Recent Posts

08 May 2020

Online genealogy: Week of May 11-18


Here are some of this coming week's online genealogy events. Most of them are free. See our post “Genealogy Learning in the Time of Coronavirus,” for links to archived classes at Ancestry, FamilySearch, RootsTech, and more.

Asian Americans, a five-hour film event, premieres May 11 & 12 on PBS. "Told through intimate personal stories, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played."
The National Genealogical Society's Virtual Family History Conference begins May 20. Visit the NGS website for details.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society continues its series of free webinars.

Legacy Family Tree and MyHeritage offer these webinars: 
May 13 & 14: The Ultimate Family History Interview by Nicka Smith
May 15: Fridays in May: DNA with Diahan by Diahan Southard

Also, Legacy Family Tree continues to unlock one archived webinar per day for free viewing. The classes are based on a 7-day rotating theme:
  • Sundays - Methodology
  • Mondays - DNA
  • Tuesdays - Ethnic Genealogy
  • Wednesdays - TechZone
  • Thursdays - Around the Globe
  • Fridays - Beginners
  • Saturdays - Technology
This week:
May 11: Foundations in DNA 1 of 5: Genealogy and DNA by Blaine Bettinger
May 12: Full Circle: Tracing the Descendants of a Slaveholding Ancestor by Nicka Smith
May 13: 3 Ways to Use Gmail Smarter by Marian Pierre-Louis
May 14: How to trace your UK ancestry by Kirsty Gray
May 15: Time and Place - Using Genealogy's Cross-Hairs by Jim Beidler
May 16: Advanced Googling for Your Grandma by Cyndi Ingle
May 17: 50 Records that Document Female Ancestors by Gena Philibert-Ortega
May 18: DNA Rights and Wrongs: The Ethical Side of Testing by Judy Russell

Conference Keeper lists many of the above, as well as these events:

May 12: How to Interview Military Veterans with Kayleen Reusser
May 13: Quhat's in a Nayme? by Maureen Brady
May 13: Finding Military Records by the Genealogy Zoom Chat Series: An Illinois Multi-Library Event
May 14: Acadia with Mark Labine, hosted by the Minnesota Genealogical Society
May 14: Legalese for Genealogists by the Genealogy Center
May 15: Your Next Step: Write Your Family History with Stephen Szabados
May 16: Meet the Pilgrims! by Pinellas (Florida) Genealogy Society

Stay safe, be well, and happy learning!

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

04 May 2020

Online genealogy: Week of May 4-10


Here are some of this coming week's online genealogy events. Most of them are free. See our post “Genealogy Learning in the Time of Coronavirus,” for links to archived classes at Ancestry, FamilySearch, RootsTech, and more.

NOTE: The National Genealogical Society's Virtual Family History Conference begins May 20. Visit their website for details.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society continues its series of free webinars.

May 4: "Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA" by Blaine Bettinger 

Legacy Family Tree and MyHeritage have an ongoing series, including a series of "Fridays in May" live Q&As with a different expert each week. This week:

May 5 & 6: "Smarter Search Strategies for Genealogy" by Thomas MacEntee 
May 6:  "Crème de la crème: Targeted Autosomal DNA Testing to Isolate Pertinent Genetic Cousins" by Paul Woodbury
May 8: "Fridays in May: Tech with Thomas" kicks off with a live Q&A with Thomas MacEntee
 
Conference Keeper lists many of the above, as well as these events:

May 5: "Learn to Build an Online Family Photo and Video Collection With Collectionaire"
May 6: "Ancestry Library Edition" presented by the Genealogy Zoom Chat Series: An Illinois Multi-Library Event
May 6: "Jewish Genealogy and Home DNA Testing: A Virtual Discussion," hosted by Gordon Center for Performing Arts
May 6: "3 Steps to Prepare for a German Heritage Tour" by Family Tree Tours
May 8: "Pandemic 1918! Combating the Influenza Epidemic During the Great War" with Tina Beaird


Stay safe, be well, and happy learning!

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

29 April 2020

Quarantine Quests: A Genealogist's Fairytale Come True

Chris Pattillo is collecting "Quarantine Quests," stories of genealogical projects and discoveries made by our members while sheltering at home due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This story is from CGS Member Ron Madson.

Ron Madson’s Quarantine Quests story began in the Summer of 2019 when he traveled to France and Switzerland to attend the Women’s Soccer World Cup. While there he visited a cousin, Claire Daams, who is an attorney in Bern and happens to be conversant in seven languages, including Old German. Recognizing an opportunity, Ron asked Claire if she might help him with his second-great-grandfather Niklaus Glaüs. Ron had attempted to read the records that are available online at the Bern StateArchives but with little success.

