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15 May 2019

Our Library Collections: North Dakota

One of many photos found in Walsh Heritage,
a Bicentennial book
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.

Our North Dakota collection, like that of other states, begins with a set of journals – The Dakota Homestead Historical Newsletter, compiled by the Bismarck Mandan Historical and Genealogical Society. We have issues starting in 1999 and continuing to 2007. Compared to other journals in our library this one is a bit thin but the quality of the content appears to be on par with others.

Next on our shelf are two multi-volume histories – both donations from the very generous Mr. Dorman. The first is History of North Dakota by Lewis F. Crawford, published in 1931. These volumes are a combination of history and biographies of notable people. Chapter 17 deals with the coming of the railroads and includes a very clear fold-out map showing the locations of railroad lines and the year each was added to the train system.

Multi-volume histories we have for North Dakota
The second set is History of the Red River Valley, published in 1909. The introduction begins with this quote, “Genuine history is brought into existence only when the historian begins to unravel, across the lapse of time, the living man, toiling, impassioned, entrenched in his customs, with his voice and features, his gestures and dress, distinct and complete as he from whom we have just parted in the street.” Both of these sets of books are well illustrated.

We have two volumes of Walsh Heritage: A Story of Walsh County and its Pioneers. This is one of many similar books that were compiled for the nation's Bicentennial in 1976. I love these books and have succeeded in finding some of my ancestors chronicled in them. Walsh Heritage follows the format of other bicentennial publications. They are organized chronologically starting with a history of the county, followed by short histories of families or individuals submitted by local people. These books, like others in the series, include lots of photos of individuals, family groups, school and civic buildings, and anything else that was important to that community at the time. 
Nice fold-out map of North Dakota railway lines,
in History of North Dakota
Reviewing our online catalog you will learn that we have 29 print books, 26 articles, several journal magazines and two images for North Dakota – so don’t give up after you’ve exhausted what is on the main shelf. Consult the catalog for other items' locations in the library.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

11 May 2019

Have you joined? Have you renewed? Last chance before fees increase!

Even if you are a regular reader of this blog, and even if you joined CGS long ago, it's possible you've unintentionally allowed your membership to lapse (your blog editor herself has been guilty of this in the past).

CGS annual membership fees are very reasonable (they begin at $40), and quickly pay for themselves. Members can attend most classes at a reduced cost, take part in free members-only events (like tours of area archives, cemeteries, and historic sites), receive the twice-yearly journal California Nugget, and have access to the members-only sections of our website.

These very reasonable fees will undergo a modest increase as of June 1, 2019, so now is the perfect time to renew or take out a membership

You can easily join or renew your membership online by visiting our Membership page.

If you're not certain of your current membership status, email

Thank you!

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

08 May 2019

Our Library Collections: North Carolina

One in a series 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.

This North Carolina county book contains a
treasure trove of detailed land grant information
North Carolina is well represented at CGS. The shelf section begins with The North Carolinian – a Quarterly Journal of Genealogy and History. We have volumes 1- 8 covering 1955 to 1966. We also have large collections of the North Carolina Historical Society Journal, North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, and two sets of journals for specific counties.

Our North Carolina collection includes a large section for individual counties. One book that looks particularly useful is N.C. State Land Grant Entry Book (1778), Orange County, Volume 1, Grants #1 – 1000. This book pairs images of the original federal land grants with succinct transcriptions of each grant. It also includes data tables specific to names, locations, and waterways to facilitate researching by name or location. Author Stewart E. Dunaway notes, “In addition, I provide a number of interesting “tid-bits” about these grants, such as total acres granted, how many acres by stream and by quantity.”

A very detailed lot description from
Hillsborough, NC: History of Town Lots
Another book by Dunaway is Hillsborough, N. C.: History of Town Lots; the Complete Reference Guide. This source describes the formation of and history of each Hillsborough lot – all 238 of them. For example, for a single lot (No. 20) Dunaway tells us what deeds are associated with this property, provides two detail maps, and recounts the ownership history. He tells us Abner Nash first bought these lots and built a mill. Other buildings were added, the property was sold to Peter Mallett and the name of the mill was changed to Mallett’s Old Mill. A Nathan Palmer owned the mill and when he died his wife sold the property, and it goes on for two additional pages. This book is a gold mine of detailed information. I hope Dunaway moves on to Tennessee and does this for Carter County, where my ancestors lived.

I keep learning new, useful information
like the meaning of "headright"
The last book I selected for this post was North Carolina Headrights: A List of Names, 1663-1744, compiled by Caroline B. Whitley. I chose this volume because I was not familiar with the term “Headright”. Turns out headright is another term for “landright,” which is how land grants were made throughout the British American colonies. “Although there were numerous refinements and variations, the system allotted each grantee a certain amount of land based on the number of persons he or she brought into the colony …. so, acquisition of land by headright.” This book is organized chronologically. It lists the name of the grantee and summarizes the substance of each grant.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

01 May 2019

Our Library Collections: New York

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.

