Recent Posts

18 August 2017

Celebrating the 120th Anniversary of The California Genealogical Society in the Nugget

by Janice M. Sellers

Next year, 2018, will be the 120th anniversary of the California Genealogical Society (CGS). 

To help commemorate that milestone, The California Nugget (our genealogical society's magazine) is particularly looking for articles and short items having to do with people and events in 1898. 

Here's what we need your help with
  • If someone in your family was hatched, matched, or dispatched (born, married, or died) that year, send a message with the relevant information, so the editor can begin to create a calendar of 1898 life events. 
  • If something significant happened in your family in 1898, or you know of an event that took place in San Francisco that year, consider submitting an article about it. 
  • If you had relatives who were members of CGS during its first few years, send a note about who it was and what activities that person was involved in. 
Send your submissions and suggestions to editor Janice M. Sellers at  Thank you!

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

16 August 2017

Margery Jean Howe Bell, 1946–2017

Enock and Marge Bell, June 2017

by Janice M. Sellers

Margery Howe was born June 8, 1946 in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, to parents Richard and Jean Howe and grew up in the nearby towns of Ulysses and Mansfield. She graduated from Mansfield High School and went on to earn a nursing degree from the Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City. Her specialty was pediatric intensive care. She married Enoch Bell on July 23, 1966. They lived in upstate New York, Virginia, Oregon, and Montana before settling in Moraga, California in 1983.

Even in the genealogy world, probably not a lot of people outside the San Francisco Bay area knew Marge. But in the Bay Area, she was well known and appreciated for her contributions and knowledge. She had been on staff at the Oakland FamilySearch Library for many years, and we all relied on her. She and Enoch were Saturday supervisors for two years, and then Marge moved to an Assistant Director position at the library. One of her great accomplishments was cataloguing not only the entire holdings of the Oakland library but also the collections of several of the smaller Family History Centers in the San Francisco area. She often taught genealogy classes, did indexing for FamilySearch, and organized everything within her reach.

Marge had been researching her own family history for years, and her research was of the highest caliber. She deplored the state of online family trees, whether on Ancestry, FamilySearch, or anywhere else. She was particularly aggravated when FamilySearch began its collaborative tree, which allowed others to "correct" your information. Marge had meticulously researched her tree, and she knew that any information she posted was accurate. (Once it was even copied by a Ph.D. student who didn't bother to give her credit.) While everyone else (multiple times over) had her distant female ancestor's father as one man, she was the apparently the first (and only) person who made the effort to search through the unindexed loose probate documents for the county to find that the father was a totally different man.

Marge was my genealogy mentor. She tricked me into teaching my first genealogy class, on online newspapers, but she gave me advice and feedback throughout the time I was creating the presentation. She came to that first class and let me know what went well and what could use some work. Her recommendations always improved my work and made my talks better. I can't imagine where I would be without the benefit of years of her advice and support.

Marge was also wonderful to brainstorm with. She could offer a different perspective and new insights on difficult research problems that had me stumped. Sometimes I was even able to return the favor, especially when she wanted to know if some book in the library actually could be useful for genealogy research. We enjoyed bouncing ideas off of each other.

Marge announced she was moving to Utah about the same time I had begun to make my plans to move to Oregon. She warned me that just because we each were moving didn't mean I wasn't going to hear from her when she had a question or wanted a second opinion. Unfortunately, I won't be receiving any more messages from her.

Marge had just barely moved to Utah when her health took a turn for the worse, one from which she was unable to recover. She died on July 20, 2017, surrounded by family members. The genealogy community, especially that of the Bay area and the Oakland FamilySearch Library, has lost a tremendous resource and a dear, loving friend.

Marge is survived by her husband, Enoch Bell; her children, Jonathan and Catherine; eight grandchildren; and her sisters, Joanne Horne, Carolyn Barrett, and Laurie Corbett.  Her memorial service was held in Moraga on August 12.

Photo Credit: Wade Olofson

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

11 August 2017

New Genealogy Librarian for Sutro Library

by Mattie Taormina

Have you heard? The Sutro Library has a new Genealogy Librarian, Dvorah Lewis! She started work on June 5th and has already had positive feedback from a patron after she handled a complex question regarding Virginia tax lists. 

Her passion for the archives and genealogy began while she completed her Humanities Honors’ thesis, using this project as a way to explore her family history. After researching for two years, she transformed the few sentences she had based on cloudy memories into a novella supported by archival materials. 

An interview with her great Aunt Essie, the eldest member of her family at the time, revealed the heart of the project: a Jewish orphanage where Essie and her siblings grew up in during the 1930s – 1940s. This also happens to be America’s first Jewish orphanage located in Philadelphia. 

Dvorah found many treasures related to her family at the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center, located at Temple University, especially the collection of materials related to the orphanage where her Aunt Essie grew up. Dvorah said, “The opportunity to touch, see, and smell these archival materials was an experience like no other!  I know first-hand what it’s like to find these incredible genealogy resources that shed light on your family. I hope to do the same for those researching their genealogy at Sutro Library.” 

She often encourages others to talk with the elder members of their families and research in a local archive—so many treasures are there to be discovered! Dvorah feels that by preserving the past, we can understand the present, and bring positive change to the future. This sentiment follows her in every aspect of her life. 

Go and visit Dvorah Lewis at the Sutro Library, part of the California State Library. It’s located on the fifth and sixth floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library on the campus of San Francisco State University.  

About Dvorah
Originally hailing from Davis, Dvorah went to Southern California to pursue her interest in creative writing. She earned her Bachelor’s in English with a minor in Jewish Studies and an emphasis in Creative Writing at UC Irvine—zot, zot! Dvorah returned to Northern California with her Master’s in Library Science (MLIS) from UCLA. While completing her graduate degree, she worked as a Reference Assistant at the Charles E. Young Research Library. For the past year, she worked as a Project Archivist for two Los Angeles Jewish institutions. 

She comes from a long line of state workers: her dad was a Correctional Officer (recently retired); her brother works for the Department of Finance; and her twin sister works in the Department of Pesticide Regulation. She is especially excited to be closer to her twin sister who is getting married in a few months! In her spare time, she continues to write and recently completed the last installment of her fantasy/sci-fi trilogy. After putting her genealogy journey on hold, she’s ready to delve back in, expand her family tree, and hone in on her genealogy research skills.

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

Construction Weekend of August 11th: Building Renovation of Main Lobby & Entrance

Please be aware that this weekend, beginning Friday, August 11th and continuing through Sunday, August 13th, our building entrance and lobby will be undergoing a renovation project.  It’s a repositioning of the building entrance. On Saturday, you will still be able to enter and exit the building on the 22nd Street side.

However on Monday, August 14, 2017, access to the building will be via the new Broadway entry, and the 22nd Street doors will be closed.

Please not that there will be scaffolding and barricades will be constructed from the building entrance to the elevators, for safety purposes.

You may hear construction noise during regular building hours, but the schedule is designed to minimize disruption to on-going building operations.

Thank you for your patience during this process. 

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society

02 August 2017

Summer School at Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh I & II

This past July was the latest GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh). Over two weeks (GRIP I & II), our members and many other genealogists from around the country had a blast learning the latest in the genealogy field!  

Check out the photos and plan to attend yourself in 2018.

Back row: Vicky Kolakowski, Harold Henderson, 
and James Russell.  Front rowSandra Benward, 
Linda Okazaki and Vanessa Crews.
Photo by Debbie Deal

Grip Instructor Melissa Johnson, CG, with
CGS attendees Kathryn Doyle and James Russell
Photo by Michelle Novak

Copyright © 2017 by California Genealogical Society