Claire agreed and within minutes had identified Ron’s second- and third-great-grandparents. Even better, she gave Ron a personalized lesson in how to read Old German. Ron refers to the script as nothing more than "squiggles" but with Claire’s help, he quickly began to be able to decode the information contained in the documents. These records typically include the basics – birth, death, and marriage. Marriage records sometimes include the bride and groom's places of origin, the names of their parents, and sometimes the dates that the parents were married. Some death records include the date and place of birth. Some do not include date of birth, but include exact age at death: years, months, and days. But many of the older death records do not contain this vital information, although they may have "extras" added by the priest or officiant. "I try very hard to read this 'extra stuff,'" Ron says. "And it kills me that ninety percent of the time I can’t, while knowing that beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is 'good stuff' there."


After his lesson, Claire asked if Ron would like to visit the village where his ancestors were from – “a genealogist’s fairy tale come true,” he says. Ron’s ancestors lived in a small village in the foothills of the Alps in the Interlaken District of Bern. While there is no way to know the exact home or farm where his ancestors lived, Ron did recount the pleasure of eating lunch in a local restaurant right on the lake. He ordered fish that had been caught in the lake and knew that his ancestors had fished in that same lake generations before.

Fast-forward nearly a year and now while Ron is quarantined at home he is working feverishly to find, decipher, and document new ancestors and more records. Ron reports that he has added hundreds of new ancestors since he learned to decode the Old German text. Each time he thinks he has found a new ancestor he says “I look for other records to shed light on the found record, to prove or disprove that this is the correct record. Depending on the circumstances, the names, area, year(s), record information, what, and where I look varies.”

For each new person he tries to find birth, marriage and death records. He then enters the data into his Family Tree Maker genealogy program. Like most of us, he makes copies of every document he finds. He then imports the digital file into Adobe Photoshop and extends the page at the bottom and top to add research notes. At the top he includes the name of the document and a summary of what it says. At the bottom, he adds his source information.


Ron has identified the two oldest living people on this line: Florine (Lee) Glaus, now 93 and living in South Dakota, and Clare Leone Glaus, who is 102 years old and lives in Seattle. He was able to interview both of them and has fifteen hours of recorded interviews plus stories, documents and photographs.

When I asked, “Have you established a particular routine for doing this work during the shutdown?” Ron explained, “my wife and I have dinner, then we watch a movie, after which I spend several hours each day – sometimes into the wee hours – working on my genealogy.” Ron is also planning to listen to a podcast to learn more about how to read Old German so he can continue his research on a different family line.

Have you made any big discoveries while you have been staying at home? Let us know and we will share your story. You can reach me at cpattillo@californiaancestors.org

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

27 April 2020

Message from the President

CGS President James Sorenson
Greetings,

I hope you are all weathering the COVID-19 storm. These continue to be extraordinary and unprecedented times for all of us. I know most of us want to return to “normal." For CGS, normal would be resuming our classes at the library. Although we closed our library and canceled classes before it was required, our continued closure is a function of county health mandates. We will not be able to open our library or resume classes at the library until some time after there is some relaxing of general restrictions. Phase One of relaxed restrictions will still prohibit gatherings of people greater than some number (say 10) people. I have not heard anyone say when Phase One will start in Alameda County, and certainly no one can say when the later phases will occur. 

We have decided to cancel classes which were scheduled as part of a series, if the front end of that series has already been canceled. That doesn’t mean those classes will not take place this year but they will not take place as currently scheduled.

CGS has been working with remote-access technology and we had our first remote-access class on April 9. We are working on having other remote-access classes and they will be posted on our website and in our blog as they are developed and scheduled. This is new territory for CGS and we are working diligently to bring these classes to our CGS membership and other members of the genealogy community who look to CGS for guidance and instruction. 

James Sorenson, President

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society

26 April 2020

Online Genealogy: Week of April 27-May 3


Each week we will share news of upcoming online genealogy events. Most of them are free. Check our previous post, “Genealogy Learning in theTime of Coronavirus,” for a list of archived classes at Ancestry, FamilySearch, RootsTech, and more.

Heads up: The National Genealogical Society will hold a Virtual Family History Conference this year, beginning May 20. Visit their website for details.

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society continues its series of webinars. Next up is a presentation by CGS member Grant Din!

April 28: "The Joys and Challenges of Chinese American Research" by Grant Din
April 29: "German Records Online" by James M. Beidlar
May 4: "Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your Autosomal DNA" by Blaine Bettinger

Legacy Family Tree and MyHeritage continue their ongoing series. This week:
April 28: "Working with DNA segments on MyHeritage" by Ran Snir
May 1: "The Future is Still in the Past: An Introduction to Online Parish Clerks in the United Kingdom" by Wayne Shepheard

Conference Keeper lists most of the above, as well as these webinars:

April 27: "Jersey Roots Genealogy" presented by Michelle Tucker Chubenko
April 29: "Break Down Brick Walls" a Zoom chat with Illinois librarians
May 1:Getting Done Your Family History Projects” a four-part class by Heirloom Films
May 2:  "First World War Internment Camps" with Hannah Bell via the BYU Family History Library (link takes you to the list of classes; you can click to enter the class at time specified)

Stay safe, and happy learning!

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society