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12 August 2019

For Members: Trolley Tour of Cypress Lawn, September 11


For members, here is a chance to visit one of Colma's largest and most scenic historic cemeteries, all while riding on a vintage trolley! A great way to see much of this large and beautiful cemetery. This is a CGS members-only event. The tour is geared to genealogists, and is limited to 24 participants--register soon! Details at EventBrite.




Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

09 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Utah

One of many color illustrations in Utah Profile
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 Utah books are cataloged in section F821 – 835. As I looked for this state in our library I presumed that we would have a large number of books for the state of Utah so I was surprised to see that in fact there is only one shelf of hard copy books – many fewer than for many other states.
Utah begins with thirty bound volumes of Utah & Historical Magazine covering the period 1910 to 1940. These were published by the Genealogical Society of Utah in Salt Lake City that has been in existence four years longer than our society having been organized in 1894. Each volume includes a list of articles found in the bound collection at the end of the book along with an index.

We have a three-volume set titled Utah, The Storied Domain: A Documentary History of Utah’s Eventful Career by J. Cecil Alter, published in 1932. The cover page tells us these volumes comprise “The Thrilling Story of Her People from the Indians of Yesterday to the Industrialists of Today.” Volume One has 37 chapters that cover myriad topics.
Another illustration from Utah Profile

Our Utah collection includes two of three volumes of Heart Throbs of the West: A Unique Volume Treating Definite Subjects of Western History compiled by Kate B. Carter. From the title I was expecting tales of Errol Flynn, but instead learned that the book covers twenty-four phases of pioneer life. The table of contents offers some enticing topics including "Historical Miracles of Pioneer Days," a chapter on pioneer women and pioneer recipes.
Kate Carter is the author of Heartthrobs
of the West

Utah Profile is an unusual source for our library. It was published by American Heritage Publications and falls in the category of “coffee table books” as far as I can see. It consists of over 400 pages of glossy, color and black and white photographs covering government, education, the arts, religions, sports, film commissions and more.
Sketches of the Inter-Mountain States: Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, published in 1909, is a more typical book for our library in that it presents profiles on the leading men who were active in the development of these three states. This resource includes biographies with photographs and a wealth of information on the history and industries of each state. 


Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

06 August 2019

FREE DNA Roundtable, Thursday, August 15


An addition to our Summer Thursday evenings series: Therese Hart-Pignotti and Dawn Kosmakos will lead an informal Q&A and discussion on using DNA in genealogy. Both Therese and Dawn found their birth families using DNA and have helped others to do the same. All welcome.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

02 August 2019

Our Library Collections: Texas

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.
This issue of Stirpes includes several excellent
articles on DNA

Stirpes (Latin for family branch or line of descent) is the name of the journal published by the Texas State Genealogical Society. We have copies starting in 1961 and going up to the latest issue. The theme of the most current issue is "Navigating the DNA Maze." There are several good articles on how to understand and interpret ancestral DNA for genealogical research, from the basic “Beginning a DNA Journey” to “Use DNA Match Clusters to Organize and Analyze Your Shared Matches,” to an update on the Early Texans DNA Project. Useful even if you have no ancestors from Texas.

Our shelves hold two copies of The New Encyclopedia of Texas, first published in 1925 and  reissued as a two-volume set in 1937. The book begins with a lot of useful background information about Texas. All three volumes consist of short biographies of individuals and full-page photos with autographs. The 1937 set  has a beautifully embossed multi-color cover, a very impressive gold bookplate, and a lot of detailed artwork throughout the book.
The Encyclopedia of Texas
has a handsome cover.
After perusing forty states for this series it is rare for me to find something that I have not seen before, but I did just that with Character Certificates in the General Land Office of Texas, edited by Gifford White and first published in 1985. It features a compilation of certificates submitted by those wishing to purchase land in Texas in 1834-1835, when it was part of Mexico. According to the book's foreword, “The government of Mexico, in allowing the settlement of Texas by people other than its own residents, wanted to ensure that the new Anglo-American settlers were of high character. It did not want the province to include the criminal element or the non-productive.” Hum, does this sound familiar? The book is a compilation of more than 3,000 abstracts, each listing the name and residence of the applicant, along with other personal details and the name of the character witness. A typical example is entry number 333 for Jose Maria Cervantes from Nacogdoches, recorded on 22 August 1835: “Certify citizen Jose Maria Servantes de Bejar is a man of very good character… resident of this municipality since the year 1820… single without family… has not obtained land … [signed] Radford Berry” These 28 words tells us where the subject he was living in 1835, his marital and economic status, and that he is associated with Radford Berry.
A book of particular interest to me
A book I know I’ll return to is Tracks Along the Clear Fork Stories from Shackelford and Throckmorton Counties by Lawrence Clayton and Joan Halford Farmer. I have several relations from those counties, including a great uncle who owned a ranch on the Clear Fork. Once again I am impressed by our collection and what it has to offer.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

01 August 2019

August Offerings

Happy August to all! While this is traditionally a holiday and travel month for many, we know there are plenty of genealogically-minded folks who will be here in the East Bay this month. And we have plenty of events to tempt you! In addition to our continuing Thursday night free lectures, you may want to check out the following:


August 10: Hear Oakland Family Search Library director Ralph Severson discuss how to research Portuguese ancestry in "Proud to Be Portuguese."

August 14: Jane Lindsey hosts "CGS Day at the Oakland Family Search Library": all are invited to learn about the vast free public genealogy resources available at the OFSL.

August 17: Maureen Hanlon offers tips on "Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Birthplace" using U.S. records.

August 24: Chris Pattillo and Theresa Murphy lead a hands-on workshop for those who want to organize their family history in "Make a Book - the Easy Way."



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


Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society