Recent Posts

07 March 2020

COVID-19 announcement: CGS Library closed through March 28

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus, we have decided to close the CGS Library until March 28. We prefer to exercise an abundance of caution rather than to potentially expose our volunteers and patrons to infection. At this time, classes held at the Oakland Family Search Library are not affected. We will refund all fees paid for canceled classes.

Given that this is a rapidly evolving situation, we will re-evaluate the state of affairs in two weeks.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, it is recommended you consult one of the following websites:

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

06 March 2020

Mountain View Cemetery Events - A Tour for Every Season

CGS members can join our "Naughty and Notorious Tour" of Mountain View Cemetery on March 21. You may not know, however, that this famed, park-like cemetery of 226 acres in North Oakland also offers free tours every second and fourth Saturday.

We just missed a Black History Tour that happened on February 22 but it is an annual event, so mark your calendar for next year.
One of the spectacular floral displays from a previous Tulip Festival

The weekend of March 27-29 is the 14th Annual Tulip Exhibit, which features spectacular floral arrangements created by Bay Area florists, garden clubs, and local college floral design classes. On March 28, Jane Leroe and Michael Colbruno will lead a tour for Women’s History Month, highlighting the lives of influential women such as Julia Morgan, Ina Coolbrith, and Anna Head.

April is when the cemetery hosts the Ching Ming Festival (remembrance of ancestors). This year, it is held April 4-5. On April 25, docent Chris Pattillo, a CGS board member, will lead a tour exploring the Trees of Mountain View Cemetery. 
Deodar Cedar at the Miller pyramid tomb on Millionaire's Row
at Mountain View
Local historian Dennis Evanosky gives a great tour following the Memorial Day Commemoration at the Civil War Plot on May 25. Jack London’s father is buried in the plot, as is Obediah Summers – an African American who served during the war. This tour starts after the commemoration event, at about 11 a.m.
Obediah Summers is buried in the Civil War Plot
Dennis also leads a June 27 tour about the California Gold Rush and Railroad.

This is just a smattering of the Mountain View offerings in 2020; other events include concerts, seasonal festivals, and more. Tours usually start at 10 a.m. and run about two hours. Plan to meet at the office just inside the cemetery gate. For complete details, visit their website:

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

05 March 2020

"Paper Sons and Picture Brides" in NGS Magazine

Exciting news! The cover of the newly published January-March issue of NGS Magazine features an article by CGS members Grant Din and Linda Okazaki. "Paper Sons and Picture Brides" is an in-depth look at Record Group 85 found at the National Archives in San Francisco. This group of records, titled "Immigration Arrival Investigation Case Files, 1884-1944," contains information about immigrants to California during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a particularly rich source for those researching their Chinese and Japanese ancestors, who often had to employ strategy to enter the U.S. at a time of heightened anti-Asian sentiment. Many prominent Asian Americans, from architect I. M. Pei to Congressman Norman Mineta, trace their ancestry to these early immigrants.

Beautifully illustrated with photographs and documents, Din's and Okazaki's article offers a broad historical overview that gives context to these documents. It also has a sidebar explaining how the activism of a group of genealogists and historians saved these files from destruction. The article includes anecdotes that show the sometimes grueling experience of Asian immigrants: an eight-year-old Chinese boy was grilled with more than 100 questions, including details of his village, house, school and neighbors, before he was allowed to join his father; a teenaged American citizen was detained for ten days upon returning to the U.S. from Japan. Din and Okazaki offer detailed information on how to access and interpret the files.

National Genealogical Society members can view the magazine online at the NGS website:

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

01 March 2020

March 2020 Events and Classes

Happy March! It's the month when we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Women's History Month, and spring officially arrives on March 19 (a tad early this year). We have a lot of fun and educational events and classes coming up. If you see something that interests you and you haven't yet registered, please sign up!

Here's what's on tap this month:

March 18-April 8: Building Skills for Successful Family History Research, a four-week series taught by Pamela Brett, kicks off March 18 at the Oakland Family History Center. She shares "skills acquired from many years of beginner's mistakes." This is a great opportunity to tune up and sharpen your research skills with an experienced guide and fellow classmates.

Other happenings:

March 15: The Fifth Annual Irish Ancestry Network Meetup is a fun opportunity to network with others researching their Irish ancestors. Includes socializing, potluck lunch, and speakers TBA.

March 21: "The Naughty and Notorious Tour" of Mountain View Cemetery, led by docent Michael Colbruno. A special treat for CGS members.

Also March 21: West Coast Immigration in the 20th Century, a talk by Linda Okazaki, examines the ports of entry and the experiences of immigrants to the West Coast, many of them Asians, in the last century.

March 28: "Blogging to Share Your Family History" Chris Pattillo offers tips "for writers and non-writers" about starting your own genealogy blog.

Don't forget our monthly First Saturday "Intro to Genealogy" class, and our various Special Interest Groups!
All our events can be found listed on our website
Or at the CGS Facebook page
Or at (search for "California Genealogical Society")

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

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 [email protected].

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