activities, and exhibits on Chinese American culture, history, and genealogy.

The historic town of Marysville, in Yuba County, was at one time home to the second largest Chinatown in the United States. It was a hub for Chinese Americans who built the infrastructure of California—railroads, roads, wineries, mines, delta levees, water and irrigation systems and agricultural farmlands. The town’s Bok Kai Temple, founded in 1854 by Chinese migrants who came to work in the gold mines, is the oldest continuously operating Taoist Temple in the country, and the annual Marysville Bok Kai Parade and Festival, celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, is the longest continuously held parade in California. 

This year’s theme is “Lost Chinatowns,” remembering the nearly 100 communities destroyed because of anti-Chinese laws, racial violence, and economic displacement. “Join us as we rediscover the lost Chinese American communities of Pacific Grove/ Monterey, San Jose, and Stockton,” say the organizers.  Two days of extended cultural programming include a Chinese American Documentary Film Festival, walking tours of the historic old Chinatown, demonstrations of early Chinese immigrant cooking, historic photo exhibits, musical and theatrical performances.  The historic Bok Kai Temple, Old Chinese School Museum and Chinese American Museum of Northern California are all open to visitors this weekend. A Saturday Pioneer Dinner honors and networks with community leaders and activists.

Sunday is a full day of history panels and workshops. Organizers discuss the sharing and recording of family stories, genealogical research, historical memory, and community history.  Learn about the exciting work being done to digitally recreate our historic communities and change the face of how public history is done. Historian David Lei will display a multimedia digital mapping of 1905 San Francisco Chinatown.  University of the Pacific history professor Jennifer Helgren and her team demonstrate their virtual reality recreation of Stockton’s “Little Manila.” Brian Tom shares the history of the Chinese American Marysville pioneer families and descendants. There is a screening of Felicia Lowe’s award-winning documentary, “Chinese Couplets,” which explores the impact that the Chinese Exclusion Act had on her family. The day concludes with the traditional firing of the bombs and the chance to catch a “good fortune” ring at the Bomb Day festivities.

Special hotel rates are available in nearby Yuba City and Wheatland. For complete details, see the Eventbrite listing.

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society