A typical page from the Holland Society book
Our New York collection of hard-copy books occupies 36 shelves in our library – much more than I could possibly hope to cover in one blog post, so you need to come to the library to see for yourself what treasures we possess. At present this is just a small portion of the resources available for New York at CGS. If you checked our online catalog you would learn that we have 1778 print books, 1352 articles, 129 journal magazines and 69 maps for New York. By comparison, we have 2107 print books for California, 430 journal magazines and 232 maps!

Our books begin with twenty-eight volumes of Het Hollandsch Genootschap, translated on the following page as The First Annual Dinner of The Holland Society of New-York, Hotel Brunswick, January 8, 1886. The book is a collection of the speeches given at the society’s meetings. It was donated to CGS by Henry P. Phillips. The Holland Society looks like a great organization – the menu for the dinner meeting is shown on the opening page. Each course is paired with a different wine and the meal concluded with Cigares et Tabac.
Menu for the Holland Society
dinner meeting

Our New York section includes four shelves of New York Genealogical and Biographical Record starting with volume 39 published in 1908 and continuing to current editions. These volumes are well indexed.

Nancy Servin, a native New Yorker and long-time, Genie Award-winning volunteer sent me a tip regarding a set of books that I should feature for New York. We have four volumes of Index to Marriages and Deaths in the New York Herald from 1835-1876. Nancy said, “This is a great resource to use if your ancestors’ marriages or deaths did not make the New York Times, which started listing them in 1851. Since the New York Herald is not digitized for this entire period, this index makes marriage and death announcements much more accessible. The index provides you with the date of the event and refers you to the date and issue of the newspaper.”

Nancy also shared, “Now that there are newspaper websites available, the articles may be found faster and with less expense online. A Microfilm of the Herald is also held at the library on the UC Berkeley campus.” Some issues can be accessed at the Library of Congress website (free) and through databases available at our library, such as Newspaper Archive.
One of four volumes of
Marriages and Deaths of
New York 1835-1855

A glance at Tree Talks caused me to exclaim, “Wow, a book about trees of New York.” But then I noticed how many volumes we have and I quickly realized these were not botanical references. Tree Talks is the name of the Central New York Genealogical Society journal and of course are about a different kind of tree – family trees. Our set includes volumes published between 1998–2013. 

We have many more source books for New York that cover a wide breadth of information - history, genealogy, county books and more. Come see for yourself.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

27 April 2019

Intermediate Records Class! Starts May 29

Have you been researching mostly online at Ancestry and FamilySearch and feel you’ve exhausted what you can from their site using the search feature? Do you want to learn more about your ancestors so you can write their story? Perhaps you have been afraid to tackle land and court records, thinking they were too hard to find and use. Or lastly, you would like to take a road trip and do some research in the counties and cities where your ancestors lived but don’t know how to begin... This Intermediate Records class is for you!

Lisa Gorrell will teach a 5-session course
on how to use records to deepen your research

Well-known teacher Lisa Gorrell, CG, returns with this in-depth five-session class, held Wednesday nights at the Oakland Family History Center (May 29-June 26) from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. It will cover the following subjects in depth:

Court Records. This class will cover wills, probate, guardianship, and other court records. Learn how to used them and how to use the FamilySearch Catalog to find records.

Church Records. The session will cover the types of records created by religious organization such as sacramental, membership, and business records. These records can be found in many places online and off-line.

Emigration, Immigration, and Naturalization Records. The class will cover the records our immigrant ancestors created when they left their home country and came into the United States, as well as those records they created to become citizens.

Land & Property Records.  This session will cover the land records issued by the federal, state, and local governments. In-class exercises will aid in the student’s understanding of land description. Also included is how to locate local land records on the FamilySearch Catalog.

Off-Line Research. This class will discuss how to use online sources to prepare for an off-line research trip. These same techniques can be used even if you never leave home but instead make contact with out-of-town repositories by email, mail, or telephone.

Many of these classes have in-class exercises and all have optional homework to support the learning from class. A computer is not necessary. Just come prepared to go further in depth on these intermediate subjects.

Register through EventBrite.

Lisa S. Gorrell is a Certified Genealogist® who has been researching her family for over twenty-five years. She leads the research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for CGS. She is a former board member of CGS and current Secretary for the Contra Costa County Historical Society. She enjoys teaching about genealogy and writing about her family on two blogs: “Mam-ma’s Southern Family” and “My Trails into the Past.” 

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society